April 29, 2008

I survived the Guam shopathon

Two Lovers Point

view from Two Lovers' Point

Wanderlust had gotten the better of me that before I knew it I had overbooked myself for the month of February with a trip planned every weekend. It all started with a journey to the north (Ilocos), a day trip to Clark for the hot-air balloon festival the weekend after, followed by an overnight tour of Corregidor with Carlos (will write about this very soon!), and then that lovely long weekend in Bohol. As if that wasn't dizzying enough, I threw in yet another destination, this time to Guam, for the last weekend.

It might sound crazy to some, and yes a schedule like that can be quite exhausting. But if you're like me and you get energized on the road instead of on the couch, you'll understand why I do this to myself. I'm usually tired at the end of a trip, but it's a happy tired. Travel is my drug and I'm hopelessly addicted! So when I found out about PAL's $98 (exclusive of taxes) promo for Guam, slave as I am to my addiction, I took a hit and went for the ride. :)

Guam signs

Our group of six arrived in Agana, the capital of the island territory of Guam, at the ungodly hour of 5:00 am. But that was no problem, we had it all planned. We would dump our luggage at the hotel lobby then proceed to the 24-hour K-Mart where we kicked off our weekend of hard-core shopping. Oh yes, two full days of tax-free shopping, and we shopped like we've never shopped before and until I got blisters on the balls of both my feet (my mistake for wearing flip-flops instead of trainers!). If you know me well, you'll know I have a very short attention span for shopping unless it involves a local food market or local arts and crafts, so this will come as a shock to you. But for someone as - ahem! ;) -voluptuous as I am who is seriously deprived of off-the-rack shopping in the Philippines, or anywhere in Asia for that matter, where everything is made for the teeny-tiny Asian body, it was much needed retail therapy!

Guam premium outlets

Guam Premium Outlets

After Kmart, we had breakfast at Shirley's Coffee Shop, the diner beside our hotel (recommended by Santos) that serves up hefty Chamorro, American and Asian comfort food. It's a daunting task perusing their large menu and faced with so many choices such as steaks, scrambles and omelettes, french toasts and waffles, porkchops, curries, yakisobas, country fried chicken, salmon fillets, English muffins, grilled seafood, sweet and sour pork and other Chinese stir-fries. Evetually I settled for the Chamorro sausage with eggs, Shirley's award-winning fried rice and some nice fluffy pancakes. The servings were huge but shopping can sure make you hungry. The Chamorro sausages were delicious! They were served sliced and fried to perfection, hot and spicy, just how I like 'em. The fried rice came chockful of diced ham, carrots, green onions and egg, and really was a meal on it's own. We washed it all down with an obscene amount of coffee. We enjoyed Shirley's so much for our first meal, that we chose it for our last meal too.

Two lovers in Two Lover's point

two lovers at Two Lover's point :)

Fueled with that power breakfast and with caffeine finally in our system, we checked in quickly at the hotel before setting out for more shopping. A couple of my friends stayed at The Marriott while the rest of us chose the Hotel Santa Fe in Tamuning, a rose-colored adobe-style boutique hotel situated on Hagatna Bay. The rooms were cheerful and sunny and the beds were comfortable. I was happy. The hotel's restaurant, The Grille, is around the back by the beach. It looked like a lovely place for a sunset cocktail and some beach BBQ. Unfortunately, we never had a chance to enjoy this little pleasure.

Getting around Agana is a breeze with the Lam Lam Trolley system of four color-coded courses that make regularly scheduled runs to most shopping centers, hotels and tourist spots. We bought the 7-day unlimited pass which is a better value at $10 compared to 2 one-day passes at $6 each. We spent the rest of the day at the Guam Premier Outlets or GPO, that housed stores such as Ross, Anne Klein, BCBG, Payless Shoe Source, Nine West, Nike Sports, Guess & Levi's. So we hopped-on and hopped-off the open-air trolleys conveniently, unloading bags at the hotel just 5 minutes away and going back for more. They just make it too easy for you to spend your money here!

Tags of Devotion

symbols of eternal love on Two Lovers' Point

For dinner we went with another recommendation by Santos - the Jamaican Grill - for some jerk BBQ. We were joined by an old friend I hadn't seen since he moved away after high schoool and his friend (who turned out to be a former actor in the Philippines), both now residents of Guam. We shared the huge family platter of Kingston Jerk chicken and a slab of Boston Beach ribs served over a mountain of Jamaican rice with salad on the side. The restaurant had a festive ambience that pulsated to reggae beats and appeared to be very popular for families. The meat was juicy and moist and we dug in until there was nothing left but squeaky clean bones on our plates.


