Davao, Philippines with Beach Volleyball Republic

I never actually played in a competitive beach volleyball tourney before and this was the perfect time for me to start. Beach Volleyball Republic is a beach volley organization here in the Philippines that strives to grow the game without all the crappy politics that come with sports. They travel to different places and hold clinics for different towns as well as hold tournaments so that other islands are exposed to the sport, and most importantly because they’re so passionate to help people.

Davao, Yes President Duterte’s Hood, Where I FLEW IN AN ULTRA-LIGHT!!!

Basically the only way to describe this “plane” is a go-kart, mixed with a fan as an engine, mixed with a glider. Totes trustworthy, I know. I got to fly during the sunset, but unfortunately my flight got cut short (about 12 min instead of 15 min) because the sunset really does happen fast in the Philippines. When I was up there I couldn’t even speak words because I was just awed and amazed at how beautiful life is- just get the tissue box out already! But really though, I hope you guys experience this at least once in your life.

The Tourney.

Day 1… Bre, my teammate for Pocari Sweat, was my beach partner. She had plenty of experience before, thank goodness! Our first match was supposed to start at 10:00 am, but we did not play until 2:00 pm, which delayed our second and final match of the day to 5:30 pm when the sun sets quickly! We were playing beach in the dark, no extra lights around hahaha. But honestly WE KILLED IT! Day 1 in the books, celebrated with good food and we acted like the young 20-something-year-olds like we are. Day 2… Thanks to Dzi and Kate’s amazing beach game combined with my lack of experience, Bre and I got our butts handed to. But we became the real winners because we got to sit in the shade and eat yummy food, chill out, and not stress about not having to play next- HA!

Island hopping

Guys… The waters and white sand beaches of Davao took my breath away. I’ve never seen such vivid bllue colors of the ocean and I could not believe my eyes at all! It took a while to get to most places, boat rides to different islands ranged from 30-60 minutes. We took lots of pictures, got some color in the sun, and just lived the beach life. I’ll link a video of my Davao adventure right here, you just gotta travel there to see all its beauty!

 

Adventure Awaits.

-IT

Hong Kong Travels

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I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to travel with my team to Hong Kong, but unfortunately the trip felt too short! We stayed in Tsuen Wan, Hong Kong at the Silka Far East Hotel. I’ll be honest with you, this “room” my roommate and I were booked was the absolute most uncomfortable hotel room I’ve ever stayed in… IT WAS A ROOM FOR ANTS. Seriously, you walk in the door, take one more step, and BAM you’re standing at your bed (sorry, I didn’t save my snapchats about it). The good thing about the room was that it was clean.

Food. NOW.

20160923_123255.jpgI cannot translate the restaurant name for the life of me, but we went to this small, yet amazing place along the sidewalk on Castle Peak Rd just before the Circle K convenience store. It was only about a 5 minute walk from the hotel and I had the best ramen I’ve ever had! Granted, I’ve only had Top Ramen, but still! It was amazing. It was called the Beef Brisket Ramen with Special Sauce. I’m not sure what the “special” part was, but I’m guessing it’s magic because I did not let my ramen go to waste. The beef was so tender and seasoned well and just fell apart and melted with each bite. I also had mango juice, which is basically a mango shake there and that was delicious too.

Garden of Stars

The Garden of Stars place was pretty cool, and I got to put my hands in Jackie Chan’s handprints woo hoo! It was fun to walk around and see how they arranged all the stars’ names and some awesome statues. I was only starstruck for Jackie Chan’s hands and Bruce Lee’s statue though.

 

Ocean Park

Ocean Park was THE coolest theme park I’ve been to in terms of location and things to do! It has everything you want in an amusement park- FOOD, rides (dry & wet!), an aquarium & other animals that sadly belong in the wild 😦  , places to chill and watch shows, kiddie areas, etc. My breath was taken away by the gorgeous scenery especially going to the top of the mountain where the rides were. WE TOOK A HANGING CABLE CAR TO THE RIDES!!! The rides were so fun, but I really could not stop looking at the scenery. At one point I rode a ride similar to Drop Zone 4 times and changed what side of the ride I was on because when you get to the top you can see all around you, then it all goes away when you’re screaming so loud because you’re, well, dropping really fast from the ride. You just have to go experience the place for yourself!

 

Nightlife & Final Thoughts.

A few teammates and I took the train to Lan Kwai Fong and I was completely shocked at how cool the nightlife was! All of the lounges, clubs, and basically parties were on a huge strip that went uphill; and at the top of the hill there was another strip- so it was a huge street party on a road shaped like a T. Everyone was so chill & fun at the same time, and there were so many foreigners. The best part is you don’t actually have to get all dolled up unless you wanna go into the high-class lounges! Casual wear for the win!

Overall even though I had to stay at a hotel I would never recommend, I absolutely loved Hong Kong and I really look forward to going back and exploring more of the scenery and more food!

-IT

Qatar Travels

Some teammates and I were invited to play in another exhibition match in September, this time in Qatar! Never in a million years did I ever think I would have the opportunity to travel to the Middle East, especially to play some volley! Here’s what our schedule looked like on our arrival day :

Land in Doha 2 am, get to hotel 3:45 am, press conference (yes) at 4 am (yeah, I know), sleep until 9, breakfast, practice 10-11, lunch, free time, game time 5 pm.

My body has never been so angry at me. Oh wait… Then Mr. Food Poisoning made its appearance for the first time in my life at a very wrong time. The day before we left Manila I now recall eating a cheeseburger that smelled different than normal, but I was a silly hungry hippo and ate it anyway. Although I know you’d all love to hear about how I had to run to the restroom about every hour or every time I consumed anything, I’ll save the lovely details for myself. Bummer, I know.

