April 24, 2013

Quick update from KL!

These past four days in Kuala Lumpur have been incredible! I really love this city & really want to explore the rest of Malaysia!

Tonight we make our way back home.

I can't wait to share our adventures with you all! For now, here's a few (crappy quality) iPhone photos:

April 23, 2013

Tuesday Topics: Four Sites I Check Daily

Right now, as many of you lovely readers know from my previous post, I'm in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Thanks to Blogger & its scheduled post feature, I was able to do this post to keep up with Topic Tuesday! Hope everyone has a lovely week.

Four Sites I Check Daily:

I'm really glad I got turned onto the BL train- it's so easy to read all the blogs I love.

2. Pinterest
You know, I was pretty hesitant to join when I first heard of it. Then one day last year I caved in and have been non-stop all up on it since!

3. Facebook.
Duh. I need to keep up with what's going on with my fam & friends!

Good travel site for tips, stories & news daily.

Come join the fun here:
The Austin Family Diary

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April 19, 2013

Goodbye, Philippines!

My husband and I have been living in the Philippines for the last 9 months. But today, we leave this amazing country and head out. Although we leave today, we know it won't be long before we're back here again.

Our backpacks are packed and our flight is in a few hours. Here is what the next week looks like for us:

Philippines >> Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia >> California!

We'll be in Malaysia tonight and spend 4 days there. We decided that since we're on this side of the Pacific, we might as well check out another Asian country! (& flying to KL from Manila is pretty darn cheap!). I'm really excited to explore KL. Anyone have any suggestions on what we should do/eat/see in Kuala Lumpur???

BUT, the thing I'm most excited about: GOING HOME!! My goodness, ya'll don't even know how happy I am about this! I've been away from my family and friends for 14 months. FOURTEEN! That's the longest I've been away. (Before we came to the Philippines, we were teaching in Korea. You can read about our South Korea experiences here.)

So, with all this being said, it will be looking a little stark on my side of the blog world for the next several days or so, but ya'll know I will try to blog as often as I am able to!

Here are some highlights from our time in the Philippines:
- Sagada
- When Prada had her puppies- I miss all my puppies so much =(
- Filipino Food: A Basic Guide
- Thanksgiving
- Boracay
- Tropical Permaculture
- Caramoan
- Our one-year anniversary

Read about all our Philippines adventures here.

I'm really, really excited for us to start these next adventures in our lives! We've got some plans while we're in California and even bigger plans afterwards, so stay tuned! =)

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April 17, 2013

Army Navy

Army Navy is a fast-food restaurant with various locations throughout Philippines. They serve up burgers, burritos, tacos, quesadillas, fried chicken, milkshakes, and a few other items all with American-style influences. It's definitely not the cheapest place to eat in the Philippines, especially for a fast food joint, but their food is worth the extra pesos. Their restaurants are set-up like military bunkers with quirky road signs. They even play American music-- from oldies, to 80's, to modern pop. 

Jason and I try to avoid chain restaurants, but we make an exception for this place. We first got hooked when we were in Boracay. It's become our most favorite chain restaurant here.

Our first time trying Army Navy & we ordered a whole table-full! Tacos, burger, burrito, open-face quesadilla, onion rings. We devoured EVERYTHING.

April 16, 2013

Tuesday Topics: Five Childhood Pics

Life has just been a little crazy for us lately, so I've been a bit behind on Tuesday Topics. But I'm back this week, skipping the weeks I missed (seven & six) and going straight to five.

Here are my
five childhood pics:
Philippines 1991 w/my dad & brother, about to eat balut!

Snow time @ our grandma's house. (Don't mind my 'do)

April 15, 2013

Intramuros, Manila, Philippines

Intramuros is the oldest district in Manila. It's like a small town (only 0.26 square miles) located within walls, hence its nickname the Walled City (and intramuros means "within the walls" in Latin). These defensive walls were built by the Spanish in the late 16th century for protection from invasions. There is a lot of history here, from the Spanish rule, American colonization to World War II. Jason and I had to go to the immigration office, which is located right across the street from Intramuros. After we handled our business, we decided to walk around the wall and the town. You can pay for a guide to take you around or take a kalesa (horse-drawn carriage), but we opted out and explored on foot by ourselves. If you're in the Philippines and into history, definitely check out Intramuros. It's the historic core of Manila.

