Back to Manila – Stopover in Singapore and Home

June 19, 2014 at 14:55

The time was too short again. But this time i did see a lot more of Banaue and i was the first time in Batad. Since my mother was not doing well and in the hospital i had to cut my trip 5 weeks short and fly home. So i did email Air China at the 27th of February and got a quick reply!

Dear Mr. Hastenteufel,

Good morning!

I have made a temporary booking for you on March 02 departure since March 01 has a higher cost than Mar02. Please see below details. Payment cannot be made on the day of departure , it should be paid through our ticketing office on or before the deadline given below. The equivalent amount in peso will depend on the airline exchange rate on the day we will issue the ticket so you may contact us first in the morning at 8086777 to know the exact amount to be paid in peso. Our office opens by 8:30am – 12:noon / 1:00pm -5:00pm only from Monday to Friday.

So far so good but then the details!

DEADLINE FOR PAYMENT : FEBRUARY 28/ BEFORE 2PM

** no payment on or before the deadline will automatically cancel the booking.

This would not be a problem if i could use the credit card – and yes i can!!!

For credit card payment, the card holder would need to drop by our Makati ticketing office to make the payment before we can issue the ticket. As of the moment, we can only accept VISA, MASTER, AMEX and JCB type of credit cards. Corporate cards and debit cards are not acceptable. Kindly bring a valid ID for our reference.

WTF? I am sitting far in the mountains – no way to be back in Manila the next day at 2 in their office! Totally BS!
On top of that it would only set me back another 405€!!
So i used the power of the interweb and got myself a Singapore Airlines flight for 508 – a bit more but at last i could get the ticket and they want to see the credit card at the counter in the airport when you check in. I can do that!

The crazy Canadian did leave some meds at her room at Randy’s place so i could bring that as well. We both had the flight on the same day. So that was an easy extra Karma point on the way back. And it was nice to meet the Canadians again for a few minutes!

Had a Jeepney and a bus to Manila. Than the fight with the taxi mafia to get one that turns on the meter. Than he had no clue where the hotel was. With the help of Google Maps and the iPhone i got there finally.

 Banaue
At the Bus Stand in Banaue

Truck
Interesting construction somewhere on the road to Manila

Truck

Last Dinner
After i got to the hotel i dropped my stuff and got into another taxi to get to Mrs. She. Did store some stuff at her place and had to say Adios and Thank You. She took me to a local hot spot for food and it was quite interesting. A karaoke machine as loud as a 747 5 seconds before take off. We had even to wait in line for seats. But the beer was cold and the food was OK! To bad that the other guys had no time.

Cheers Red Horse

Good Bye Philippines
Good Bye Philippines! We will meet again!

Singapore Airlines Vegetarian Meal
Singapore Airlines Vegetarian Meal

Hello Singapore
The not so nice Singapore

Hello Singapore
The Singapore from the brochure

Singapore Airport Immigration
Now imagine that. Out of the plane and down to immigration and you arrive to that!!
It was empty and it took less than 1 minute! Best ever!
I did spend hours in Chicago and 30 minutes in Bangkok would be super fast. Great. A few minutes later i was in the train towards the city.

Little India
It is so great to have friends all over the place. Eric did pick me up at a Starbucks and we went to Little India for dinner. Later Delphine and Caroline did join us. That was a short but great reunion – thank you my little French Connection!!

Good to have friends
Good to have friends 🙂 See you soon!

Back in the Philippines again

May 4, 2014 at 14:26

After too many years i was back in the Philippines again. I am not really sure why i did not visit for that long. Guess it is the extra flight that you have to take but that was the case with Myanmar as well and i went there many times?

Off to Manila

As usually i had a way to early flight out of Bangkok. The mini van was on time but then the i drive in circles, get stuck for no reason behind the trash truck, go back to do another circle and still so not pick up that last passenger game started. Still i made it on time to the airport – cause i pack an extra hours on the commute to the airport and can sit and relax when i am in the van. Sure enough there are the other guys that believe what the travel agent told them when they got the ticket. “It will only take one hour at that time” they say – which is right. The drive to the airport takes one hour – but if you are the 1st passenger they pick up you can end up to circle for another hour before!

In the air - close to Manila
Clouds clouds – one never gets tired of looking at them – as long as there is no in-flight entertainment

In the air - close to Manila
A few of the 7,107 Philippines islands

In the air - close to Manila
Getting closer to the airport

Back in Manila

Out of the plane and down to immigration. Too long lines but smooth clearance same with the bag and another chaos line at customs. Not really sure who comes up with such architecture. Imagine long lines with people and their bags, most of them on carts – bumper to bumper towards the door and the agents in front. This lines block everything as the other people have to cross them to get to their luggage carousel – guess this building is so old and planes had only 24 or so passengers.

Now how to save an arm and a leg on the way downtown? Go out of the building and upstairs (yes you have to walk the stairs as elevators are something that looks good but does not really work most of the time when in a public building such as airports or public transport). Upstairs you will find the taxi drop area and this is where you get your cab. Ask the driver if he puts the meter on before you get into his WHITE(!!) taxi. And if he does – let’s go!

The room in Manila
She was so kind to ask Alex if i could surf his place. And look – a brand new department with a big bed. Alex did not move in at the time – he still was waiting for clearance to get his dog into the building. What more can you ask for? Thanks Alex!!

