A Travellerspoint blog

A Sedate Start

Medical Care & Malls


Arriving in a new country tends to leave you feeling a little apprehensive, especially when you don't know where you're going to be staying or what lies ahead. Although that is of course all part of the enjoyment of backpacking, getting well acquainted with the unknown.

We touched down in Clark and were expecting that we would need to get a bus to Manila, we just weren't sure how long it would take. By this point we were both feeling really unwell and the desire for a magic wand to just zap us to a clean room in a good location was fairly overwhelming. However as we're still waiting on that invention we found ourselves a coach and the journey to Manila began. It took about 2 hours in the end, I managed to sleep through a good portion of it but Adam unfortunately finds sleeping upright near on impossible.

We disembarked and found that we were in a very busy part of town, although we had absolutely no idea what part of town it was. Having looked in the guide book we knew that the best place to stay was Ermita, so we started walking to see if we could find our bearings a little bit. While wandering we came across the Filipino answer to the Tuk Tuk, it is a bike or moterbike with a side-car attached, they call it a tricycle. In Manila they seem to mainly be bikes because there are a lot of taxis and buses for people to use but in the countryside there are lots of motorised ones and it is a good way to get a round. We were also introduced to Jeepneys, which are a Filipiono built jeep lookalike which have undergone an extension at the back. Inside there is just the space for the driver and passenger riding shotgun and then there are two benches that run the length of the inside and are usually packed with people. The idea is that they run a set route like a bus and you just jump on and off. You really need to know your way around a city though because the route descriptions are brief.

After a bit of stumble around China Town we decided it was time to get a taxi, this however proved to be a little tricky, this often seemed to be the case in Manila, taxis were always occupied. In the end though it was our lucky turn and a very nice taxi driver took us off the unfamiliar streets and drove us to Ermita which is an area of town running along the Manila Bay. Although we knew this was the area we wanted to stay in we didn't have the name of any hotel and as we walked along we didn't really seem to encounter many. The ones that we did come across were too expensive, for example The Hyatt which wanted $150 a night, slightly out of our price range. By this point though we were both reaching exhaustion and so we decided to try our luck at the Riviera Mansion. It ended up being more than we would usually pay, but feeling how we did and knowing we'd made good savings in India we decided one nights over spend would hardly be the crime of the century.

The room was big, clean, had air con and a bath, something we hadn't seen for sometime. More importantly though it had beds (yes there were twp of them, which was a good thing really with Adam being unwell), so we could finally lie down and rest. We did little else that day apart from visit 7 Eleven to get some refreshments and then we got a much needed early night.

I woke up at 6:30am to discover that overnight Adam had turned into a furnace. I took his temperature and it was 104F. Not wanting to mess about with it being that high I rang reception and said we needed to see a doctor, half an hour later we were in a taxi enroute to the hospital. Now with the current health warnings you can imagine what they thought when we turned up. Adam had a very high fever, achy muscles and was generally presenting flu like symptoms. Soon enough we were both sporting face masks and had been shown to the isolation room.

After they took Adam's temperature they put him on a drip, a process which was painful enough from a spectators point of view, and from Adam's jerky leg movements and facial grimace I could tell he wasn't having the time of his life. I'm not quite sure how many times the nurse inserted, removed and re-inserted the needle but it was a lot and she didn't exactly have a gentle touch! However in the end it was in and after they took a blood test we were left to wait for his temperature to come down.

They weren't big on supplying information, which was probably a little to do with the language barrier but we spent six hours at the hospital and a lot of it was spent twiddling our thumbs and wondering what was going on. I managed to negotiate my release for a short period of time to go back to the hotel and explain we wanted to stay another night (all our stuff was there and moving wasn't really an option) and pick up some supplies. Shortly after I got back we were informed that all tests had come back negative and as long as we set up a quarantine like environment in our hotel room then we were free to leave.

Relieved that Adam was not to become an H1N1 statistic we caught a cab back to the hotel. The driver was a little perturbed by the slightly ominous face mask but we explained that it was now merely a precaution and we had the signed release papers to prove it. He was jolly enough and explained the fair he charged included some “danger money.”

Although the hotel was a slightly pricey place to set up residence for a few days we were pleased that we were somewhere nice and comfortable for Adam to recuperate. I fell into the role of being nurse maid and went out to find the necessities; food, water, tissues etc. While out and about I came across a mall which was to become a convenient watering hole.

There is little to report from the next couple of days, Adam slowly began to feel better and we made good use of room service and the WiFi which could be purchased from reception. On our fourth full day in Manila we found our way to the SM Mall of Asia, which as the name would suggest is somewhat on the large side. Firstly I should probably explain that Manila has a number of very large shopping centres, which are full of people, shops and lots and lots of fast food restaurants. There are the ones you'd know; McDonalds, KFC, Pizza Hut and then there are the ones we're still getting to grips with; Chowking, Jollibee, Yellow Cab, Greenwich, the list goes on. Adam was still on the mend so we just took things easy, we went to see Terminator: Salvation which was mediocre at best and watched people skate round on the malls ice rink.

One of the things we needed to sort out in Manila was our Vietnam Visa. This was put on the back burner obviously when Adam was ill and then it was the weekend. So first thing Monday morning we found our way to the embassy. With all the bureaucratic red tape you usually have to get through to get visas we were slightly concerned we'd have to stay even longer in Manila while the embassy issued the visa. Thankfully we managed to pick up a two week visa on the spot and although we will almost certainly have to extend it when we get to Vietnam, at least it was something to tick off the list. We then had to go to the Department of Immigration to get a Philippine visa as we've come to realise that the three weeks visa free that you're allowed when you enter is not going to be enough.

All of our visas sorted we felt like we had finally achieved something in the Philippines. Although we had really seen nothing there wasn't a lot we could do about it. The next day we were reacquainted with the modern postal system as I sent some items back home, in a box! I had to pay quite a lot for the pleasure but I was relieved that we didn't have to meet the local tailor.

The next day we planned to head north to the town of Baguio and make our way towards the infamous rice terraces.

More Soon,

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 05:39 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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