A Mid-week Break

When my sister and her fiancé (now husband) got engaged, they knew they wanted a small wedding. But in Manila, having a wedding with only 50 guests is close to impossible. A lot of toes will be stepped on, there will be loads of hard feelings. So Isabel and Nicky decided to have their wedding on a weekday and invite just their families and closest friends.

Which is what we drove to Tagaytay on a Tuesday for. My mom said we would schedule to leave at 10 a.m. and of course, we didn’t leave until nearly an hour later. Here’s Bea, all ready to go. I packed several snacks for her to eat in case she got hungry in the car, and she didn’t touch a single one.

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We stopped for lunch in Sta. Rosa and it was another 45 minutes to an hour before we reached our destination, Balai Taal.

This gorgeous house was to be our home for a couple of nights. This place was huge! There were 5 bedrooms, plus maids’ quarters, a living room for each floor, a dining room and kitchen on the bottom floor, and a garden. We all fit quite comfortably.

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The view was amazing. I would sit on the lounge chair by our bedroom, which was right next to a window with a view of Taal Lake, and try to read a book. My dad, who loves the sun, was soaking in the view too.

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We all took advantage of the lazy day and disappeared into our rooms for a siesta, only to emerge a couple of hours later to have merienda at Bag of Beans. By the time we got there, it was getting a bit close to dinner time so we decided to stop by Santis and buy Wasa crackers, salami and cheese for a light dinner. Isabel was getting a little stressed too, so it was good that we had a relaxed dinner at the house instead of shuttling everyone out to a restaurant.

Marmalade with cheese sounds gross but it was actually really good with the Roquefort cheese – not so much with the brie.

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The garden lights were turned on once evening hit, and it made the place look even better. Nicky’s family rented that identical house next door.

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My younger brother, Jiro, and his girlfriend, Cristina, drove to Tagaytay after work that day and only arrived at the house after dinner. Apparently Jiro had badgered Cristina so much about leaving Manila already that she forgot her dress at home. Yes. The dress she was to wear for the wedding. Luckily, my older brother and his family were arriving from Singapore early the next day so the driver could swing by Cristina’s house to pick up the dress before heading to the airport. Crisis averted.

The next morning, the big day, I woke up early to catch up on my reading and admire the view from my divan. Later on, I hear the shuffling of feet in our bedroom, and out comes this little sweetheart.

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After a leisurely breakfast at Starbucks, we all headed back to the house to relax before it was time to get ready. We had one mission: to tire Bea out so she would nap before the wedding and walk down the aisle as flower girl. So out came the bubble wand.

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In the end, everyone else but her seemed to be tired. True enough, she only fell asleep on the way to the church. She only woke up when we removed her from her car seat. She consented to practice walking beside me, and that went well. Did she walk down the aisle? I’d love to say yes. Bea took one look at the strangers around her and decided she’d rather be carried, thank you very much.

The church was small, but beautiful. It had brick walls and large stained-glass windows. Most brides are weepy when they walk down the aisle, but my sister laughed as she neared the altar. She found it funny that Nicky (and everyone) was crying. That was the first of many amusing things that happened that night.

The reception was held at Antonio’s. I love that restaurant and would dine there more often if I could. The food was delicious and the speeches heartwarming. My dad had a few drinks, which was a shocker because he doesn’t really drink! But we all enjoyed ourselves. I love my family. My sister was a beautiful bride. And her groom wasn’t so bad either.

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The next morning, we all gathered at the dining area for a breakfast of McDonald’s sausage mcmuffins and hash browns. While Isabel and Nicky had to stay behind to have lunch with his family, the rest of us checked out and had lunch at Taalena. It’s a restaurant that serves Filipino food along the ridge.

And because of all that eating, I decided – no, needed – to go on a diet.

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Traveling with Baby

Note: This post is long overdue!

Back in March, Cebu Pacific held a seat sale so Coach and I booked tickets to Singapore for August. Our intention was to take the train from there to Kuala Lumpur, to Penang, on to Bangkok, take the bus to Siem Reap then Ho Chi Minh City, then do it all again in reverse to get back to Singapore. We weren’t planning on bringing Little B along. But honestly, when I was booking the tickets, I wasn’t thinking about her too much. I was worrying about being able to still get cheap tickets! Fast forward to June. Coach and I decided we’d take her with us, after much deliberation on my part.

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Notre Dame Cathedral in HCMC

I wanted to bring her and I didn’t want to bring her, for several reasons. But I’m glad we did. Everyone kept asking us why we wanted to bring her along. We’d have such a hard time, they said. We won’t be able to enjoy, they said. She proved them wrong because Little B turned out to be a fantastic traveler. She was no trouble at all! She didn’t cry on the planes, didn’t cry on the trains. Granted, there were places we couldn’t go (Patpong anyone?) and things we couldn’t do (I couldn’t go into the Cuchi Tunnels carrying her!) but we found other activities nonetheless.

I carried her in my baby carrier when we couldn’t be bothered to bring the stroller around with us. She often napped while we were on the go, most likely lulled into sleep by my walking or the movements of the stroller. She ate everything we ate – even the street food. My mom specifically warned us about it before we left, but obviously we didn’t listen. Little B seemed to be enjoying the food anyway!

Eating carrot cake in Penang

Eating carrot cake in Penang

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In Bangkok

Dinner at the Ben Thanh Market, HCMC

Dinner at the Ben Thanh Market, HCMC

One thing though – the people in the cities we visited LOVE babies. Everyone was playing with her (especially on the trains!) and trying to engage her in some way. Several times people would try to carry her but she wouldn’t have any of it, and let them know via a shriek or a cry.

We skipped Siem Reap due to the HFMD outbreak (she ended up getting it anyway, but that’s another story) and flew from Bangkok to Ho Chi MInh City, and from HCMC flew to KL. We finally had a play date with her cousins in Singapore. She took her first steps in Bangkok. For that alone, it was worth it.