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OH, the Philippines!
May 5, 2014

OH, the Philippines!

Ok so now that I’ve documented all the good things about the Philippines I just need to vent because I’ve been having a really hard time here since I arrived two weeks ago and I’ve about had it! For starters the infrastructure is very poor here and not tourist friendly so it’s really hard to get around. Every single one of my flights have been delayed or re-routed. I bought these tickets months ago and these one-hour flights were all re-directed to make layovers in Manila and it would take me 8 hours to get to my final destination. Because of this I’ve had to re-buy all my plane tickets so that I wouldn’t lose a day (I”m looking in to the travel insurance I bought to see if this would be covered). On top of that the weight-limit on bags is only 20lbs so I’ve been going broke in baggage fees every time I fly.

Then of course there was the jelly-fish sting and the incestant mosquito and fly bites, I feel like my skin is ruined and I will have scars, not ok for a girl that is obsessed with skincare 🙁 On top of that I have been sick with a cold the entire time, in fact I think it was a sinus infection but I didn’t have the energy to seek out a doctor (ok so this one isn’t the fault of the Philippines). Today is the first day that I am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel with my cold and I leave tomorrow.

I found that this country is expensive compared to other countries in Southeast Asia for food and accomodations. In fact the food prices rival to that in America. It would be ok if I enjoyed it but I find it very bland and unappetizing. One day I ordered breakfast that came with toast. I noticed that I had no butter and asked the server if I could have some and she told me that it would cost extra. The same goes if you want milk with your coffee…..its extra!

Since I am traveling alone the tryke drivers and cabs always want to charge me extra, since most charge per head in the vehicle. In fact the cab drivers in Manila REFUSE to use their meters. Before I leave I always ask my hotel about how much it would cost and these cab drivers are trying to charge me triple and quadruple the price. After hard negotiations I can finally get them down to paying double the cost but it’s the only option I have because they are all the same.

The most recent circumstance happened a few days ago and it was really the straw that broke the camel’s back. I had planned to spend 3 nights in Boracay, fly back to Manila for one night and then fly out to my next country. Sure enough, I got an email saying that my flight, originally scheduled for 4:45pm in the evening had been changed to leave the following day at 3:45AM getting me in to Manila at 5:00AM. My international outbound flight was scheduled for 7:50AM and since I would have to collect my bags and re-check them I couldn’t trust that I could do it in time, especially if the flight happened to be delayed. I went to the airport and after 3 hours of waiting, the airline said that they could put me on a flight a day earlier and thats all they could do for me, they wouldn’t even pay for the extra hotel charge that I would incur. This new flight, was still going to be at 3:45AM in the morning. Who in the #3LL has a one hour flight at 3:45AM? The Philippines, thats who! They said they could refund my ticket, which was originally $60 bucks but now all the flights were around $175 if I re-booked and since I’d already spent an extra $300 for other problematic flights I was stuck. So I took the new ticket since it was my only option. I arrived to Boracay on April 2nd around 5pm after leaving my hotel at 5AM. The flight was only an hour but I had to take cabs, multiple boats, shuttles and what not so it took forever; as I said infrastructure is poor. My hotel in Boracay was a pre-paid non-refundable booking and once I arrived I realized that I was only staying one night instead of the 3 nights that I paid for due to this ticket change. Since the flight was leaving at 3:45AM I really wasn’t spending the night on May 3rd there either. UGH- it was so annoying I could scream! On top of that I had to figure out a place to stay for my 2 nights in Manila. Now I was paying for 2 hotel rooms on these nights. I decided to forget about it and at least enjoy the evening in Boracay. I had the entire next day to book a hotel. The next morning I woke up and went to breakfast and around 9AM as I was surfing the web for hotels all the power went out. I waited for about 20 minutes and went down to the hotel lobby and asked when the power (and wifi) would be back. They told me that it would return at 5pm. Excuse me??? Yes ma’m, the power in our hotel is cut everyday from 9-5pm. Ok, first of all, never once was I told this in my initial booking nor did they tell me this when I checked-in and secondly how can you charge $50 bucks a night when wifi and power is cut from 9-5pm EVERYDAY. Can you even imagine if a hotel did this in America? They would get sued so fast, their head would spin!! But alas this isn’t America this is the Philippines. I waited until 5pm that evening and finally got power and wifi to book a hotel in Manila.

