Monday, October 21, 2013

Corregidor and Las Casas Tour

    Today we woke up, got breakfast and we went to Starbucks before getting on our bus. Yay! They were open today! Haha. The barista asked us how the convention was. I guess he got witnessed to a lot by the brothers. I guess us witnesses like to get our coffee and witness at the same time. Haha. The people are pretty favorable to the witnesses here. More than at home, it seems. 
    We get to our bus on time. And when they said they leave at 6:45 am on the dot - they are NOT exaggerating this time. I guess if they were late to one thing, all of the days plans would be off. They pulled out at the exact time. Some people were even left behind. They read the roster and with some names- no one answered. Two people we saw at breakfast and we felt really bad they got left. Fortunately we saw them on the boat later and they told us they took a cab so they would make it in time. Good thing!
    After about an hour bus ride we get to the port and hop onto a chartered ferry. It held A LOT of witnesses. Maybe about 5 bus loads. They were handing out over the counter pills to people who get motion sickness. They said they wanted us to enjoy the trip and not be sick during it. The brothers are really really sweet here. So considerate. Anyways, the pill was similar to Dramamine, but it started with a 'V' and it didn't have a drowsy effect. I took 1 then and a few more for later. Can you tell I didn't want to be sick again? Well I didn't get sick, thankfully.
    We took a 26 mile trip on the ferry (it took about an hour) to Corregidor Island. We get off the boat and they hand us all bottled waters and we get to our trolleys (there were probably about 7 of them). We only have an hour to go around the island and get our tour. This is a tour that usually takes 4 hours so it was fast paced and my brain had a hard time focusing on all the facts. I didn't get much out of it except for the fact that war is bad and
now it is a pretty place. Haha. Certain parts were interesting though- if you like history. Corregidor was used for a number of things in the past, but mainly as a military fortress. Under the Spanish rule, Corregidor served not only as a fortress of defense, a penal institution, and a station for Customs inspection, but also as a signal outpost to warn Manila of the approach of hostile ships. That is why it is named what it is. Corregidor means "The Island of the Corrector". And the Japanese occupied it sometime during WW2 and tried to capture the Philippines, but they couldn't. And the Americans came to the Filipino's aid. So I guess that is one reason they like Americans today. Another interesting point of interest was a smaller island that was a ways off the coast. The Americans carved the island out to look like a battleship. When the Japanese approached and fired at it again and again it wouldn't sink. It really did look like a ship from a distance. Pretty cool. They also made bamboo planes as decoys to trick them.
    There was a lot of pretty views and vegetation on the island. There were even MONKEYS!!! That was really neat to see. I've seen monkeys but only in zoos. Not in the wild like that. No humans live on the island.  Only workers. So the monkeys have free range basically. They told us to watch our bags/purses because the monkeys like to take them. Our tour guide said one day she saw a monkey sitting on a rock drinking coke out of a can with a straw. Haha. They are pretty smart. I also got to see a long lizard briefly but I didn't get to take a picture of that, sadly. And I got video of this plant (it looked like it was in the fern family). When you touch it, it closed up. I will have to post the video separately because I can't upload video to the blog. Jehovah created so many neat things, we have no idea even the half of them!
    So after our quick tour, we get back on the ferry and they have 'snacks' prepared for us. It was speghetti and some bread and drinks. It seemed like lunch but they called it a snack. They eat a lot here. Breakfast, snack, lunch, snack,dinner.... It is surprising they aren't fatter here.  (Actually, there doesn't seem to be a lot of overweight people here. Maybe they walk more?). Anyways, we have been given sooo much special treatment on this trip. We feel bad. With the rides, food, ect. We feel so spoiled, we don't know what we are going to do when we get home. Haha. The hospitality is amazing! 
    So as we eat our snacks we are sailing to another island called Bataan. It takes another 30-45 minutes. When we get there we get to ride the Jeepneys!! This will be our 1st (and probably only) time riding them. There are 14 people packed into each. All with our brothers and sisters of course. So you feel safe. It is really hot in them until you get moving and have some wind coming through the small windows. This is another hour ride to our destination. Surprisingly though, these don't feel like long trips because you are so busy conversing with your brothers and sisters. In the Jeepney we had a neat conversation with 2 locals and a couple who are serving in Taiwan (originally from SC). We were talking about the cultural differences and similarities. I liked that. One example was why we don't see many brothers here with mustaches. Apparently, it is because they are viewed as 'seductive' here. Haha. Yeah right! Gross! But seriously, if brothers have  a mustache they won't be able to be considered to have special privileges here (like elders, servants, ect). The couple talked about what it was like in Taiwan as well. Interesting stuff. 
