When we arrived at the Manila airport, we got our luggage and walked to the exit, and was greeted by a police officer who asked us where we were going.
After I had informed him of where we were going, he found us a van and lead us to it. A man helped us load the van and told the driver where to go.
Then I remembered I didn’t have any Filipino money on me. The guy said it wasn’t a problem that he would first take us to the money changers. The man who helped us load the van asked me for a tip. I didn’t have any Filipino money on me, so I offered him Chinese money, he gladly accepted it. Then he asked for a tip for the police officer who asked us where we were going. I gave them a larger tip than they needed but it was late, and I was not thinking straight. We were then driven to money changers (a place that looked like i was going to get jumped) and then to the place we rented.
My first impressions of Manila reminded me of… Mexico. Driving down the streets, I realized how much China has spoiled us.
Depending on where you were in the city it felt like Mexico or America with its own Asian flare.
The place we rented was nice. We were pleased with it the entire stay.
We stayed near the Mall of Asia. When we visited the mall it felt like we were in America. Everything was in English. We recognized many of the stores.
We didn’t visit too many places outside of the area we stayed.
All of the signs were in English. I would say that 98% of the signs that we saw were in English. It was a weird feeling. But it made getting around very easy.
Speaking of English, the majority of people that we talked to speak English. I would say 2 out of 3 people spoke English good enough to be able to communicate with. The 1 out of the 3 wouldn’t understand what I was saying and had to get a friend to translate.
Because English was so prevalent, it made getting around the city and ordering food extremely easily.
Even many of the radio stations and most of the TV stations were in English.
There was something very interesting that happened… when they spoke to each other they didn’t speak English. I would say 90% of the time they would speak to each other in their language.
It would seem obvious that English is a great tool but the heart language is a mix of both with Tagalog being the main language that they want to speak.
A huge globe in front of the mall lit up and had different ads and Bible verses on it, with the saying “Glory to God” after each Bible verse.
The Catholic and Christian influences were obvious throughout the city. There were sad sights liked the Catholic idols.
The Filipino food that we tried was great!
The jeepneys commanded the road with their huge noise, clouds of smoke from the exhaust and ridiculous looks.
Taxis were convenient and plentiful though we walked most places.
The people were very polite and welcoming for they most part. I was thinking it was going to be like Japan, but it was more casual, more like Southern hospitality in America.
I realized how nice they were when we returned to China. When we got to our hotel in China on the way back, the doorman stood there and looked at me as we struggled to get three kids and all our luggage out of the taxi. In the Philippines, the doorman would come and get all your stuff and take it to your room.
The airport receives the “2015 Worst Airport In Asia Award”! Not only was terminal one extremely small, under construction and old, they charged a fee that has to be paid for everyone before you go through security. Good thing we had a credit card!
Then they had a lot of weird things that they required you to do that I have never had to do before.
For example, before you entered the seating area at the gate you were required to check in and go through another bag search. If you wanted to leave the seating areas to use the restroom or get something to eat, you had to turn in your boarding pass, and they gave you a card with a number on it.
Not to mention, all our flights were late, to and fro. (But that is expected when flying in China)
Overall, there wasn’t a huge wow factor, but for our first trip there, we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the city and country.