7.25pm: We just departed Darwin Airport. The sky is blood red and there is some foggy smoky substance coming out of the vents. I trust it is only air.
The flight is nothing out of the ordinary: I’m falling asleep while Logan is struggling with his legs jammed in-between the front seat and the one he is sitting on. Quality we paid for.
The first question I’m asked at Manila airport is: “Are you husband and wife?” I figure it may just be easier to reply with a “yes”.
We are trying to make our way out of the airport to Friendly’s Guesthouse, which I chose because they offer luggage storage in a secure room. On their webpage is a description of how to get there and that the cost of a taxi would be between 100-120 Pesos. The first offer we receive is 700 Pesos. I laugh and politely say “No, thank you.” The next offer is 850 and then 900. Finally we find the metered taxis and end up paying 300.
Traffic in Manila is horrifying! There seem to be no road rules. Logan and I give each other looks, sharing thoughts of how chaotic everyone is driving. First in, first wins and we are missing other cars and tricycles just by centimetres. Our taxi driver has the radio volume up high, listening to a preacher speaking a mix of Tagalog and English. I’m close to praying as well. I like the jeepneys, they are old-fashioned jeeps without windows in all sorts of colours.
Before arriving at Friendly’s we are circling the block a few times, as our driver doesn’t seem to know where our Guesthouse is. We are walking past a sleeping guard and upstairs where we find a young girl behind the shabby reception desk. She is asking for our names but can’t find them in the messy pencil-written book in front of her. Behind her I read the sign: “No sex tourism here”.
She gives us the keys and we quickly try and re-pack our bags so we can store them away in the secure room. “Luggage storage is full Sir.” We are ensured that it would be safe to leave our luggage in the hallway near reception. Logan is having a look at the luggage room himself and we decide to just re-arrange it and put our bags in there. Hopefully they will still be in there when we return from Palawan!
It is about midnight and we just try and organise something to eat from a Seven Eleven shop near Friendly’s and wherever we are, people are staring at us. I can even feel it.
The power points in the room have a sign above them: “Please don’t use. May cause fire.” My phone is charging now though. At least there is free Wi-Fi here.