April 13, 2013

Banaue & Sagada: Photos

Here are more photos of our trip to Banaue and Sagada (all taken by Jason).
(To read about our trip, click here & here.)

As we got into Banaue, the sun was coming up.

View of Banaue from our hotel.
About to climb 412 steps. Banaue.

April 11, 2013

We used to be blonde {Throwback Thursday}

I had thick, black hair the day I was born. But as time went on, my mom said it fell out (& yes- I was a bald baby for a couple of months) and it grew back blonde. From the time I was almost a year old to a pre-teen, I had blonde hair. Then after that, it just got gradually darker as I got older. My husband was the same. 

So here's my husband and I as blondies:

Come link up here.
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April 09, 2013

Sagada, Philippines

Let me say right off the bat-- Sagada is now one of my most favorite places in the Philippines!

Like I mentioned in the last post about our trip to Banaue, Jason, me & some family went on a mini-trip to northern Luzon. This is part two of our trip:


Sagada is located in northern Luzon in Mountain Province, about 170 miles north of Manila. This town is known for its nice and refreshing climate, mountain scenery, and outdoor activities. You can go trekking, explore caves and waterfalls, go on nature hikes, white water rafting, and see the Hanging Coffins.
We went to Sagada after our day in Banaue. We got in after dark. The road that leads to the town just seems to keep climbing up the mountain. The first thing I noticed was how much this place reminded me of the States-- the weather, the trees and even the smells! Sometimes the smell of campfires would waft in through the windows and I felt like I was about to go camping at Yosemite or something. Once we got into town, I noticed how small the town was. Everything seemed to be walking-distance to each other.  

Our first priority was trying to find a place to stay. We decided on Alapo's Kitchenette & Inn. It was located right up the street towards the hill from the little transportation hub in the center of town. The building was really nice and looked new. Our rooms were awesome: spacious, nice and clean. And it was really cheap-- only 350php per person! It was a steal. As with many places in Sagada, you won't find an aircon or even a fan in the room (or even in restaurants!) because there is no need for it. The climate is that nice.

After getting settled in and resting a bit, we were getting hungry. Sagada has a curfew between 9pm and 4am, for locals and tourists. It was almost 9pm, so our restaurant choices were pretty limited. We came across Kimchi Restaurant & Bar and had dinner and drinks there. We retired a little early because we had a full day planned ahead.

The next morning, while everyone was still asleep, Jason went out and got this view of Sagada from the hilltop:

Everyone was slowly starting to wake up when he got back. We had a full day ahead of us, so we quickly ate breakfast and headed to the tourist office for some information. The tourist office is located right at the Sagada Municipal Hall in the center of town by the transportation hub.

After we got our info, we walked back to the car so we could head out. On our way, we saw a group of children dressed in traditional tribal wear practicing a performance.

Our first item on our list of things to do for the day was hike to Bomod-ok Falls, aka Big Falls. With the information we got at the tourist office, we drove to the entrance of where the hike starts, about a 15 minute drive from the center of town. There at the entrance of the hike is a small office where you can hire a guide. The ladies working in the office were all so nice, helpful and friendly. We saw on other sites that it was highly recommended to hire a guide, so we did. Our guide was a sweet, older lady. And boy are we glad we hired her! The hike goes through rice terraces and small villages, without her we definitely would've gotten lost. It was definitely worth the 500pesos to have her.

The hike was really awesome. Just the day before I was seeing rice terraces from a distance, and then here I was actually hiking through them. The views were breathtaking. The sun was blazing, but the mountain breezes felt nice. Everyone in the villages we passed through seemed friendly-- probably because they were used to this kind of thing. We got some really great photos.

After about an hour, we made it to Big Falls! It was beautiful! The pool was nice for swimming and the water was clean. The water was cold but it felt so good after that hike!

We spent about an hour at the waterfall, enjoying the scene and refreshing water. Then we headed back. I'm not going to lie, the trek back is definitely tough since most of it is going uphill. It took us a little longer this time, about an hour and a half. But we did make it!

