Mom and I have been looking forward to this All Saint's Day break for a long time. Literally we've been counting down the hours until we could jump on our flight and head to a part of the Philippines we had yet to explore. We decided to book a stay at Atmosphere Resort in Negros Oriental, on an island south of Luzon. Atmosphere had everything we were looking for: a gorgeous spa, a pool to lie out next to, and excursions we could take part in like snorkeling or swimming with whale sharks. Another big attraction is the dive program at Atmosphere, with certified dive masters taking giant boats of experienced divers and small groups of beginner divers out to swim among turtles on the coral reefs.
Mom and I stayed in one of the apartment houses which come complete with a living room/dining room, an expansive kitchen, a bedroom, and a bathroom--complete with a shower that has its own courtyard! Of course there's also a front porch with a comfy couch and even more comfortable hammock swing that I didn't want to leave behind!
Lady Victoria, the biggest dive boat
We arrived at the resort late Tuesday night and immediately fell in love with the decor of the resort. The thatched roofs, the gorgeous pools, and the immaculate landscaping was all so welcoming I immediately felt right at home. "Welcome to paradise!" someone said when we checked in. Little did we know they were right! I made an appointment with Rae, the in-house yoga and meditation coach/teacher for Wednesday morning, bright and early, in the Treehouse.
(Snapped a few pictures before our session started shh don't tell)
Having been practicing meditation for a few months now, and finding it so unbelievably beneficial, I jumped at the chance to partake in a solo guided meditation for 30 minutes in the Treehouse. The Treehouse is one of my favorite structures in the entire resort, directly overlooking the beach so not only with the natural soundtrack of the ocean but the ocean breezes as well you can take a yoga or meditation class, group or solo, in the Treehouse and even arrange for a private dinner in the Treehouse at night when it's all lit up with fairy lights!
After my lovely session with Rae, I joined Mom in her quest to find nirvana whilst sitting poolside and not moving all day long. The heat of the sun forced us into the three-tiered pool several times, and its perfect temperature cooled us right off. One of two pools, this one has a small jacuzzi-esque section at the top with several jets, another square pool that runs over into the biggest pool that has an infinity edge at one end and seated waterfall at the other.
The lanterns swinging from this tree light up the entire beach at night and it's so gorgeous!Of course, girls gotta eat! We headed to the open-air restaurant, where we partook in breakfast lunch and dinner for all our days at Atmosphere, and chowed down. Me on the salmon burger and Mom on her chicken wrap.
Clearly, we hated it.
We spent the rest of the day in the same manner and slept early....like 8 o'clock early! I haven't slept that early in years!
The next morning Mom and I went for a brisk stroll on the black sand beach. I say brisk because the wind was so strong we were almost blown away! The morning was so clear and quiet, such a contrast from constantly buzzing Manila. There's absolutely nothing like a morning walk along the beach, I swear. It's good for the soul. Then we ate a scrumptious breakfast and hit the pool again! I had another wonderful session with Rae, made spa appointments with Mom for the next day....and hit the pool yet again!
In-between pool sessions and downing banana shakes I forced myself to get through some of the mountain of school work I have to do...and of course I did it in the hammock! I would have slept in that thing if I weren't so worried about bugs.
The next day we headed to the spa and as fabulous as I was expecting it to be....it was about 100 times better! I decided on the Atmosphere Signature Massage, the Coconut and Ginger Body Scrub, and the Coconut Body Wrap. This was hands-down the best spa experience I've ever had the privilege of experiencing. The entire spa is outside and each guest is given their own personal hut in which to undergo their treatments. A semi-sheer white curtain is the only thing shielding you from the elements, and it's pure heaven. Instead of a white noise machine making the sound of the ocean and the breeze and the birds...you're actually hearing the real thing. Each little house comes with a personal 'bathroom' that is completely outdoors including sunken, waterfall tub, an outdoor shower, a toilet, and a vanity station. You're given a sarong at the end of your treatment and trust me...you'll never want to leave.
How magical does this look??
The next day, Saturday, was our last full day at Atmosphere and we really made the best of it by going on an excursion. Mom and I went snorkeling around Apo Island--a small island 30 minutes from the resort by one of their dive boats. We went along with a family that was going scuba diving around the same area where there are gorgeous coral reefs and turtles and zillions of fish! I was able to snorkel and swim with about 10 turtles, including 3 baby turtles! It was such a gorgeous experience I didn't even mind the howling storm that came through during our snorkeling expedition, making the water really choppy, or the freezing cold water-spray-soaking-me ride back that had me shivering in my bathing suit and two towels.
The only thing that could have added to the experience would be a waterproof camera so I could take pictures with the turtles and fish and blue starfish and multicolored coral reef. It is one of my favorite memories of all my time here in the Philippines and my trips abroad....and it just happened yesterday! I don't even mind that the backs of my legs got so sunburnt I can barely sit down, it was that gorgeous! I'm also so proud of Mom for actually going snorkeling with me, I know she doesn't like swimming or getting in water where she can't touch the bottom and her bravery inspires me. I know she only did it for me, but still.
Our time at Atmosphere was so incredible I can't believe it's over already! Now it's the beginning of No-Sleep November, honestly that's what IB students call it because so many of our deadlines are this month! I'm hoping I'll still be able to post as much this month as usual but just in case....apologies if I'm a little absent this month.