Goodbye Vietnam, Hello Philippines! or should I say Mabuhay Ang Pilipinas!
As my first days in the Philippines were somewhat of a disaster, I’ve decided to take the novel approach in this post of putting a red number next to each thing that didn’t quite go right. You’ll see..
Waking up around 6am, I landed at Manila airport. I had booked a flight straight on from Manila to Cebu, however this wasn’t scheduled for another 9 hours at 3pm (1).
Unfortunately I booked my flight Hanoi-> Manila, about a month before I decided to go straight on to Cebu so I got a lovely wait at Manila Airport.
Okay, it was anything but lovely. The Philippines are beautiful but the terminal for domestic departures in Manila is awful (2). It is 3 bad food sellers, in a small square room with metal chairs, and everyone crammed in.
I take responsibility for 9 hours of the wait, but then to add to it, my flight was delayed from 3pm departure to about 6pm, GRRR!! (3) This meant a 12 hour wait from my last flight.
Anyway, enough about airports because I finally boarded the flight and arrived in Cebu!!
And after a short-(ish) taxi drive where I had to direct the driver that got lost using Google Maps (4), I arrived at the hostel.
So I checked into the hostel, and the ladyboys on reception (that I didn’t actually realise were ladyboys at the time) started immediately offering me a ‘massage’ and all kinds of unmentionable things. Creepy. (5)
I checked in and got to my bed, completely exhausted by doing nothing in the airport all day. And then 20 minutes later after putting my bag down, an American came up to me and told me I was in his bed? (6) I did actually wonder why there was a bottle in there but the ladyboy had specifically said that was my bed.
So to play peacemaker, I moved to a different bed. That’s what a great guy I am haha. And in light of that, I decided to try a local beer…
It turned out that whilst I was in a party hostel, these were THE ONLY 2 DAYS where it was against the law to buy alcohol in the Philippines!! (7,8,9, I love beer so this counts as 3 disasters!) I was in Cebu during the election period where they don’t allow you to, so without any local beer, I got a takeaway McDonalds (classy) and headed to bed.
THE NEXT DAY…
So i’d only allowed myself 1 full day in Cebu as I wanted to prioritise other places in the Philippines given that I only had about a month. I didn’t go to Kawasan Falls (10) but instead headed to the Plaza Independencia and Fort San Pedro to learn a little Filipino history.
I attempted to get a jeepney from the hostel into the city. I use the word attempted because I just casually gripped onto it when it stopped, and then the locals realised and told me I couldn’t use it today because it was election day (11). So instead I had quite a hot walk.
To get to Fort San Pedro, you have to walk through the gardens of the Plaza Independencia. It used to be the provincial capital and now hosts quite a few momunments and statues.
And so having walked through the gardens, I went to Fort San Pedro. At reception, I paid my P30 admission and the guy said that they were offering free guided tours – would I want one? Well yes, as someone that knew nothing about Filipino history this seemed like quite a good idea.
So without further ado, a lovely Filipina similar to my age stopped playing Piano Tiles (Piano Tiles – of all the games she could choose!) on her phone behind the desk and accompanied me on a tour!
She was soon walking around with me, telling me how she was a tourism student in Cebu, hence why they were doing free tours. She didn’t come from Cebu so it was harder for her to understand the local Cebuano.
She was fun but clearly very knowledgable and was soon giving me a quiz about Filipino history around the time they were ruled by the Spanish.
We looked around some of the exhibits and she asked why I wasn’t taking any pictures? So I messed around with her and told her I was actually a vampire so had experienced this history first hand. Due to her not believing me about this, I relented and took some pictures…
After our extended tour of Fort San Pedro, it seemed she actually wanted to learn more about my vampirism (spoiler: I’m not actually a vampire, it was just an evil ruse). When I said I was going to go get a bottle of water from a seller at the gates, she joined me and then we sat outside at the Plaza Independencia on a bench and talked…for hours.
Whilst chatting about our lives, lots of beggars would come up to us probably seeing that i’m clearly foreign. I feel a little guilty here because I didn’t actually give any money to any of the beggars when even the Filipina did and I’m quite a wealthy guy. (12) One of the beggars just stood by us whilst we chatted and started singing a Justin Bieber song at us until she gave him 10 pesos. I guess my normal approach would be to offer food rather than money but there wasn’t anywhere near selling food and there were lots of different beggars in the Plaza.
Would you have given money?
And then it hit closing hours for Fort San Pedro and I bid goodbye to the Filipina. I was only in Cebu for that day but in hindsight, I maybe should have got her number (13). She was really lovely to talk to and I could have kept in contact.
Alas, I didn’t so I went back to the hostel, hung out for the evening and planned my trip the next day to Bohol…