DENMARK TO THE RESCUE - Manila, Philippines
Thursday September 2, 2004 6:26 or 7:26 AM
I am in the Filippines or I have seen it spelled different so no I am in insecure on how to spell the name, but nonetheless I am here and living in a room three notches down the star pole. Shower does not work, water is funny colored and I can hear the roar of traffic. I have no idea really where I am, but for sure I am not in the middle of some center of the backpacker universe or the center of a Backpacker Ghetto, I am on the third floor of a concrete building that seem wet from humidity.
I guess that was the bad, but the great or wonderful was my meeting a Denmark girl at the Airport. Standing waiting at the baggage carousel looking around at people and standing back away from the carousel waiting. Up pops a white blond blue eyed, maybe greenish eyed girl with a glow about her. A happy glow, I try not to look or pay attention, but she is full of energy and I can feel it.
I wait pretty much at the back of the group because I feel sort of stupid pushing around in a group trying to get my one back when all I have to do is wait and it finally will come, and I say excuse me and go grab it and bring it outside the mess.
But here I am doing the normal airport shuffle when the girl says,
“Do you want to share a taxi to the city?”
“Sure, I have a reservation in a 6 dollar hotel already.”
“Where is it?”
“I don’t know.”
I opened my guidebook and showed her the map and she seem to be very happy, being that I had no idea where it was really and did not care, I was happy she was happy.
Some days in life you are sure there are good angels looking after you and other days you are sure you are at the back of the line. I was thinking to myself and wondering why this drop dead, gorgeous girl is talking to me, and why she is so full of energy, but I am sure that I am happy that she feels safe enough to ask me to travel to the center, and I still look like a backpacker although the backpack part is still on the plane and I am waiting.
Whether she is beautiful or not really did not matter to me, but I slowly learned she was full of great energy, and nothing in life makes life better than good energy. We went through customs and both of us had the same suspicions about taxis drivers, and both needed to extract money from the ATM machine.
I think the exchange rate is 55 peso to the US dollar.
She being extremely gregarious nabs two Israel guys that look like they lifted waits yesterday and make me feel old. So we now have a group of four for the taxi. We negotiate a little, not much, but enough to make all of happy, and everyone wants to know where we are going. I thought for sure they would all just decide that the was going to the Meleta area or some area designated as the place to be for backpackers, but they all seem to think that is where we are going. I show them the map in the Lonely Planet, but I truthfully do not know and do not care where the hotel is located, just the price was important to me and the fact that at 6-7 PM in the rain, getting darker by the moment and rain pouring down or trying rain… It was wet, damp and miserable, like a big city trying to eat us with traffic, and dark trying to scare us into going inside. I knew 80 percent that I had a room and would be dry and ok soon.
We got to the townhouse and hoped that we was there, the place did not look friendly and was for sure not the feel of Khao San Road we just had left. I got out of the 4 wheel drive five dollar taxi and went in to check to be sure. Yep I am in the right hotel, but I am thinking this will be ok for a night, but for sure the other are going to ditch me.
I find that even in the rain, miserable, and full of lot of question in a city of maybe a few million, people can be very picky. Just for safety reason this did not seem to be a good idea, but the two Israel guys decided to go down the road. Israel people are probably some of the fussiest people on the planet and hard to keep happy. That is bad and then they will negotiate the price till you want to slap them. These guys were not negotiators but the did look like a couple of boys that worked out too much in the gym while their parents supplied money. The stereotypical Jewish boys from New York with spiked like black hair and clothes a little sharp for backpackers although they both had backpacks.
I was playing my guessing game with all the foreigners on the plane…
Hmm.. Where is that person from? Which country? Why?
The Denmark girl was in my estimation either Swedish, Norwegian or Dutch, I had not really concluded where before she told me so I cannot say I guessed correctly.
OK, back at the hotel, I am thinking Christine would follow the two Israeli boys and go to the Maleta, but instead she decided to come in the Townhouse hotel, even after she looked inside. It is a concrete room hotel, feels like concrete and warm and cozy does not apply.
I was happy, because I would have a person to discuss our basic questions of where are we, and why are we here that is normal on the first day of a country?
The place has dorm room so she could get a room or dorm bed cheap, but I decided to offer to share a room as it seem to be the decent or thrifty backpack way of doing things, and she seem 100 percent safe, not 99, but 100 percent safe so why not, better to have a person to talk to the first night.
We looked at the room and she said nay to the room, and we both went through the options, 180 for dorm bed, with shower outside, 500 for room, and I had already reserved a 300 Peso room, so felt an obligation to rent that room although the staff seem oblivious to the meanings of why and what not on concepts of reservations. She could have gotten a 20 peso cheaper dorm bed but in the end opted to share a room with me, I think she was a little nervous about the Philippines still.
