Procrastination has, once again, grabbed me by its tentacles. I was supposed to, or rather, I was going to, write about my third and fourth day of vacation at Virginia. The third was pretty much the highlight. Memories kindled as we made our way to Busch Gardens, where we were once part of the staff. The fourth day was purely for sightseeing. Musuems, landmarks, etc. We only had half a day as we had to be at the airport by 2 P.M. Being late was not an option.
I guess this pretty much sums up the second half of my vacation. Aside from blaming procrastination, wi-fi is very scarce where I am right now, which brings us to why I started this post.
Change of State
Gone are my sun-kissed Florida days. I now wake up to chilly mornings of Mackinac Island, Michigan. My contract with Jupiter Island Club ended on the last day of April. We were already set to transfer to our next training establishment – Grand Hotel.
Brenda, JJ, and I arrived on the island on the 8th of May. As of now, we have settled into our dorms. I live in the Waiter’s Quarters, a green building situated on top of a hill at the back of the hotel. As far as rooms go, mine is a pretty decent one. I share a room with JJ who was originally at Cook’s Corner, a white dorm just before the hill. Brenda lives at Woodville, a better housing. The only downside is that it’s a mile away fromy the hotel. Very inconvenient. Most Filipinos live in Cook’s while most Jamaicans live in Waiter’s. Woodville houses mixed nationalities.
I had my suspicions regarding the housing. What if I was incorrectly placed in the wrong dorm? Well, I clarified it, and as it turned out, they made an effort to place most Filipinos at Cook’s, but it could only accommodate so much. JJ and I aren’t the only Filipinos in Waiter’s anyways. I still have a lot of reasons to be grateful.
Incidentally, it snowed a couple of days ago. If I remember correctly, it was on Mother’s Day. A treat for the Moms here in Michigan. It wasn’t the kind I usually saw in the movies where the kids could build snowmen and make snow angels. Rather, it was very light and could have been easily mistaken for rain. I opened my palm, caught a snowflake, and watched how it immediately melted. ‘Twas a short-lived magical moment.
Contrary to the warm welcome we received in Florida, a chilly breeze welcomed us to Michigan – The Wolverine State. Hello, Michigan!
Picking up from where I left off at the previous post, the three of us woke up early the next day. We had an 8 A.M. flight. All of us left the hotel as soon as we got ready. We rendezvoused with our friend Daphne at the US Airways Terminal.
Everyone was groggy. Who wouldn’t be? It was 6 in the morning. Still, our smiles were as bright as the sun itself. As usual, we started catching up with each others’ life. There was so much to talk about. An hour was simply not enough. Eventually, we boarded our plane. Next stop: Philadelphia (layover).
After landing at Philadelphia, we had to wait an hour for the next flight. A shopping-free hour. Talk about restraint. There weren’t that many shops anyways.
Our faces were plastered on our phones for the duration of that wait. Wi-fi was sorta hard to connect to, but we tried. An hour passed with us barely noticing it.
Ah, Virginia. It was hard to believe that we were able to set foot there again. Flashbacks of memories two years ago flooded my head. How lucky were we?
Wait, there’s more. Tita Tina and Tito Will, the kindest couple in America who treated us like we were their children, was outside to pick us up. We were ecstatic! We hugged Tita Tina and Tito Will so tight. What do you expect? We haven’t seen them for almost two years. Our eyes were on the verge of tears.
For lunch, we drove to Hibachi Grill and Sushi Buffet. Perfect for our first lunch at Virginia after two years. We were starving. Again, we didn’t have breakfast which is the most important meal of the day. We have got to stop skipping it.
By the time we finished lunch, we were bloated. Three more stops to go.
International Housing Village
International Housing Village, or IHV as we call it, is a housing provided for Summer Work and Travel Participants working at Busch Gardens. Some of our schoolmates and friends currently reside here, so we decided to pay them a quick visit. Oh how I missed this place.
Of course, my visit wouldn’t be complete without getting a picture in front of my room where I stayed for three months.
