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Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. The NFL playoffs were held this past weekend and this year’s Superbowl will feature the New York Giants versus The New England Patriots. How do you define ‘patriot’?
Yay! Go Pats! Ummmm I define a patriot as someone who is loyal to and passionate about their country.

2. What’s something in your life right now that feels like a ‘giant’?
I guess grad school is the biggest thing in my life right now. But my life is pretty balanced so there isn’t anything too “giant” controlling it at the moment.

3. What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think back to being 18?
First year of college… Partying hard, being crazy, not going to class, working at Olive Garden, frat parties, making some best friends (Tessa, Emily), living in a dorm…

4. Coconut, mashed potatoes, vanilla ice cream, mayonnaise… Which white food would be the hardest to give up?
I just asked Daniel the other day if he had ever seen Breyer’s vanilla bean ice cream in Korea. I really want some. Preferably with fresh raspberries from the bushes outside my mom’s house on top.

5. Describe an incident or a day you remember as being the coldest you’ve ever experienced.
Visiting New York City in December 2000 was so cold… Also living in Prague January-April 2006. And winter last year in Korea! This year hasn’t been so bad…

6. You’re hosting a brunch…. What’s your favorite dish to prepare and serve?
I did host a New Years Day 2011 brunch but I don’t even remember what I served. Except mimosas of course! If I did it again I would make my homemade blueberry muffins.

7. How do you combat negative thinking?
I guess I try to distract myself with books or TV. Or just talk about it! With Daniel of course.

8. Insert your own random thought here.
I want to go back to the Philippines! It is so cold and lonely here… At least I have Bella. 🙂

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Kawayanan Resort ~ Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

We finally arrived in Puerto Princesa around 5pm local time (6pm Seoul time) after a long day of traveling (we woke up at 3:45am to catch the earliest airport bus!) on Saturday. I have to say, it was the smallest airport I’ve ever seen! So, it was really easy to collect our baggage and find our driver and off to the resort we went.

We stayed at Kawayanan Resort as I was looking for a hotel close to the airport since our trip was so short. It had good reviews on TripAdvisor and offered the day trips I was looking for as well as free breakfast and airport transportation.

While the price is a bit expensive for local standards at 1800 pesos a night, you get way more than you would for a $42 hotel room in America. In addition to a clean room with a comfy bed and pillows, we had a personal patio that we used for relaxing in the mornings and evenings while surfing the internet.

Even better were the glorious pool with twin waterslides and the beautiful grounds of the resort.

I also appreciated the friendly service and personal touches, like the welcome board.

And their mango smoothies were to die for!! I definitely had at least one a day. Daniel enjoyed them too…

The only time we really got to walk around and explore outside the resort was when we walked to the main road Sunday evening. We saw some huge pigs and of course the standard chickens. Then we flagged down a tricycle for a fun but bumpy ride to town.

We went to Blue Ginger as it was the top rated restaurant in Puerto Princesa on TripAdvisor. It was the only restaurant we went to outside of our resort and tours and I’m glad we did as it was the best meal we had! So if you tire of Filipino food, head here for sure… Apparently it is owned and operated by a Texan who knows what he’s doing in the kitchen! It is definitely expensive by local standards but we had a beer, appetizer, soup, and two entrees for less than $20. I had roasted red pepper and rosemary hummus and a burger with mashed potatoes. Mmmmmmmmmmmm…

I really loved Palawan and was so sad to leave. Especially since Daniel headed up to Sabang Beach yesterday and checked into a beach hut for 500 pesos a night! He gets to stay until Saturday… Lucky!

We had an awesome time on our trips to Honda Bay and the Underground River, both booked through Kawayanan Resort. Also, the weather was perfect… Warm enough for swimming but not too hot or humid!

I highly recommend this trip to anyone, even if you only have a four day weekend like I did! Bali remains my favorite place in the world and Thailand and Malaysia are lovely, but Palawan wins the awards for CLOSEST to Korea (a four hour flight to Manila then one hour to Puerto Princesa), CHEAPEST to get to ($400 on a holiday weekend via Cebu Pacific; I’m sure you could find much cheaper flights at other times), and BEST BEACHES (the water was so beautiful that I jumped in fully clothed!).

Now I am back in Seoul, where it is so cold… Counting down the days until my trip to Cambodia! 46 in case you were wondering. 🙂

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Honda Bay ~ Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

We booked our seven hour tour to Honda Bay through Kawayanan Resort for 1100 pesos per person (plus fees to rent snorkeling gear). There were only five people on our tour and our guide was very friendly and informative.

Our first stop in the ocean was a platform where we could snorkel around a coral reef. One of our boatmen doubled as a snorkeling guide and led us around, pointing out various marine life such as giant clams. Best snorkeling I’ve ever experienced! While the water wasn’t as clear as places I’ve been in the Caribbean, there was quite a variety of fish and plants to see, such as fan coral. So cool… This is why you definitely have to rent the snorkeling gear!!

Next we went to Snake Island. First we went on a walk down the deserted end of the beach and just enjoyed the scenery: mangroves on our right, ocean and mountains on our left. We saw so many sand dollars and I collected two.

We also stayed in the swimming area for awhile. There were some bright tropical fish and we fed them bread I had bought at the snorkeling rental stand.

We had lunch while we were there and Daniel befriended a local cat with a strange meow.

After lunch I walked down the beach towards where the boats were anchored and plopped down on a bench under a bamboo hut to relax. I saw some people had found a chocolate chip starfish and were taking cool photos with it. So of course I had to join!

Last we went to Pandan Island. Daniel insisted on some coconut juice straight from the source. I tried it but thought it was gross!

We did the walk on the deserted beach thing again. It was even more lovely on this island! I found a shady spot and we relaxed for a bit as we didn’t want to swim anymore.

