In October 2015, my husband, John, was asked by his boss to spend 5 weeks in the Philippines to train staff for his company, Lexus Nexus. Thinking it could be an adventure we decided that it would be a great life experience. And it was. The time he spent in the Philippines working is his to tell, but I joined him in the Philippines to spend a couple of days before traveling to Australia.
We spent a wonderful 5 days in Sydney, Australia before boarding a Cruise Ship to Vanuatu, New Caledonia and New Zealand before returning to Sydney, flying back to the Philippines and then back home. This is just a short recap of the trip and some awesome pics of our trip.
My Arrival to the Philippines
My flight to the Philippines was long but uneventful. Due to the time difference I lost a day traveling from North Carolina to the Philippines via Tokyo. Interestingly, the day I lost was Thanksgiving Day. I left early on Wednesday and arrived late on Friday. The plane arrived in Manila, late in the evening, maybe 9:30 pm or so. John had arranged transportation for me from the Airport to the Hotel.
I went to designated place that I was to be picked up, but couldn’t find my ride. Many people were very friendly and tried to help, asking which hotel I was supposed to go to, but the hotel information was in my email and I didn’t have access to it (and couldn’t remember the name). So I proceeded to spend an hour trying to figure out how to get a sim (WiFi) card for my phone. By the time I got it installed and working, John was not answering his texts.
I was not panicking yet, because I knew John would be on top of things and wouldn’t let me down (but I was getting nervous). So I decided to stand in one place until he found me.
By now it’s almost midnight and the crowds were disbursing. So I just waited.
Finally a gentleman came up and asked me if I was Mrs. Burns. After confirming, he told me he was the driver sent to pick me up, but he had been waiting and looking in the wrong terminal. Finally! Here was my ride. He had been in communication with John and told me that John was on his way to the airport, so the driver and I waited another 15 minutes or so until he arrived. I knew John wouldn’t let me down!!
John had been working their night shift, because he was covering the day shift at home. This made it necessary for him to stay up all day (so be get back onto a day time schedule). I was tired, too from the travel, so we both crashed.
John had arranged for us to take a tour on Sunday, so we had a relaxing day on Saturday to sleeping in a bit, then walking around downtown, Manila. We went to breakfast at a local pub like restaurant that John was familiar with. We went to a mall, where we had to get scanned before entering. Security in the Philippines is crazy. People, packages, purses, etc. had to be scanned before entering almost every public building. But the people were very friendly and helpful. Everywhere we went, we had at least three people wanting to help us, always with a friendly smile.
We did some shopping and returned to our hotel for a nice quiet meal. The staff knew John by name and we had excellent service.
The traffic in Manila was crazy. There were modern cars, and a variety of public transportation, like colorful buses and motorcycles or bicycles with seats for passengers.
On Sunday, we took a country tour to the community of Taygaytay and although foggy most of the day, it cleared up in time for us to get pictures of Lake Taal and one of the many volcanoes. We assumed we would be on a tour with other people, but as it turned out, it was just John and I with our own personal driver. Consequently we had a wonderful guide. The weather was overcast and raining for the early part of the trip and one of the stops had to be canceled due to the fog. But, we enjoyed driving through communities with sidewalk stores and vegetable markets and stopped for John to get local coffee from one of the stores. At Lake Taal, we had a buffet lunch before heading back to Manila. On the way back we passed colorful roadside communities.
The next day was spent traveling. It was an eight hour flight to Sydney. My next post will be about our 5 days in Australia.