Published: July 23rd 2009February 12th 2007
The primary mode of intercity transport in the Phillippines
Probably not the best first stop for someone going to Asia! Is it in Asia? Or is it synthesis of the South-Pacific Island culture and the hub of Asia? From the look of all the recruiting signs for work in the Gulf, it is certainly a jumping off point for the Middle East. I flew into Angeles City, a few hours outside of Metro Manila. The ride into town gave me a chance to see the city in its entirety. The surrounding areas looked fairly nice, but as soon as one gets into the Metropolis, wow, look out for some dingy parts of town. I wouldn't describe it as a big 'danger zone'. The Pilipino people were among the warmest and most helpful I encountered during the trip. The city clearly struggles with a higher crime rate than most other places in Asia, maybe anywhere in Asia.
It was not uncommon to see two security guards with shotguns and body armor standing outside of a restaurant. Numerous places had high levels of security, and even the corner eatery had bars over the counter. The high level of pollution was nauseous, and the ever present sexualization was bothersome. In spite of
this, the people I encountered were a joy.
I walked the 2.5 miles from the bus station to my guesthouse. Even though I navigated correctly, I managed to overshoot my destination, and ended up in the beginnings of what would best be described as a fairly affluent slum. About 3 minutes into said residential area, I was greeted with a firm and welcoming "you must be lost." After which, I was escorted out of the area by a group of about 20, mostly young kids wondering why a guy with a backpack was in the area. It didn't take long to get reoriented. I stopped into a KFC, got directions from a taxi driver, and then headed down the road to get to the Townhome Guesthouse. The road was poorly light and in the wrong part of town, but that was cool. Because it was in a dangerous part of the city, there were security guards about every 50 yards, so it all worked out well. I verified my destination with a few of them, and then got a bunk room bed in an adjacent building.
This was fairly interesting. The only other individual staying there in the
I have never seen an eatery with bars before. Made me feel safe in my neighborhood!
bunk room was from Ghana, and he welcomed me, then apologized if he made too much noise. When I inquired why, he said that he had texted a 'women to come', and that she would be arriving shortly. And spending the night. Great. She arrived shortly thereafter, but I was too tired for them to have any effect on my sleep. He did his jazz with the prostitute and I slept up for my first full day in Manila. In the morning, I discovered that our 'shower' only had salt water in a basin, and that I had to go to the main building to get a proper cold water shower. I guess one never fully appreciates a nice hot water shower until a cold fresh water shower looks like a treat.
I looked around the city of Manila for the day. Not really that interesting. The historical district was ok, but the city did not have that much going for it. Lots of dirty streets. The nice thing about being in a bad neighborhood was that it was really really close to the airport.
I set out for the airport (about a mile away) early in the
Saw this in route to the airport
morning, and fortunately had left plenty of time. When I got there, they wouldn't let me into the airport without a boarding pass. I had an e-ticket, so they directed me to the CEBU office down the airport drive from the airport. That was a first. After waiting in line to get my boarding pass, I then went to the airport to check-in. Cebu Pacific operates out of one boarding area. When a flight boards, someone with sign with the flight number walks up and down hollering out the flight number. Truly a hybrid between a bus terminal with the touts hanging out of the bus and an airport. I was very happy to realize that the airport in Cebu was much more 'traditional'.
There are more photos below