The comedy started on the plane. The immigration form had “This form is not for sale” written on every page. Like someone might want to force you to pay for it. Hmmmm.
The Manila airport was a dump, even by Southeast Asia standards. My luggage took forever and a day to come out, and it was one of the first ones at that…
The immigration officer was unpleasant but then again I’ve rarely seen a pleasant one anywhere.
The arrival hall was a carnival of people, both travelers and greeters, the noise level was above 100 db, and finding the staff sent by my client to pick me up was a job in itself. Viva Blackberry Messenger.
The ride into the city gave me a good look at how destitute people are and how much disrepair most of Manila is in. We dropped by the client’s HQ, then went to one of the 5-star hotels in Makati for an evening of overeating and overdrinking. Culture shock. Every participant was rich, well educated, had paid a small fortune by Filipino standards (100$ US) to be there, and ate and drank their weight. A real estate agent, a lawyer and a flight attendant all professed inebriatedly undying love and an urge to accompany me back to my hotel room.
The next day I took a taxi, if this can be called such, with no meter, no A/C, and a very talkative driver. When we arrived at the airport, the “security” officer opened the door, received his bribe, and closed the door, letting us in the airport compound.
The taxi driver, on top of a fare he pulled out of his fat ass, asked for a Christmas present. Good thing his fare had depleted my pesos already.
The departure side of the airport was just as dismal. Even the Cathay Pacific First Class lounge was a joke. When the plane took off, a few people clapped. I joined in.
I realize that Manila doesn’t represent all of the country. But if the capital city is like that I have no intention of seeing the rest…