Tumon's entertainment and shopping strip

We kicked off the next day with a massive brunch at Denny's before hitting the outlets one more time. There were some exchanges that needed to be made and last-minute purchases before we could make our way to Macy's at the Micronesia Mall which had an ongoing sale. In Macy's, I spent a good amount of time drooling over the Martha Stewart kitchen and dining collection but didn't buy much. I had to be practical since we still had some sight-seeing to do after Macy's and a baggage allowance to be watchful of. But I did buy some small items which I couldn't resist. :)

And finally, we headed out to our one and only tourist attraction on this trip, the Two Lovers Point. We arrived shortly before sunset. Two Lovers' Point is the island's most visited landmark and it is from here, 378 feet above sea level, that you are presented with a panoramic view of Tumon and the west central coast of the island. The legend tells of the beautiful daughter of a Spanish aristocrat and a young Chamorro warrior who fell in love but were forbidden to be together in this world; so off this cliff they leaped to their death so they could be together in eternity. Sigh, I love these tragic/romantic tales. The romance was not lost on the others. On the wire fence that surrounded both upper and lower decks are hundreds of locks left by couples as a symbol of their eternal love. Seeing them shine in the golden glow of the sun's remaining rays, I couldn't help but smile.

We took the last trolley out from Two Lovers Point to DFS Galleria, where we literally breezed through the high-end stores. DFS is located right across The Plaza where you can find more exclusive brands, on Tumon's most happening road known as Hotel Row. It is reminiscent of the Vegas Strip complete with Vegas-style magic shows, clubs, and restaurants. We had wanted to eat at Sam Choy's but after hearing mass at the chuch in Tamuning, we were too lazy to head back there. We opted instead for, you guessed it!, more shopping. This time for goodies at the grocery near our hotel. It was here that I decided to be true to my Pinoy heritage and purchase a balikbayan box (large cardboard box Filipinos usually use to ship gifts home to their families) because I had a serious space problems. However, the box only gave me more reason to buy more since I now had more space. What I failed to consider was how the heck we were going to lug everything back to hotel a few blocks away. The bags were heavy and no taxis would come take us because it was too near. Fortunately, I have strong friends who were kind enough to suffer along with me! Thanks, guys! :)

Cliffs of Guam

So that was my Guam experience in a nutshell. Sorely lacking in attractions and experiences other than shopping that it fit in one post. heehee. But I loved it, I loved everything I bought and I loved Guam. I think I may even love it enough to live there. It's got the best of both worlds: island lifestyle and urban living. It is a unique amalgam of western and chamorro culture with a generous sprinkling of Filipino flavor. It felt a little strange being on an island in Micronesia, paying in $US but conversing mostly in Filipino.

I'm definitely not done with Guam. That was a sneak preview at most. A good friend of mine is returning to Guam for good sometime in May. She's currently packing up her stuff in Arizona to move back to the place she has called home since she moved there straight after college. I'd let her take me to her favorite places, it would be so nice to see Guam through her eyes. And hopefully that time, I can finally meet Santos and thank her in person for the lovely presents she left at my hotel lobby! :)

Hotel Santa Fe, 132 Lagoon Drive, Tamuning; Tel. # (671) 647-8855
Shirley's Coffee Shop, Tamuning; Tel. # (671)646-2288
Jamaican Grill, Tumon; Tel # (671)647-3000/4000
Lam Lam Tours; Tel. # (649)5314/5; (brochures available at your hotel lobby)


santos. said...

you survived...but just barely ;) isn't it low season until the end of may? because all the spring clothing at macy's is on sale, bwahahaaahaaa!

my take on two lovers' point: stupid kids!

i need to take you sightseeing next time.

princess_dyanie said...

Whoa! It's Guam this time! Traveling really makes us sooo happy! :)

Didi said...

Ahhhh!! I'm booked to go to Guam this August! I need tips! Hahaha...

Great timing!

Oggi said...

I've never been to Guam even for a short layover. If the airfare is that cheap from here I would definitely hop in a plane and go!
I love the diverse food choices.

Anonymous said...

Holy cow, you did a lot of shopping! I would hate to be let loose in a place like Guam as I have little self control in buying things (especially for the kitchen) that I really don't need;)

christine said...

Haha Santos, don't tempt me! Next time I come over, you'll definitely have to take me sightseeing! :)

Dyanie, yes it does! ;)

Didi, really?! Cool! I'll give you whatever tips I can give you but it won't be much. I'll send you Santos's recos on where to eat. :)

Oggi, I wish it was that cheap all the time. I want to go back, maybe next year. Watch out for any seat sales from your end! :)

Hey Marvin! Yes, that was a lot of shopping, especially for me! You must have more self-control than me, you've got tons of amazing kitchen ware places over there, don't you? :)

Anonymous said...

Hey there!

If it's okay with you, I've used and credited your photo on http://www.guamology.com/2009/01/why-do-you-live-on-guam.

Thank you!

christine said...

Yes, with the proper credits, that is fine. Thanks for asking :).