I do not blame her, this place has a dodgy feeling so far, and no one has relieved us of that feeling.
Christine told me her life story, and she has been to a lot of places. She is a dive instructor and had just spent 6 months in Koh Tao teaching or taking people on dive trips. She is very adventurous, she has went to Gambia and I had to look inside my computer at the maps to find out where Gambia was in Africa.
We compared notes and life was good.
I HAVE A TRAVEL BLOG
Wednesday September 1, 2004 11:50 AM
A travelogue… hehehe.
I am sitting here in the Airport waiting for my plane to leave Bangkok, Thailand and go to the Philippines. It is not often I carry my computer with me, but I always have with me in the airport with extra time while I wait for plane. I suppose many people spend money to entertain themselves and an airport is the worst place in the world for this type of activity and the duty free is the worst.
Nevertheless, I have time so I catch up on my girl watching and people observing hobbies, and then spend time trying to anticipate the future. Being in the no-mans land of between countries is sort of nowhere, so I have not mentally left Thailand and I am not in Thailand. I am in the airport and all airports look the same, except maybe for India and then it is dirty, but most are almost exactly the same big and small.
OVERSTAYED MY VISA
8 years of travel and this is the first, I have over-stayed my visa and with great trepidation came to the airport an extra hour early to deal with this in the event of snafu…
I had a choice, make a run for the border and pay 1500 Baht for transportation and border stamp into Laos and almost the same for Cambodia, Burma is the cheapest at five Dollars, but in the end, it is another day and about 1000 Baht.
Second choice was to pay the 200 Baht per day over-stay fee, since Thailand sells anything you want, I decided that to pay for the over-stay was safe at the airport, I do not think I would do this at a land border. If you are dealing in a place where they can separate you from the group and extort, extract, coerce money from you, then you can be in deep doo doo, but the airport is not one of these typical areas and there are so many high end travelers here in Thailand paying for sex that I am sure they stay over all the time. So I chanced it and it worked, I paid 800 Baht or 20 Dollars U.S. for the 4 day overstay. I am on the other side of the extortion barrier.
When a person over-stays their Visa they are an illegal alien, and can be treated in many ways or in anyway the country deem fit, as you have no rights, so to me this is not what I do.
Border love overstays because this is cash in their pockets, nothing do with honesty and everything to do with corruption. Thailand is a very corrupt nation, but they do not let corruption disrupt the tourist trade so we normally do not have to pay bribes.
I received two emails from the Hotel or Hostel I booked at 6.50 U.S. per night for a private room. This made me feel good that the actual hotel considered that I had a reservation and wrote me.
I do not trust the small hotel reservations as far as I can throw the hotel, but it is worth the risk because of the need for a hotel to state when or if the airline loses my bag. (The USA seems to be the worst on this type of activity.)
THE HOTEL WROTE
RESERVATION POLICY: Due to MANY email, tel or fax reservations not showing up and consequently refusing other guests who wanted the room we MUST maintain a " FIRST COME FIRST SERVE" reservation policy. We can confirm your reservation as soon as you let us know your arrival time but we usually require advance payment for reservations. If you arrive before 4 PM we almost always have the type of rooms you prefer available. Sometimes, if you arrive late past 8PM during our busy months of Dec. to May, it's difficult for us to save the room you prefer but 80% of our guests arrive without paying in advance. We TRY OUR BEST to save you the room with the
rate you requested and if you'll be staying longer since half of our guests check out everyday you can be assured the type of room you prefer the following day by 12 Noon at the latest, often by 9AM as soon as our staff has finished cleaning it.
This is why I do not trust small reservations are because of something that is basically first come first serve.
How a budget hotel works?
Normally a person living in a budget hotel can stay until they check out; they do not have to say how long or when they leave. I have only been told that I only had a room for a few days a couple of times.
So the Hotel takes the reservation.
Hopes that a room come free for the new reservation.
But if the hotel does not have anyone leave, there will be no room.
I really do not care about that, I do wish they would guarantee that they will allow me to sleep or they will allow me to stay and help me find another room, this is what I want from a budget hotel, not so much the room guarantee, but more the guarantee that they will help me to stay somewhere for the same price. To me a Hostel should have an overflow room where there a lot of hammock or cots they can set up for this type of problem.
I think the name of the Hotel I am staying is the Townhouse:
NOTE: The hotel turned out not so good.
That is probably a free page so the link will break sometime in the future.