Author: KennyG

Manila

Rogers Hotel Manila
Rogers Hotel Manila

After flying into Manila last night in order to make my flight back to Vancouver for today, I decided at the last minute that I might try just sleeping in the Airport in Manila Terminal 2.  Well that was shot down right off the bat as you are not allowed in the airport unless it is 4 hours before your flight.  So, while at the Transfer desk for PAL, I asked about a hotel, as you know me I kind of fly by the seat of my pants.  The clerk working there was not to sure, and sent me off with one of the other staff members.  So, inside the Terminal (Terminal 3) there is no information desks, walls, telephones for any hotel, and once you leave the airport well you can not get back in.  Very important piece of information when you are thinking of sleeping in a terminal.

So, out of the terminal we head.  This gentleman assures me there is a hotel close by with room available and a free shuttle.  First place we head to is the taxi’s, “Well sir that will be P650, ($17.50 CDN).  Not overly impressed, I say no way, and the price drops to P330, and I say free shuttle, but thank you and walk away.  Not trying to be difficult but Free is Free.  The gentleman catches up with me, and introduces me to a lady who can get me to the Roger’s Hotel, in Manila, near Terminal 4, for only P2990 ($78.00 CDN), free pickup and and free shuttle back in the morning for my afternoon PAL flight.

So, true to her word, 5 – 8 minute wait, and the shuttle arrives and we are off to the hotel.  The driver and I had some small talk, and he quickly asks me if I am looking to have a good time while I am in Manila, and I say what do you have in mind.  Sir, I can get you a girl and you can do whatever you like to her.  Thank you but no, I have a girl friend.  He replies, “is she with you tonight.” We have a laugh and that is that.

Overall the room is clean, TV is in working order, and there is a snack cart in the room.  The AC was on which I had to quickly shut off or freeze to death.   I would be more than happy to recommend this as a place to stay.  It’s quiet, and clean and there was hot water which was fantastic as it had been a few weeks since I have had the chance to use any!  Next time back to the Philippines, I want to spend three weeks in Manila to explore and take pictures, it looks like a lot of fun!

PAL

PAL
PAL

Thinking of traveling to the Republic of the Philippines, well if you are looking for a great flight with a very professional staff then PAL (Philippines Airlines) is your choice.  Leaving Vancouver was slightly delayed but that was because someone who checked in never made it on the plane, therefore we had to wait for the luggage to be off loaded for safety reasons.

We flew on a 777, with spacious seats and an entertainment system that have movies, games, TV shows and many other items one could use for our enjoyment.  If this had been an Air Canada Flight or United Airlines flight no doubt we would have had to pay for this service.  However with PAL it was complimentary.  The flight attendants were very attractive Filipino women, with bright and beautiful smiles.  It was truly a joy.

I am headed back to Vancouver on the 3rd of Sept on PAL, and it’s an A330 Airbus if my memory serves me correctly, I have to say I have only been a fan of a couple of different Airbuses, so I am certainly looking forward to seeing what this one will be like.

Looking for a flight to Manila, think of going with PAL, direct flights, great prices and professional staff!!

 

Mambukal

# 3 WaterFalls at Mambukal
# 3 WaterFalls at Mambukal

I was lucky enough to spend the last two days exploring the Resort called Mambukal.  A mere 1.5 hour trip from Bacolod, where you meet nature, thermal vents from the Kanlaon volcano and the jungle with all the mystery and wonderful nature and colors.

It’s very easy to grab a bus out of Bacolod which can be found at the Central Market and from what I could gather they leave every 15 minutes or so.  I know we saw easily 10 other buses headed to Mambukal Resort.  Once you arrive there, the very first thing we did was head to the trailhead for the 7 Waterfalls.  You have to sign a book, and read through the Liability and Release, indicating that you could be injured.  I did the hike in flip flops, but I would much rather of had shoes as much of the trip was uphill, and then almost vertical in some areas.  We got hit by a huge rain storm, and the rocks were pretty slippery.   Tourists are required to take a guide, and it was well worth it. The guide was very knowledgeable and gave us a fantastic tour!

The Lagoon at Mambukal Resort
The Lagoon at Mambukal Resort

Once we completed the hike, the guide showed us around the Mambukal Resort, showed us the various thermal pools, the boiling mud, the bats and all the wonderful attractions found at Mambukal.  If you have a chance, this is a sure bet to go visit.  The entrance fee was only P50, and we spent the night in the Villa, which was P1700.  Money well spent!!

Security

Outside the Pension House
Outside the Pension House

So, I have been in Bacolod for about two weeks not, and I am still trying to figure out the rhyme or reason behind the positioning of the various Secuity guards I find posted throughout the city.  Almost every business has a security guard posted at the door.  Each one is armed in a different manner, and I had decided that there would be some sort of reasoning for the different weapons each guard has.  So for example, a bank Security guard would be armed with the most weapons, and it is for the most part so.  I have seen the American M-16 and everyone’s favourite the Combat Shot gun.  I also saw a Security guard at the Dunkin Donuts with a Combat Shot gun.