All that hiking made us hungry and it was about lunch time, so we went to one of the most popular restaurants in Sagada: Yoghurt House.

Jason and I were craving a delicious, big, hearty sandwich and Yoghurt House did not disappoint! Jason ordered the open-face tuna sandwich and I got the Apple Ham sandwich-- both were really yummy!

And of course, we couldn't go to the Yoghurt House without ordering their homemade yogurt! So we got the yogurt with granola. And let me tell you- I've never had real, legit yogurt like this before! The texture looks like frozen yogurt- nice and thick. But it's not cold and the taste is completely different- it's really tart! Jason and I really liked it.

Overall, we enjoyed the food at Yoghurt House.

After lunch, we headed out to our next adventure of the day: the Hanging Coffins. This is the most popular attraction in Sagada. There are literally coffins hanging on the sides of these cliffs located in Echo Valley. These hanging coffins is the traditional way of burying people that is still used to this day. Not everyone in town gets a hanging coffin though. Only those who had all the special qualifications are able to be buried this way.

The trek to the coffins takes less than a half hour from town. You can hire a guide (through the tourist center) for 200 pesos (for up to 10 people). We didn't hire a guide and we did get lost a little bit, but eventually found it. The walk takes you pass the church and through a cemetery to get there.

The hike to Echo Valley is easy, but once you get to the valley, the climb down (& up!) is pretty steep. We got to the valley, and everyone except Jason and Levi stopped at the top of the cliff to see the coffins from a distance. Jason and Levi went down into the valley to see the coffins up close.

What an interesting way to be buried. And I wonder how they get the coffins there, especially the coffins hanging at the very top!

After all this hiking and adventuring, we were quite tired. But we had an amazing day seeing and exploring beautiful Sagada.

These signs were all throughout town. Apparently, 'momma'
is beetle nut that they chew.
The next morning, we unfortunately had to return to Manila. We got up at 4am to be able to be back in time to return the rental car. On the way, we stopped here:

I fell in love with Sagada! It's probably my most favorite place in the Philippines! The weather was perfect- it reminded me of being back home in California. The town is well-maintained and clean. There is a strong tribal/traditional community there and it's great seeing them preserve their culture. Everyone was so friendly and super nice. It was just a great, enjoyable place all around.

I would highly recommend going to Sagada when visiting the Philippines, especially those who love outdoor activities, nature and culture. To get to Sagada, you can rent a car (like we did) . Prices range from about 2,500pesos - 6,000pesos per day (depending on how large a vehicle you need and/or you hire a driver). You can also take a bus from Manila (obviously the cheapest option). Either way, just find a way to get there! It's amazing.

Jason plans on posting about our trip as well and he has many other photos, so I will let you all know when (or if) he posts.

Dang, what I wouldn't do to be back in Sagada right now instead of Manila! =)post signature

April 06, 2013

Banaue, Philippines

On Monday, we went on an awesome 3-day trip here in the Philippines.

Some family came to visit the Philippines from the States. They wanted to go to some parts in northern Luzon, so Jason and I tagged along since we hadn't been before. We rented a car and made a trip to Banaue & Sagada.

This is part one of our adventure: 

Banaue is a town located in the province of Ifugao in northern Luzon. It is known for its rice terraces. These rice terraces are about 2,000 years old. They were carved into the Ifugao mountains by the ancestors of the indigenous people. These terraces are located about 5,000 feet above sea level and cover approximately 4,000 square miles of mountainside.

April 04, 2013


Sorry for the lack of posts recently- I just got back from an amazing trip! It was actually pretty nice to be disconnected-- sometimes the soul needs it. I'm working on writing the posts about the trip and I can't wait to share them!  Here's a little somethin' somethin' in the meantime:

Currently I'm:

Loving: the pictures we took on our trip! Jason got a lot of awesome shots.

Watching: Nat Geo

Thinking about: what I want to eat (what else is new?! Ha.)

Looking forward to: APRIL 25th!!

Listening to: Justin Timberlake's newnew. I've had it on heavy rotation.

Wishing: I was getting a massage right now {my body is so sore from all the hiking we did!}

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