When it was all said and done it took about 31 hours to get to Manila from Los Angeles. I also lost a day in the process after crossing over the International Date Line.
The long and dreadful 15-hour flight from LAX to Manila didn’t feel as long and dreadful as you’d think. I watched four movies (The Martian, 12 Years a Slave, Jobs and Inception) and took multiple naps.
On long flights like this, you get food, alcohol and drinks for free. Well, it’s not really free but its included in your airfare. I met a pretty chill dude named, Rao, from Zhengzhou, China. You already know I asked if I could visit and stay on his couch. He had no objection.
After the flight, I had a pretty sweet eight-hour lay over in Shanghai, and slept for about seven of those. I found this sweet bench and passed out immediately. Pretty incredible feeling to take your shoes off and lay down after sitting for 15 hours.
The bench was so comfortable because it allowed me to perfectly fully stretch out my entire body (perks of being short). I’m the type of person where if I can lie down, I can basically sleep almost anywhere.
Not to mention, Shanghai International, had one of the worst Wi-Fi connections I’ve ever seen. So, what else was there to do?
After getting re-energized, it was time for a four-hour flight to my final destination, Manila. I sat in 43A, which was luckily a window seat so I could sleep a little more. A woman from China struck up a conversation with me and she was hilarious.
The conversations you can have with people who’s first language is not English is pretty incredible. It's an aspect of travelling I find so interesting. You can have some great conversations with people during a plane ride and then chances are, never see them again.
Our paths crossed for a brief moment in time and after that, we continue on our way. Happens all the time when people travel.
We landed around 4:00 AM and the airport was a ghost town so customs was a breeze. I literally walked straight to the front of the line, it was awesome.
For American citizens, if you’re staying in the Philippines for less than 21 days you don’t need to pay for a visa and can just show up. Being able to rock up and get that stamp in your passport always makes life easier. It definitely made life easy for me...and my wallet.
After finally getting in touch with my family I strolled to baggage claim and surprisingly my bag was one of the first to come tumbling down the conveyor belt.
This is where things get interesting.
Trying to get a reliable transport can always be tricky and this is where people really need to stand up for themselves. Regardless of what country they are in.
Before I even got in the taxi, I paid his boss, $30 US dollars. Which looking back in hindsight, was definitely the wrong move.
But hear me out! I just travelled 31 hours, I’m exhausted and I just wanted to get to my friends place.
So, I get in the taxi and everything is going well until my driver abruptly pulls over. Literally leaving me on the side of the road. I wasn’t panicking or anything but it was eerie.
After I took this video though, I really started to feel the shadows of Manila. I looked out and saw a couple of faces but it felt like hundreds looking back from all directions. It felt as if they were right on top of me. I distinctly remember random faces looking at the taxi and then just vanishing into dark alleyways.
The driver comes back and tries to explain to me in broken english that he has no clue where my friend’s apartment is. My response?
“You can ask for directions from anyone you want, do what you gotta do. But whatever you do, do not leave this vehicle again"
For the next hour, we were literally driving around Manila and hitting every pothole at five o’clock in the morning.
Then I realized, my phone’s GPS was working. I guess, Samsung allows navigation without being connected to any Internet? Never knew that but luckily, I found out.
Turns out we had been driving around my friends apartment the entire time.
Don’t get me wrong I love to travel. But it’s not all rainbows and butterflies.
I paid $30 for an hour-long taxi ride that should have been 20 minutes and multiple opportunities for a kidnapping.
After all that, my friend told me I got ripped off.
I paid an extra $17 for the ride. Since I’m on a budget, the way I look at it. I basically threw away two nights of decent accommodation or three to four meals.
If you are ever in Manila, ALWAYS take the yellow cabs. They have fixed rates and are always the cheapest options.
I took the easy way out and paid what the guy told me. I was exhausted and ready to take a shower.
Another reason travelling has been one of my best teachers.
You can never “take a play off”. When you’re ballin’ on budget you have to be aware of your surroundings and do what’s best for you.
I realize now that as Americans, that’s what we do. Instead of taking the time and patience to solve our problems, we just throw money at it.
But hey, what’s done is done and I can’t do anything about it anymore. All we can do is learn from our mistakes and move on.
That night, when I finally got to my friends apartment. I took one of the best showers and don’t even remember seeing the ceiling when I hit the sheets.
Salamat (Filipino for thank you) for taking time out of your day to read about the journey to Manila!
Have any questions or comments about the "Journey to Manila"? Ask away at BTDT2016@gmail.com !