Most of the people we were supposed to meet were working at that time. We had to postpone our little meet-up next time. Unannounced visits are so unpredictable.
Merchants Square, the shopping and dining district adjacent to Colonial Williamsburg’s renowned Historic Area, is home to more than 40 shops and restaurants. Most of the stores and all of the restaurants are locally owned and operated. Specialty boutiques offer products ranging from ladies, men’s and children’s apparel to fine jewelry, art, specialty foods and gifts. (From History.org)
I remember when we used to ride our bikes here, explored the place, took pictures, and just spent the rest of the afternoon with Lucky 13 (a group we [13 students of Leyte Normal University] formed during our 2011 Summer Work and Travel Program). We share lots of memories of this place.
Now, I get to visit it again with the same people (well, three of ‘em) along with JJ. It’s his first time in Virginia, or America, in general. Our task was to show him around to as many places as we could.
When you’re with a bunch of ladies, shopping is always on their to-do list. Shopping is inevitable, and so we decided to revisit Prime Outlets where we did a lot of our shopping back in the days. We only spent less than two hours there which isn’t enough, really, even for me. We did buy quite a handful of stuff though.
Of course, after all the exploration and shopping, we settled down at Tita Tina and Tito Will’s house at Newport News. It looked the same as it did two years ago. The dining table, computer room, the PS3, the beds upstairs, everything. I still remembered where everything was. Hardly anything changed. We felt right at home. We had dinner that Tita Tina prepared shortly after arriving. As expected, she served Filipino food which was really delicious.
I had dish duty, while others had different assignments. No one bothered watching T.V., playing the PS3/Wii, or singing karaoke as we were all beat. I fell asleep the moment my head came into contact with our bed.
What do you do after finishing a season of work? Do you just lay in your bed until you have to work again? Or do you have the time of your life going on a vacation? Chances are, you’d pick the latter. And that’s exactly what I did.
My last day of work was on the 29th of April. But my friends and I already planned our vacation way before that date. You can never be too early. Our plan was a trip down memory lane – revisiting Virginia, the Old Dominion.
My friends (JJ, Jea and Daphne) and I, with the exception of JJ, used to work at Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Virginia, during our college years. We picked Busch for our On-the-Job Training as a requirement for our course. We were the 2011 Summer Work and Travel Program Batch. The program lasted for three months, plus a one month grace period for traveling slash packing our stuff up. Thus, our sole reason for going back.
Jj and I left our dorm early in the morning. Ms. Pat, a kind lady who works at the Front Desk and our dear friend, drove us all the way to Mangonia Park to ride the Tri-Rail. She is so kind and sweet. We rode the Tri-Rail for two hours, hopping off at the last stop – Hialeah Market. From there, we rode a bus to Miami International Airport. Most would think that we were on our way to catch our plane. What we actually did was find a ride to Sheraton Hotel where we booked an overnight stay to wait for our friend Jea. Our flight was on the 2nd. We only had to go to the airport because it was the most convenient. Both of the transfers were free anyways.
Sheraton Hotel was high-class. A little bit too much for me. We got a great price a couple of weeks ago so we grabbed it. By the time we arrived, it was already afternoon. We haven’t eaten anything since we left. Our tummies were practically screaming. We threw our stuff at our beds and rushed down. Our room was on the 5th floor.
A buffet place was available on the ground floor but we didn’t make it. They closed about an hour before we got there. Our last resort was the bar. (We could have went outside, but that was out of the picture.) Good thing they served full meals. I thought they only serve bar snacks. I ordered a Churrasco Steak with fries. Man, did it fill me up.
I lounged on the sofa at the lobby for a couple of minutes. My body was persuading me to sleep, but I used my willpower to resist it. Being at a foreign place, sleep wasn’t an option. And so, I took the liberty of touring the place. Or some of it, at least.
Later that night, our friend Jea arrived. Being the adventurers that we are, we didn’t settle for just touring the hotel. Miami’s a huge place. As a result, we went to Bayside. We had dinner at the food court, roamed around a little, and bought ice cream before calling it a day.
