4 Things I loved About the Philippines During Rainy Season
(and why you should consider it for off season travel)
By Brittany Floyd
I’ve walked along the Seine in Paris on a frigid March afternoon wrapped in a wool peacoat and wondering if that was what Hemingway or Baldwin did during their first season the sun no longer illuminated it’s enchanting streets, slept overnight in a bivouac tent made of camel wool in the freezing cold a two hour camel ride deep into the Sahara Desert in January (I woke to a warm sunrise) and drove by the stadium where the first game was played in São Paulo for the World Cup as the contracted Brasilians were building it. Let’s just say I’ve seen most of the world during off season and for a good reason; I’ve saved a lot of money!
My desire to visit the Philippines was inspired by a good friend of mine, Rachel, who is a Peace Corps volunteer in Metro Manila. I promised to visit her when my flight attendant benefits kicked in and the season was slow for flying. Once everything aligned I was sorted to fly to Manila during the rainy season month of September. I went to Buffalo Exchange and found a trendy pink neon raincoat and a thrift store for rain shoes (for compact traveling). I coached myself many times that I was going to visit my friend and it didn’t matter if it rained the whole time, that maybe somehow I would not worry so much about my hair (humidity, rain, black girl hair?).
A few months later I was 30 minutes from landing in Hong Kong for my connection to Manila and we encountered weather. A couple days prior there was a typhoon that swept through SE Asia, which is normal, but because of lightning near the airport and the fact that we had flown 16 hours from Dallas we were going to run out of fuel so we had to divert to Taiwan. While on the ground in Taiwan we learned the crew went illegal, so we got put up in a nice hotel in the city of Kaohsiung.
I knew right then that rainy season was coming after my happiness and that I had to stay positive and take every day as it came. I spent the night exploring Kaohsiung the biggest port city in Taiwan. I eventually made my connection to Manila and beyond and the rest was more than I could have imagined. Here is a list of my favorite things from the trip and hopefully you are inspired to start thinking outside of peak-season for your next vacation.
- Empty Island — The one thing I’ve learned about folk, and even myself sometimes, is that we like our beaches exclusive and easily accessible. Most of us cannot afford that luxury but during off season it feels like the island is all yours. We stayed at the eco-friendly Amami Beach Resort on the quiet island of Puerto Galera. The staff were extemely attentive and on the lucky day when there was no rain we layed out on the beach where the only sound was the ocean crashing against the sand. On the day that it rained it was the most serene day I’ve had in years where my friend and I talked for hours about our past, present and future plans that we can only hope we live up to. When the sky was clear we went for hike to a waterfall nearby with two young boys who worked for Amami who guided us there and back safely (what a task!). The resort was well maintained and from my bed I could hear the ocean purring at night. We stayed for 2 nights and ate all our meals in their dining area. Cost: 4,000 Philippine pesos ($89 USD).
2. Spa Day — Thailand is not the only place in Southeast Asia that you can relax for cheap. We went to a very posh place called The Spa for our girls pamper day after a 1/2 day of shopping (and bargaining for knock-off bags and Macbook chargers) at Greenhills Mall, it was the best recluse.
I had 30 minutes access to a private steam shower, a 45 minute sea-salt scrub, a 115 minute traditional Filipino banana leaf massage and a pedicure that was surely from an angel because I didn’t feel a thing and my toes looked amazing. Cost : 3,000 Philippine pesos ($70USD)
3. Nightlife Metro Manila! — It’s so cool. I mean way more cool than I’d even imagined. My very first night in Manila we went to hip-hop night at a renovated warehouse that had a speakeasy connected. We visited bars and clubs in the cool neighborhood Makati and an area called ‘The Fort’. I went to Ice Bar for the first time and even got my picture on a nightclub’s website. Don’t worry about getting cute and having to deal with rain, you can get anywhere (I mean anywhere!!! +20 minute cab rides away) in Metro Manila in a metered taxi for less that 250 Philippine pesos ($6USD)
4. Halo-Halo — It tastes exactly the same as it does during peak-season. It is just as bizarre to any foreigner and a challenge that anyone who has dared gladly took on. Halo Halo (Mix — Mix) the most famous Filipino dessert has ingredients that vary from shaved ice, coconut sport, cheese, beans, jello and my favorite potato ice cream & leche flan. Rachel literally mixed everything together. I’m not going to say that i finished it all, but I did give it a try and maybe next time I’ll be a little more brave than the last.
Filipino foods with an honorable mention:
- Chicken Adobo
- The fresh tuna I had on the island of Puerto Galera with spicy coconut sauce.
Going to Southeast Asia during rainy season is only for the wildly adventurous and flexible traveler. Delays may happen (that goes for any trip on any season), you may find yourself diverted to Taiwan or missing a connection until the storm passes. If you are wise enough to know when after 8 hours of raining through the night to take the first clear sky and go for hike, if you can appreciate simply being able to walk a few steps from your private cabin to the beach instead of swimming in an infinity pool this might just be the trip for you.
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