What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

What A PERFECT Holiday To El Nido, Philippines.

We have just returned home from having a blast in El Nido, Philippines. Having never been to a place like it, to me it was like paradise. Crystal clear water, white sand, cocktails and relaxing… it was perfect. Plus my boyfriend proposed to me on a spectacular beach! What a surprise!

It was just a perfect trip. Well almost a perfect trip! Our second day there I got very very badly sunburned on my legs and feet while kayaking… to the point that I could hardly walk. I thought that would ruin the holiday, but I persevered through the pain and they are slowly getting better now.

With travelling included, we were there 10 days. And I definitely could have stayed longer!

The weather was great, it wasn’t too hot or cold, the prices weren’t  expensive ( cocktails cost around €3, a 6percent beer was about €1) and the Filipino people are just so friendly!!! We both couldn’t believe how friendly everyone is. They always said ‘Sir’ or ‘Ma’am’ when they addressed us. The people we met were really really friendly.

I would definitely recommend a trip. Although it is a little difficult to get there, it is definitely worth it!

We are so sad to be back in China; but we have great memories from our trip!

Where we stayed in El Nido;

Aqua Travel Lodge:

Liked: We really don’t have anything to complain about Aqua Travel Lodge: the staff were friendly, our room was perfect, it was actually quite cheap for it being the busy season. The location is perfect: right next to the beach and beside some lovely restaurants. Right in the middle of everything which is great.

There are quite a few bad reviews coming from people, but come on… if you are expecting a mini bar and a fridge in your room, annoyed at the instant coffee they give you for breakfast.. then you should be looking at more top range hotels. For us, we thought the hotel was perfect.

Anyway, you will be so busy going on tours to different islands and out enjoying El Nido town that you’ll only be at the hotel for sleeping!

Disliked: Breakfast was so so in my opinion, but the pancakes and the waffles were fine. But it was included in the price so we opted to keep having breakfast there.  Also it’s a bit noisy at night on the right side of the building, as there is a popular restaurant located close by, so I would suggest you ask your room to be on the opposite side.

But apart from that… no complaints! I would recommend staying here if you plan on going to El Nido!

再见

爱玲

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Getting Away From The Pollution

With our lungs being savaged by Chengdu’s pollution, we’ve decided to run off and enjoy  El Nido, an area with thousands of little islands in the Philippines. This holiday is all about relaxing; lying on the beach, maybe having some cocktails, swimming and snorkelling… and no work in sight!

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Source;thelonelyplanet.com

We will be there for about 10 days, including traveling. We were deciding whether to travel more around the country, see the Chocolate Hills and what not, but in the end we decided just to say in El Nido; we really just want to relax and enjoy ourselves… and not have to worry about going here and going there. It’s a hassle just to get to El Nido!

First we have to get a plane from Chengdu to Manila… then we have to get another plane to Puerto Princessa… finally we have to get a 6 hour bus ride to El Nido. On the way we have to worry about this ‘Bullet Scam’ that has been happening in Manila airport. This is when the security officers in Manila airport plant a bullet in your luggage. This is usually when your bag is out of your sight. Then they call you over and mysteriously they find a bullet, which is illegal of course!

To sort this out, you usually have to go to the atm and give them cash. I’ve read online that everybody wraps their luggage with cling film in the airport.. and that’s exactly what we will be doing!

So it’s not quite relaxing getting to El Nido!

Then on the way back, we have to get a plane to Manila, wait all day until our flight to Shanghai, and then finally another to Chengdu.

haha I’ll need ANOTHER holiday after that journey!

We were actually planning on going to Thailand and volunteer looking after elephants, but unfortunately they were booked out, so El Nido it was!

See you in a day!

再见

爱玲

 

How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

How Did My 2016 Resolutions Turn Out?

Scrolling down through my posts, I came across my New Years Resolutions for 2016; My (few) New Years resolutions. I had totally forgot that I had posted resolutions for myself (which isn’t a good sign), so I thought I’d update on which ones I unconsciously achieved, and some which I have not!