This wraps up my first day of May, as well as the first day of our vacation. Here’s a photo of us before hitting the hay.
and this is just the beginning…
Every goodbye is a birth of a memory.
Yesterday was my last day of work as an Intern here at the Jupiter Island Club, Florida. Everything went by in a flash. I couldn’t believe how fast it all was.
I arrived here on the 4th of December. I was supposed to arrive two weeks earlier, but I got denied a VISA on my first try. I expected it to be freezing here, but, to my dismay, the weather felt warm and comfortable. Kinda like how the Philippines (my home country) feels like – tropical. I kinda wanted it to snow a little. As it turns out, Florida is called the Sunny State, probably ’cause of its tropical-ish weather. Snow has yet to fall on the southern part (which is where I am), but there were a few cases where it actually snowed up north. As for me, snow is just something to look forward to, I guess.
I was assigned as a Dining Room Server here. Sounds fancy, doesn’t it? Well, it is. Kinda. I get to be assigned at the Main Club (one of the few places of assignments) which is a Fine Dining Restaurant. Our uniforms come in the form of jackets and bow ties. People dining donned their fancy dresses and jackets coupled with expensive jeweleries. Very similar to the gathering of noble men, just less extravagant. I got used to this, eventually, living in one of the most expensive zip codes.
The other places of assignments are:
Golf House: A golfer’s place to dig in before going back to the field. Only open for lunch, Golf House caters not only to golfers, but anyone who wants to have lunch. Here in the club, there are only two choices to have lunch at: Golf House and Beach Club.
Beach Club: A casual restaurant. As the name suggests, it is situated right beside the beach. People dining here are rewarded with an excellent view of the Hobe Sound Beach.
Three Palms: A newly openend casual restaurant. It is right beside the Main Club, sharing one kitchen. I rarely get assigned here. Space-wise, it’s a little bit small, only able to accommodate around 50 people, not including the loggia. The only thing I look forward to when being assigned here is that I get to wear my vest and bow tie. I love wearing my vest.
Snack Bar: A fast food restaurant located near the beach, just across the Beach Club. For the entire season, I was only assigned here a couple of times. Fast-paced service is what it’s known for, able to serve hundreds of people in a little over two hours. This reminded me of my Busch Gardens days. So nostalgic.
Of all the places, I love being assigned at the Golf House the most. The shift starts at 10:30A.M., so I don’t have to get up early in the morning. The place is usually not as crowded as the rest of the places which means less work for us. And, to top it all off, the Manager, Mr. Juan, is the kindest Manager in the Club. Working with him was both an enjoyable and a learning experience.
My time here in the Jupiter Island Club was very short-lived. I’m gonna miss all the people that have become a part of my life, one way or another. I have learned stuff I never thought I would. I accumulated heaps of experience that made me level-up in my own way.
I am now at Level 45. Sorry. Couldn’t help it. It’s the gamer inside me. I am so grateful for this wonderful blessing I have been bestowed upon. Words cannot express how much I want to thank God, my family, my friends, and even you, my dear reader. Thank you! Thank you! THANK YOU!
To think, this is just half of my Internship. Another chapter of my little book of life has yet to unfold.
Today, most of us got the day off. Why, you ask? Because today’s Employee Appreciation Night. Meaning, no dinner shifts for anyone. Hoorah! Two servers got stuck doing breakfast and lunch shifts, though. Someone had to do it.
Basically, today’s gonna be divided into two events: a Rapids Water Park visit and the JIC Employee Bowling Tournament.
To start the day right, we had to have breakfast first. Tim, Jj, and I tried this place called Harry & The Natives. It was relatively near. I couldn’t believe I haven’t tried eating there yet.
Harry & The Natives was a nice quiet place along the highway. It had all these random signboards outside. Reading a couple of ‘em proved to be fun. Some were quotes by famous people. And some were just plain funny. I remember one saying that even if they were closed, as long as you slip a couple of bucks down the door, they’ll welcome you with open arms. Another one says something like “You’re never too old to learn something stupid.” You gotta love their ideas for decoration.