    When we get to our destination we get out of the Jeepneys and are all handed this cold sweet tea. It tasted good. It is hard to decribe. Like tea with lime and mint flavor and it had actual pieces of gelatin (Jello) in it. It could scare you if you didn't know they were in there, you'd think a bug was in your drink (thankfully Christa warned us). We drank them as we walked down cobble stone streets as Filipinos played on the guitar to welcome us (these people were working there so they weren't our brothers , but super super nice). They'd say 'Welcome ma'am , welcome sir'. Along the way we pass old Spanish looking houses from the 18-20th centuries and pretty greenery. We all want to take so many pictures but they tell us to keep walking so we can get our lunch 1st. 
    We go inside this house and upstairs they have tables all set up for us and food set up (buffet style again). They had bottled waters and sweet teas on all of the tables. By the way, you think our sweet tea in the south is sweet? Well the Filipinos sweet tea is even sweeter! Once we all get in they say a prayer and invite us to get our food. As we eat there are more dancers from the resort that perform for us. It was hard to eat because we were so distracted with the dances. We have seen most of these dances by the brothers already, but these people do this for a living so they are faster and better at it. No offense to the brothers 😁 We appreciated all their hard work for us. If they brothers tried to do these dances they would probably have had a lot of injuries in the practice sessions. I tried to get some video but everyone else wanted video too, so we were getting in each others ways. I backed off so we wouldn't lose our Christian personalities. Haha. So we will see later if we got any good footage. I want Kathy Long to use some of the dances in her Zumba routine. They looked like fun moves. Haha. 
    After lunch we are split up into large groups and had a guide that works there give us a tour. Again it was so fast paced. Imagine only having an hour to tour Biltmore House. It would be neat, but you miss out on a lot of details. These houses were so big. We had to take our shoes off when we entered the houses out of respect to the owners they said. It was neat to see how they lived and all the extravagant decorations- same as why it is neat seeing the Biltmore house. Apparently you can stay here in certain houses. But it is crazy expensive, like 150,000 Pesos a night. That is like $3,450 a night !! But you get the whole house and there are a lot of rooms. Still- crazy! Anyways, the tour flies by and it is already time to load into the Jeepneys again and head to our ferry. 
    On the ferry we get MORE snacks. Free Sabrett hotdogs and pineapple or orange juice and dessert (although I just took a taste because it was weird and not the greatest)  Sooo much food. Haha. They're trying to fatten us up! On the way back, we get to see the sun set on the Manila bay. John saw it all, but I missed most of it because I was eating inside the boat. It was nice being outside on the back of the boat with the breeze on your face. :) awesome feeling.  After the sun set I went back inside and talked to a local sister the rest of the trip. We talked about service- the challenges, our current bible studies, the support of the pioneers in the hall, ect. Again our trip flew by and it was time to get off the boat and hop on the bus back to our hotel.
    Everyone was tired. They turned the majority of the lights off. Some were sleeping on the bus. Part of the trip we shared very cheesy bible jokes with a brother 2 seats up from us. And another part a local sister was going down the aisles and taking pictures of us sitting in our seats, holding the badges with our names on it. But this was funny because she had to take about 3 or 4 shots a person (or couple) to get a picture that wasn't too dark or too blurry (because of the bus starting and stopping in traffic). We laughed a lot! 
    JnWe get back to our hotel and John and I don't want to go up to our room because it's hard to say goodbye to people knowing we may not see them again. One example is some of our buddies that we have been on most of the tours together are leaving tomorrow morning. So sad. Also, it is sad because the welcome desk at our hotel is now all broken down and packed up. The locals are almost done volunteering and helping us and have to go back to their lives at home. We have one more day left though. At this point we finally have to go to our room and say goodbye :( . John and I feel like we are rocking from being on the boat a lot of the day. (You know that feeling you get when you have been riding rides at a theme park all day? - kind of like that). So we go back to our room and since we weren't that hungry, we just ended up going to bed at around 8:30 pm. 

Most we have ever spent at Starbucks. $480.  Haha jk . It actually was only about $11 US money and we got a lot of stuff there. Weird how some things are cheaper than the US here and some are the same. 

Our ferry 

Pulling into Corregidor Island 

At Corregidor 
Longest gun. It could shoot as far as 17 miles away. 


The tea with jello in it
Amazing view of the rice fields 
Touring Las Casas

He is showing us their peep hole on the 2nd floor. You open a square opening and look down at the front door. You pull a string to open the door if you want them in. If you don't- you pour water on their heads to go away. Haha
Peep hole

Art work
This was a mosaic on the ceiling of one house. Intricate details. Amazing work. 

There were these kids there from a school and they were all amazed to see a blonde from another country. They all screamed in excitement when they saw come out of the house and wanted to take a picture with her. The boys were saying her name ' Naomi, Naomi' (they knew it from her badge).  It was hilarious. I was just glad I wasn't blonde at that moment. 

On the bus back

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