Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Manila Adventure

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!


  1. What an amazing experience. Am so jealous of your hotel bookmarks. Isn't it funny that out of all the fancy things people tend to buy while overseas, it's the small unexpected things that are the most precious :)Glad you had a good time and if you think you don't write enough reviews then I am in big trouble!!

  2. As a resident of Manila I found your post very interesting-I am assuming you came here for work related to a call center-yes we have some beautiful hotels-the low lost of labor means you can get a lot of service-in the biggest of the book stores here-a five story one so you will know idf you were there or not-you can get book on the history and culture of the Philippines you will not find elsewhere-yes armed guards everywhere-in part this is also due to labor being cheap and the police not being highly respected-for sure there is great foods in the hotels and the regular places plus we have all the USA fast food places-the biggest negatives are first the air quality and second the traffic-the people over all are great-I am glad you enjoyed the experience.

  3. Lan - You're right, the bookmarks and banana ketchup are my favorite souvenirs! Still glad I bought everything else, but those are my faves! :)

    mel u - I visited the National Bookstore and Powers, but they weren't five stories. Sorry I missed that one! Agree that the people are great, as everyone was incredibly nice! My favorite part of the trip was meeting so many nice people!

  4. Not a shabby work trip at all! I love the bookmarks you got at the hotel - what a great idea.

  5. What a cool trip! I wish my work would send me somewhere cool like that. I loved reading all about it.

  6. alitareads - Not shabby at all! Will be volunteering in advance in case they want to send me anywhere else. Have passport, will travel! Maybe I'll recommend a branch in Paris, as I think we really, really need a presence there! ;)

    Amused - You never know! This offer took me by surprise, but I grabbed it before my boss was done explaining what I'd need to do. It was basically "Do you want to go to..." and I said YES! *L*

  7. So glad you enjoyed the cultural difference! Am leaving for Singapore on Sunday and looking so much to it.
    Just a four hour flight away.

  8. Oh wow! Sounds like an amazing opportunity. :) And to get bookmarkers every night. Those would be cool! :) Sounds like a neat place.

  9. This sounds like it was a lot of fun!! OMG books wrapped in plastic! That would not be fun!!

  10. on the books marked wrapped in plastic-the clerks will be happy to unwrap them for you-I just tell them I want to see what size the print is-on the positive side of this-when you buy a book you know it has not been handled by dozens of people-

  11. Nice to read about your adventure in Manila. I am a Filipino but now based in Singapore for the past three years. It would have been nice for you to visit the thrift book shops in Manila like Books for Less or other discounted book stores. I am glad you had a relatively safe trip though.