On our walk back we found another starfish! Daniel examined it before tossing it back into the ocean…

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Underground River ~ Puerto Princesa, Palawan, Philippines

The whole reason we decided to go to Palawan was because the Underground River had just been named one of the new seven wonders of nature (along with Jeju Island in Korea where we went in August and Halong Bay in Vietnam where I am going in May). Originally we had planned to just go someplace closer to Manila but flights to Puerto Princesa were cheap so I quickly booked that extra ticket.

We booked our ten hour tour through Kawayanan Resort for 1600 pesos per person. There were only eight people on our tour and our guide Rita was excellent.

The drive to Sabang Beach takes two hours but it is rather scenic so we didn’t mind. We stopped at the halfway point “rest area” for a bathroom break and some refreshments. We also stopped to take photos at the mountain the underground river runs through.

When we got to the pier our guide took our IDs to arrange our permits. Unfortunately half of our group had a problem and their permits were delayed. So four of us (me, Daniel, and our new BFFs Malou and Alex) went on while our guide stayed with them. We took a 20 minute boat ride to the underground river area. Along the way we saw a few deserted beaches that looked so inviting. Then we arrived at the cove where the entrance to the river is. The first thing we did was go look at the monitor lizards! They were huge and kind of scary (but of course docile).

We were quickly rushed to the beach that serves as the waiting area for the underground river boat tour. Unfortunately we had to wait over an hour for our turn. Malou and I wandered toward the ocean and found a beautiful spot to swim. Even though we didn’t have our swimsuits on, we jumped right in and it was so refreshing. Daniel joined us a few minutes later. We even saw some zebra fish. We had lots of fun until someone informed us that swimming was prohibited. Oops… We had wondered why no one else was enjoying the clear green water!

Finally we put on our life jackets and helmets and climbed in the ten person canoe for our ride through the cave. The guide pointed out all the different formations and showed us places where the ceiling was so high. It was awesome I just wish we were able to go farther! (Of course, it’s impossible to take decent photos inside a cave.)

When we got back to shore there were a bunch of monkeys (long tailed macaques) hanging around. After my bad experience in Bali, I didn’t want to get too close to them! So the photo is blurry since I had to zoom in. 🙂

Before we got back on the boat Daniel and I went back to the monitor lizard area to get a few more photos.

When we arrived back at Sabang Beach it was time for lunch. Walking along with beach on the way we saw a monkey skeleton…

There were lots of stray dogs hanging around the restaurant so we fed them our meat scraps. Daniel fed this cutie with a fork. It was pretty funny.

Daniel also decided to stay at the resort where our restaurant was for the rest of his trip. So he reserved a beach hut for the next three nights while we were there. Jealous!

On our way back to the pier we were so fortunate to stumble upon a Chinese New Year celebration with dancing dragons.

alex and malou with the yellow dragon

We had a few minutes before our van was leaving to go back to the resort. Daniel bought me some beautiful black pearls and he and Alex played basketball with some local boys.

A fantastic day in paradise.

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Pork Tenderloin BBQ

Daniel had a friend pick up a package of pork tenderloin from Costco last weekend and decided to make a delicious pot of BBQ with it.

First, he made the sauce. Mix rice vinegar, ketchup, yellow mustard, brown sugar, and butter in a pot on the stove. Stir together well!

Then I put the meat in the crockpot with a can of beer and some “secret spices”.

I cooked it on high for two hours and then on low for about six.

When the meat is finished cooking, drain everything out of the pot and add the sauce. Delish!

Daniel and I enjoyed it while slightly tipsy last night with some amazing macaroni and cheese.

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Chunky Guacamole Dip

I saw avocados for less than ₩3,000 each last weekend at Home Plus so I decided to buy one and make guacamole. It’s chunky because when I put anything in our food processor it purees it to bits since there is no low setting. So I didn’t this time! And it’s dip because avocado is not the main event; there are lots of other goodies in there too.

But first, mash the avocado.

Then add diced onions and tomatoes.

Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, and a big ole dollop of sour cream.

Oops! Almost forgot the lime juice…

Now sit back and relax with some tortilla chips and your chunky guacamole dip. Imagine you are on a gorgeous beach in Mexico instead of in your apartment hiding from the cold hell that is Korea in winter. 🙂

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Wednesday Hodgepodge

1. A new Miss America was crowned on Saturday night… Did you watch? If you were a contestant what would your talent be?
No I did not watch but when I was a kid we enjoyed watching pageants… And occasionally making fun of the contestants. I have no talents so it would be a sad, sad day for me. Unless Daniel could come on stage and we could preform our famous “Hit Me Baby One More time” duet together. That would wow the judges fo sho.

2. Do you have houseplants? Real or fake?
Fake plants are dumb and real plants die in my care… Bella has eaten the bamboo plant I got on a field trip last year that managed to live for several months and I’ve already killed the cactus that I received as a gift at Christmastime.

3. When you were in school did you speak up or were you more of the hide your face, avoid eye contact, and pray the teacher didn’t call on you type of student?
Elementary to high school = Super outgoing and talkative in class.
College to now (grad student) = Please don’t call on me!
I don’t know why I changed so much…

4. Next Monday marks the Chinese New Year… What do you order when someone suggests Chinese food?
I suggest another kind of food… But if I’m forced, some kind of chicken with cashews or broccoli or something good. No real favorite.

5. How would you define a miracle? What would it take for you to consider something a miracle?
I don’t know. Something that should not happen but does against all odds?

6. What’s your favorite Disney song?
Part of Your World from The Little Mermaid.

7. I should have _____________ yesterday.
I was pretty productive yesterday. Nothing I would have done differently!

8. Insert your own random thought here.
Philippines in two days!!

Original post can be found here.