Even though my flight was leaving at 3:45AM that evening the hotel told me that I would have to leave at 10:30pm. OK was this some kind of sick joke? 5 hours early? But of course, it was the truth because Boracay is located on an island and I would have to take a boat to the mainland and unfortunately, there is no set schedules for boats at that time in the evening, they just come when they feel like coming so better to leave early just in case. From there I would have to find a car to take me to the airport (a different one that I used when I flew in) and that was 2 hours away. So I took a tryke that evening to the boat port through the pitch black roads for 10 minutes. As we were driving, I sat there stunned, I can’t believe what was ahead of me that evening and I can’t believe I was on the road AGAIN, 24 hours later!

At the harbor, I found the hidden ticket booth in the darkness and got in line with all my bags. There was a young boy in front of me about 25 years old from the Philippines and I heard him mention the same airport that I was going to when he was talking to the ticket lady in Tagalog. I immediately asked him if he was going to Caticlan airport and asked what I needed to do after I got to the mainland. He said that we would have to find some sort of van and hopefully split it with some other people because it could be pricey. He said that I could walk with him to the boat and even offered to carry my bags. I declined because he didn’t know what he was getting himself into with the weight of my bags but it was a nice gesture. When the boat arrived, there was a mad dash to get on. He squeezed his way to the front and paid and then came back and escorted me to the front of the line to make sure I got on. He sat with me on the boat and when we arrived at the port he told me to just wait and he would find some type of transportation for us. He was gone for about 10 minutes and I was starting to get a little worried. The port was desolete except for a few skeevy men trying to offer motorcycle rides to the airport. “Yeah buddy, I’m gonna get on your motorcycle to the airport 2 hours away at midnight with a huge backpack…..get real!”. My friend, Ace, came back and said unfortunately we had missed the last shuttle bus for the evening, there was one spot left but he didn’t take it because he wanted to make sure that I would be ok. I mean, to think about this is so touching, this guy didn’t know me from boo. I will say that the Filippino hospitality has been a pleasant experience here. He started to negotiate with other men at the port to try and get a van to take us and a few other people to Caticlan airport. 45 minutes later 13 of us were packed into a 9 person van making our way to the airport. As we started to drive, the only thing I could do was pray. Please God, protect us and get us to the airport safely. The roads were winding, there were no street lights, only our brights and trucks would come barreling down the road in the opposite direction just inches from our van. Twenty minutes in to it my butt was numb because I couldn’t sit comfortable because there were 4 people in a 3 person seat. Everyone began to pass out but I couldn’t. I was wide awake, someone needed to be awake in case the driver started to doze off! Finally at 2AM we arrived at the airport, safe and sound. I said goodbye to my new friend, as he wasn’t allowed to enter the airport for another 2 hours because his flight didn’t leave until 6AM. He truly was my guardian angel that night! Again, I’m amazed how I end up getting to these places.

I waited in line for a good hour to check in, (poor infractructure). I paid my terminal fee (every time you enter an airport or a boat terminal you have to pay in the Philippines), got myself one of those disgusting “cup’noodles” as it was the only thing to eat there and mentally prepared myself for the rest of the evening. You’ve probably already guessed that the flight was in fact delayed that night by an hour. Taking a flight at 1AM is one thing but to take a flight scheduled for 3:45 AM is just an act against humanity! The fatigue that sets in is sickening! I looked around the airport in between dozing off and everyone looked like a zombie. At 4:30AM they finally called us to board. I will say that I have never seen a boarding process so efficient with travelers. Everyone scurried into line and raced to get settled into their seats to get as much zzzz’s as they could in our 1 hour flight. I passed out before the plane even took off and didn’t wake up until we landed. As we were filing off the plane, I had to laugh because there was a man 20 rows ahead of me passed out still asleep with all the seats empty around him. I’m sure the flight attendants had to wake him eventually. I got to my hotel at 6AM in the morning and even though I had called the day before and requested an early check-in they said they couldn’t accommodate.

There happened to be an older gentleman there from America, who saw I was waiting and said that he had an extra breakfast meal-ticket and that I was welcome to use it to get something to eat. It turns out he was from Detroit, what a small world. There truly are still good people in this world from Ace my guardian angel to the man that offered me a breakfast ticket. I waited in the lobby for 3 long excruciating hours before a lady at the front desk said, “Miss, I feel sorry for you, I’m just going to check you in”. I texted my mom immediately to tell her that a nice lady decided to check me in. TIP HER!!!! Was my mom’s text back and I did!

I’ve been at this hotel for the past 2 days and have had no energy to do anything except my laundry and one self-led kick-boxing session in my room…all this pork was starting to go to my waist-line.

I’m sorry that my Philippine entries haven’t been as vibrant as the other countries but I found it hard to motivate myself to write about my time here and am feeling defeated. I saw some gorgeous sights during my 2 weeks here and encountered some beautiful hospitality that I will never forget but I am done! Ready to move further on to Cambodia.

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