Philippines- Day 1, Traveling Around the World

I'm back, kids!  Get ready for some amazing pictures from the trip in the next couple days!

So as you know, I went to the Philippines with my brother Matt, his girlfriend Beth, and our friend Dan.  The main purpose of the trip was to visit their friend Marcus, who Matt and Dan had taught with in the Bronx, his wife Ami, and their kids Luke and Aliya (who were 2 and a half, and 6 months, respectively).  They were gracious enough to open up their home to us, and helped us plan our visit from afar- answering emails, explaining flight options, and getting us really excited to come visit!
So now.  My trip from the beginning!  I know that reading about someone else traveling for like 30 hours is pretty boring, so sorry in advance.  But when you're traveling with Matt, Beth, and Dan, it's pretty entertaining for the passengers!  And just to save you some suspense, we safely ended our day in Manilla!
My flight left Dulles at 6:30am.  With the combination of an international flight, and needing to leave time for the drive to the airport and parking, I was up at 3am and showered and out the door by 3:30am.  I got to Dulles right around 4:20am and was parked and checking in around 4:45.  The picture above was the quietest and emptiest I have ever seen Dulles.  There were about 5 employees there to every traveler I saw.  So weird.

I continued to watch the sun rise from the gate, and then from the plane before take-off.  I was flying to San Francisco to meet up with Matt, Beth and Dan, and I was too excited to catch up on sleep on this leg, haha.
No pictures were taken in SanFran, but we met up easily there.  The Asiana crash happened later that day, and when we heard about it, we were really thankful that all of our flights had been rather uneventful.  We watched movies that Dan had downloaded, listened to music, read, and napped occasionally.

But of course we took pictures in the Tokyo-Narita Airport!  We saw one of the drinks Matt had ended up really liking when in South Korea last year- Pocari Sweat!  Too bad we didn't have any yen to get it.
But Beth and I did find something interesting for Matt to try.  It was called CalorieMate and we figured it was some kind of powerbar-ish block.
 It turned out to be kind of a dense shortbread-y cookie stick that tasted like almonds.
 This is the exact moment that Matt is going "Omg, it's reeeally good!"
I know, you're on the edge of your seat with this stuff, hahaha.
We lost a day when we crossed over the International Date Line, so despite leaving early on Friday morning, we were circling Manila around 8pm Saturday night, which is 12 hours ahead of the east coast.  This was our first glimpse of the Philippines!




We made it through customs, and made sure we followed their strict no "wang wang" policy, hahaha.
Our hotel was suggested by Marcus, and was called The Bayleaf in Intramuros.  The lobby was kind of adorable. 
The room Dan and I shared was a trick.  We pulled aside those curtains on the wall to find...a wall, haha.  Matt and Beth had a view from their room though!
Since it was late, and we didn't know the city, and we had no internet or gps access, we took Marcus' suggestion and grabbed a drink and some snacks on the rooftop of our hotel!
Mango shakes!  Our first taste of mango in the country, and I was in heaven.  Matt and Dan had asked what drink they should try that was very Filipino and were told Cuba Libre or a Mojito.  Not what they had in mind.  So after further pressing, they were told to get a mango shake.  Matt asked for rum to be added to his, and the waiter said he didn't know if they could do that.  Matt immediately said, ok, then I'd like a mango shake and a shot of rum.  You could see a lightbulb go off in the waiter's head, and when Beth and Dan ordered the same thing he kind of laughed.  When the drinks were brought, he proudly told them that the bartender had added their shot of rum already.  Problem solving done right, baby.
So obviously the view was awesome.  But I was obsessed with capturing the thunderstorm we were watching roll in behind the buildings.  The lightning was so far away that we weren't hearing any thunder (or maybe it was just heat lightning), and it just added to the magnificent night.
 The rest of the rooftop...
And the first of many geckos we saw on all the walls in the country.  We were pretty high above the city up here, but this little guy just wanted to chill too.
I know there wasn't much to this post, but I had to set the scene!

The following day would involve some touring around Intramuros and then our flight to Marcus and Ami in Palawan.  So we showered and crashed pretty hard; excited to be in The Philippines together!!

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