I got my usual breakfast meal: two eggs sunny side up, bacon, white toast, and chocolate chip pancakes. You’d think I’d want to get something different after always ordering the same thing at 3 Brothers Brunch – my favorite breakfast place. My love for bacon and eggs is just overwhelming. One could say that it’s unconditional love. Although, using that phrase to refer to food may be a little bit weird. Biut hey, I’m not normal, so, what the heck.
My meal was delectable. I ate two people’s worth of food. I was so full. Jj got the same thing without the pancakes. Tim got a quiche. Whatever that is. It looked lika a pie with a salad. Tim liked it. Halfway through our meal, two more of our friends arrived: Ryhien and Fabian. They were in a separate car. Our other Filipino friend, Brenda, should have been with them, but apparently, she had family problems to deal with. Too bad.
Rapids Water Park
We were supposed to meet Julia, one of our friends, at the entrance of the water park. We spotted Julia- err, she spotted us a few meters away from where we parked. She brought her entire house with her with all the stuff she had at the back of her car. A huge pile of clothes. Anyway, after we bought our tickets, we bumped into more of our friends that work in the kitchen at the Club. If I’m not mistaken, there were eight of ‘em. Lemme try to name them all: Dream, Nam (the two Thais), Mark, Justin, Alphonso, and Sam. Oh wait. I guess there were only six of them. Close enough.
We pretty much tried every ride, excluding all the kiddie rides and the wave pool. We started off with the easy ones for warm-ups. I don’t remember most of the names of the rides as I didn’t bother reading. What I do remember is a ride called the Black Thunder, which is the most extreme water ride, or so they say. Basically, you go into this black and white tube of pure darkness. Most of the ride is inside the tube, which is really pitch black. Not knowing what to expect was part of the fun. In the middle, we were in this funnel-shaped thing where we went from left to right a couple of times until we got swooped all the way down to the exit. I loved the unpredictability of the ride. It wasn’t that extreme, in my opinion. But it was my favorite. And it was epic.
Before calling it a day, Jj and a couple of our friends, rode a slightly similar ride to that of the Black Thunder. Just less extreme. The darkness and the funnel elements were still present. I wanted to go, but I was eating, so I ended up taking pictures of them instead. The viewers could hear the screams inside the tube a mile away. It was that loud.
I had so much fun. Day offs should always be like this. Exploring, basking in the sun, sharing smiles, screaming our lungs out, and relaxing. A perfect way to unwind after working so hard the whole week. Also, it’s been a while since I went to a water park.
I made some pretty good memories with my friends today. I’d like to make more. Much more.
Note: The Jupiter Island Club Employee Bowling Tournament (dang, that’s long) will have to be a separate post as this is already sorta long.
My day just keeps getting better.
• Breakfast Shift
My shift wasn’t as busy as I thought it would be, today being a Monday and all. I only did six covers (people). Not bad. And not tiring at all.
Here at Jupiter Island, the Club has a contract with Diamond Transport. They provide transfer services to the banks, grocery stores, and malls in specific timeframes. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, they come pick us up at 11AM. I rode with them and went to a place called 3 Brothers Brunch. They serve brunch all day. I ordered bacon and eggs – my favorite breakfast meal. I just love bacon. Who doesn’t?
Usually, we come back to the island at around 1PM. But for today, Diamond Transport assigned two different drivers to drive us to our destination and to pick us up. Mo was our firt driver today, who is also, coincidentally, the first driver I’ve met and the one who picked me up in the airport when I first got here. Anyway, Mo dropped me off near 3 Brothers and told me he’d come pick me up after he drops the rest at Walmart. I only needed thirty minutes. After I got my order, Mo came and drove me home. I got back at around 12 NN. Perfect. 1 hour early.
I ate like a pig in my room. Lots of bacon, eggs, toast, and home fries for just one person. I was so full that I slept after half an hour.
• Night off
Wayne, one of the three Captains of the Club, called me a few minutes before my alarm went off. As much as I wanted to sleep more, I couldn’t ignore any phone call I receive as it may be urgent. This time, the call was to ask if I wanted the night off. A big YES! I worked for more than thirteen hours last night. Plus, I had to wake up early today for breakfast. I needed some kind of break. And this was it.
