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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Not Itchy In Makati City


Makati is a Tagalog (Filipino) word for "itchy", but also for the ebbing tide.

According to tradition, the first Governor-General of the Philippines Miguel López de Legazpi, while exploring a swamp near the Pasig River, asked for the name of the place but, because of the language barrier, was misinterpreted by the Tagalog people. Pointing to the receding tide of Pasig River, the Tagalogs answered, “Makati, kumakati na,” literally meaning ebbing tide.[5]

We took our breakfast, fixed the luggage and were shuttled by the hotel’s van to the NAIA. It took us 35 minutes to get to the airport, and the van costs 680 Pesos. I stayed outside the airport (as visitors were not allowed inside, unlike at the domestic airport) and waited until my friend called that he already checked-in.


 


Note: NAIA charges all kinds of taxes so be prepared to have enough cash to pay for 750 pesos airport tax, and of course you have to fill out the exit form.
After I brought my friend to the airport, I went to Ayala Avenue in Makati City. It was still early and the malls were still closed except for the food court of the Landmark, so I decided to take another small breakfast. Afterwards, I went looking for an ATM since I needed to stock some cash for the next days. There are a lot of banks around the area of the business district. I panicked when my bank card was not accepted at the ATM, tried the next machine and it was the same thing. I've considered that probably it was just a glitch with the system so I resolved to keep calm and try again at another machine somewhere else. Fortunately, I have enough cash for the next couple of days. I've planned to visit my cousin who lives in another province, Nueva Ecija, the next day.

I've decided to walk around a bit and then took a bus going to another (city) district, Mandaluyong City. As usual the traffic was so bad which is always the case in Manila. I still prefer the provinces. All laid back and slow-paced.

I did a little mall tour and decided to go back to the bay area at the Mall of Asia (MoA). I spent the whole afternoon at the MoA and back to the hotel for an early nightcap because I had to travel early the next day too.



Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bye Bye Busuanga, Hello Maynilad

Day 20: Coron (Busuanga) - Manila


It was already time to leave Coron. Vacation was almost over at least for my travel companion. I had another 4 weeks in the islands to see my family by myself. But first I had to bring my friend back to Manila to catch his flight back to Europe the next day.

Breakfast at the hotel was not inclusive so we had to pay it extra. I had a Pinoy breakfast of danggit, fried rice and coffee while my friend got pancakes, a piece of toast with bacon and egg. We booked a van for 10:30 a.m., but the driver came much earlier and told us that we could go at 8:00 (“you go at eight”) because it would fit him better with his other tours. (Hello, can’t we decide when we wanted to go? Besides, it was already agreed.) That was much time in between and we already had enough buffer time including the 45 minute-drive to the airport. We eventually agreed to go at 9:00 after him being a little bit rough. There was nothing really much to do at the small airport but wait, so we checked the small souvenir shop next door. We bought some shirts, delicacies and snacks. There was no water in the toilet for washing hands so we had to buy bottled water from outside. And as expected, our flight was delayed for over 30 minutes.

arrival
departure

In Manila, we took a taxi from the airport to the Microtel Mall of Asia and the driver charged us 450 Pesos. With about 70€ (ca. 4000) pesos a room/night, Microtel belongs to the upper category. The hotel building has 13 floors (I think) and there is a pool on the rooftop. Unfortunately, it was not operational during the time we were there. It is very clean and the room with its two queen-sized beds is really spacious. It is located right by the Manila Bay and outside of the chaos of Manila. We got a sea-view room on the seventh floor (715), a room that could accommodate up to 4 guests, with very quiet air conditioning unit, a flat screen TV, a refrigerator, a clean toilet and shower.

*A little tip for the visitors, when in Manila don't ever tell any taxi drivers your name or your hotel room number. Some ask for such details knowing they have malicious intent. I was asked which I found it odd and was wondering about such questions since it was irrelevant. All I want was just to be dropped off at my hotel. Just for your own security.
We had the view of the harbor promenade which has a lot of restaurants and cafes as well as nightly live bands performance. The hotel has an hourly free shuttle service to the Mall of Asia which is actually just about 10 minutes away on foot.


MOA is a huge mall with many restaurants, skating rink, cinemas and all kinds of shops. It is (large shopping malls) something that they didn’t use to have in Europe. We bought some provisions and of course shopped for “pasalubong” like exotic foodstuffs and all that. We dined at the hotel’s own restaurant and turned in early since my friend had an early flight the next day.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Coron: La Sirenetta By The Sea

Day 19: Coron (Busuanga)

We went to La Sirenetta upon returning to Coron Town. It lies just about 10 minutes on foot from the pier. The location on the water was fantastic where you have the view of the sea and the island in front. The food was promptly served and I had my mango-banana (milk) shake, an appetizer of seaweed (lato) salad and delicious gingered chicken. Then I had my second glass of ice cold shake. La Sirenetta was probably our favorite restaurant in Coron.



We were still tired so we went back to our hotel and rested a bit and took a plunge at the pool. It was very refreshing. At around 16:00 (4:00 PM) when we decided to climb Mt. Tapyas. Our hotel is basically located at the foot of the hill and just about 10 minutes to the ascent. The ascent was taxing because of the searing heat of the afternoon sun. I was basically drenched in sweat. I had to take off my shirt as I didn’t want to climb back down totally wet. Fortunately there was a kid selling bottled water at the top of the hill as my throat was parched. Mt. Tapyas offers a 360° panorama of the town and the underlying islands. We didn’t stay until sundown but I would bet, the sunset would be great viewed from there.


It was kind of late when I got my cousin Ate Kit’s phone number. It was our last day in the island so I called her up to meet. She was surprised as she didn’t know that I was on the island. The last time we saw each other was probably over 20 years ago. We just got back in contact through facebook a couple of years back. I arranged for her and her husband to fetch me at the hotel. My friend who was still tired from the whole island-hopping decided to stay back at the hotel.


Ate Kit and her husband, Pastor Garcia took me to Sea Dive restaurant which is another popular backpackers place. The restaurant was also on the water. The service was a bit inadequate. It took years for the food to be served and my cousin didn’t get what she ordered. At first we thought we had to wait for it but then the waitress completely forgot it. Then when we asked for the bill, she announced how much we had to pay for the whole world to hear. Who does that eh? But altogether, the place was okay and I had a pleasant evening reuniting with family.