Where Is The Time Going?

I’ve suddenly realised I only have 6 weeks left of studying! Time is flying by at an amazing rate! When I was in Ireland my Dad would say to me ‘When you get to my age, a week just feels like one day’. And the more I get older, the more this is starting to apply to me.

So anyway, we have two months of holiday until we start back to our next semester in September… and we’ve no idea what are plans are.

As my fiancés sister and boyfriend were coming to China for one month, this time last year we were busy planning our travels around China.  So we knew we would be busy during the summer… but for this coming one, we really have no plans.

My fiancé may have a job opportunity during the summer, so we may travel to a city nearby for work… but pretty much that’s it. With our lack of income, we can’t exactly plan on doing anything too exciting or expensive!

I’d have liked to have gone home for the holidays, but it’s just too expensive. So I guess we are stuck in Chengdu for a while! Maybe when we get jobs we might visit a city in China…Qingdao perhaps? My private Chinese teacher is from there so I’d like to visit it, plus it’s supposed to be a nice city!

But anyway, the weather here has been fantastic, so both of us don’t mind staying here for a bit!

再见

爱玲

 

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

El Nido: What Should I Bring?

Hearing things like “The wifi is bad in El Nido”…”Electricity goes on and off all the time”….”There’s an ATM but a lot of times it has no money in it”…. I wasn’t exactly sure what to prepare for El NIdo!

But thankfully we needn’t have worried!

Backpacks

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We were so so happy that we brought our 30L backpacks to the Philippines. All through our travels in China, we never had to check them in. We were thankful that for the Philippines we also didn’t have to, even when we were flying with AirSwift. (and their luggage restrictions was about 7Kg).

We bought these in Decathlon (Chengdu) and they are super useful, can hold quite a lot of things, has a waist belt for extra support, and we don’t have to worry that they will be too big as carry on luggage. I think if we bought the 40L ones, they would have been a tad too large, so these are perfect if you want to travel light.

Water Shoes

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This was the first time that I bought water shoes, as I’ve never really been to a place where I needed to use them, but for some of the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly recommend you buy or rent a pair. In some places there are lots of rocks and it’s incredibly hard to walk on them, especially if the water is a little rough!

Again, we bought these in Decathlon and they were perfect for the trip. They are comfortable and the soles are thick, so you have good grip on the rocks. When we were on the tours, I noticed the people who had no shoes on them were struggling to walk on the sharp rocks.

If you don’t want to buy a pair, you can easily rent them in the town.

Money: 

As we heard that the ATM there hardly ever works, we decided to bring more money than we actually needed…. about 25,000 pesos each. Our hotel was already paid for so we just needed money for food and the excursions. We definitely brought too much, but the scams that we heard about and if either of us happened to loose some money or anything, at least we wouldn’t have to worry about our funds.

Thankfully with the leftover money that we had, we were able to change it at the airport for both Dollars and Euro before we left.

Flight Details:

I usually never print out flight details, but this time we had a few layovers so we wanted to be prepared with everything. At Manila airport we needed to show our flight details. Then when we were at El Nido airport, at the entrance the security man wanted to see our details for that flight too. So in the end we were thankful that we had everything at hand! To be prepared, I suggest you print out all of these things.

GoPro/Underwater Camera:

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A few years ago, one of our friends also visited El Nido, so she lent us her camera to bring. It was great! Because you can use it underwater, we didn’t need to bring our cameras, so we didn’t need to worry about if they get wet!

In El Nido town we bought a stick that can be used underwater, making it easier to use the camera under the water as it’s lighter. The normal stick was just too heavy.

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Waterproof Bag

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Again, our friend lent us this waterproof bag to bring with us. But of course, in the town  you can easily buy one at every corner. They come in a range of different sizes and colours, and it was very reassuring to know that our phones and money and what not were safe in it.

So these are the items which we brought and were really useful for us, and these are the items that I recommend you bring along with you. If you forget some necessities you can just buy pretty much everything else in the town. You could easily just bring an empty bag and buy what you need when you arrive! T-shirts, shorts, dresses, sun glasses, bikinis, flip-flops, there is a hairdressers (my fiancé got his hair cut there) a pharmacy, an opticians (fiancé got his glasses there) massage parlours, oh and plenty of restaurants.

In a place called Art Cafe they have shampoo, conditioner, lady sanitary things, aloe vera gel, sun cream, deodorant, phone chargers…. you definitely won’t be stuck for anything!

So if you do happen to forget something… don’t worry… El Nido town has you pretty much covered!

再见

爱玲

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

What We Did In El Nido Part 2

Still having 2 more tours to do, we next opted to do Tour A. This tour consists mainly of visiting lovely beaches and lagoons, and some of the lagoons were breathtaking! For me, I thought this was the best tour!

But I can tell you, we were both exhausted by the time we got home at 4pm… definitely in need of a nice shower to wash all that sand away… then a good nap!

