After the overnight flight from Kathmandu to Hong Kong I still needed an onward connection to get to Manila. For a journey of an hour and a half it seemed slightly strange to be onboard a Boeing 777 with a huge first class section, a hot meal service and televisions. With not enough time to watch a full film I saw a bit of Havana Moon, the Rolling Stones concert in Cuba, in between dozing.

Uber is up and going in Manila so I thought that I’d give it a whirl from the airport. In hindsight this wasn’t the best idea. When I booked the car it looked as though I would be picked up two roads parallel to the terminal, slightly to the left. However once outside of the airport I lost the WiFi and thus the GPS location of the driver. I’d memorised the pick-up point and number plate but with there being lots of flyovers it was not clear which road I should be picked up from. It was most probably a dual carriageway that I didn’t fancy crossing. After a while of not spotting the car I returned to the airport to catch a more traditional taxi to take me to where I was staying in Las Pinas, an outer suburb of Manila. Thankfully the Uber driver didn’t pull a fast one and pretend he had picked me up and drove the route as the scheister in Florida did. I was charged about £1 for 8 minutes of waiting time which was fair enough.

Why am I visiting the Philippines? It’s probably a little of the beaten path on the South East Asia tourist trail. Back home, the Philippines is probably best known as a source of nursing staff. One of the reasons for this is that English widely spoken here. Filipino is most people’s first language. If you listen carefully though many English words and phrases are also used. English is a common second language. Today I noticed that it is frequently used on signs, adverts, television shows and radio stations in Manila. To get back to the question of why visit the Philippines, I enjoy reading travel blogs. The good ones can be interesting and somewhat inspiring. One of the best travel blogs I’ve found is The author, Sabrina, raves about the Philippines, putting it among her favourite places. That sounded good enough for me to pay a visit.

After a long overnight journey I didn’t do a great deal for the rest of the day, aside from having a walk around the area in the vicinity of the hotel. Some immediate observations include of the Philippines included:
– Thankfully most of the locals wear shorts in the 30C+ climate. I try to blend in as much as possible, especially in countries that may have security issues. However around here my pasty legs may make me stand out even more!
– Religion is very much alive and well in the Philippines. The Roman Catholic denomination is the faith of choice. On the journey from the airport I saw a fair few billboards proclaiming God and/or Jesus. Many of the jeepney buses have “Praise The Lord” slogans displayed, although judging by some of the driving displayed they may need a bit more than divine intervention.
– The food of the Philippines, unlike some of its neighbouring areas, is not particularly renowned. From what I’ve see today it tends to mostly consist of a fairly bland meat with rice combination. As I think I’ve said before, I rarely venture into McDonald’s back home but I quite like to sample the local specialties when abroad. Here in Maccies you can get a palatable chicken burger, rice, mushroom sauce and a drink for about a quid.
-Today’s hotel was reasonably basic but perfectly fine. It markets itself as a businessman’s hotel, to quote the website. The most obvious question to this, with the telly remove control being tied down, is there a theft issue of television remote controls by Filipino businessmen?
– People here tend to be very formal and polite. Back home it’s unusual for someone to be addressed as sir, unless they are at least middle-aged. Today I accidentally walked into the hotel next door, much to the amusement of the security guard! Every time I have since walked past him he has pointed me in the right direction saying, “Hello sir”, “this way sir” and “have a good day sir.” Privately he may have been taking the Mickey but he sounded completely sincere!

Local McDonald’s cuisine
Nailed down remote control