At the shoping center SM, everyone for the most part has a hand gun, something in the range between a 9mm to a revolver, and also I have noticed that some of the Security Guards have a holster, however no weapon.  I am not sure if that is they are new, or that they can not aford to have one.  I would say though, I think that is very dangerous.  I mean there is a gun holster there must be a gun, so of course they would get shot at.  That is the same situation that I was put in when I was in the NAVY.  In the late 80’s if the brow staff was armed, but no breach blocks.  So, we looked armed, but really weren’t.  We could of course through the hand gun at someone.

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up this morning while having breakfast at one of the local malls’ I saw two

Security Guards outside the Bank
Security Guards outside the Bank

people with Combat helmet, full armer and then the M-16, and an MP 5, go swiftly through the mall.  I was ready to eat ground, until I realized they were escorting money to the bank from the armoured car.  So far I would like to add, that I do feel safe, and so far everyone has been very friendly, but I am always aware who and where the weapons are, one never knows.

Phone Cards

Pay As You Go
Pay As You Go

So, being that I have travelled in this area of the world before, I thought I would have my new iPhone unlocked from the Rogers Network, prior to leaving for the Philippines as I do remember how inexpensive it is to purchase a Sim Card.  Here is a small comparison.  On the Rogers Network it was $50.00 dollars to purchase a Sim Card for a Pay as you Go phone cards, in comparison to here, where it is P40 (Philippines Peso) or to be exact about 99 cents USD.  Wow, how come? Oh right Rogers once told me they have superior service, but as anyone can attest to, we know that is not true.

Anyways, so I had to decide was I to be making more phone calls, sending Text msgs, or Surfing.  Well I picked Text and Surf.  On the Smart Network which is the network I am on now, for Unlimited for 30 days the cost is P995 or $22 USD.  Wow, now that is cheap!!  I also belonged to the Globe network when I first arrived here, and much like the Smart network I got a SIM CARD, and 7 days unlimited surf and text with an additional P150 on my account for P699.  Now this turns out to be a little more than the SMART network, but I did this right at the airport, and we all know nothing at any airport no matter where in the world is cheap.

So here is the hinky things I have experienced since arriving here.  I went to reload the Globel Sim card, and discovered that I need to pay P550, in order to get 30 days, unlimited text and surf.  Pretty inexpensive once again, however, I had to have the update sent to my phone, and my number in the phone did not match what was on the SIM CARD so the update went into space.  Since it did not arrive, I would have t0 pay for a second update.  At about this point I could not decide if I was being taken on a merry little circle of money letting.  So, I decided to switch to the SMART network.

So, in an attempt to get the Unlimited surf and text, I bought two P500 top up phone cards, and this should have give me P1000, and the Unlimited was P995, and I know I am not that great in math, I did however get told that there was not enough on my account in order to purchase this, and when I checked my balance, it did indeed tell me my balance as P986, which was not enough. The weird part was the phone company lady had the phone in my hand, and we had done nothing to have cost me the P14, so we could not figure out why or where it went.  But, the funny part was when I asked if she was curious where the money went, she said NO, and you did not have enough money on the account.

The long and short of things, is that I am always amazed how things work out.  Does it really make a difference, no….but don’t you want to know where the 14 pesos went….NO?

The Philippines

San Sebastian Cathedral
San Sebastian Cathedral

Week one is down, and I have to say I am very very much impressed with everything that I have been exposed to here in the Philippines.  The area is as I envisioned having lived in Southeast Asia in the past, but the thing that I am truly surprised with is the warmth and  friendliness of the people I have dealt with so far in my travels.  I am currently living in Bacolod and I am learning so much.  First thing I have discovered is there a surprising more modern areas in town that out way the old style wooden shacks.  In many ways things are way less expensive compared to home, but then there are things that certainly rival the prices found back in Vancouver.  It has taken me a few days to get a full grip on the Peso to Canadian conversion rates, something that is extremely important when shopping!

The next thing I have noticed is that no matter where someone comes from, when the locals are headed to work, they are very well dressed, and I think there is not an average looking woman in all of the Philippines.  I say this with the greatest amount of respect.  Everyone is very respectful, and conservative in their ways which is very refreshing.  There is some homelessness here in Bacolod,

Fireball The Day After
Fireball The Day After

which once again is said as an observation as every city now a days that you visit has their share of street people.  At least here, it cools in the night from the sweltering heat, and does not freeze and snow as it does in Canada with our homelessness situations which are very dangerous.  Sadly, it seems to be an accepted way of life, which I think should be address well before we start assisting other countries.

If you have never been to the Philippines, I would highly recommend you give it a chance, I don’t think you will be disappointed.