Saturday, October 22, 2011

Hello, Manila!

Been to Manila or planning to go one of these days? Well, to those who have been there, you might be familiar with some of the things I mention on this post. While those who haven't could find some information useful for a first-time visit to the place. We did encounter some challenges. Since this could be potentially long, I am dividing my post into a series of events.

Curious at the piso fare promos I hear from friends and officemates, I tried to book a flight as fast as I could some months ago. Often told about how most weekend dates get sold out within minutes. First destination I thought of was Manila among two others. But because I found available slots for Manila, I took it. Traveling used to be one of my sister's dreams. That's why after two years have passed since she joined our Savior, I decided I should make her dream a reality by taking mom, our family to some places traveled by air. I hope Ate is happy.

The Planning
When you know there's a chance you can get lost in an unfamiliar place, you prepare for it. We do have a few relatives living in Manila but their place is far away from the heart of the city and having a limited time to do stuff, we thought it'd only take up the time we need to go to the attractions we planned to go to. One should always learn to prioritize and our main goal that time is to explore and get to know what Manila is like.

1) Searched online for nice and fairly near-to-each-other places I know. 
Click on available links to check official websites, place info:

2) Bought a map of Manila. I could have just settled with map searches but they are not as detailed and printing at that time was a hassle for me.

3) Considered options for places to stay. Thanks to a friend's blog post, I learned about names of less expensive pension houses and did some inquiries to base mine and my folks' decision upon.

Trip to Manila
Another bright sunny weather to thank God for! Although the second time around it's more cloudy. But still it's great to be traveling again on a nice sky. Terminal fee from Cebu to Manila is P200.

Arrival at NAIA Terminal 3
Ninoy Aquino International Airport is much bigger than Mactan International Airport.

Taxi is most often the choice when you need a transportation from the airport.
We opted for the non-yellow metered taxi. Yellow taxi fare is way too expensive compared to the ordinary. After disembarking from the plane, go along with your co-passengers to the exit. But instead of going down to the ground floor, stay on the 2nd floor (airlines check-in area). Taxi stand for cheaper taxis is found there. I have read this tip online but wasn't able to locate what we're supposed to look for easily that's why we ended up in the yellow taxi stand and had to go back, re-enter the airport and use an escalator again (different from the one we used on our arrival). Don't be afraid to ask, it pays off. Special thanks to that airport maintenance guy who pointed us to the right direction.

(View across the airport - St. Therese of the Child Jesus church and hotels)

Place to Stay
Our destination is Friendly's Guesthouse found in Malate area. As advised by the staff, tell the driver that the place is in the intersection of Adriatico and Nakpil St. Get ready with your Tagalog. Haha!

Don't forget to make sure that the taxi driver activates the meter. Otherwise, your effort of looking for a metered taxi will be wasted.

I wasn't able to time the trip but it took about 30 minutes for us to get there. We passed by Remedios Church and Remedios Circle which are near and among the landmarks of our destination. There's Cafe Adriatico, too. Fare is P152. I gave extra. The driver's nice and didn't take advantage that we are new to the place. It's comforting to know that his mother is a Cebuana. Spokesperson Debbie didn't back off for some small talk.

When we arrived at Friendly's Guesthouse, we were led to an old elevator. It brought us fine to the fourth floor, just that it's creaking old. Unfortunately when the staff that I emailed checked their booking records, the occupants of the room that was supposedly pre-assigned to us decided to extend their stay. My folks and I understood but were dismayed because it means we don't have a place to stay just yet. It's way past lunchtime and we're feeling hot and hungry. The other only available room is not that big and a smelly one at that. We don't know what's the cause of the odor but we definitely can't stay in there. We even asked the staffs but they didn't give us a straight answer. But they're nice enough people. Anyway, a situation like that calls for Plan B. You should always have one ready. Actually, I didn't. But at least I knew that the other two pension house options I listed are nearby. I communicated via email and with Malate Pensionne, I was told before our trip that their family rooms are fully-booked. Stargate Pensionne on the other hand informed us that rooms are located at the 3rd floor and there's no elevator. Can't settle in that, mom's legs won't make it going up and down the stairs. 

Back to our dilemma of not getting accommodation at FGH, we went out and I saw Malate Pensionne just a few steps ahead. I decided to ask anyway, despite knowing that I could still get the same answer that no rooms are available for us. It's a good thing I did. Luckily, a family room has been vacated just that noon before we arrived. We believe the room was really for us. And thankful that we can finally settle down and get some rest before we get started with our activities. For room rates, you may visit their website.

(Our nice, comfy room)

Next post: The Tour

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