Another day arrived, and taking a rest from the water, we headed to try out the zip line! I’ve never done this before, and It was great fun! Unfortunately I was too busy looking at the wire and making sure my head didn’t go near it,  that I missed catching a glimpse of  most of the scenery around me!

To get to the zip line from El Nido town, you should get a tricycle for  about 150pesos and they will drop you to the small mountain that you should walk up. It only takes about 7-8 minutes but it is a little steep. After you have finished the zip line, you need to take a rickety ladder made of bamboo down to the bottom, and then walk back. During low tide the sea will be out so you can walk across the beach.

After the zip line, we got lunch and relaxed on bean bags at Las Cabanas beach.  It had such a relaxed vibe there I could have stayed all day. There is also a bar where you can order drinks or food.

On our last day before we left El Nido, we went on Tour C. We were told the day before that it may not happen, as in and around the area of Tour C the sea was a little rough. We had to wait until the morning of the trip to confirm if it was happening, and it was!

This tour consists mostly of swimming, and I tell you… this was the most difficult tour of them all! Unfortunately the sea was quite choppy… and at one point, we had to swim to a small island with a beautiful beach. But the waves were that high and strong… swimming over to it was extremely scary! Because there were boats already there, our boat was behind them, meaning we had to swim around these to get to shore.

Our tour guide told us to swim as a group, and I tried my hardest to swim along and keep up… the current was so strong. Then we got near the shore… but the waves were huge! The problem was that there were loads of jagged rocks at the bottom… you could stand up ok… but then a big wave would come and sweep you off your feet. Because my shins were still quite tender, I was so afraid that I would hit them off the rocks.

Oh my god I was so scared. I started to panic that I wouldn’t be able to get to the shore, and I would get injured by the rocks. Thankfully I made it, but I was really shook up. I really didn’t want to have to get back into the water… and worse… swim AGAINST the current. Swimming with the current wasn’t exactly easy!

So during our 15 minutes at this pretty beach, all I was thinking about was how the hell am I going to get back onto the boat. I told my fiancee “I don’t think I’ll be able to swim to the boat… the water’s too strong”. He said he’ll help me and not to worry.

The time came to risk my life again. Thankfully I was wearing my life jacket which helped a lot! I started panicking. How am I going to do this??? The rocks are too sharp… I can either try and walk it to the deeper parts, but risk falling…. or try and swim and risk cutting my legs because of the rocks… 

In my group there was another lady  and she was holding on to the tour guide…. she was on her back floating and the man was swimming while holding onto her. So I reached her and I started floating backwards while holding her legs. Making sure I didn’t let go!

So there was our tour guide pulling two women behind him, while all the men were battling against the waves! Life and Death!

My fiancee was behind me trying to walk on the rocks and every few seconds he would should “Ok Aisling, there is a another wave coming!” and I would have to take a deep breathe and prepare myself for it! Because I was floating I couldn’t see any waves coming. I even had my snorkel goggles on me!

Before I knew it we were by the boat…. I was DEFINITELY done with the water by then! That was an experience I won’t forget in a long long time.

We picked a bad day to go on Tour C, and I’m pretty sure normally the water is much calmer than when we went.

Unfortunately the ocean became more and more choppy, so we couldn’t visit one beach. We would have had to go through a hole in the rock, and our tour guide said it was just too dangerous. He explained to us that one time he went through it and the water was that rough that he was hitting the rock wall. No thank you! I honestly didn’t mind at all… I had enough of the water for a while!

So our last trip was…. adventurous to say the least… so to calm us down we had a lovely meal and cocktails at a place called Mezzanine. The food is really good, and the cocktails are great too!

So our holiday had finally come to an end… leaving such paradise was hard…. and I was so depressed when we arrived back in China. . . . no more cheap cocktails, delicious meals or swimming in the sea.

But you can’t forget about the real world forever!

*TIP: If you want to try out the zip line, I suggest you go in the morning. If you go later in the day time they may not accept you as they may be too busy with people. This is what happened to us.

**TIP: For the Island Hopping Tours, I strongly advise you to bring water shoes. Tour B you don’t need them as much. But for A and C, there are a lot of rocks and it is much much easier to walk while in the shallow water. You can rent them in the town or you can bring your own. But I strongly recommend them!

Click here to check out part 1: What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

What We Did In El Nido Part 1

Having over a week in El Nido, we weren’t pushed on time with regards to doing everything there was to offer there!

Most people come to experience the gorgeous surroundings; the islands, clear water, snorkelling and relaxing.

Our first full day we went kayaking. We decided to go just the two of us, and we kayaked to a big island where we visited around 3/4 beautiful beaches. We left at around 9am and returned at about 2:30pm. It was this day when I got extremely badly sunburned on my feet and legs. I put sun cream on, but of course my legs were wet so the cream didn’t stick very well. This led to the next few days being in pain, having swollen feet and hardly being able to move.

