First impression of Philippines…. AMAZING !!
Yesterday at 4:20 in the morning, we got to Philippines.
It wasn’t all that easy, but at the end it all worked out!!
We left Ekkamai (Bangkok) on monday evening (4th of Feb 2013), after getting a 3 months visa at the Philippines Embassy in Bangkok on monday afternoon (yes it was quite the last minute!!), we got the cheapest and fasted taxi ride to Suvarnabhumi Airport (25 minutes, 175 baths!), and it was for the best cos’ we were not very early for the flight!!
Fully excited, we get to the check-in counter and give our tickets. Note that we were very proud that we thought about printing them!!
- “Return ticket please” , the woman says.
Mutual frightened look between Claire and me…
- ” Return ticket?? We don’t have it.. We did book it but we gave the only print to the embassy to get the visa!”
- ” I can’t check you in if you don’t show the return ticket! Plus they’ll ask for it at the philippino custom when you get there!”
Luckily, we booked our return tickets with the same company, and the woman was nice enough to tell us to wait for 10 minutes while she was checking our bookings out of the country.
10 minutes later, she had printed both our boarding passes and our flight bookings so that we wouldn’t be in trouble at the philippino border.
Midnigh in Bangkok airport, we finally board on the plane. After a couple hours of unresting sleep, time to land already!!
“Welcome to Philippines” !!!
Yihaaa! No problems at customs, here we are, all sleepy walking through the exit doors of Manila airport. Allright, where should we go now???
We decided in the plane (taking a first look at the Lonely Planet we just bought) that we would go north to Banaue. According to the guide book it seemed to be a hell of a complicated thing… Well it was even worth in reality!! (even though, because we’re very clever and – mostly – lucky, it all went good at the end!)
Straight to the Tourist Information Center of the airport.
“There is no bus from Pasay (the cheap and close bus center from the airport) going north. You need to go to Quezon City and pay a lot for a taxi, because there is no more airport shuttle bus anymore!”
We firts need to change money. As we queue at the exchange booth, a man comes to us and says “sorry Madam, we have run out of cash, don’t waist your time queueing, you won’t get anything”.
While Claire is withdrawing money from the ATM, a first taxi driver talks to us. “Yes there is bus going north from Pasay, but not to Banaue. If you want to go to Banaue I can take you for 900 pisos” (almost 20 euros). No way!!
Second taxi driver, very nice guy selling us that it will cost us 946 pisos each , including the ride to the bus station and the bus to Banaue. Sounds easy!!
We talk with him 5 minutes and I keep asking him to confirm that it’s including everything. After a while we suddenly realise that he’s obviously ripping us off big time: it’s just the price to the bus station, that he doesn’t know we know is only a 10 minuts ride from the airport!! Bastard!!! We nicely tell him that we’ll go and take a meter taxi…
We climb up to the first floor of the airport, hoping to catch a yellow meter taxi who drops someone and doesn’t charge the expensive airport fee. A taxi driver comes to us (once again!).
We ask him. “you put meter?”
“Yes yes, meter rate!!”
After 3 times asking about the meter, we finally climb into his white taxi (this should have been a warning, it was not yellow!!), but not before having checked that he did have a meter. He seemed hurt “why you check? I told you I have meter rate!”. “ok ok, just we need to be sure…”
He starts the car and goes…
“Meter on??” I say.
“No No, I don’t have meter!!”
And he hands us a paper where it says “METER RATES: ….. blablablabla”
What the helllll !?!?
After a closer angry look I see “To Pasay – 600 pisos”. Bastard!!! “STOP THE CAR! we asked you for meter, you said many times that yes you had meter!!”
“Yes I have meter rates!!”
Anyway… I won’t talk about this any more, I was very angry and I kept asking to stop the car, which he did after a few minutes, more angry than me. “Why are you angry? You lied to us, you know we wanted meter and you’re trying to rip us of!! ”
He finally stops… Claire gets off and waits for the trunk to open. I stay in the car, i don’t want him to leave with our bags in the trunk! The trunk doesn’t open…
“Sorry my friend, but you know we wanted meter and you lied, not every tourist is stupid!!”.
Claire finally gets the bags out, good for us because he didn’t have to open!! He was really pissed of!
After asking us 50 pisos for the ride and not getting them, he finally takes off and we spot a 7/11 right where he drops us. Finally a bit of luck!! Let’s go buy a drink, we’re dying of thurst!!
While we walk to the store, a yellow taxi drives passed and slows down. Forget about the drink, let’s get it!!
After agreeing on the meter, we get in. The driver is so nice and sweet, very friendly, and most of all very efficient!! We didn’t wuite know where we were going, but he knew straight away which bus company we needed and where!
At the end he dropped us at Victory Liner Company in Pasay, a 10 minutes ride for 96 pisos (instead of the insane 946 from the guy before!!!), and we found a bus going to Bagabag at 8.30am, perfect timing to get a bit of a breakfast (actually just loads of drinks!!).
So if you want to go north when you get to Manila, remember this!!! Victory Liner station in Pasay, a very close yellow taxi ride from the airport!!! Don’t get ripped off!!
So the end of the story is…. This funny taxi driver made our day, and all the people we talked to after fim were very friendly and helpful, and that’s what we’ll remember about our first hours in Philippines!!!
We had a wonderful 10 hours bus ride to Bagabag, the junction to go to Banaau. We slept wuite a bit, but every time we would open our eyes it was to see amazing landscapes, full of different shades of green corrsed by rivers, on a dry-montained background shining in the blue sky. So beautiful!!
Really looking forwards to the rest of it, it seems like an amazing country!!