Thursday, August 14, 2008

Coconut Palace

Wednesday was spent trying to get the money delivered for Boracay. The travel agent had emailed Kurt asking if we were going to pay for the trip (when we thought we'd missed the deadline). I ended up Western Unioning it. It was an ordeal, of course. Filling out the paperwork, getting fingerprinted, trying to convince the Filipinos that I didn't need to sit just because I was American.

I finally managed to get the trip paid for. Kurt went to work. I shopped for souvenirs. It was next to impossible to find T-shirts or postcards. I did buy myself some Versace “Bright Crystal” perfume at a huge discount.

Thursday morning when Kurt got home from work we went for breakfast at the sardine place. No sardines were had this time! As we were eating Kurt decided he felt up to tackling a visit of something. We grabbed a taxi and headed to the Coconut Palace. We decided it wasn't worth going back to the room for the camera or the guidle book so we didn't have a specific address. Always a bad idea. The cabbie had no clue. I knew it was somewhere around the corner from where we boarded the ferry to Corregidor. We finally got there. It looked deserted. Then we spotted a little guard house with a little guard. He said they were open and sent us up the drive.

The Palace was built by Imelda Marcos for Pope John Paul's 1st visit to the Philippines in 1981. She wanted to impress him with the handicrafts of the country. She spent millions and millions of dollars. Needless to say the Pope was not impressed. He told her the money should have been spent on her people and then he went and stayed at the Papal Nunciature.

The Palace is constructed of natural materials like shells, coconut, and native hardwoods. Many of the rooms also featured textiles from various regions.

The Palace was very dark. There was us and a Chinese student who was backpacking on the tour. The guide only knew the scripted information and couldn't really answer any questions we asked her. One of the bedrooms was yellow and had a massive inlaid shell headboard for the bed. She was very proud of the fact that Brooke Shields had slept in it when she cut the ribbon at the grand opening. When I asked why Brooke, she had no idea what I meant. Was Brooke the secret crush of Ferdinand? Is she a huge star in Manila? I mean what's the deal? (Later discussions with family have determined that perhaps it was because of the Blue Lagoon movie – which they believe was filmed in the country. I have yet to confirm it. I may never know the answer to the Brooke Shields question).

The palace is built on the bay for the cooling breezes and the amazing sunsets. We noticed that Imelda and Ferdinand's bedrooms were at opposite ends of the building. Seven was Mr. Marcos' favorite number so the palace had seven of a many things. Another “Highlight” of the tour was a huge table of inlaid coconut shell. The dark is from old nuts, the light from newer nuts. The guide was very proud that it had been all inlaid by children – because of their small fingers. Kurt and I were thinking of forced child labor!

Despite the deserted area the palace was in we did manage to find a taxi back to the hotel. It was hot so we showered and Kurt went to sleep.

Then the next bit of drama occurred. The TA said he was going to send our tickets via courier, but that ended up not being possible. He asked of I could print them out. I know Kurt had said there was no printer at work. He wondered if he could fax the information. I had to wake Kurt up to ask him. Then I had to check to see if the hotel had fax access. No. I went back up to the room and sent another email. I went back downstairs to see if the hotel had a printer we could utilize. They did if we could save the information onto a memory stick. So I had to wake Kurt up to see if we had a memory stick. We did. I saved the files and took them back downstairs. I waited and waited. The girl came back and said the files were corrupted. Back upstairs I went and woke Kurt up again. Heather's getting frustrated! Kurt said to check to see if the hotel had an email where I could forward the information.

The clerk was getting frustrated, too. She gave me her personal email. It took another hour but we finally managed to get everything printed. Our trip to Boracay was actually a go!

We had dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel's cafe. I had eaten there the night before. It was quiet and the food was great. Kurt had Russian Black Cod with gnocchi and I had Singapore fried noodles. We had a seat next to the window overlooking the street and the Araneta Center. The skies opened and it poured. It was quite a show with the thunder and the lightning. After dinner Kurt went to work and I went back to the hotel to pack. I packed for our trip to Boracay as well as for my trip home. We'd get back from the island late on Sunday night and I had to leave for the airport by 630 am on Monday. It was gonna be a busy few days.

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