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Saturday, April 28, 2012

Arrival in Manila, Philippines

2/27, 2/28, and 2/29

After approximately 45 hrs of airplanes and airports I arrived in Manila at 10pm on 2/29/12. Got through immigration in less than 1 minute and customs in 15 seconds which has to be a world record. Miami took almost 2 hours for the same process.

Unfortunately i had forgotten about the international date line when i booked my hostel and was a little upset when I was told I had already missed my first night which I also had to pay for. But as I know well, it is not if something will happen while traveling but when. You just have to smile and make the best of it. The small price for traveling around the world.

Was not prepared for the karoake until 4 am at bars on the street. That is another price of staying in the young hip area when booking. 6 bed dorm but only 1 other roommate who came in around 4 pm. Looked like he had been SINGING karoake all night. lol

Must extend my visa while in Manila. The country gives us a free 21 day visa but you can extend it for another 38 days for a fee making the total stay 59 days. My return flight is April 24th which will keep me in the country for 55 days.

Will visit Manila downtown area and Manila Bay while walking from the hostel to Immigration to get my visa taking care of. Then perhaps overnight bus to Banaue which has the steepest rice terraces in the world. Hopefully I will be able to post great pictures while on the trip.

Sidenote: Continually speaking what little Spanish I know. Don't know how many times I have said buenos dias or gracias since I started the airplane portion of the trip.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Where 2 Next Hostel


My Manila home for a day or 2. The dorm is a little expensive at $14 a night in a 6 bed dorm but does have air con and free breakfast (continental). Luckily there is only 1 other person in the dorm with me so not very crowded and there is a private bathroom in our dorm.

Went to mall down the street to buy a light jacket for the cold bus ride to Banaue which is 8-9 hrs. At the mall I noticed Burger King had a hamburger pattie over a plate of rice with BBQ sauce and Diet Coke for $1.30. Wow, not a bad deal but street food is still about 1/2 that.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

JEEPNEY (Philippine version of "chicken' bus)

These are everywhere and like the infamous chicken bus are painted in various colors. There are along with the city buses the main transportation in Manila.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Visa Extension Nightmare (more pain in ass than nightmare)


Walked almost an hour downtown in the Philippine heat to get my visa extension and save a few dollars. When I finally found the Immigration Office a sign said must not have on flip flops and shorts to get in. Which is my wardrobe of choice always.

Luckily a young entrepreneur walked up to me and asked if I would like to rent some sweat pants and a pair of shoes for $5. In no position to argue I agree. It took almost 2 hrs to get my 38 day extension and cost $80 including the $5 i paid the kid outside but at least it is over. Of course , then there was the hour walk at noon in the Philippine heat to get back to hostel but as I always say, "I have more time than money."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Overnight bus to Banaue


Will leave on 9pm overnight bus for 9 hr. ride to Banaue to see the steepest rice terraces in the world. Was really impressed in 2008 at the Longii Terraces in China so can't wait to see these. Will visit several spots and do some hiking around the villages and terraces.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Viewpoints of Banaue Terraces and Patao terraces


After the long bus and arriving at 6 am, checked into the Peoples Inn. Nice private room/shared bath with 2 bed for only 300 pesos ($7.50) a night. Then hiked 1 hr up to the viewpoints instead of taking the $5 motorcycle with sidecar. Incredible views which I will post when have free internet again. In the afternoon I took a tour in the moto trke to see the beautiful valley terraces in Patao. 1.5 hr ride on the worst roads that I have ever been on. That sidecar does not have shocks not that it would have mattered. Could hardly walk the next day. Beautiful views of the Banaue Terraces sitting on the restaurants terrace. Finally crashed after being up for 36 hrs at 6 pm.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Batad Terraces


After good nights rest, decided to go to Batad and visit what are supposedly the most spectacular amphitheatre terraces in the world. I met another backpacker and we went up to the Batad saddle by jeepney and then walked the additional 40 minutes to Batad. Truly is beautiful but little disappointed because the rice has not matured a lot yet so not real green at this point. I have seen the pictures though and its setup is spectacular. Hiked to the waterfall and the hike up was vicious. Straight up , probably 2000 ft. Also had to walk through the rice terraces to get there on the retaining stone walls which keep the water in. Everyone tried to be your guide and would give little info on exactly how to get there but I made it.