1.Study More Chinese.

Well I think I’ve done this unconsciously; I’ve attended another 2 semesters of Chinese learning since then. Plus I’ve read a few Chinese books, I’ve watched one Chinese movie (I know I know… 1 isn’t that good). But I have started watching a Chinese TV series called ‘虎妈猫爸’ or ‘Tiger Mum’ in English. There’s quite a lot that I don’t understand but I get the gist of each episode and the storyline. So my listening should be improving because of this. Finally my speaking; well because I’m an introvert. . . I’m not the chattiest of people even when I speak to people in my native language, never mind in Chinese! So that’s still a hurdle I need to address. But I think I achieved this resolution.

2. Do the HSK 3 exam.

Unfortunately I didn’t do this… but I did buy a book for practising! So I did have some good intentions to do it. To be honest I don’t really know how I sign up for it, and apparently you can do it in the comfort of your own home! I did not know this! I will do it one day… I might even attempt the HSK 4! haha well we’ll see!

3. Do more exercise.

Having come back from Ireland after Christmas and gaining a lot of weight, myself and my boyfriend started to do more exercise… then grew lazy as we all do. Thankfully I’ve bought a new bike so I now cycle to work and school. I’m still not as slim as before but at least I’m doing a bit more exercise. I’d have preferred to do even more exercise so I’ll put this one as half succeeded.

4. Travel more around China.

Having never left China during this year, I’ve travelled more around the country. My favourite is definitely Xiamen, I really loved the city. But I also enjoyed going to Kangding and Garze and experiencing the Tibetan way of life. I loved going to Yangshuo and seeing the famous mountains, then to Longsheng and walking in and among the rice terraces. Those a few of the places I’ve been to this year. So I’ve achieved that resolution.

5. Last but not least, be happier.

Mmm… this is  a tricky one. I hate to admit it but I’m a pessimist… instead of thinking of what could go right.. I’m constantly thinking of what could go wrong. And I’m also a worrier.. about EVERYTHING.  I really drain myself! I wish I could be a happier person… but I just naturally end up worrying and stressing over money, work, Chinese, finding a good job, missing my family loads… thinking about life after China… so obviously this makes me much less happy. I’m afraid that I’m going to live out the rest of my life not being happy; because I didn’t do this, I couldn’t do that.. I did that wrong.  So I suppose with this resolution I’ll say I half achieved it.

Now I must make my Resolutions for 2017!

再见

爱玲

Our First Christmas On Our Own

Our First Christmas On Our Own

For the past two Christmas, I’ve been thankful to have had two great ones; one with my boyfriends family, and the other with my own family. This time however, it was only going to consist of myself and my boyfriend.

For my first Christmas away from my family, I arrived in China for my teaching internship. Unfortunately I had to work, so the day wasn’t very Christmassy at all! I remember talking to my family that evening and after I hung up I cried because I missed them so much and just felt disconnected from everything. My first Christmas away from home and I’m stuck working and being by myself. I think 2 of my students gave me presents which was so kind of them, but I made a promise to myself that I would definitely be home for the next Christmas.

However I didn’t keep my promise. After that I happened to meet my boyfriend  and we decided we would go to his country and be with his Mum and Dad. It was quite strange to celebrate Christmas in a hot country such as Mexico, whereas I’m so used to having it during the winter; it being freezing and having the roaring fire in the house.

I had a really great time there, but before long we were back in China!

Last Christmas, I unexpectedly had to go home, so we decided to go during December so that I could be with my family to celebrate. With the arrival of my new nephew, it was the first Christmas with him, so it was a new experience for the whole family!

I enjoyed my Mums dinner, ate pavlova, drank loads of Irish coffee and Baileys, and had a great time with my family and my boyfriend! I enjoyed my time (and food) so much that I also got a good deal fatter!!

