Off For The Holidays

Off For The Holidays

So I’m officially finished my first semester teaching my wonderfully lazy students. After their exams they can be lazy all they want, stay in bed all day… and will most likely not speak a word of English during that time…..until next semester that is.

For the past few weeks of the semester it’s been pretty easy for me; giving them their exam questions and they simple have to memorise the answers for their exam. I made it even easier for them because the homework each week were their actual questions, so if they bothered to keep their homework then easy peasy for them. I KNOW some of them lost quite a few though, but that’s what being responsible is. The majority of them don’t even bring a pen and paper to class, so I don’t have much hope of them keeping their homework.

So we have about 5 weeks off until the next semester starts in March… and I won’t be chuffed to start back again. I’m sure my new students wont either!

So I think tonight I’m going to have a few beers and relax….. I deserve it I think!



The Bustling City of Guangzhou

With a week off from Uni, we wanted to get out of the city and head somewhere a little bit warmer! Chengdu in the winter is a horrible place to be, made worse by the fact that it’s 8 degrees outside but there’s not a radiator or heater in any shop, restaurant or school! I literally freeze while I’m teaching!

Anywhere north of Chengdu was too cold to visit, so we decided to visit Guangzhou, a big city near Hong Kong. We really didn’t know what to expect from it. We knew it was big, people spoke Cantonese, and it would definitely be warmer than here! Our friends from Chengdu recently moved to the city so we could also catch up with them there!

Well my I think Guangzhou exceeded my expectations quite a bit! I read online that apparently it had no culture, but I thought the city itself was full of culture! I especially loved the old buildings all around the city. Some were ugly but I just loved how different each were and how they had their own unique characteristics and architecture. I really enjoyed looking at all the different buildings in the city. And from what I saw, pretty much all of them are in use, usually as housing!

I know the weather in summer is absolutely scorching, so we visited when it was much cooler. During the day a light jacket is enough for us during December, but at night it was a little more chilly!

So I was left a good impression of Guangzhou; it’s much greener than Chengdu, the weather is better, and it’s a great place to live if you want to travel as there are lots of nearby places to go to  such as Shanghai, Hong Kong. Also it’s a major city for international flights. Chengdu is more in the west so it’s not as easy to hop on a train and go somewhere in 5 hours…… more like 25 hours!

But of course I did miss Sichuan food! The food is nice in Guangzhou, it just lacks spice and a bit of flavour. Some of the dishes were a little bland for me. I’ve gotten too used to spicy food now! We tried the famous Dim Sum that southern Chinese people eat, and I enjoyed trying all the different types that they offered, when we could understand the Chinese characters of course!


I think If I could move there if I was planning on staying in China longer, but of course the cost of living is more expensive, plus the rent is much higher there than Chengdu! Oh, it’s also MUCH bigger! Chengdu is nice and compact, whereas Guangzhou is a sprawling city! So it’s bigger, meaning more people, so that equals a busy metro!

After 5pm the metro was crazy when we used it! I would say during rush hour, you only need to wait for a train for about 20-30 seconds, and then another comes. But of course there are big queues waiting for every one of them! So I didn’t really like how busy it could get. I can only imagine what it’s like during a major holiday!

But I’m glad I visited the city. It’s nice to see different parts of China. Each and every city is different and has it’s own unique history and culture!

Where we stayed: Lazy Gaga Hostel

Good: It’s literally 5 minutes walk to the nearest metro so it’s very centrally located. It made getting around Guangzhou that much easier. There are places to eat/ shopping centres/ bus stops and famous landmarks all within walking distances.

Bad: You’re really paying for the location. I thought it was too expensive for what it was, and the hostel needed to be refurbished. If I only had 1 night in Guangzhou, I’d stay again, but for anymore I would look for another hostel.


Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Deciding to visit Guangzhou

Although I have to put up with some VERY LAZY students, there are a few benefits with working in a University in China. The first and most important one is holidays!

With our university, they agreed on working some days where the rest of the people in China would have off. Then they clump all these days that we worked and then we would have a week off. Not too bad for a Uni that is very badly organised!

So in December we will have a week off for New Years and we’ve decided to spend it in Guangzhou. We were debating where to go but because it will be winter and we really don’t want to go to the north of China as it will be absolutely freezing, we thought we’d better find somewhere in the south where it will be a bit warmer than Chengdu! I hope anyway!

It’ll be nice to see the city and try the food there, which is much sweeter than Sichuan food. As we plan on leaving  China next summer, (yeah I know I said that loads of times and I’m STILL here)  we’d like to try and visit a few places before we go. Obviously China is a huge place and it would be rather difficult to visit every single place of interest, but we’ve managed to see a few sightseeing places and cities!

So that is the plan! When I first came to China the thought of travelling in this huge, non english speaking country was very daunting. Now however, we have enough Chinese to get by and we know what to roughly expect when we travel around. Plus in the East of the country a lot more people speak English so it’s handier to travel there than in Chengdu, where literally no one speaks it!

Every city in China is different so we’re excited to see what Guangzhou has to offer!


爱玲 (Aisling)


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!




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!



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


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.


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:


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.


Waterproof Bag


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!



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!


MY FEET!!!!!!


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.


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!



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!


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