Goodbye Malaysia, hello the Philippines

Trip Start Jul 22, 2012
Trip End May 08, 2014

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Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Originally my flight was scheduled to leave KL at 8:30pm and arrive in Manila at 12:15am and my plan was to then sleep at the airport until daylight before heading into the city. A couple of days beforehand however i got an email saying that the flight had been re-scheduled to depart at 11:55pm and arrive shortly before 4am. Arriving at the airport about 10pm i went to check-in only to be told by the Air Asia staff they couldn't do so unless i had an onward ticket out of the Philippines, something i had read previously but discounted thinking i could bluff my way out of it! After requesting to speak to a supervisor and explaining that i hadn't booked an onward flight because i had no idea how long i was going to stay in the Philippines - maybe one month, maybe two, maybe three – it depended on whether i could get a post helping out with the relief effort from Typhoon Haiyan, and that i also intended to leave the Philippines by ship from Palawan to Sabah or from Mindanao to Sandakan on Sabah and so couldn't book a ticket in advance for these sailings anyway. The jobsworth would not relent arguing that if they let me fly to Manila without an onward ticket then the immigration people at the airport would turn me round and send me back. Not so i told him, they don't usually even check if you have an onward ticket and i’ll argue my case with them if they do (if you can prove you have sufficient funds to support yourself and the means to buy a ticket at a later date, such as a debit or credit card, they are generally happy to let you in). Nonetheless he wouldn’t relent saying that Air Asia would get into trouble etc etc and that i could go and buy an onward ticket at the sales desk. Frustrated and annoyed i trotted off to the sales desk and asked them to search for the cheapest flight leaving the Philippines to anywhere in the next 3 months. After a few minutes the clerk stated that there was a fight in March to Kota Kinabalu on Sabah for $45 dollars {about 30}. As a last resort i would have been prepared to pay this, however i was sure i could find something cheaper so got my laptop out and sure enough after a little searching found a flight from Manila to Kota Kinabalu on the 21 March for 6.49 included all taxes and fees. Fantastic, what a result - sod you Air Asia i thought, so I went back to the sales office requesting a ticket for that specific flight but they informed me that it would cost $100 and that online offers didn’t apply to their sales office! I thus got my laptop back out and booked it online however when i tried to make the online payment the free airport Wifi wouldn’t 'authorise’ the transaction. I decided it was probably because Air Asia had some kind of blocking software in use. I thus ended up walking down to Starbucks to use their free Wifi which let me make the purchase without any problem! I have no intention of using the flight, i will write it off but at least it allowed me on the Manila flight. By this time it was 11:15pm and i was worrying they weren’t going to check me in but getting back to the check-in desk they informed me that the flight wasn’t now leaving until 1:20am from Gate 3 (and this was posted up on the departures board in the airport) so i needn’t have worried. I sauntered through security and immigration to the departure gate only to find out that the flight was actually leaving from gate 11 and immediately. I was rushed through to the plane and within 10mins we were taxing down the runway! Lots of people must have missed the flight in all the confusion because it was less than half full.
Arrived at Manila NAIA domestic terminal at 4am (they didn’t ask to see my onward ticket at all as i knew they wouldn’t) and sat around until 6:30am and it was daylight. I then took two Jeepneys for 8 pesos each {about 11p} to get to the LRT station and then a 12 peso train four stops from there to get to my accommodation in Vito Cruz – the Pink Manila hostel. It’s relatively expensive at 570 pesos for the 8-bed air con dorm but nice and chilled. Spent the morning sightseeing round bits of the city visiting Ermita & Malate; walking along Roxas Boulevard beside Manila Bay; and up to Rizal Park where Jose Rizal the Philippine 'revolutionary’ hero was executed by the Spanish colonial authorities. It’s a lovely place despite the history and well worth a visit. Spent most of my 2nd day in Manila sightseeing. In the morning i went to the walled 'city’ of Intramuros once the preserve of the Spanish ruling classes, and home to Fort Santiago; San Agustin Church; & Manila Cathedral amongst other notable sights. In the afternoon i wandered up to Chinatown and along Ongpin Street which Lonely Planet states "walking its length – which we recommend – will take about 10 minutes". Well i have my own recommendation – don’t bother, its shit. Instead walk along Rizal Avenue from the Carriedo metro station up to the Doroteo Jose metro station which is a succession of street stalls displaying all manner of paraphernalia, a large number of which are selling air rifles + pistols; & sex related items such as porn DVDs (both straight & gay), dildos and sex enhancing pills & sprays! From there i then took the metro up to Abad Santos to visit the Chinese Cemetery. Here wealthy Chinese citizens are laid to rest in large mausoleums in a display of excessive ostentatiousness.
On my 3rd and last day i headed over to the business district which is home to most of the major corporations and hotel chains. I started off in the Fort Bonifacio area where the American Memorial cemetery is located. Initially as i wandered around the multitude of white crosses honouring the dead from the American campaign in the Far East & Pacific during WW2 i wasn’t impressed or moved, as unlike the European cemeteries in Thailand for instance there are no names or plaques on any of the crosses. It wasn’t until i got to the open air galleries within the cemetery displaying murals outlining key battles & campaigns, and huge plinths naming every serviceman killed or missing in action (naval, army & air force all included) that i was then able to appreciate what a poignant and moving place it actually is. From there i then walked down McKinley Road and into Makati. This is home to a plethora of high rises; huge shopping malls; restaurants and bars. It’s all sparklingly clean, fancy and upmarket and a total contrast to downtown Manila which is decidedly grubby in comparison.
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Angie Newman on

Onward ticket:- the well known Richard phrase 'believe me i know ' comes to mind!! Seriously, glad you are okay and still enjoying the trip. Keep blogging, it makes me chuckle. Take care x

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