I loved the kayaking! However the return home was a bit more difficult! The wind was picking up and it was much harder moving against the wind. But we made it!

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MY FEET!!!!!!

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In just over a week I finished these two bottles!

With my new sunburnt and swollen feet, we decided to relax the day after, and we went to the beach.

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The weather was just perfect

The next day  I gingerly decided to try an Island Hopping Tour. The activities that everyone does when they arrive are these tours. The most popular are A,B and C.

With my feet still in pain and swollen, I took the courage to go on Tour B…. and it was a good choice to make! I think, out of all of them, Tour B was the less demanding one out of the others. Each tour consists of lunch, which are very tasty!

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Delicious!

Each tour goes to a different place, so there is no need to worry that you will visit the same place twice!

Another day, we decided to do an Inland Tour. On some occasions the water will be too rough to go on any tours, so many people will opt to go on this one instead. I suggest you go on the island tour when most people are on the island tours, as it’s not as busy.

This tour consists of going to a beach, then visiting a waterfall, then going to another beach. Unfortunately my feet weren’t up for walking up a hill to the waterfall, so we spent longer at the first beach called Nacpan Beach. . . and it was just incredible!

It is about a 45 minutes tricycle ride from El Nido and we went on a perfect day! And this was were my boyfriend proposed to me! It was just the perfect place to have been asked!

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I will have great memories of this idilic beach. It is definitely a must to visit when in Palawan!

After spending 2 lovely hours there, we went to another beach called Las Cabanas, and here I ordered a lovely iced coffee and sat next to the beach and chilled. It seems this is where the younger people come to lie on the beach, as we didn’t see as many older people.

To continue reading about our adventure, check out Part 2: What We Did In El Nido Part 2

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

My Resolutions For 2017

With 2016 being quite a crappy year; the attacks all over Europe,  lots of celebrity deaths (which unfortunately will become more and more common),  the shock US election, and finally with Brexit… but, the year is nearly over! Hopefully 2017 won’t be as bad!

So I’ve decided to try my hand (again) and write my 2017 Resolutions.

1. Study Chinese

This time however, I’m really going to try and give it my all. Unsure of what we will do for 2018, I’d like to study as much as possible before I leave China. Read more Chinese books for learners, listen to more TV Series/ films. Try and speak more. If I don’t speak more I’d ideally like my listening to improve. Ha so my listening will be fantastic, but I won’t be able to speak a word!

2. Loose weight.

I’m never going to be as slim as all these Chinese girls, but I’d like to loose a little weight and become fitter. I’ll continue the cycling and start going running around our community.

3. Take up a hobby.

I’ve always said ‘studying Chinese is my hobby’… but when I start getting stressed about it, then I realise its not exactly a relaxing hobby. I’m thinking of learning how to make a few dishes, as I think knowing how to cook is important… oh and life saving! I’ll admit it, I don’t like cooking. I just don’t. But it’s a part of life so I really should learn. The thing is in China it’s just much more difficult.

Firstly, we don’t have a working over. Second we don’t have any cooking utensils, say for example a pan for the oven. It’s not like I don’t want to buy these things, its just the fact that we don’t want to buy them and then end up moving and having to sell it all. Plus our apartment is becoming smaller and smaller with each thing we buy. Third, it’s difficult to get the ingredients. There are green vegetables in Walmart here and I have no idea what they are! I’d need to take a photo of each veg and send it to my Mum so she could tell me what they are.Forth, they might not have the ingredient for a certain dish.

I look forward to going back home and being able to know exactly what I’m buying and where to buy it!

(I know… number 3 is just full of excuses!)

4. Save money

I’d like to have saved some money during this year; mainly for when I go back home or go to Mexico.

5. Travel more

During 2016 we travelled in China, so in 2017 I’d like to travel more outside of it and see South East Asia, maybe New Zealand, Japan….I’d like to visit these places before I leave China anyway!

6. Figure out what to do with my life.

This is an important one. Every year that goes by… we say to ourselves ‘ok, we need to figure out what we are doing after Chengdu… are we going to move to a different city/ country? Back to Ireland or go to Mexico?’ But then it’s always ‘We’ll study a year and then decide’. I suppose the reason why I stress about life is because I feel I’m stuck in China trying to learn this language and I’m putting my life on hold just for this language that won’t bloody stick in my head.  I can’t be spending my life learning Chinese because by the time I learn it it’ll be time to settle down and maybe start a family…

Ideally my plan is to go home, do a course related to tourism, gain some work experience, then go to Mexico and learn Spanish. I’ll continue learning Chinese myself. But I’ll miss China a lot. I’ll write a post about what I’ll miss about China when I leave.

So these are my new resolutions. Let’s hope I can manage them so I’ll be happy with myself this time comes around next year!

Happy New Year To All My Followers!

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