First of all, a BIG HUGE thank you to mom and dad Hodgkinson for watching Matthew for nearly 2 weeks!! We couldn't have done it without you!! And thanks a MILLION to mom and dad Gunnerson for having us out there with you!!! We had a WONDERFUL time!!! We miss you loads!!
Dropped this cute boy off at my sister Heather’s house. Bawled my eyes out. (But thank you Heather for helping out when mom had things).
(he got into Darin’s suitcase on his own! How cute is he!?)
Hopped off the plane at LAX with a dream and my cardigan.”
We had a short layover in LAX before we headed on our long flight to Taiwan. Our flight was really great! We slept some and watched several fun movies!
Landed in Taiwan. I got my first stamp in my passport! We got a hotel in Taipei and we walked around the city. Nobody spoke English, and neither of us know Chinese so that was fun! Everyone there rode on scooters, even families of four would all fit onto these little scooters are drive around. We got some food to eat, and Darin even found one of his favorite mission treats from Japan. It is this ice-cream thing wrapped in a waffle! I felt a little bad because it is his favorite, and I pretty much ate the whole thing! It was delicious!!
One funny thing that happened was that we couldn’t figure out how to turn on the lights in our hotel room. We kept trying everything we could think of, and nothing worked, so we went out in the city. When we came back we tried again, but nothing worked. Finally at like 3:00am Darin went to take a shower, but couldn’t see anything so I called the front desk and we found out that we had to put the key in a little hole in the wall! Funny!
Landed in Manila! Dad and Mom picked us up at the airport and it was so great to see them!! Benny (mom and dad’s driver/gardener) took us to mom and dad’s house and it was beautiful!! We got some lunch then headed to the mall! (Probably one of my favorite parts while we were there). I bought 2 purses, 3 bracelets, a wallet, sunglasses, earrings, and shoes. We went to a restaurant and had shakes and sundaes! Mmmm…sure was tasty! We were super tired when we got home because we were 14 hours different. We ate dinner and went to bed early. The fun silver car thing is called a "Jeepney" and they are EVERYWHERE in the Philippines!
We woke up and got ready for church. Tess (the maid/cook) made us breakfast, and boy was is delicious!! We had lots of fresh fruit like mangos, yellow watermelon, and these little round things that I can’t remember the name of. You cannot believe how good that fruit was!! Especially the mangos! I am quite convinced that the Philippines have the best mangos in the universe!
Church was fun! They kept switching from English to Tagolog. We got to meet the missionaries then after church dad showed us his office! He has a nice view from his office—it looks down right over the missionaries work-out area (like basketball courts) and then you can see right into the city! Dad also showed us a wall with all the missions/stakes and one thing that amazed me was how many mission President there are down there! Dad also has a guy that does carvings and he had this carving done! It was pretty amazing! We also went to the beautiful Manila temple!
Next we headed south and got on a boat to go to Porto Gallera. The boat ride was really fun!! We rode for an hour to get to the next island, and it was so crazy to just be out in the middle of the ocean, but it was really fun too!
We got to our hotel, and it was AMAZING!! This was our view from our room! We went and walked around part of the island then we went to dinner which was absolutely delicious!!! I loved the fresh mango shakes! Oh!! I miss that already! During dinner it started to rain--or in my opinion POUR!! But I guess that that is just considered a "sprinkle" down there! But after about 4 seconds I was SOAKED!! It was a nice rain though! Warm water falling from the sky can't be bad! We went inside played "banana grams" (I won! Yeah!) Then we went to bed.
We watched the sun come up, and watched the little island kids walk to school! They were sure cute! We went and got our snorkeling stuff then took a boat ride to another part of the island. Right when we got there a Phillipino got us a fresh coconut and cut it open for us. You drink the “boca juice” then they cut it open, make a spoon from the shell, and you eat in boca meat. That was sure fun!
We went snorkeling and played on the beautiful beach! You would not believe how clear that water was! It was like looking through a glass of filtered water! Beautiful!! We saw some pink, bright blue, bright yellow, and purple coral. We saw some puffer fish, star fish, and lots of other incredible fish! I wish I could have had a camera for that part! It was just like things you see in the movies! I felt like I was in “Finding Nemo.”
Next we went on another boat ride to other parts of the island.
We came home, went swimming, ate dinner and went to bed. We had a great trip, but the only downside was that we got some pretty nasty sunburns! But we are healing up now (dad we hope you are too!)
Dad went back to the office, and we went back shopping! We went to the “pearl market” and a few other places then to CPK for lunch. After lunch we came home and did some good relaxing! We were all really sore from our sunburns! We went out to dinner, came home, watched a movie, then went to bed.
We went into the Philippine country side on a long drive. It was really fun to see the rice fields, caribou, volcanoes, the ocean, banana trees, coconut trees, mango trees, monkeys, and lots of other things. Oh, and by the way, the driving in Philippines is absolutely CRAZY!!! Pretty much all of the rules are optional, no one stays in their lanes, everyone passes by driving into oncoming traffic, and people drive fast and REALLY close together! But, the amazing thing is we didn’t see one accident the whole time we were there! Here are a few pictures from our excursion:
We saw about 8 monkeys on the side of the road and fed them some apples. These are two little beggar girls that sold me some flutes.
We drove out to Villa Escadero and that was one of my favorite parts of the trip!! Villa Escadero is an old coconut plantation. We ate at an authentic Philippine restaurant where you can eat right in the river! Darin and I went river rafting on bamboo rafts. We got caught in the rain and it was so fun! It was really warm, and ended as quickly as it started. We also got to go on a caribou ride, and then we went to a culture show that was incredible!! They had amazing costumes, fun music, Dad got a coconut from the stage, and we watched a live cock-fight! (That made me sad even though they wrapped their claws so they couldn’t kill each other).
We got up and headed to the golf coarse!
We headed back home and Benny made us some yummy but really hot sushi!
After lunch we finished getting our things together. Mom and dad took us to the airport, we were sad to say goodbye. We headed back to Taiwan, then our long flight to San Francisco.
Day # 9-
San Francisco was fabulous! It was a little weird because we arrived earlier that we left (because of the time difference) I felt a little like I was in Back to the Future. Anyway, we got to San Fran, went to our hotel and dropped our stuff off, saw the golden gate bridge, went to china town, went on a trolley ride, and Darin took me to a super romantic little Italian restaurant. It was absolutely delicious! After dinner we went back to our hotel and went to bed.
We got up early and headed to the airport, and I got to come home to this cute boy!