Almost two months ago, my mom and I hopped on a plane bound for the Philippines for a much needed adventure. This was no work trip, or family vacation–this was ten days hanging out with my brother on a rural island, in a developing country. My brother, having been there for two years, was a bit nervous about his Western life colliding with his Filipino life and we were a bit nervous about how we could cope with the various inconveniences that we may be faced with. Things like no regular plumbing, no toilet paper, malaria mouthed mosquitoes, rabid dogs, food, and the intense poverty-began to worry us weeks before the trip. And my mom, bought and carried with her a small drug store to cure whatever would ail us. Luckily, nothing ever did.
I have been looking back through my photos again and realize that I need to blog about that trip before all of the memories leave my feeble mind. So, I am going to start blogging about that trip and telling you the stories and making you listen!
Please, please, will you listen?
I begin with our arrival in the Philippines.
After what seemed like hours waiting in line to go through immigration and then customs, we finally were able to see the outside of the airport. Outside, was nothing surprising. Taxis, buses, the normal airport stuff. We found our hotel driver and followed him to a van.
The van drove by some of the slums in Manila but we were moving quickly and couldn’t really get a sense for them. Things looked pretty bleak from the road but there were still kids playing and people going about their regular everyday business.
We had decided to stay in a nice hotel in Manila so that we would be comfortable for one night before we began our rugged backpacking adventure the next day. We were able to stay at the Hyatt Hotel and Casino in Manila and couldn’t have been more impressed. This was about as far as you could get from the images of the Philippines painted by my brother. This hotel was a luxury hotel by any standard and was the best way to deal with looming homesickness and jet lag.
We were lucky to meet with the marketing and public relations managers, Loni and Maynard, for dinner, a hotel tour and to give us information on the local area (one of the perks of being a blogger).
Having dinner with Loni and Maynard was one of the highlights of my trip. Not only was the food amazing –(almost any kind of food you can think of was available–all high quality, and buffet items made to order! Just look at that dessert table!)–but, talking with these local people about the area was a great way to start our exploration. They were very articulate and professional and had many interesting things to tell us about the area. I know that we were both surprised to meet such young, modern, and cool people on our first night in Manila. Once again, one of my preconceived ideas about the Philippines–shattered (which I think is one of the best reasons to travel).
The rooms were lovely……and the beds so comfortable. This is a two queen bed room—although the beds were pushed together to make one gigantic and super comfy bed. I want this bed in my house. And, those windows that are hiding behind the curtains–were floor to ceiling. Very nice!
And, the bathroom…..oh! I loved the bathroom…..lots of pretty glass and tile. Nice fluffy towels and yummy smelling toiletries.
We didn’t really leave the hotel during the 20 hours that we were there. Once, we tried to walk outside and snap a couple of photos but the security guard stopped us and told us it was better to not go out as there “are many bad people.” We had heard a lot of bad things about Manila and safety and this was the first time that it was confirmed.
So, we explored the hotel. We visited the pool (but it was closed) and the spa which had a sauna, a steam room, workout facility, and a really nice locker room/changing area. I would have spent a lot more time in this part of the hotel if we would have had the time.
We also, at the request of my mom spent a couple of hours in the casino. It was quite interesting trying to figure out how to play slot machines in another country. You would think it would be the same–but my mom was confused. I don’t like gambling so I played my 1000 pesos (less than $7) very conservatively and then stopped as soon as I had made my money back. My mom spent her money and we went back to our room and watched the Filipino Amazing Race.
(One thing that I thought was really interesting was Filipino TV–they had versions of all of the American reality shows including, Filipino Idol, the Biggest Loser, Survivor and the Amazing Race).
The Hyatt Manila Resort and Casino was the perfect way to start our vacation and I wish we had thought to end it here as well. After ten days of exploring Palawan, showering and sleeping at the Hyatt would have been extremely welcome.
Thanks to the Hyatt Manila Resort and Casino for our stay, which was paid for with our own money. Thanks to Loni and Maynard for an enjoyable dinner and for giving us such a good impression of the Philippines on our arrival.