Day 2: Manila
From the domestic airport, we took a taxi to our hotel, the Orchid Garden Suites. The registered cab cost 530 Pesos. Orchid Gardens Suites sounds really fancy. It is quite good, and for 68 € per night for the executive suite, it is reasonably priced. The room is spacious, and the dining area and receiving area were a plus. It must have been the most expensive place in our entire trip. Manila has many excellent hotels and budget hotels too. An excellent travel guide like “the Lonely Planet” or Jens Peter’s publications (for the German travelers) will prove to be of great aid.
My travel companion, who is his first time traveling to the Philippines, needed his security blanket. Just like many of the people that I’ve met in Europe who have never been out of their yards, they have only heard and read about how Manila can be a dangerous place. It was a great comfort to him that I’m there.
The taxi ride through the city already showed the signs of poverty, even though we haven’t been through the slum areas. Outside our hotel are people who primarily live on the streets. That is a sad truth. The first significant impression that Manila left on us was of smog, chaos, a wild commotion on the road of jeepneys and people who walk by, all while trying to get past the traffic jams are honking at each other. I grew up in the province where life is slow and easy. Even though I’ve been to the capital a lot of times, I’m already bothered when I stay there for a long time. I was just not used to it.
The hotel is really classy and has a beautiful lobby. The reception staffs were not overly friendly but very professional. With a crappy little elevator, we went up to the seventh floor or something, where we got an executive suite. Everything was great, clean, with a large living room and kitchenette as well. Unfortunately the flush in the toilet is weak and needed a few tries. Also, a small downside was that although there was a TV, it has a crappy reception.
There was a reasonably shallow swimming pool at the orchid garden which was no use for us since it was raining and we were both tired.
I went to meet a dentist friend to have my teeth fixed in Ortigas Center, which is way too far from Malate area and ended being in the most extended traffic jam ever. I went out at daylight and got back at the hotel at 1:00 a.m.
There was an excellent breakfast buffet in the morning, probably the best in our “hotel-breakfast” in our entire trip. Our coffee cups were immediately refilled. There were delicious bread, rolls and desserts as well as fantastic Filipino dishes. There are the Filipino newspapers which fortunately for my companion, were written in English.
We paid our bill then immediately shuttled by the hotel’s van (the shuttle service was paid extra) to the domestic airport. With some delay for our flight, we finally left Manila to Tagbilaran, Bohol.