Day 317 of retirement

Hi All

Sunday 19th December:

Usual Sunday. Washed and waxed the Thunder Monster before heading into Gasan where Guy went to the office (play Mahjong) and I hit Barbarossa for the expats gathering.

Big crowd today with 11 expats turning up including aussies Gary and Lindsay who I met yesterday.

It was Geoff’s (the Pom) birthday so Ron had a big chocolate cake made in the shape of the union jack. All the staff at Barbarossa also joined us all in singing happy birthday. We were unable to eat all the cake so the remainder was taken to the “office” (Mahjong / card den) where it was consumed by all the gamblers.

Home in time to see the news and Australia win the third test. Needless to say the Englishmen here are giving the aussies a bit of curry at the moment.

Monday 20th December:

Up and off to Gasan for some supplies and Wi-Fi. Picked up some nice fresh cooked corn at the market for lunch.

Guy was once again off to Mahjong at Midday and I was going to go exploring but it drizzled rain so opted for a siesta instead (loving this siesta thing). Then a nice long leisurely stroll up the beach to clear the cobwebs as the rain had cleared.

Home and cooked up some Pork mince and pasta sauce for dinner followed by fresh Papaya for desert.

Guy had a win today at Mahjong so a very nice day all round.

Ooohhh the Xmas carol singing kids were back with their musical instruments to serenade us and earn a few more Pesos.

Tuesday 21st December:

Guy was back playing Mahjong at midday so I headed to Boac to get cashed up for Xmas as we are heading for Manila and Guy’s family on Thursday. And with the ATMs under a bit of pressure at the moment I gave myself a couple of days to get the cash due to breakdowns. One in three times I go to the ATM, it is out of order. But all good as the ATM worked fine so cashed up.

Stopped into the Goat Place and got some Kari-Kari (grounded Pork in Pork blood) for dinner. It actually tastes better than it sounds.

And of course had to stop by the bakery and get some Pandecoco buns. I could live on these things.

Back just before noon and as Guy hadn’t caught a Jeepney yet, I ran her into the “office”.

Back home for lunch and a siesta. Then into Barbarossa for some Wi-Fi and a chat to Geoff, the pom, who was also there. As it was a beautiful afternoon (Sunny but not too sunny and the humidity has dropped a bit) I cruised down south on the Thunder Monster. Was a nice slow pleasant ride enjoying the cool of the sea breeze and the coastal views. Don’t get much better than this.

Nice relaxing evening as we start planning our Manila Xmas.

And the Xmas carol singers were back in force tonight. Kids and adults. The go is they sing and you pay any where from P5 – P100 ($0.12 to $2.50 AUS). And when you do pay they sing a “Thank you” song, which is very sweet.

Wednesday 22nd December:

Busy day as it is our last before heading to Manila for Xmas. Guy had a hair colour booking for 9:30am and when we rocked up, Rose was triple booked and Guy was at the end of the queue.

As I had to go to Boac to pay our PilHealth (Private medical coverage for P300 ($7.50 AUS) per ¼ ), Guy came along for the ride. Also dropped into Starbike, where I purchased the Thunder Monster, to see if my number plate had turned up yet. And nope after 5 months still no plate. Ooohhhhh well it will get here when it gets here.

Also went past the ATM and the line was about 1.5 hours long snaking up the street. Sooooooo glad I cashed up yesterday.

Back to Rose and still no joy so checked out the other hairdresser and she was also booked solid. So home we came.

Guy had her nails booked for 1:00pm so after lunch I dropped her off and headed to Barbarossa for some Wi-Fi. Fifteen minutes later Guy turned up with no nails done. The manicurist didn’t turn up. So Guy headed over to the second hairdresser just to see if she could get in. An hour or so later she returned to Barbarossa with her colour done.

I guess one out of two isn’t too bad……..

