Day 1 – Plane to the Hotel
As soon as I got off the plane, I headed to the immigration line. There was a long line for Filipino nationals and the line for visitors was the line just past the nationals. You enter the lines from the left side and they stretch across to the right. As soon as you get there, cut to the right since the lines turn out to be much shorter. I didn’t have any checked-in luggage so I carried my bags to the “Express” baggage checkout (which was if you had 2 items or less) and I was out of the airport from the plane to the taxi stand in 15 minutes. The terminal isn’t that big so I was surprised that I got out so quickly and ended up just jumping into a taxi. As soon as I got into the taxi I realized I had no local currency. The taxi driver took me to a local money changer and I got a pretty good exchange rate. The bank rate was $1 USD to PHP 40.63, my exchange rate was $1 USD to PHP 39.20. The taxi driver wasn’t using the meter which concerned me since that means he could try to charge whatever he wanted. He didn’t talk much until I started asking questions about the Philippines, I also mentioned that I was Filipino and he became more friendly. I normally make friendly small talk to get local tips and in the hopes that I don’t get kidnapped/robbed/ripped off by the taxi driver. From the Airport to the Hotel (with a stop at the money changer) took about 40 minutes. The driver charged me PHP 600 ($15 USD).
It’s about 23:00 local time (the next day for me) when I arrive at the hotel.
Man, I got ripped off. The ride, even with the airport yellow taxi, should have been about PHP 400. The white taxis probably PHP 200. The cost isn’t much, but it always feels bad knowing you got ripped off/not charged the going rate. Even with the money conversion, I saw exchange rates as high as $1 USD to PHP 40.20 (at SM Mall of Asia).
I stayed in Makati for 3 nights, because I heard that’s where you can find the nightlife in Manila. As I don’t like going long distances since I mostly walk, I thought it would be a good idea to get a hotel in Makati. It turns out Makati is really just the red light district. It’s a pretty rough area, but most places around Manila are very similar.
After being up for about 30 hours without any real sleep or a shower, I decide to just stay in the hotel the first night. Luckily, the restaurant attached to the hotel was open 24 hours.
Also, after just arriving there, I was a little scared to explore the city at night after riding in a taxi through seeing extreme poverty. I’ve been to many countries, but I haven’t seen poverty like I’ve seen in the Philippines. I get a good night’s sleep and wake up in the morning without any effects of jet lag.