Early retirement Philippines travels - week 1

I retired early, so I can do what I want:

  1. I'm not restricted by having to go to work five days a week for 47 weeks of the year. For example, we can visit the Philippines for 6 weeks.

  2. What I do isn't influenced by needing to earn money e.g. on my blog, I can post what I want, which isn't necessarily what gets the most reads. If it were my job, I couldn't do that.

Retiring early changed me, it opened my mind to new things such as:

  1. Travel - I'm not saying that it wasn't possible to travel before, but I wouldn't have done it as we do without the change of mindset.

  2. Journalling - nowadays I think of my blog as a journal. I also enjoy keeping a diary of our travels. I used to think that keeping a journal sounded pretty boring, now I think journals are pretty neat.

Those are just a few examples amongst a whole heap of reasons why I think early retirement is great. That's not to say that I didn't enjoy my working life too, I'm grateful I had that, but I'm also glad to have the next phase of life while young enough to do so many things.


As I said, I can blog about what I want, not worrying how many people might read it. As we're travelling again, there will be some travel posts over the next six weeks. I know those posts won't get read as much, but that's fine because it's not my job, my income doesn't depend on it. I'm doing it for me, but feel free to read if you want to. I'm aiming to post some normal early retirement content too, so look out for those if the travel posts aren't your thing.


Early retirement travel journal: The Philippines - Week 1


We're visiting the Philippines for 6 weeks, and it's the only country on our trip. That's different from when we travelled before to Asia and Australia and then to California, Costa Rica and Colombia. Those trips were longer, 4 months and 3 months respectively, and we travelled to multiple countries rather than just one.


Why the Philippines? It originated from my plan to have a comprehensive health check-up, presumably in France or the UK. Then I had a brainwave...maybe I could have the check-up somewhere less expensive, and get the flights, check-up and maybe even part of the accommodation, all for the same cost of just the check up in France or the UK. Perhaps Dubai, but the finances didn't work there, so thoughts turned to Thailand. Then, another brainwave, I have some friends who retired to the Philippines, would that work? Long story short, we decided it would, so booked our health check and flights for 6 weeks in the Philippines.


Back to the trip. It's a long flight to the Philippines, which became even longer. The airline had changed our flights, requiring us to take the 05:05 train from Zurich to Geneva, only to catch a flight back to Zurich - seven hours of travel just to get back to where we started! Next stop should have been Hong Kong, but a passenger medical emergency diverted us to Kazakhstan. Once we arrived in HK, we'd missed our connecting flight, eventually arriving in Manila 7 hours later than planned, after a 31 hour journey.


Because of our late arrival, we changed our first night's accommodation and stayed in Manilla. After collecting the rental car, we launched into Manila's rush hour traffic. Wow, that was seriously intense, which was only added to by our hotel turning out to be closed🤦‍♂️and having to find another, the third we'd booked for that night! At least we slept well.


Our initial idea was to head north on Luzon Island to the historic colonial town of Vigan and then on to the rice terraces. It's a long way, but doable in the 10 days we planned. That was abandoned when we couldn't get the dates we wanted for our health checks, so instead we have two separate shorter periods on Luzon Island. We moved to plan B, staying closer to Manila and visiting Taal Town and Tagatay.


I can see why the residents of Manila make the relatively short trip to Taal or Tagatay to escape the hectic life and heat of the city, but I wouldn't say they're worth a longer trip. I'm glad we went, but I don't need to go again and, to be honest, if we'd missed them out, it wouldn't have been a big loss. Not to worry, that's one of the benefits of early retirement, we have 6 weeks on this trip, so a week that is a slight anti-climax isn't a big issue.


Our friends were worried that I would struggle to find food on my vegan diet. Update so far is that our short time in Manila was fine, but Taal and Tagatay less so. I can generally find or adapt something, but there was one evening when all I could order was a plate of boiled rice.


In summary, week one was a long trip, a hectic introduction to the Philippines in Manila, followed by a quiet five days in Taal and Tagatay. Next we fly to the island of Busuanga for four weeks, which is where our friends live.


Week 1 - what we did:

Saturday: Travel. We were staying at our daughter's and caught the 05:05 train from Zurich

Sunday: Travel. We landed in Manila around 19:00

Monday: Taal. Drove to Taal where we stayed for 2 days. Went to town, found a coffee shop

Tuesday: Taal. Jet-lagged lazy day. Sleep, reading, coffee shop and Netflix

Wednesday: Taal/Tagatay. Visited the historic part of Taal and visited a heritage house. Drove to Tagatay. Rain, cafe and supermarket.

Thursday: Tagatay. Walked to a vegan cafe, which was closed! Rain, rain, rain.

Friday: Tuktuk tour for Lake Taal and Taal Volcano views from Picnic Grove, Sunflower Farm and SVP Farm. Drove to Manila in the afternoon. Dinner in Mall of Asia.

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