Accoustic Bar witht the guys
The other night She took me to Nathan. They are friends for a long time and he and another friend had a little Accoustic Bar private party. We would say Karaoke – same same but different!
We had lots of beers and fun!

Accoustic Bar witht the guys

Accoustic Bar witht the guys
People here are small!

Nice to meet a friend again
The next day i had to meet HĂ©lĂšne again. Last time we did meet in Laos and the year before in Malaysia. Thanks for the coffee and SIM card again!

Motorbike parking in Manila
Its more fun in the Philippines – even to park your bike!

Good Bye Bangkok – Hello Manila

February 22, 2014 at 08:57

Did wake up a few minutes after 5 in the morning – a few minutes before the iPhone would wake me up with Soul Finger. Outside – Bangkok is still sleeping. At last where my guest house is – next to the river in the old part of Bangkok. A Quick shower and final “Pack the Bag” and off i went to the travel agency that sold me the ticket for the airport bus. A few people are up in the street. The guys from the ice factory work 24/7 and some are having a smoke outside. As good as no traffic here so i reached the travel agency at 5:42 – way to early. Still people walk home with beer bottles in their hand. The fun never stops here.
If you are in Bangkok and need a taxi – you never wait long – not even at this time of the day. Only – I do not need one. But now every taxi driver thinks i stand there and want one. Even when I do not try they slow down and honk. Great – so it is counting taxi driver that honk on my site of the street and on the opposite site. At the time the van arrives the opposite site wins with 19:12! But that was easy since the other site has 2 lanes.
After a extra round to collect one passenger that we did never find we drove through Khao San Road. Still a few street sellers selling beer and the first tourists are shopping for t-shirts and stuff.
When i was here for the first time in 1989 Khao San was quite different – not a big shopping basar. It was all about guest houses and restaurants and a few street stalls with t-shirts and stuff. And since Don Muang was open 24/7 as well new travelers did arrive all the time – coming from all over the world with the body clock still in different time zones. People had breakfast on one table and dinner on the other while on the next table space did run out because of all the beer bottles on it. It could be 9 in the morning or 3 in the afternoon or 3 in the morning. The street was busy!
Well well back to now – we had to drive an extra loop around the barricades – some parts of the city are still in “Bangkok Shutdown”. The driver did his best to scare the old folks in the last row as he tried to get close to the top speed of the van whenever possible. And he made it to the airport at 6:58 which I never thought is possible with the traffic congestion because of the shutdown.
Sure Philippine Airline has the check in at W and the driver die stop at B – lets walk the line. Only 5 people in front of me – great. The bag was 21,6 kg – but here in Bangkok it is usually never a problem. A smile and that is that! – I was off to immigration.
And that went quick and than boarding was at D8 – more than half a kilometer to reach D and than the last exit – 1 kilometer to walk – you pass all the big labels from the fashion magazines to brands that you never heard of. So at last you can look to the left and to the right while walking and walking and walking – still better than Dubai Airport…

The flight was as smooth as silk – apart from my vegetarian menu that was somewhere in Bangkok or cyber space but not on the plane. So they found 2 salads, 2 little breads and nuts from business class and more nuts, bread and butter from economy for me. Later the purser came and brought some chocolate and apologized again. Nice!

Flight to the Phillipines

Flight to the Phillipines

The service on that plane was very good – the people ver friendly and they went up and down with the drink cart 3 times on that 3,5 hour flight.

Manila

The plane circled over the mountains and went into the final decent towards the capital of the Philippines. Less forests and less mountains and more and streets dotted with houses.

Flight to the Philippines

Touchdown a few minutes early and out of the plane we went. But what is that – all the nice immigration to the left walkways where closed so we had to walk and walk and walk again all over the airport but finally i made it to immigration. Got my bag after that and smooth sailing through custom. Than up to the departure level to score a white taxi. That saves you on the spot 70 pesos that the yellow taxis down at arrival charge you extra. The driver did put the meter on as soon as i did close the door – great!! Than i showed him the note on the phone and off we where into the crazy traffic of Manila. Quite different here as there are less motorbikes than in Bangkok, Phnom Penh or Hanoi but plenty of Jeepneys – the local mini bus. In the end the fare was 197 and i handed him a 1000 and told him 250 – he had no change for that – so i did ask the staff at the lobby but they had no change as well. 1000 is less than 17 € – well well – so i left the luggage at the lobby and off we where to the next 7/11 – got 2 bottles of tea and than the driver got his 250 and a cold bottle of tea – he was a happy man. I walked back towards the building and went into a bank to change some money. The friendly lady in the bank asked my if i know the rate? I said no and than she looked at me and leaned a bit forward: “You know that our rate is not good?” Uh – no i have no clue! “You go down the street to the black market – it is much better there!” Ah oh thank you very much!
Back to the lobby i went. Did only wait a few more minutes and Alex arrived. I am his first couch surfer and he left work to let me into his new place. He still stays at his sisters place because he has a dog and there are no dogs permitted in the house. We did put my stuff in his place and since he is usually not here there is no wifi as well. So i went with him to his office to catch a few signals and connect to the world.

Than we went for dinner with a friend from Belgium and after that Alex left for work again. I stopped at the mini market downstairs and got me some Red Horse Beer and sitting in the studio of Alex now – writing that blog post.

Room in Manila

Thank you Alex for having me here and trusting me with your new studio!