Now, after I do my laundry, I plan on renting a movie on the Play Store. I just have to choose which movie I want to see.
Yesterday, our good friend Fabian was kind enough to go out of his way to drive me and my friend JJ all the way down to Miami. We were to pay our friend (and fellow intern) Jea a nice visit. Jea was JJ’s classmate during college.
We left Hobe Sound as early as 11AM. We ate at a place called Big Apple Pizza & Pasta. I had a Big Apple Sampler with a side of fries. I admit, I thought I could finish it all, but I couldn’t. Maybe I should eat less fries next time. I was so full.
The trip was a 2-hour drive. To pass the time, I fiddled with my tab, imagined impossible scenarios in my head, and tried to sleep from time to time. It was effective. Before I knew it, we arrived at Bayside Marketplace. We found a nice parking spot nearby.
Fabian told us that the primary language of Miami is Spanish. We hardly knew it, but English got us through. Enough to roam about and find the places we wanted to go to.
Bayside Market was huge and bustling with people. It was near a pier, ships and yachts (and whatever the other ships were called) scattered everywhere. We found a few stores that piqued our interests: two souveneir shops, a Gamespot store, and an electronics store. Most of what we bought were clothes. Lots of it.
Bayfront Park was nearby with interesting landmarks. We had to check it out. There were also graffiti in some parts of the park. I wish they made sense to me. It looked cool.
Our last stop, before heading to Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa where Jea is an intern in, was American Airlines Arena. I don’t know much about it, but I heard it’s where the Miami Heat basketball team plays slash practices.
Jea had to work until 5PM, so we passed the time stuffing ourselves up at Publix across Canyon Ranch. As usual, my sweet tooth got the best of me. There were so much to choose from. Saying “no” took more willpower than I thought it would. I ended up buying a Jumbo Chocolate Chip cookie and a bottle of water. Not bad.
At around 5PM, we headed to Canyon Ranch and stayed at the lobby. Jea came out a few minutes after. She suppressed a scream as she saw JJ and I. It has been a while. Everyone couldn’t believe that we were seeing each other again in person. Skype doesn’t really give that same kind of feeling. She asked for a few minutes to finish her chits. We were out and about as soon as she got changed.
Jea let out her scream while we were in the car. We were on our way to a shopping district where some, if not, all of the action at Miami happens. Photo shoots, commercials, parties, and a whole lot more. South beach was also part of our list.
Shake Shack was where we ate our dinner. That makes it my second time in a Shake Shack burger stand, my first being at NYC at 2011 with my blood relatives.
Our last stop was Jea’s apartment. Parking was a bit of a hassle. We circled their apartment at least twice before finding a nice spot. There, we met two of her three housemates. One had glasses and braces, and one had long straight her. I forgot who was who, but I kbow all three names. I should, considering the fact that all four of their names combined was the password for their wiFi. I complimented their apartment too. No worries. It was really cozy there. Plus, they had a huge TV. My TV is too small. Jea gave us chocolates as parting gifts and a way to say thanks for the visit.
I wish we had more time, but we really enjoyed the company. Now, our next target is our friend (and a fellow intern as well) Daphne. She’s at Marco Island, which is a 2 or 3-hour drive from Hobe Sound.
Three days ago, I, together with six of my co-workers from Jupiter Island Club, went to Universal Studios Orlando, Florida. This makes it my second theme park, the first being Walt Disney World at Orlando as well. I was gonna blog about it when I get the chance, but I guess my chance came three days later.
Roll call! The Interns: JJ, Brenda, and Me. The servers: Fabian and Angel. Captain: Tim. Chef: Ryhien.
Universal Studios Orlando is divided into two theme parks: Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. We started with the latter.
Islands of Adventure
Guess what everyone rode first? The Incredible Hulk roller coaster. An extreme one right off the bat. Of course, I had to stay because I’m such a wimp when it comes to roller coasters, or heights, in general. I hate me. The ride looked totally cool, though. It was as if they were being fired from a rocket launcher.
