In a previous post, The Family Vacay Begins, we described our long wait in Hong Kong, and then our delays on our second flight. By the time we arrived in Manila, we had been traveling for 15 hours and we were not even close to done yet. Yes, we were in finally in the Philippines, but it seemed like we still had so much more time and distance to get through. Baby boy was exhausted and slept through most of the second flight. When we arrived in Manila, it was already 8:30pm and we had organised to meet our friends at 8pm. In order to save some time, we had to change and freshen up in the restrooms at the Manila Airport. The airport was dingy and gross, but surprisingly enough, the restrooms were clean. Not a single squat toilets in sight, and they even had a changing table for Elijah. Gosh – even the Manila Airport (voted one of the worst airports IN THE WORLD) had better facilities than the nicest shopping malls that we have in China. Shocking!
Originally we were going to go to our hotel first to drop off our bags, but we were already 90 minutes late and our friends were waiting for us, so we needed a new game plan. We took all of our backpacks and hopped into a cab, heading directly to Resort World. The roads were dirty and unattractive, as Manila is, but boy oh boy, we were surprised when we arrived at Newport Mall.
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There we were, tons of bags and covered in sweat, when we suddenly stepped into the fanciest mall that we have seen in a long time. There were kind men at the entrance, and they helped us out of the cab and into the doors. All of them oooh-ed and ahhh-ed over Elijah. The air-conditioning was an instant cooling relief as we entered the mall. Already we had noticed that the locals were extremely kind, accommodating, and eat to help us. This was very pleasing to see. We sure do miss friendly smiles and being able to communicate freely in English.
As we walked through this incredibly fancy mall, we marvelled at all the western stores and the English signs all around us. There is no way to describe how odd it feels to be around what seems so familiar, and yet feel so out of place. We live in such a
backward simple world now, that somehow we had forgotten how amazingly clean and comfortable life could feel. Even air-conditioning is hard to come by in China, and this mall not only had that but incredibly shiny floors, good smells, and happy people everywhere. We felt like we had stepped into some kind of time warp and entered another universe. That right there, ladies and gentlemen, is reverse culture shock. We have felt it before, but never did we imagine feeling it in the middle of grubby old Manila.
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Our friends were waiting for us at Stackers Burger Cafe on the 4th floor of Newport Mall. We met this couple while we were traveling from Bangkok to Northern Thailand in Februray, and immediately we hit it off with them. Cool, laid-back and funny – it was hard not to love them!
Up until that point in the evening, we were mainly concerned with getting to Resort World. We barely had much time to think about the fact that we were about to reconnect with our friends. As soon as we saw them, we were reminded of the time that we spent with them in Thailand. All of those good memories of warmth, good food, and great company! They were both very excited to meet Elijah because I was five months pregnant when they met us in Bangkok. Elijah was super tired by that stage so all he wanted was to eat and sleep, but still, we were happy to introduce him to Andy and Gayle.
After dinner we said our goodbyes and agreed to meet up again in the States next year. It seems that every time we meet Andy and Gayle, we are in a different country. That’s pretty exciting! We took a cab to our hotel, and organised a driver to take us to the airport in the morning. Once again, we were facing only two hours of sleep and then more traveling. We dropped our bags, kept on our clothes (no time to change or dig through our bags), fed Elijah, and then lay down to take a nap. Our hotel was pretty tacky-looking, but all we needed was a place to rest our heads and this place served it’s purpose well. At 3:30am one of the hotel staff came to wake us up and brought us a simple breakfast of eggs, bread and coffee. Like our room, it was not the very fancy, but it hit the spot and got us moving. We sure did need the caffeine! From there we made our way to the insanely busy airport (never before have we seen an airport so packed at 4:00 in the morning!) and check into our third, and final, flight. Eli didn’t even need a feed before we left the hotel, he stayed asleep in his carrier for a couple of hours after we had already left the hotel.
|Our third flight – Manila to Caticlan|
Andy and Gayle, You guys are awesome!
Although we only got to hang out for a couple of hours in the Philippines, we look forward to seeing these two when we visit the States next summer. It is always a pleasure to spend time with them!