Monday, October 15, 2007

Travel Day to Manila

Four AM came awfully early. We've got a long day today, traveling to Manila. Left the hotel at 5:15am for the 30-minute drive to the airport. The first leg of our journey had us on a near 5½-hour flight to Singapore. Easy enough, especially sitting in business class. Today we're flying on Singapore Airlines. Probably the best airline I've ever flown on. And yowza, the flight attendants are gorgeous. Beyond gorgeous.

We have a layover in Singapore of a little over 4 hours, which is long enough that you could go see a bit of Singapore if you chose to, but no one on the tour leaves the airport. Lots to do here anyway. Some amazing shopping to be done. You can go swimming, take a shower, see a movie for free (today's selection is Star Wars), and more.

Audio guy Chris, Janet, and I go off in search of food and wind up at one of those sushi joints that have the conveyer belt system passing by not only the sushi bar, but also right past all the booths, too. Four different colors of small plates, holding all varieties of sushi and sashimi (even Edamame) flow by constantly, and you just pull off any plates you like. You pay based on what color plate you choose.

Thirty minutes later, we had about 20 plates all over the table. Good stuff.

Stopped in the men's room in the terminal. In addition to the "regular" toilets, I spotted this lovely one behind this stall door:

Over in Turkey and Bosnia, these are known as Turkish Toilets. Yuck!

Spent about an hour in the VIP lounge, then off we go again. The flight to Manila is another 3½ hours, arriving around 8:40pm. The whole day is pretty much shot by now.

The Manila airport is a trip. Military guards everywhere, carrying automatic weapons. We're met by what seems like an entire squadron of security guys, all hired by the local promoter.

We're whisked away to a private area and don't have to do the usual dog & pony show through Customs/Immigrations. Next we're herded into buses and off we go, with a 2-motorcycle police escort. On the way to the hotel, I'm thinking, "I've got a police escort, bitches!"

Wind up in the hotel bar with Janet and Chris, where a Corona sets me back 360 pesos, which is $8.18 USD. Definitely not gonna have another, as I've heard too much for too long about how cheap everything is here in Manila. Except here in the nicest hotel in town, of course. And believe me, it IS a nice hotel.

We've got the entire 28th (top) floor of the hotel and a bunch of rooms on 27, too. There are security guards at each end of the hall, and an additional guy by the elevators to keep anyone from coming onto our floor. It's kinda creepy.

There's a big gathering of our people in one of the hotel's restaurant/bars at 11pm, but when we walk in, it looks like everyone's sitting down for a late-night dinner. Not what I'm interested in – I want to get out and see what's around the hotel.

While Janet and Chris have another drink and socialize a bit, I did a recon mission in the immediate area. Came back and grabbed them and he went about 3-4 blocks away to a restaurant called Gilligan's, where we settled in for awhile. Had a table out on the front patio by the street. We were the only non-Filipino's there, which was cool. My beer of choice tonight is San Miguel pilsner, which cost 34 pesos each, about 77cents USD.

Let's see – I had 5 beers, Janet and Chris each had 5 or so mixed drinks, and we shared an order of calamari and an order of fries. Our total bill came to 1,052 pesos, $23.91 USD. Cool.

On the way back to the hotel, I talked them into stopping at the Outback Steakhouse, which had a decent-looking bar. The air conditioning was cranked up and the beer was far colder than Gilligan's. The bartender, manager (April), and our waitress (Hazel) were all very friendly and very attractive. My San Miguel beers here are 50 pesos, $1.13 USD.

Although they're open until 3am, we packed it in not long past 2:30. Tired, and I've been up for 22½ hours now…

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