After some hard core traveling through SE Asia I felt it was a good time for a vacation. I’m trying to coordinate some travel with my friend Mike in Hong Kong or China, but needed to give him an extra week to find out if he could take the time off from work. The Philippines provided a great location, as it was on the way to Hong Kong (basically). I left Myanmar and spent a day in Bangkok doing research on places I want to visit and organized my travel for the Philippines. Luckily I was able to have dinner with Andrea and Kathleen (who were in my cooking class in Chang Mai). They were heading to Myanmar after Bangkok. I think they’re following me. Manila
– I arrived in Manila and got talking to the girl in front of me at immigration. Amy Lily is from Paris and is traveling the world putting together a documentary on people from poor areas that have inspirational stories and had avoided trouble by completely immersing themselves into some sort of passion like sports or dance. I asked her what she did before and said she was a consultant. “You didn’t
work for Deloitte Consulting did you?” - I asked. “Yes, I did” she said. We had similar stories and were both happy to be traveling instead of being at a computer 10 hours a day thinking about how we would rather be traveling.
Two guys I met in Kuala Lumpur, Richard and Cas, picked me up at the airport and offered to take me around a bit. They helped me find a hotel in Makati and then we went across the street to the mall for drinks and then dinner. Manila is really congested so it was nice to have people who knew the city. Makati is a very modern area of Manila. They gave me the inside scoop on how the Philippines works. Basically, it comes down to being prepared to wait – for everything! It’s always great to meet people on your tip. I think Richard told me he had been to about 80 countries. That’s a high bar to meet. My goal is 100, or whatever my friend Christine has at plus 1.
The next day I met Amy Lily downtown in the old walled city called Intramuros
. There isn’t much to see in Manila.
It says, "WARNING Bomb Joke or False Bomb Threat is a Philippine Law Violation (5) Five Years Imprisonment or Php 40.000.00 Fine or Both"
I went to a museum earlier in the day and saw a really cool exhibit on gold. Amy Lily was stuck in traffic so I decided to walk around the area and check out the museum at San Agustin’s church. There were some great pieces of art. However, I was surprised that so many nice pieces weren’t in climate-controlled rooms. The windows and doors were all opened and the art was exposed to the heat. You could see some of the old paintings buckling from the humidity. The Philippines was originally a Spanish colony so there is a lot of Spanish architecture. In fact, it reminded me of cities in South America. After Amy Lily showed up we walked to the fort that was in the walls and then I had to head to the airport to go to Boracay. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much time to hang out. Her story sounded really interesting and I felt we had a similar experience leaving Deloitte. She’s the third person I’ve meet from Deloitte on my trip now. Boracay
– I thought I was early when I got to the airport, but came to find out I was wrong. I had
Right outside my hotel
misread my itinerary and thought the arrival time was the departure time. I missed my flight to Caticlan (Boracay) and had to rebook to Kalibo. The also meant a change fee of about $65, a 1.5 bus ride, and about a 3 hour wait. I was flying on Cebu Airlines and I had heard about some bad experiences, however this was my fault and they seemed helpful. I thought something wasn’t right when I got to the airport and the girl at the counter kept asking me if I was sure there was a flight at 4:55. Naturally, I felt that was the right time. She asked me three times. Sure enough, I was wrong. To magnify the frustration, I find that the Philippines is always trying to squeeze the last peso out of you. To get to my flight I had to pay a terminal fee. In the US they include anything like that in the cost of the ticket. When I got to the boat dock in Boracay I had to pay a boat terminal fee, some other fee, and the actual boat fee. To complicate things you have to pay for everything at separate locations. I guess
that’s how you employ three people to do the work of one. Now that’s job creation!
After I got to Boracay I found a hotel and walked around a bit. Boracay is a beautiful island. It’s beaches are picture perfect. I went there on a recommendation and decided to stay for five nights. I wanted to take a vacation from my vacation before the big trek through China begins.
There isn’t much to write about spending time at the beach. The first few days were great, but it rained on and off after that. I actually didn’t mind because I hadn’t seen rain since Bali. Southeast Asia is hot and humid. I don’t think I could ever get used to that. It makes me really appreciate the moderate climate in Los Angeles. One thing I did that was pretty cool was to rent a scooter
and ride around the island for a morning. I had driven scooters before in Italy and Greece, but not in major traffic. I wish more people rode them in the US.
I probably stayed in Boracay a day too long. There just isn’t much to do when you’re traveling by yourself. The
last night I was there I went to happy hour at bar down the dirt road from my hotel. I met this guy from New York, Bob, who was visiting the love of his life, who he met on an online dating site for rich white guys looking for young Asian girls. His girlfriend, Jelly, didn’t speak much English, but seemed happy to observe the conversation. Bob is 54 and is about the maturity level of his girlfriend, who is 23. Actually she was far more mature. Two English girls were at the bar too and we all started talking about our trips and then decided to have dinner. Bob recommended a Spanish restaurant so we went to try it out. This guy had some serious issues. I just wonder why some people don’t think social rules apply to them when they’re outside the US. If so, Bob is the poster child. I always wonder how some people can invite you to a restaurant, act like money isn’t a problem, and ask everyone to split the bill – especially after some of the things he said. Jelly went back to their room because she wasn’t feeling well. Bob thought we
should all go out. I had to break it to him that we were going to head out on our own, and by ‘we’ I meant not him.
The next morning I got up and packed. While I was in the shower the water cut off - completely. I was full of soap and the water heater in the shower stopped working. I’ve had the hot water cut off before, but for some reason there was no water at all, not even cold water. There was another spigot to wash your feet that had water coming out of it. I had to be a little industrious and basically rinsed off using two glasses I had in the room that I filled up from the spigot . Sure enough, the hot water came on as I finished rinsing off.
I made my way to the boat dock and paid the departure fee and the boat fee, separately of course. I flew to Manila and spent my last pesos, then boarded the flight to Hong Kong.
This is the one stop I didn’t really get a feel for the country. I was only in Manila for a day and
Boracay was a big tourist destination. The Filippinos I met were very nice and happy.
Next stop – Hong Kong and Macau!
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