THE HEAT WAS SO REAL, BUT SO WAS THE AMAZING ARCHITECTURE.

Mel and I decided to explore the area around us before we had to leave for the game. We were so excited to explore and look at beautiful buildings all around us. We even got so serious about it that we borrowed an umbrella from the hotel (shoutout to our awesome Melia Hotel), you know, looking like Asian tourists. We took some awesome pictures even though we were sweating profusely, but we kept saying it’s all for the experience and it was so worth it! We headed back to the hotel and obviously the very next thing we did was ate some delicious food at the buffet! I personally was trying to be careful about what I was eating, but let’s get real, you can’t turn down the imported cheese & cracker table- and you definitely can’t turn down a cup of sangria! Let’s not forget about dessert…

GAME TIME- MY SETTER DREAM CAME TRUE

Unfortunately one of our outside hitters was not able to make the trip, but that left an opportunity open for someone else to step up to the plate… the little Setter in me jumps with joy every time I think of doing serve receive and attacking… Michele, who’s our opposite, started playing OH for the first half of the match, while I played OPP. Personally I love playing OPP AND I’ve done it before in recreational games, but never in an actual match. The second half Michele and I switched and we freaking killed it hellerrrr! Shoutout to all the coaches who taught me how to be proficient in all positions of volley hahaha. I mean we lost for the first time against this team, but that will never take away a huge accomplishment from me!

PACK. NO CAMELS. SHOP. BYE.

We were supposed to go camel riding at 4 am the day after playing, but our organizer of the event wasn’t there to pick us up so… no camel ride… we ended up touring some of Doha and going to the Vellagio Mall, which reminded me of the Venetian Hotel in Vegas! It was cool, but I was only able to afford groceries and souvenir goodies at the supermarket. Although the Americana in me wishes I could’ve stopped by Starbucks to buy a Qatar or Doha mug like I usually do when visiting a new place. Anyway, we buy our stuff, head back to the hotel, scarf the Dominoes pizza down, and rush to the airport.

OMG Iris. Another Random Trip to Baler?

Baler, Aurora is my go-to escape place. As of right now it is my favorite spot in the Philippines because it is a wonderful place full of adventure. Seriously, I have been able to do something different every single time I’ve been there.

After practice on Friday (9/9/16) I found out that our scheduled practice for Saturday was cancelled, so I naturally thought of going home to Baler (parents retired there, mom’s province). I got home, packed my stuff quickly, and took a cab to the bus station in Cubao. It was a holiday/long weekend so I was sure there would be many tourists traveling to Baler because it is becoming more and more popular. Luckily I was able to get on a 1 am bus, although traveling at 1 am does not sound so great… In the Philippines (I will abbreviate it to PI form now on, known as “Philippine Islands”) it’s better to travel long distances at night because the traffic is insane here.

Saturday morning I arrived in Baler around 5:30. Usually I ask my dad to pick me up from the bus terminal, but this time my phones, pocket Wi-Fi, and portable battery charger all decided that I didn’t need to come in contact with anyone… so I took a tricycle. (Personally, tricycles are actually fun to ride in the province- there’s no way I would ever ride one in Manila). It took me about 7 minutes to get home from the terminal since the town is so small. I then proceeded to have small-talk with my dad who greeted me at the door, although I’m pretty sure we were both just sleep-talking to each other. I knocked out until 12:30 pm. Oops. The rest of the day consisted of catching up with my parents, my cousin and her hubby. We also had great food cooked by my cousin, Ate Nimpha (ah-teh nimp-fa). We had my favorite sinigang na hipon (shrimp with broth and veggies), giniling (ground beef with veggies, usually with raisins also), shrimp with veggies, adobo squid, and adobo sitaw (green beans in a soy/mix sauce… I’m actually not completely sure, but something along the lines of that).


SUNDAY FUNDAY!!! This has been one of my favorite days in Baler by far. We had a delicious breakfast- I made pancakes and Ate Nimpha made the bacon and eggs. After breakfast we got ready to go to my favorite place- THE BEEEAAACCCHHH!! Yassss, da beach. When we arrived it started sprinkling, but it was fine because I jumped in the ocean to go surfing. If y’all know me, y’all know I absolutely love surfing now- it has been officially dubbed as my second favorite sport- sorry, basketball. The waves were tiny, but my instructor helped me successfully paddle and stand woot woot! Then after I got the hang of that he helped me work on choosing waves and timing. I think after volleyball is done I will become a surfer. Muahaha.

After we got home from Sabang Beach my dad got a text from my tita saying she’s in Diteki so we tagged along and found this place to be a hidden gem! My parents were reunited with a lot of my mom’s side of relatives and I got to meet new family members as well as reunite with others. I forced my mom to go tubing down the lazy river with me even though we didn’t have our swimsuits on anymore since changed earlier we didn’t know what this place was like. So we did it the Filipino way- go in your regular clothes LOL. The water was cold, yet relaxing. It was cool to see all of the people, especially the kids, enjoy so much of the beautiful simplicity that nature provided; I was humbled and thankful to see it. We ended the day at home feasting on leftovers and for dessert we had none other than Dialyn’s famous brazo! It’s a delicious rolled cake of whipped eggs whites with sugar (going off of my taste buds and what I know about baking), and a creamy custard filling baked to perfection. A sweet tooth lover’s dream.

 

If you ever want to visit a place where there is always something new to do, go to Baler!

 

Adventure is out there,

-IT