I just returned home from a wonderful trip to Cebu, Philippines with Long and our friend Paul in observance of the Chinese Lunar New Year. We stayed at the Shangri-La Hotel (http://www.shangri-la.com/en/property/cebu/mactanresort) and it was well worth the money minus the wet dog smell in our room. And to think we almost didn't go because a cyclone was headed for Cebu...thank goodness it didn't make an appearance and we had clear blue skies the entire time.
Our Hangout Spot
Banana Hammock Haven
Me & Paul in the Philippine Sea
The Typical Asian Pose
There were a few funny experiences on this trip that I wanted to capture, starting with foot massages by blind men that Longo made us get in the Manila airport. We had time between our flights and wanted to do something to help us relax and get into holiday mode so in typical Long fashion, she suggested a foot massage. We probably should've realized something wasn't quite right when the footies were cheaper than usual (even by Manila standards) but it wasn't until we sat down and Long took a good look at our therapists that she turned to me and whispered "I think they're blind - at least I know mine is" - instinctively I looked over and noticed his eyes were rapidly darting back and forth and it sent me into a bit of a tailspin. I couldn't help but feel a little panicked about our situation but after a few minutes of being completely paraletic I did what I usually do...I started talking. As it turned out, my therapist went to school to learn foot reflexology, spoke nearly perfect English, was married and owned his own reflexology studio. He was only at the airport to help a friend who was short on staff that day. It was truly remarkable and the experience was one that will go down in history but Longo is no longer allowed to select foot massage locales.
Something ironic happened while we were in transit on our way home. Longo and I were both tanned from sitting by the pool and on the beach for four days and we are both vertically challenged with long, dark hair (hers is darker and longer) but that's where the similarities end. She looks Asian and I look, well, depending on where I am and who I am with I get everything from Egyptian to Argentine to Greek but never would I pass for Asian. As we walked by a police officer he asked very seriously if we were sisters?! We both laughed uncontrollaby and said no, just really good friends (BFFs!) but as we sat on the shuttle bus we decided that from now on we will tell strangers we are sisters and that I am adopted. My new name is Stephanie Wu! I always said I wouldn't give up Angelini but Wu is a cool last name and the Chinese symbol for Wu is a little man waving. That makes perfect sense because Longo might be the nicest person I've ever met in my entire life...seriously.
A ridiculous thing we did demonstrates that Long and I are brilliant masterminds...we got smart and selected a vegetarian meal and a low-sodium meal when we booked our flights solely for the purpose of getting our food first! We are usually chewing our arms off by the time we get fed since we're considered part of stowage (no status on Asian airlines yet) and in this example were sitting in row 84 of a 747 (aka the 'big bitch' as we affectionately called her). What a difference it made. We were chowing down on our food while everyone else sat green with jealousy...even if they were something similar to hot pockets! Thanks to ABL for sharing that little tidbit of information with us. We miss you!!!
All in all it was a fantastic, low-key trip. We literally did nothing for four days except pamper ourselves, nosh on lovely food, and exercise (no laughing). We did have to survive amid the Hong Kong families with multiple children and their helpers, along with the Asian men in their teeny tiny banana hammocks (Kev - is this what you rock on holiday?) but we did our best to steer clear of both groups whenever possible. To balance that out, we hung out with a hot Aussie named Nathan who owns a firearms business with his father. Another example of why all good things lead to Australia!!!
I've learned that CNY is not only a time to start over but a time to wish each other 'good fortune' and for that reason it's customary to give red pockets with money to service providers, people who work for you, and single people (yay for the singletons)! It's a really fun custom and people are very gracious and appreciative of the gesture. There are other customs many people follow, such as cutting your hair, buying new clothes, and getting healthy. What's not to love about a culture that gives you money, encourages you to spend money on a new wardrobe, and pamper yourself on spa treatments? I love this place!!
PS - I am SO excited for my mom's visit next week. T minus 7 days and counting!