Tuesday, November 17, 2009 by Daniel

Philippines Day 3: Palawan Bound

Most of today was taken up with the journey to Palawan, the westernmost major island of the Philippines and our home for the next couple of days. It was pretty ridiculous: we spent at least 3 prime hours in the airport for a one hour flight.

But first things first. This morning, Ben picked us up immediately after breakfast to go with him to his favorite place to buy fabric. Apparently it is his custom (as it was Greg's) to simply pick out fabric and get clothes made custom fit, instead of getting it at the store. And while all the women at the wedding will be wearing their own dresses, Ben wants all the men in the same outfit: black pants and a 'barong,' or traditional formal Filipino wedding shirt. So we went with him to pick out which fabric we wanted for our barongs, and to get our measurements taken.

My entire life, I've had a hard time getting clothes that fit - particularly long-sleeved shirts. So I asked Ben (who is also very tall) if it would be possible for me to get a couple shirts made while we were doing this, and he ushered me into the next stall where we proceeded to get into discussions with the seamstresses of style, cut and fabric. I wound up getting four shirts, custom-tailored, for about $20 each (fabric and labor). I'll be able to pick them up next week. It's all very exciting, but I'm a little concerned about the buttons - all they had were these very shiny pearlescent ones. I guess, worst-case scenario, I can get them re-sewn in the states with more normal buttons. Rebecca also got a beautiful swatch of blue silk to go as a light wrap with her dress, and which cost as much as the fabric for all four of my shirts put together.

The drive back was a long one in Manila traffic, and we only just had time to grab a quick lunch before checking out and hopping in a taxi for the airport. The traffic had mysteriously evaporated, though, and we got there in record time. Hurry up and wait. We hung around the terminal until the flight, and got to Palawan just as it was starting to get dark.

While here, we're staying at the Hotel Ardent, which I've decided is very well-named. It is bursting with good-hearted intentions...but it is a marked difference from the modern (and expensive) elegance of our lodgings in Manila. This place is FUNKY. the combination of garish colors and chrome make me think of Cuba, the rooms are tiny and furnished with painted-plywood furniture, and the thin walls let in either construction noises or karaoke. But it is staffed to the gills with helpful and polite young Filipinos (of course). Dinner was good, but a long time coming as we were the only guests in the restaurant and they apparently had to fire everything up just for us. Anyway, there's free wi-fi in the coffee shop down the hall from our room, so we're able to indulge our internet addiction, and that's all that really matters. I actually really like this place: it feels much more like we're in a different country than the Manila hotel did.

A side note about the food here. I've decided that I really like Chicken Adobo, and want to learn how to make it at home. However, I am sorely feeling the lack of any real vegetables in this diet. Just about everything you get is meat in sauce with rice, and while there are fantastic fruits available at markets and roadside stands, there really just aren't many veggies. I can't imagine trying to do this as a vegetarian.

Tomorrow we get up bright and early for a full-day adventure: the underground river, which is the primary reason we're on this island. I'm looking forward to it, but I'm a bit concerned about Dana and Marc - they seem to be showing signs of wear and tear from the travelling. When we get to the beach resort in a week or so, it should be much more their vacationing speed: days of sitting on the beach. Hopefully they can hang in there with us that long.

1 comment:

Donald O. said...

No veggies sounds really strange ... I'm looking forward to hearing about the underground river ... hope it's a fun day for you all!

Love you


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