We are back! Our month in the Philippines (and Thailand) flew by so fast and it all seemed so surreal – I still haven’t wrapped my mind around it. Just sitting here, thinking about what happened over the last month is nostalgic! *the feels*
So back to business we go! I wrote this summary so you can get an idea of how much Asia we were able to fit in one month (and our budget) and our final expenses for the whole trip. (Also, for my own personal record to refer to for various reasons like future budgeting for trips and to refer to when I cry wondering where $5k of our money just went >.< )
What Happened – A Summary of Events
It was a whirlwind of a month wrapped up by a slower-paced week spent in my hometown. The first week of May, we stayed and spent most of our time catching up with my family in Manila. My cousin’s wedding happened that weekend in Tagaytay (about 4 hours drive outside of Manila).
The second week, we jetted off to Thailand for 7 days. We explored the nightlife and busy marketplace in Patong Beach, got several massages and did some shopping (I said I was going to keep the shopping to a minimum but the deals in Thailand were too good to pass up! >.< I picked up stuff that I knew I would need, and maybe a few “spoiler” items that I necessarily didn’t need but were nice to have).
What I enjoyed the most was exploring the natural beauty of Thailand. We walked by Patong beach and I especially loved it there at night. You can feel the cool breeze and hear the sounds of the water – it provided relief from the heat (it was always hot there, even when it rained). It wasn’t as busy at night with tourists and vendors, so it was ‘relaxingly’ calm.
At the Siam Conservatory, we rode an elephant! Her name is Bosu and she’s a 23-year-old Asian elephant. At the conservatory, she lived with eleven other female adult elephants and one little female baby elephant. There are no male elephants in this conservatory because they were much harder to train and stay calm.
Each of these elephants are cared for by a mahout (elephant trainer). This is so cool because I learned that the mahouts stay with their one elephant for life – they even sleep together at night to keep that bond strong. If a mahout dies and the elephant continues to live, that mahout’s son can take over care of the elephant. Only men are allowed to become mahout. Females were not allowed because they menstruate once a month. Elephants are considered akin to kings. Women weren’t allowed to sit on top of an elephant’s head and disrespect them by “bleeding” on them… interesting huh?
Bosu, our elephant, and her mahout took us on a ride up the side of the mountain and back down. It was pretty scary at first because we were so high up from the ground and she wobbled when she walked – so I was afraid we’d fall! But Bosu was sure-footed… even when we hiked DOWN the hill! (Fun fact, elephants eat 500 pounds of food per day!)