Thank you Madam

Trip Start Jan 06, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Where I stayed
Topsey's Pad

Flag of Philippines  , Luzon,
Saturday, January 9, 2010

It all began on Wednesday morning, January 6th at 4:30 AM. My mom, the only person on earth who would take me to the airport at that hour, picked up my traveling companion Andrea Barkley and off we went. 

After going through several time zones, 3 planes and over 24 hours of traveling, we finally arrived in Manila late at night to find that Delta had left Andrea's bag in Tokyo. Our fabulous host, Topsey, (who I had never met, but got connected through the Thunderbird alumni network) picked us up at the airport and proceeded to whisk us away to a bed and a hot shower. I love those T-birds! He has a modern, Chinese inspired house in a lovely Manila neighborhood that has the tightest security I've ever seen. 

The next day, instead of sleeping in like we had planned, jet lag sprang us out of bed at 6 AM! So we jumped up and greeted the day to figure out what our first adventure in the big P would be. After learning that buses were called "jeeps" and cost about 20 cents, we were escorted by Topsey's cook to the jeep stop and onto the mall. When I noticed that everyone on the jeep wore plastic flip flops and it was clearly the foot wear of choice, I knew that I loved this country already. 

After being at the mall about 5 minutes and noticing that it had all of the same stores as those in Phoenix, we took a taxi to the old downtown area of the city called "Intramuros" to try and find some local flavor. This is the walled area of the old city that the Spanish built before selling the Philippines to the Americans in the late 1890s for $20 million. Who knew the U.S. had owned the Philippines in the past? That's probably why a language option at the ATM was "Taglish". After listening to our toothless horse carriage tour guide drive us around the old town by going directly against the flow of oncoming cars, I was hungry and definitely read to de-cart. We grabbed some grub with the local college students at a road side stand and had a huge plate of hot chicken curry, rice and veggies for $1. I could have had seconds for 50 cents more. 

Next we headed to Ermita, a hip downtown place with trendy shops, restaurants and bars. After exploring a grocery store and admiring naked children asleep in carts on the street, we grabbed a taxi home after decided our day exploring Manila was complete. Our ride home wasn't complete until after getting lost in the taxi and being rescued with a quick call to Topsey for some directions (did I mention he loaned us a cell phone? What a saint!) we made it back. 

Topsey then invited us to his favorite hang out place, the local mall. Complete with mercedes, red sports cars and the most happening Starbucks I've ever seen (and this was Friday night at 10 PM), this place was clearly more than just a mall. After eating at a Greek food restaurant, we hit the local bar with one of his friends after walking by a Pizza Kitchen, TGIFs, Gap and several other brand names that looked just like home. 

Oh yes, everyone calls you Ma'am here. I love it!


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