It took us four days to get from New Jersey to Manila – via Honolulu and Guam, but we made it! If a little late.
Having slept the entire way from Guam to Manila, I was awake and alert for our adventure in Manila. Sure, we finally made it to Asia, but since we had a three-day delay, we missed the first part of our trip and had to reorder things, so we only had one night in Manila, the next day we were headed to Malaysia where the real vacation began. You think this is tiring? Try living through it!
After clearing customs, we went to the information center where a lovely lady assisted us in getting to Clark. First, we had to take a fixed rate cab to the bus terminal where we needed to hop on a bus to Clark. Then, we had to take a tricycle to a car park where we took another cab to the airport. If you map out the distance between these two airports, it’s only about an hour and a half, but to traverse that we basically took all the different transportation options (except a jeepney).
Our bus conductor didn’t speak English well, so when we told him we needed to get off at Clark we were worried that we wouldn’t know where to disembark. However, when it was time to leave he came to our seats and indicated to the door, then he said, “tricycle” and we were stumped. I didn’t understand what he was telling us, and though Eve understood that he was saying “tricycle” she thought she misunderstood. Once we finally got that sorted we walked in the direction he pointed to the tricycles – a bike with a sidecar. I got the sidecar, Eve got to ride behind our driver. She was asking him questions and he was very chatty, so that was entertaining. I had the job of making sure our luggage didn’t fall out of the car when we turned corners.
Once we were deposited at the car park, we took a fixed rate cab to the airport. I had read about haggling prices for cabs, but I would never work up the nerve to do it, and I hadn’t yet passed this piece of information on to Eve, so when we got in and I asked the driver what the cost would be, he quoted us a high price (by their standards) and Eve, who had asked our tricycle driver about the cost told our driver that we were told a lower price, so he lowered it to match that.
me: Did you know about the haggling?
eve: What haggling? I just asked the tricycle driver what the cost would be.
But, the story doesn’t end there. It’s night, our flight isn’t until the next day and the only reason we took a cab to the airport was to familiarize ourselves with our surroundings. We also didn’t have a hotel reservation, so we asked a local about hotel recommendations. He asked me if I wanted a friend. I promptly pretended to misunderstand him. But, he still managed to give us some tips and get us into a cab, with many smiles.
Our new cab driver decided to take us through the scenic route of Clark. “This is where you come if you want to have fun.” he said, while showing us the red light district.
Welcome to Clark!
The next morning, I asked our hotel concierge about sim cards and where to buy them, she asked one of the workers to take me to get a one, this involved being on the back of a motorcycle.
As we snaked through the streets I saw people already up and about, and as we passed, many of them stopped to stare. “Surely this isn’t an oddity, a girl riding on the back of a motorcycle”, I thought, and it wasn’t. It was only then I realized the theme of our trip, we will be stared at, we will have to deal with it.
I got my card activated at the airport, a lady helped me with it and saw the background of my phone (I just want to say that I borrowed this phone from a friend and forgot all about the background), it was a picture of a man without a shirt. She smiled at me. I groaned internally, trying to tell her that it wasn’t mine. I’m quite certain she believed me. Or not.
Check-in at Clarke is strange. Security starts at the entrance of the airport. I had to check my bag because I had an umbrella and they don’t allow such things as carry-on! Then you have to pay terminal fees because that’s not included in your fare. Then we had to go through exit immigration to leave. It was one of those small planes, so we walked on the tarmac to get to it, oddly enough, they had umbrellas that you could use to get from the terminal to the plane.
We were on our plane to Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, here we come!