Saturday, February 4, 2017

Friday's Frugal Five & Freebie

This week was Chinese New Year Holiday in Hong Kong, which meant that we had the week off (Reason #214 why I love working in a school!). Of course, I couldn't pass up the opportunity to travel, but I didn't want to travel far, spend much money or plan back-to-back activities, so I opted for a week at Las Flores, a Bed & Breakfast in Cebu, Philippines. We didn't plan any activities before arriving, so it has been a low key week of reading, Scrabble games, kayaking, swimming and breakfast/dinner on the veranda. Even the internet has been sporadic at best, a welcome reprieve in itself!  No matter where we go or what we are doing, we can find ways to make the most of our money. Here are 5 ways I saved this week:
Las Flores

1) I had the B&B owner set up an afternoon of boating with a local fisherman. For $32 US, we had an 1.5+- boat ride up and down the coast of Cebu on the beautiful Camotes Sea. He dropped us off at our own private beach for an hour or so, where we were able to snorkel among the reefs. This was a first for me, and I now understand its allure. The live corals and colorful sea creatures are a world that many of us never see, and it's hard to put into words how captivating it is. We easily could have paid up to $200 US per person with an travel agency, and I daresay that our secluded adventure was just as good. I only wish I had a waterproof camera! The underwater picture here is from the website My Cebu.
This is very similar to what we saw, but with more fish.

Local boat arrangement....
....and ride. 

One of the creatures we saw--the Horned Sea Star, (also called Chocolate Chip Star) about 8" long.  Don't worry, we put him back.

2) We ate local. Breakfast was provided, and was quite sufficient. I used American Express Travel to book, and was able to combine points with cash to only pay $35 US per night, which was a fantastic price. We stayed 7 nights, and there was only one other family and one single lady here for a couple of those nights, so it seemed like we were staying at a friend's house. There is a restaurant on site that offered us very affordable meals for dinner, and we could come down barefoot to the back porch. Our favorite was a huge Salmon steak with little baby potatoes and fresh vegetables for $9 US. The local Marlin was fabulous also. Everything I tried was delicious. We also went to a couple of local restaurants for lunch--the most we paid was $4 US for both of us, bottled soda included. We didn't look for any high end places...we didn't need to! I don't think I can cook at home in Hong Kong for the prices we paid here. 

Local rice/coconut cakes served roasted on a banana leaf. 5 cents each, and very yummy!
Local Chicken Place.

So named because you have to "Duck" your head to enter!

 3) I asked the owner if there were any places in town to get a pedicure and a haircut, knowing that it would likely be cheaper than Hong Kong and I had nothing but time.  She actually arranged to have a lovely lady come here. I got a manicure, pedicure and haircut--better than any I have had in Hong Kong--for $20 USD-- while sitting on my balcony listening to the waves. I rarely get mani-pedis, in fact, this was only my 3rd pedicure ever, and getting to know this sweet local woman was priceless, and oh-so-worth-it!

My hairstylist/manicurist. I wish she lived in Hong Kong! (She let me use this picture...thank you, Doris!) 

5) I read books and magazines and played games provided by the B&B.  Better than a library!

5) We ate free meals coming and going at airport lounges and on the plane. Lounge access is a favorite perk of one of our credit cards (through Priority Pass), and it's nice not having to make a meal right before/after a trip. Hong Kong has 3 different Plaza Premium Lounges, all with different hot and cold food options.  Also, Asian airlines tend to give you a hot meal even on a short flight. Our flight from Manila to Hong Kong was less than 2 hours, but we still got a meal. 

6) (Oops, one more than 5 frugals!) I only brought back these free pretties for souvenirs....the best kind!

And finally here is a freebie for my US readers, a first aid kit! Just fill out the form and it's yours! Dubai part 4 is in the works...

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