So for this Christmas we didn’t travel anywhere to celebrate! It was our first Christmas in China on our own as a couple. There was no festive feeling in Chengdu as no one celebrates it here (although every supermarket sells Christmas stuff which I find weird), but we made the most of it ourselves!

My Mum sent a parcel to us the week before which had lots of presents for us… wrapped of course! Then as a surprise, my boyfriend bought a small tree and lights, and when I arrived home from work one night, he told me to close my eyes and he guided me to the tree. I opened my eyes and saw this cute tree with lights and the presents my family sent us!

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So when Christmas Day came, I turned the lights on, put on some Christmas music, and we opened our presents together.

At noon, and not particularly knowing how to cook a Christmas dinner, we decided to order some food from a restaurant and we watched the film ‘Elf’, as we had not seen that film in years! After our lunch, we treated ourselves to some hot chocolate and Ferrero Rochers that my boyfriend got me.

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Later in the afternoon, we decided to go to the shop and buy some coca cola and some cheap red wine. We mix them together and they are called Katembas. One of our South African friends told us about this drink! We both love it!

Knowing that my family would be waking up soon, I tried to give them a call, but the connection was terrible! I’m guessing it was because everyone else was trying to ring back home and talk. So I was resigned to wait until there was better connection.

After a while we tried again and thankfully we got through! It was great seeing my nephews playing with their new toys. I got a bit sad at this point; missing out on everything. I would have loved to have seen there faces seeing all their presents. Oh and eating Mums dinner!

But it was great to see them happy and having a good day.

After talking to the family, and for our dinner, we made some quick Quesadillas and we enjoyed eating them while drinking our Katembas. We decided to stick on a film called ‘Krampus’, a scary Christmas film, which we both thought was quite good! It was something different anyway!

At around 8:30, we watched our last film ‘Mean Girls’. I know it’s not a very Christmassy film, but my boyfriend never saw it before so I really wanted him to see it. My Mum surprised us by putting a Christmas pudding that she made into a tin for us. We opened the present and we put it aside, thinking there are chocolates inside. Later my Mum asked me ‘What did you think of the pudding?’

What pudding?? She never sent us a pudding…

She told us to open the tin, and there it was, wrapped up! We decided to have this for our dessert, and it was lovely!  Lastly, we had a little Tequila. My boyfriends Mum and Dad, when they were over, brought some good quality Tequila from Mexico over for us so we had a small drop of that to end our Christmas day.

And do you know what, we both had a great Christmas together. The day before I was thinking ‘Will I miss my family and be sad for the whole day?, What food will we eat? What will we do?’ but thankfully it turned out to be a lovely relaxing day with just the two of us.

Although there wasn’t a very festive feeling outside, but we made it festive in our apartment. We enjoyed each others company, ate loads of food, and had a great day!

So we are now both wondering where or what we will be doing for next Christmas…. Wherever it will be, I’m sure it will be wonderful like my past 3 Christmases!

再见

爱玲

Tackling Spanish

Tackling Spanish

For the past 1.5 years my head has been tortured with learning Chinese… now I’m not saying I don’t enjoy learning it, of course I do… just sometimes you need a break from all those thousands of characters once in a while!

Since meeting my boyfriend and visiting Mexico and his family, I’ve become more and more interested in learning Spanish. In Secondary school and Uni I chose to study French instead of Spanish, so I’ve literally had to start from the basics with Spanish. haha now that my French has completely disappeared, (not that there was much in the first place) I don’t think I’ll have any trouble mixing the two languages up!

I’ve started using an application called Anki, where it makes flashcards and what not for you… I’ve been using it for my Chinese also, but to be honest it’s very hard to use,for me anyway, it’s a bit too technical! I’ve ended up having to delete my whole Spanish deck of words and download it again, as I messed with the cards and didn’t know how to rectify it. So it does take some time to get used to and know how to use it properly.

In comparison to Chinese… I must say I remember the vocab much easier in Spanish. No characters to learn, no tones… just a straight up spanish word and thats it!