The second is called Dr. Doom’ Fearfall. I tried this one. It would have been unfair if I pass on every ride. This was a thrill ride where we were strapped in our seats and we skyrocketed upwards. The most thrilling part was the starting point. No countdowns. We didn’t know when we were gonna go upwards. When we did, I started screaming like crazy. But the whole ride wasn’t that extreme at all. The others kept saying it was scarier than the first ride they rode, or any roller coaster. It wasn’t. At least, for me.
Before having lunch, Tim wanted to try River Adventure, which gets you really really really soaked. No one wanted to get that wet. But we couldn’t be all killjoys so, JJ decided to tag along. They claimed it was fun. I wouldn’t have mind going with them had there been a really convenient human dryer nearby.
Lunch was at Hogsmeade. Or at least, somewhere there. I’m not much of a fan of Harry Potter. The group decided to have a salad to start with. For our entrees, we had ribs, chicken, corn on a cob, and potatoes and veggies. A whopper of a meal. We were so full that we wanted to find the nearest bed and just jump into it. That didn’t happen. We wished it did, though.
The first ride of the afternoon was the 3D Harry Potter ride. Forgot the name. Basically, it was a motion simulator ride which was perfect for me. It was a fun ride, even for a non-fan of the movies/books. Skeletons, magic, broom rides, and falling from buildings were some that I really enjoyed.
The Dragon Challenge ride was second. There were two choices: Red and Blue. Both are two different rides. If I remember correctly, they chose the blue one. I had to pass on this one too.
We rode another motion simulator ride featuring SpiderMan. It was a kiddie ride, but we rode it anyways. It was okay. Not as fun as the Harry Potter one, though. After that, I had a Dippin’ Dots’ Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough ice cream. It’s been almost two years since I had it. It was so good and nostalgic. Reminded me of my Busch Gardens VA days.
And that’s pretty much it for Islands of Adventure. I’m gonna blog about Universal Studios Florida, the second half of the theme park, in a separate post.
THE ADVENTURE LIVES ON
Tonight, instead of being assigned at the Main Club, I was moved to Three Palms. I have only worked there once, and at that time, I was tasked to observe and familiarize myself with the workflow. I was able to utilize that knowledge tonight. It came really handy.
Three Palms is a casual restaurant for the members of the Jupiter Island Club. Unlike at the Main Club where we were Jackets, we just wear our vests, which I love wearing. The Main Club only had less than 30 people whereas Three Palms had 80. That’s probably the most they had this month. The reason why they needed two more servers than the usual. There were a total of 5 of us.
I admit, I didn’t like the sudden change. My head overflowed with mixed thoughts. The Captains gave us a heads-up that it was gonna be a busy night. Why assign a newbie? They probably didn’t have much of a choice. But then, I realized that they probably picked the most suited ones, and that made me feel good. It means they could trust me with a busy night. Now that’s employee appreciation.
Before dinner starts, we get briefed with the menu (pre-meal) and are given words of wisdom plus pep talks. Being used to working in the Main Club where we are briefed after Three Palms, I missed our pre-meal. Well, I wouldn’t say missed, rather, I joined in after all the vital food-related information was already mentioned. I was ashamed. Dinner hasn’t started yet and I already made a mistake. Everyone assured me that it was okay, though. Chef Mark was kinda shocked to see me with the Three Palms people. He didn’t expect me to join them. He flashed a smile as I asked him what I needed to know foodwise. After preparing my order pad, I was ready for a night of pure action.
I only had one table, but I had to help the person assigned at the terrace (Joseph). No biggie. My table was a 5-top but three arrived really late, so I helped Joseph by the meantime. I took one table when he had three at the same time. That table, a 3-top, had Mrs. Carr, the President of the Club. Mrs. Carr is really really really nice. She never fails to smile. She would stop talking in the middle of a conversation to greet anyone. I enjoy serving her. I hope to have her as a guest again next time.