Had a chat to Geoff and Dave (the Canadian) who turned up for a cup of coffee. Interesting fact we found in the newspaper is that the Philippines have 21 public holidays. And this excludes the “local” public holidays in each province.

Back home and started organizing our gear for the trip back to Manila where we will be till the 9th of January. Guy’s kids Jo and Jordan are arriving on the 3rd of January.

The carol singers were back again, especially the kids. I wonder if it has anything to do with the Pesos we give them?????…….

Thursday 23rd December:

All packed up and ready to go. Ron picked us up at 10:30am and delivered us to Kawit Port to catch the Ro-Ro. Off to a good start with the Ro-Ro being late.

At this time of the year everybody is headed to the provinces from the mainland to be with family. So when the Ro-Ro arrived I have never seen so many people get off one boat. Lots of vehicles as well. Anyway the crew did a great job getting everybody off and herding us on so that we were only a half hour late (12:30pm instead of 12:00 noon) in leaving. As the Ro-Ro was only about 2/3 full going back we had plenty of room to stretch out (We had a bench seat each).

Arrived in Lucena at 3:30pm and onto the bus. Now this is where things slowed down. The traffic was chaos all the way to Manila. Our 5-6 hour bus trip took 8 hours. And it didn’t help with a kid throwing up in the aisle of the bus about an hour before we arrived. Luckily the bus is air-conditioned and they keep it very cool so the vomit didn’t have time to ferment.

So 13 hours after leaving we arrived at Guy’s sister’s (Beth) house. Wasn’t too bad as we did manage to get some sleep on the boat and bus. We are both pretty lucky that we can sleep pretty much anywhere.

We both crashed and burnt in a nice soft bed.

Friday 24th December:

Off to the mall for some supplies as Guy needs a yellowish/gold-ish dress and I a red shirt for her 35 high school reunion gathering on Monday – family day and Tuesday – dance night. The colour coding is so that everybody knows that if you’re in red you’re a spouse, the alumni are in blue/white, children are green and guests are in yellow.  Guy needed a dress for their alumni batch dance night for Tuesday with a shade of gold as the theme colour (gold as in golden years). Managed to find both in the crowds of Christmas shoppers.

The mall here is like any other mall in the world at Christmas Eve. Organized chaos. Ooohhhh and the mall is even open on Christmas day from midday for those who missed or to exchange presents or use their mall vouchers received as presents. The only day the mall is closed in New Year’s day. Never been shopping on Christmas day before so could be a new experience to ponder.

Christmas is a big family affair here. Everybody is off to mass this evening. I left a little early, as it was just too crowded. We were all out in the street and Guy said that the road was eventually closed right off with all the worshippers.

Once everybody was home the food came out and the feasting began. My favourite is the Buko salad. It is like fruit salad with shredded sweet coconut flesh in a creamy mixture. Love it and of course ate tooooo much.

Ooohhh and fireworks is a large part of the Christmas and New Year’s celebrations. There are stores in the mall that sell just about anything that you want. So pretty much the whole night is fireworks going off (bombs to sky rockets), especially at midnight. Got a couple of hours respite in the early hours of the morning.

Saturday 25th December:

Leisurely morning as we waited for one of Guy’s brothers to arrive to begin the celebrations. In the mean time we did a quick trip to get some Lechon for lunch.

Now if there is a traditional Filipino Christmas food it is Lechon. That is a suckling pig that has been roasted whole on a spit. You can buy a whole pig starting from P4,800 ($120.00 AUS) for a 7kg morsel or they will cut up a section of a pig for you at P750 ($18.75 AUS) per Kilo. Even a small Lechon was too big for us so we got 3kgs cut up, crackling, dipping sauce and all.

And man it is good, sweet, tender and juicy.

Presents were handed out to one and all as everybody had now arrived. A great long leisurely lunch was enjoyed by all and finished off with my favourite, Buko Salad. Then a siesta was in order after our hectic morning…….

And still more eating for dinner with the entire family around.

Life is good.

Trevor & Guy

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