Sunday, January 18, 2015

Beginning my Philippines Adventures-January 2015

Once again I lay out everything I plan to pack for my trip to the Philippines and Thailand. This time I am using my new Gossamer Gear Utility pack which is much more compact than my Golite pack.

This time my pack just weighs 7.1 lbs including my camera gear along with 3 paperbacks---about a pound less than my Trans-Siberian trip.

My "free" flight using 80,000 frequent flyer United miles took me to San Francisco on United and then on to Beijing on China Air with a connecting flight to Bangkok. After a several days enjoying the beaches of Ko Samet, Thailand, I took a flight to Manila. I had to change the arrival date because they had closed the Manila Airport on January 19th to allow for the safe departure of Pope Francis. I arrived a day earlier in Manila at 11PM and reserved a hotel that was posted as being about 2 km from the airport. Even though I had a map that showed the hotel was on the back side of the airport, my taxi driver stopped three time for directions---which allowed the meter to run--before I got to the hotel. It took about an hour and cost 500 pesos---about $11.50. This was about twice as much as it would have been to take a taxi to downtown Manila.
After a delicious breakfast which was included in the hotel cost, the owner told me how I could cheaply travel downtown if I was willing to travel by moto--trike, jeepney and light rail. Since my flight to Cebu was not until 9PM, I figured this would be a good way to spend the day. Good thing my pack was light.
This is the trike I rode where I had to scrunch down to keep from having my head hit the top of the roof. This 15 minute exciting ride cost me 25 pesos--about 50 cents.

It is fairly to easily navigate around here because most Philippinos are fluent in English and the driver was able to show me which jeepney I was to get on that would take me to the light rail at Baclaran that would take me to downtown and the tourist sites. There were about 20 of us jammed into this jeepney. One of the interesting things is that as riders get on, they pay by passing their money up from passenger to passenger with change coming back in a similar fashion. I sent up a 20 peso bill and got in return 12 pesos--about a 20 cent 30 minute bus ride.

The jeepney unloaded us at the market that was under the Baclaran light rail station.

The next leg of my travel to downtown Manila was on their light rail system which traveled above the traffic snarled streets of Manila. Since it was the first stop, I was able to get a seat as it quickly filled to capacity at the other stops before I got off at the UN stop near Rizal Square where just the day before it was filled with millions of people to witness Pope Francis' visit.

Now on to see some sights of downtown Manila.

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