To make this blog shorter, I’ll skip the other details. To summarize, I had four tables, fifteen people in total, and had the second most number of people served. What an achievement! To top that, my 5-top complimented me on how good I was and Wayne, our Captain, praised me on how great I did this night. I want more nights like this. I feel so overwhelmingly happy.
Incidentally, today, the results of the Nursing Board Exam came in. Two of my friends are now Registered Nurses. Hooray! Bring on the lechon!
I had one of the best times of my life yesterday. Wanna know why? Because I was blessed to be able to visit Walt Disney World in Orlando along with JJ and Brenda, my two Filipino friends, and Tim, one of our Captains.
We left Hobe Sound before sunrise. Tim readied his car and himself for the trip. The rest of us were just too elated. The thought of getting a breather after the crazy work shifts during the holidays was awesome. Not to mention I have three consecutive day offs. How cool is that?
The drive to Orlando was two to three hours. We had to stop at Chick-fil-A for breakfast before the long trip. After eating, I dozed off and woke up when we were around twenty minutes away from Disney World. I kept seeing all the Disney signs and wanted to take at least one picture, but I failed, because the sign was either too far or we were going too fast for a nice shot. It was okay though. I got a picture of the entrance which told us that we were in Disney World.
Let the memories begin.
Disney World had four parks. With Tim as our guide, we automatically had an itinerary with the best attractions. If I remember correctly, it was his third time. Lucky us.
Our first park. Animal Kingdom, as its name suggests, is a sanctuary for various types of animals. We had to buy our tickets here for the entire day. Since it was our first time, we got complimentary pins along with our tickets.
Along the way, we got to see all these different kinds of animals. I saw Pumbaa (a warthog), an anteater, and a whole lot more. One thing everyone would definitely notice is the Tree of Life, the icon of the theme park. It is a sculpted 145 feet (44 m), 50-foot-wide (15 m) artificial tree. Even though it was artificial, it was so life-like. It must have taken a long time to sculpt it.
Our first attraction was a 3D show called “It’s Tough To Be A Bug.” It featured the characters from the Disney•Pixar film, A Bug’s Life. It was fun being able to watch a 3D show again after a long time. The wind, water, and vibrating effects were so nostalgic and fun at the same time. I couldn’t help but reminisce my Busch Gardens days.
The next attraction was supposed to be the Expedition Everest rollercoaster ride, but they were experiencing technical difficulties, so they suggested Fast Passes for lesser wait times later on. I was actually glad that I didn’t have to make an excuse not to ride a rollercoaster. Being an acrophobic, I just can’t handle being above, no matter how safe it is.
Our second attraction was Kilimanjaro Safaris, a tour of the savannah of the Africa Area in an open safari vehicle with a very witty tour guide. I got see, with my own two eyes, animals that I could only see on T.V. Giraffes, zebras, rhinos, hippos, and even lions (which were really sorta scary even though they were taking naps).
We had lunch first before our last attraction of the park. The Expedition Everest had a 45-minute wait time. We got a 30-minute rest before proceeding, so the food got digested. Still, my fear hindered me to ride any rollercoaster, so I had to sit this one out. Luckily, Brenda had to do the same because she needed more time to rest. As a result, Tim and JJ had to ride by themselves.
Brenda and I found a nice spot right around the exit. While waiting, we got to meet a fellow Filipino who works there. Our conversation was mostly about him. Brenda and I kept bombarding him with questions. He didn’t mind. And he also had a few questions of his own for us. It was fun chatting. He left a few minutes later to continue his work. By the way, he was from Davao.
When JJ and Tim got back, their faces were brimming with excitement. It was fun for me seeing them as it was for them experiencing the ride. After seeing their reactions, Brenda had the urge to ride it too after resting. Good thing I still had my fast pass. I gave it to Tim and they both hurried to the ride’s entrance. Not a second was wasted. When they got back, Brenda had the same reaction. She loved it just as much as JJ and Tim did.
All of us had so much fun. I couldn’t believe it was just the first of the four different parks we were gonna visit. The fun was just starting.