A few weeks ago, I was given the opportunity to travel to Manila for two weeks. Yes, it was for work, but how could I turn down the chance to visit the Philippines? I've never been to that side of the world, so of course I said yes! A whirlwind of preparation, then I found myself in Makati City, at one of the most beautiful hotels I've ever seen!
Not going to kid you, the flight over and back was rough. I left home at 8am EST Friday morning and arrived a little after 9pm Saturday night Manila time. The Philippines is 12 hours ahead of the east coast, so that was a good 25 hours of travel time. I got to spend a few hours in the Tokyo airport before changing planes, but it was exhausting.
My impression of the small slice of Filipino life I experienced? Busy and chaotic and exotic and all-round wonderful! Saw some familiar brands with a twist in the grocery store. Saw old favorites like the Hard Rock Cafe, California Pizza Kitchen, KFC, Burger King, and the Outback! Ate quite a bit of rice. No knives with the Filipino meals, just a fork and big spoon. Used the spoon in place of the knife, and it worked out really well.
Didn't work up the nerve to ride on a jeepney, but took several taxis. Am amazed that there aren't more accidents, as I've never seen cars maneuver so close without actually scraping each other! And the honking never stops! Will never complain about New York City drivers again!
Felt very safe, as there were guards everywhere and they checked your bags at the entrance to every building. Some guards were a little more thorough than others, as I saw a few young men getting a full pat down!
I worked nights in order to stay on an EST schedule, so slept most of the day. Didn't want to waste my time sleeping, so experimented with different schedules of sleeping and exploring. Long story short, I slept 12 hours straight my first two nights home! Always tired, but never bored!
Naturally, I checked out a few bookstores! Was disappointed that I saw the same titles on the shelves that we have at home, so no new discoveries. One huge difference is that all of the books are wrapped in plastic! So no skimming through the book to see if you like the writing or not.
I bought several souvenirs, but my favorite is the collection of bookmarks the hotel gave me every night with the turndown service! Quotes from the book Lost Horizon. Makes sense, as the hotel is called the Shangri La. Have to love a hotel that gives you bookmarks every night!
Am still getting over the cold I brought home with me, and am now mostly over the jet lag. Tried to catch up with my blog reader, then gave up and marked them all read, deciding to just start fresh. Need to write a few reviews, then catch up with everyone. Am thrilled that I was able to take advantage of this awesome experience! Would I go back? In a New York Minute!