From Teaching in Yuen Long to Drinking in Manila, Philippines
When Chinese New Year 2012 came round, I found myself living in Hong Kong, my new home. It would almost have been too obvious to spend the new year at home in Hong Kong, and when I found out I had 8 days off work, it meant booking another trip. I toyed with the idea of Japan to begin with, but my destiny for my first Chinese New Year in Asia lay elsewhere…
My girlfriend Panny Yu would head to Europe that week for work – she was working at an event in Germany – so I would be travelling alone again. Or not…as the case turned out.
My Brazilian mate Rodrigo had been in touch as he planned to tour Asia – and by total chance the week I had off was also the week he would be in Indonesia – so I naturally checked the flights, and soon had booked it – at short notice – I booked the trip just 2 weeks before.
However, as I often like to do, and as often happens in travel, I wasn’t flying direct to Indonesia – when I checked the flights it worked out cheaper to spend a night in The Philippines and then a stop over in Singapore (again…argh!). My flights back were also via Guangzhou in China, so in essence I would be in 5 countries in 8 days, but 7 of those in Indonesia, 1 day in Philippines, and a matter of hours in Singapore and China. The fifth country I include is of course Hong Kong…
So I was off to Manila! Capital city of the Philippines.
My forever colliding mate Millwall Neil was in Hong Kong for a week (while I wasn’t) but I was lucky enough to catch him for 2 nights of his trip, plus a lunchtime pint just before I headed to the airport. Pictured above that day at a Chinese New Year display at Tsim Sha Tsui.
Neil, Panny and I enjoyed a few pints and a game of darts in Delaneys, Tsim Sha Tsui (where I used to work), before I got my bus direct to Hong Kong airport.
Waiting for the A21 Airport Bus.
On the bus to the airport. I had to head to Terminal 2 to check in – which is a pain – as all flights leave from Terminal 1!! This means after checking you have to head back to Terminal 1, but I got my bag checked in all the way to Jakarta and had enough stuff in hand luggage for my Philippines jaunt. I was leaving from Gate 24.
As usual, my flight was delayed so I grabbed a lovely pizza and a pint of Hoegaarden, a case of “now you see it/now you don’t”. I went for an Alba pizza (cheese and pepperoni). These are the simple lifelong, everyday things I need and enjoy, something I miss living in the “noodle drenched, anti-social vacuum” that is Lam Tin, Hong Kong.
My flight was a Jumbo Jet! And was full. I couldn’t believe it. So many people were heading to the Phillis! I was in seat 82C and we boarded just after 6pm. Beside me is a mother and daughter.
Boarding Gate sign.
The massive queue. Couldn’t believe so many people would fly to Manila!
We were delayed a bit, but I relaxed until called. Happiness lay ahead!
On board I had my first ever Manila beer (though I had tried the exported San Miguel – brewed in the Philippines before) – so nice and refreshing! I was in happy holiday mode already. A red tin. And free!
The onboard meal. Immense. I devoured the lot! I love aeroplane food. This just a couple of hours after downing my airport pizza. Would mean no meal later on in Manila, which suited me fine. The food was cooked salmon, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cream sauce. Strawberry Ice Cream Cake for pudding, and of course the beer was free.
My Philippines Pesos – another thing I love about travel and different cultures is spending different types of money. I despise the Euro currency and forever wish it to dissolve. I actually only carried 1,500 Philippines Pesos for the trip, this turned out to be enough and even allowed me to buy postcards, souvenirs and shopping in the airport the next day.
Immigration card for The Philippines.
Arrival in Manila. It was hot and stuffy. I arrived at 8.45 pm at Ninoy Aquino International Airport.
Big queues at passport control.
I collected my bag from baggage claim, but was able to get it transferred straight onto my Singapore (then Jakarta) flight for the following morning, the information which I had been told in Hong Kong.
Welcome to The Phillis!
I took the easy option and booked a hostel near the airport.
I wasn’t sure of public transport at that time of night – so got a taxi from outside the airport.
My taxi driver was called Roberto.
The taxi took me close by, through dark, dirty streets. It was overpopulated and very random.
I got a sample of that raw Manila lifestyle. The saddest part is the people are relatively poor here.
After about 20 minutes or so, we finally found the hostel I was booked into – Manila International Youth Hostel. Near a Shell Garage on the corner of Quirino Street and Tomas Claudio Street.
I checked in and was free to relax and enjoy my first (and only so far) night in Manila!
From – Hong Kong to Manila
Transport Used – Jumbo Jet (Boeing 747), A21 HK Airport Bus, Manila Taxi
Strange Currencies – Philippines Pesos and Cents
Nationalities Met – English, Hong Kong-ese, Philippeno, Australian
Where I Stayed – Manila International Youth Hostel, Paranaque City (4227-4229 Tomas Claudio St., Baclaran, Parañaque City, Manila, Philippines.)