My pronunciation needs work on though, as I still pronounce letters like in English.. oh and the ‘r’ sound still annoys me.

And because my head is also in ‘Chinese mode’, whenever I see a Spanish phrase like ‘Does he want a t-shirt?’ and I need to think a second for the answer, instinctively the Chinese translation of it will enter my head.

But I have to say, when comparing the two languages.. I really do appreciate some things about Chinese. The grammar isn’t as tricky as say English or Spanish. There are no conjugations or gender specific words. The language is also a bit more concise.

What I also enjoy about Chinese are how words are literally translated:

fridge = ice box (bing  xiang/冰箱)

computer = electric brain (dian nao/ 电脑)

yogurt = sour milk (suan nai/酸奶)

And don’t get me started on the literal translations of animals!

dolphin = sea piglet (hai tun/海豚)

kangaroo= bag mouse (dai shu/ 袋鼠)

giraffe= long neck deer ( chang jing lu/ 长颈鹿)

These are just a few of the interesting translations!

I think every person studying Chinese gets a laugh when they find out the translation of different things in Chinese!

But anyway, back to Spanish!

As I’ve only been studying for about a week now, I know I’ve only barely touched the surface of this language. When I start to learn the grammar properly and the conjugations is when I might begin to tear my hair out!

Having had a week off from Uni, I’ve been studying more Spanish recently, so I’ll have to try and stick with it when Monday comes.

It’s nice though to be able to switch with the two languages…. I can have a break with Chinese but not feel bad, because I’ll be learning Spanish… I won’t feel lazy because I’m still technically learning!

So I suppose Chinese and Spanish has their own merits and why I like them!

再见

爱玲

Possibilities for the future

I’ve just read that KLM are now offering flights from Dublin to Amsterdam, which of course is a plus for tourism in Ireland. I’ve flew with KLM when going from Amsterdam direct to Chengdu, first having to fly with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Amsterdam.

When I was in Ireland, I’ve never travelled to many places in Europe, mostly due to lack of money. Now that I’m in China and travelling around China (by plane) is quite expensive, I’ve now realised that I’ve wasted a lot of chances to travel around Europe; maybe visiting London for a weekend or strolling around Amsterdam. Maybe If I was surrounded by more people who actually enjoyed travelling, maybe I would have been more adventurous. I dunno, I just thought ‘All the places I want to visit will always be there’ kind of thing.

I do see myself going back home for a while, whether permanently or just temporary I don’t know… but I’ve promised myself to visit more countries in the EU…they are literally on Ireland’s doorstep!

But first, as I’m in China… both myself and my boyfriend want to travel to countries nearby us; Japan, Korea, maybe North Korea, Thailand……

Because I know when I’m done with China and it’s time to head home… there is a big possibility that I won’t be back… so I’d like to visit all these countries while I’m here.

I don’t want to regret it in the future!

再见

爱玲

 

France in Pictures: Paris.

I know I’m a bit late posting these, but here you are!

Sacre Couer Basilica

Sacre Couer Basilica

View of the city from the Basilica.

View of the city from the Basilica.

Paris has some lovely ice-cream!

Paris has some lovely ice-cream!

The Moulin Rouge

The Moulin Rouge

The bottom of the Eiffel Tower.

The bottom of the Eiffel Tower.

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The winding queue.

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The most famous view of it.

The most famous view of it.

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The huge amount of locks.

The huge amount of locks.

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Catching some sun on their man-made beach.

Catching some sun on their man-made beach.

The queue to get into Notre Dame Cathedral.

The queue to get into Notre Dame Cathedral.

Inside the Louvre.

Inside the Louvre.

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Bustling about to see the most famous lady in the Louvre.

Bustling about to see the most famous lady in the Louvre.

There she is!

There she is!

We waited 2 hours in the sun to get to this green building; the entrance to the Catacombs.

We waited 2 hours in the sun to get to this green building; the entrance to the Catacombs.

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The long and cold walk down.

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再见!

Aisling.