Sunday, March 31, 2013

Banca Boy


El Nido is at the northern most point of the province of Palawan (which is a long skinny island, kind of shaped like large back slash) - so getting back and forth from the different parts require navigation by outrigger boats or "bancas". Even the nice crews working the boats had shirts that said "Banca Boys" - here is Dek getting his sea legs for the next few days. All in all he didn't complain too much and often enjoyed himself (or just fell asleep). 
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Luxury Jeepney to Palawan


One we arrive, we are shuttled into this nice airy Jeepney (nothing like its Manila counterparts that are a bit on the shabby, rustic side), we're excited to be whisked away to our resort. It takes a short ride and ferry to get there. Of course, Dek enjoyed being on all 3 modes of transportation (land, water, sea) all within a morning.
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Turboprop Dek


Much to my chagrin (due to my hypersensitivities to foreign aviation safety given my job), we had to fly on this 30 year old, 19-seater with an unpressurized cabin. I can't tell you how freaked out I was about the whole thing, but leave it to me to find something wrong with going to Paradise. Here we are at the General Aviation Terminal in Manila Airport in our private little lounge where Dek gets a first hand look at our plane. The flight is about 1.5 hours and its over several beautiful islands - and yes, we make it all there and back without incident. I tell you those rough landings make me more than a bit nervous. 
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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Pool Boy!


Here we are in the same hotel - next to the playground. Dek boy gets in city-swim on. I have so many of these photos where he's "reaching" for the camera, basically demanding, GIVE ME THE CAMERA SO I CAN TAKE THE PICTURE. He's turned out to be a bit demanding. Mostly since he's vain and enjoys photos of himself. Ah toddlerdom.
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Back to Manila!


Here we are back in Manila after our lovely stay in Cebu and Bohol. This was on the 4th floor of our hotel. Derek was really thrilled to see a playground since it seemed like it had been weeks since we'd done anything kiddy as such.
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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

More of Aloha Beach


Finally after our short 2 minute walk from our lovely room, we end up checking out the beach. Unlike my sense of what a traditional beach is, there were no waves and surf - this was more lake-like. Lots of kelp and sandy holes to poke your feet in. I think it was also low tide, as the water had receeded over 50 feet compared to what we saw the evening beforehand.
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Testing the Underwater Camera

We got a nice little gadget for the trip. A totally waterproof digital camera so we could take photos while snorkeling and such.  Here we are testing it out with Dek in the pool for the first time. As you can see, he's totally thrilled.
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Ready for the Beach

Dek started getting used to going down to the beach. Here he is even volunteering to get dressed. Note those sunglasses usually stayed on his face on average a 3-4 seconds.

Our resort was perched above the beach area, so it was just a short little stroll to get to the beach. Derek has all his sun gear on to make sure he doesn't get burned.
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Friday, March 22, 2013

Amarella Garden


Our resort had a really nice little garden area that was a mix of florals and some veggies. Dek enjoyed romping around (see the bright green crocks that became his standard shoewear for most the trip after his other sandals lost their velcro stickiness).
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Mickey Mouse Club Wins Over Paradise

You see that right, over the balcony is the beauty of Bohol's beaches, but Derek would rather watch Mickey Mouse Club on his Ipod.

Speaking of which, when people ask how we made it through almost a dozen flights and countless transfers between planes, trains and airplanes, without too many meltdowns. I must say the little Apple device came in very handy as a bribery device. Now, before you jump to terrible conclusions and judgement about me as a person who willingly rots their child brain to avoid the ire of strangers on public transport, I'd like to say, You are Totally Right.  Usually at home, Derek's TV and screen time are very limited. As my crunchy mama status would convey, as someone who exclusively breastfed and cloth diapered, I was not eager to subject Derek to the brain numbing power of the Ipod/Ipad/TV screen until we absolutely had to.  In this case, we found it to be a very useful tool when traveling for hours and there wasn't much to do for Derek, or we'd be confined in spaces that Derek felt to be "boring."  Since he's still at age where reasoning can come and go, we felt it best to give-in while we're on vacation and allow him liberal use of the Ipod, especially if it would give us a few more minutes to finish a meal or to get somewhere without a huge amount of yelping.

When we got home though and had to explain that vacation was over and Ipod viewing would be a much rarer occasion, there was a bit of a struggle. But like anything else, we tried to remain consistent and providing good reasoning ("No more Ipod, its only for vacation!"), we were met with some resistance ("Ipooooooooooood!" IPAAAAAAAAAAAAD!"). Our new norm is to allow some use of it on the weekends (for 5-10 minute intervals at most) and when its time to give it up, instead of snatching it away immediately, we tell Derek that there is "one more minute left" and that he can enjoy it for that long. After that, he hands it over willingly and is happy to progress to another activity. For somethings, I think we get off way to easy with this kid.  I understand for sanity reasons how these devices can be a lifesaver for parents, but their uses in limited applications in short timeframes is key because they get addicted and can expect it as their norm.

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A Quick Study

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Here you can see Mike's ridiculous hand made guitar made of mango and all kinds of other rare woods, in addition to Dek really taking to his Ukelele. He would enjoy "singing" along (i.e. he'd do this hum along thing but without words "uh Oh iiii oooh, ahhh" when Mike would sing). 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Climbing on Up

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One of the later stops on the tour, we stopped at the Clarin Ancestral House. The house dates back to the 1840s and was the home of the former governor of Bohol (when it was still a Spanish colony). Descendants of the house live in it until this day. The main reason I'm posting this is just to show you how "hands on" Dek was about everything in the Philippines. He wants to touch everything. Stairs, floors, toilets - you name something unsanitary or unsafe - this kid would go for it. After awhile we gave up, but by the end of the day he'd be like a little Pig Pen with his own cloud of dust, not to mention layers of dirt on his feet, following him everywhere.

Floating Lunch

 Next stop on the journey was: lunch! We got to enjoy lunch on the boat, or on a "floating restaurant" which was complete with buffet and also a Filipino singer that covered all kinds of obscure 80s power ballads and oldies type music that gave Mike flashbacks of singing for his uncles as a child.

Let me tell you, meat-on-a-stick was a total winner with this little guy. Luckily, he didn't get ill from eating anything on the trip (Mike got a touch of food poisoning after eating at this "floating" restaurant ordeal)

The Loboc River included some amazing views of tropical scenery while we enjoyed our leisurely lunch.

The river cruise stopped at a village where women and children played ukeleles and danced with us. They invited Dek to join in on the fun for a photo op. He happily (mostly) obliged. We totally made him the first one on the boat and start dancing since the rest of us were too shy. Of course, Dek has no issues with the spotlight and loved it.

Like I said, more meat on a stick (I think he hate 5 or 6). What can I say, Dek did not starve on this trip in the least.
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Butterfly Sanctuary Stop

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I'll try to keep getting a couple of posts each day of the different stops on our trip. Today's is a little later since I had to sort out some photo issues at home.

Continuing on... our countryside tour of Bohol included many stops that I'll include in the next round. After our stop at Chocolate Hills, we headed to this little Butterfly Sanctuary where you could walk around with butterflies all around you. Dek was a bit scared of the caterpillar, despite our introduction of the Hungry, Hungry Caterpillar book previously. He had a good time, and our guide offered to take cheese photos of all of us with "wings" including Dek who is almost about to jump!

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Alona Beach!

With "Cur-Teen" (Co Christine) as they go for a wade at dusk. 

Enjoying the wave less water in Alona. 

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