My wife’s job takes her to a yearly conference at an overseas location. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to tag along with her on trips to Helsinki, Santiago, Seoul and Livingstone(Zambia). The most recent conference was in Manila last week. I’m really bad at blogging my travels, but I will attempt it here.
The trip from DC to Manila takes 24 hours. We left DC at 9AM Saturday and arrived in Manila at 9PM on Sunday local time. All of our flights were on time and had in-seat movies. I don’t know how people ever flew this long without all of the movie selections to take your mind off being trapped in a tiny seat for this long. The travel experience on United and ANA were the best that can be expected with economy fees.
Our first day in the area, our assigned driver and guide took us to Tagaytay City. We went to a hotel overlook where it was too foggy to see the view, a puzzle museum, a country club and a nice lunch at a Filipino restaurant. The puzzle museum was odd, but it is in the Guinness Book of World Records. In retrospect, I wish we had not let them talk us out of taking the boat out to the volcano. It was a decent day, but nothing exciting.
The next day we went on a tour of Manila. We went to Intramuros(the historic walled area within Manila), Ft. Santiago, and Rizal Park. This was the only day we really had to deal with rain and it rained quite a bit. The rain did give my daughter a chance to make fun of my poncho. This was much more what I was looking for in a tour. I love walking around historic areas. We learned the history of Jose Rizal, saw his cell, his place of execution and his monument. In the middle, we had lunch at Jollibee, a fast food restaurant based in Manila, for which my wife has a weird love. It was a good day.
The next two days my wife was in conference so we were on our own. We could have asked the drivers to take us places, but we opted to stay within a walkable area of our hotel. It turned out that the only thing within walking distance of our hotel were hotels, restaurants, malls and one small park. The first day we walked around for about an hour and went back to the hotel because the heat index was 115-130 degrees. That night, my wife and I went to the official welcome dinner for the delegates. The food was good, but I found it odd that they had karaoke set up and people sang throughout dinner. They also only served water with the food and only asked if we wanted something else to rink after dinner. The official dinners are usually much more wine filled than this. The second day we went to the SM Megamall(the 4th biggest mall in the world) and another upscale mall across from our hotel. We also went back to the Megamall that night with my wife for dinner and to buy some souvenirs. I made sure to get a picture of the Christmas decorations that were already up.
The final day is always the group social program. They took us to Nayong Pilipino, a theme park dedicated to Filipino history and culture. We were greeted with a parade and lunch with entertainment. We toured replicas of traditional Filipino villages and shopped for souvenirs again. It was interesting, but as with the rest of the trip, it was a guided tour. I’m generally not a fan of guided tours. I feel like I can see and experience more of I do it at my own speed. We then went back, packed, slept and headed back to the US.
Overall, it was a nice trip and I’m glad we were able to go. I wish our hotel had been closer to more than just shopping. I wish the tours had been less restrictive. Next conference is next summer in India.