Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Manila. Day 1.

Manila was nothing like I expected it to be.  To be fair, I didn't really have to time to even fantasize about our time in the Philippines since I was so sure that something was going to go wrong and we wouldn't even make it there.  I guess that I kind of expected the Philippines to be a lot like Hawaii.  I expected that it would also be pretty similar to Korea, but maybe even more developed.  I was wrong.  Flying over the landing strip should have been a pretty good indicator over what we were about to experience over the next 20 hours that we had in Manila.  It was hazy and I could clearly see the rundown aluminum houses that were speckaled across the ground.  It was loud, gritty, and pretty chaotic.  I think the boy's face accurately sums up how we felt after touching down in Manila. 

I think we were both pretty shocked and just how undeveloped Manila is.  Don't get me wrong, the people are awesome and the whole place is pretty exotic, it just wasn't what we expected. 

Well, we got to our hotel and we were pleasantly surprised.  I booked our hotel through expedia.com and I wanted something close to the airport so that our 7 am departure to Dumaguete wouldn't be too rough.  I was especially interested in this hotel since one of the reviews stated this little gem...

"Ummm, I am a female who flew into Manila at 2am. My stupid taxi driver didn't know where the hotel was (in the ghetto, actually...that's probably why) and drover me around a neighboring ghetto for 30 minutes...meter running. :( Save yourself a lot of time and hassle and tell your taxi driver to go through the International Peace Gate or something like that--or--better yet, save yourself a lot of stress and don't stay at this place at all! My other female friend and I both agreed that even if we had arrived together, we would have been scared to death and her dummy taxi driver didn't know where the stupid hotel was, either. And, it's like, 10 minutes from the hotel but no one would ever imagine that there's a huge hotel/apartment complex where Filipinos LIVE on a DAILY basis (creepy?) in the middle of a slum. =/ Expedia SHOULD remove this hotel from their list. I only recommend it to male travelers. Not for families...Anyone from a Western, middle class lifestyle will NOT feel comfortable here."

Because God forbid that you actually have to see real life Filipinos when you're in the Philippines.  I pretty much died when I read this review and it kind of made me want to stay there even more.  To be completely honest and unbiased, the place was great.  It was pretty basic, but it was also clean and there was even air conditioning in the room.  Yeah, you're sharing space where "Filipinos live on a daily basis" but everyone was very friendly and it was super close to the airport.  In fact, we could see the airport from our floor.  It did take our taxi driver a few minutes to radio his buddies and ask where it was, but after that it wasn't a problem.  A few pictures that we took from the hotel...

After taking a quick nap (we were exhausted) we set off to walk around the hotel and explore our surroundings.  We eventually ended up hailing a tricycle (motorcycle with a little cab attached to the side) and heading of towards the Mall of Asia.  And what did we buy at one of the biggest mall in the world?  Mexican food (or something that somewhat resembled Mexican food), skittles, coconut wine, and fruit by the foot.  Yes, all of the things that we miss out on while living in Korea. 

We ended the night relatively early and indulged in the plethora of English speaking tv channels that were available.  I set our alarm for 4:40 am so that we'd be all ready for our 5 am taxi pick up.  We then slept.  And slept.  And slept some more.

 It wasn't until the boy decided to randomly check his watch that he realized we had overslept and it was 5:05.  Oopsies.  We rapidly packed all of our backpacks and made it out to the taxi by 5:15.  Not too bad if I say so myself.  We then hopped on a plane and headed to our next destination:  Dumaguete.

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