2 Continents, 1 month
“Morning Ma’am”… our daily greeting
Leaving Beijing, our transfer arrives in an executive car with door VIP lights. The next 30mins allowed us to take part in another Chinese tradition – Karaoke! Our driver spoke very little English, but communicated well via an online translator explaining he was very happy to be singing with us.
All checked into our Cebu Pacific. Be prepared for another 6 security checks before arriving at your gate. Our 4 hour journey to Manila was a comfort one, it’s basically the Easyjet of the Philippines.
Our 90min transfer to the hotel started well; but no more than 2 mins later the poverty line divide was very noticeable. Very surprising for a capital city and a tourist destination. We stayed in an area called Quezon City, The business sector just outside of Manila. If Manila is Peckham and Makati is Chelsea, then Quezon City is Elephant and Castle.
B Hotel – we stayed at this 4* star hotel on a B+B basis. Arriving at 9am we did not get complementary check-in paying an extra twenty-quid to have access to the room early. As we entered the room, mum asked if the decoration of this room had been finished. This minimalist, New York-styled bare concrete walled room was a wasted concept on my mother. She would not let it go that the sink was in the room rather than the bathroom and that the shower door also doubled as the bathroom door. She said, and I quote, ‘I’ve never seen this before, never in my life’. She really didn’t believe me when I said this was 4*. She couldn’t deny it had everything she needed and was just the décor she couldn’t get her head around.
Well… Filipino breakfast is unusual. It begins as heavy as dinner the night before. Like full-on, steamed rice, fried fish, stir-fried noodles, spring rolls, soup and stir-fried beef. As tasty as it was and as appetising to the eye, our western stomachs just could not handle the amount of oil. Therefore, the following day we stuck to toast, omelettes and fruit.
Max’s – A cross between KFC and your local Chinese. The restaurant is so unassuming. You honestly think you are walking into a fastfood restaurant until it opens out to the back. Enjoying Sweet and sour fish made with cream Dory a white versatile fish with a smoky undertone and fall off the bone BBQ chicken and caramel bar ice cream we were very pleased with meal. Worth a visit – meals are approx. £4 not including a drink or dessert.
Day 1 – Manila old and new City tour
Having stolen 1 hours sleep we meet our driver in the Lobby of the hotel. Following brief introductions, we start our journey back to Makati to pick up others. This was a 3.5hour tour, that ended up taking us 8hrs return. The tour itself was simple with quick stops and photo opportunities. Our guide was patient, especially with 2 of the other guests who were hell bent on making us all late. Unfortunately the tour was overshadowed by Manilas rush hour traffic; which starts at 7am and finishes at 8pm! Absolute nightmare and ridiculous road block. What should have been an hours journey back to the hotel from Makati took 2.5hrs. It made us reluctant for the next excursion.
Day 2 – Panoramic Tagaytay
Again only stealing 4hours sleep due to the issue of a very loud water tank in the ceiling and having to change our room at 12:30am, we were broken. So this full day tour to Tagaytay was daunting. Pick up at 7.30 and starting the tour at 9am we were lucky with the fact that there was an hours drive between each stop, so the sleep continued. Taking in the sights of the active Taal Volcano, Volcano island, enjoying a ride on the Jeepney and listening to the only bamboo organ in the world located in Las Pinas it was the day we needed after a few busy days.
An eye-opening visit to The Philippines capital city. With more time we would have ventured to El-Nido for the sandy beaches and coral reefs. Maybe the next time.
Our next few days are rest… see you in the Maldives ✈