Cliff Threadgold Photography


May 2015 Wellington to Manila

posted on 2015-07-13 12:28:35 in May 2015

I have caught the 6:30am Wellington to Sydney flight many times now and have never had any trouble getting to the airport for 4:30am This time was no different in that respect what was different I decided to walk to the airport from home. With my pack on my back I opened the front door at 3:55am to a cloudless starry sky and proceeded with the walk. It was a little chilly but the brisk pace I set and laden with 2 bags soon warmed me up, what I didn’t allow for was the strong wind. True to Wellington’s reputation for being windy it didn’t disappoint this morning with a strong southerly blowing and catching me off guard a couple of times as I walked past exposed places, one time pushing me into a fence as I toppled with the weight of my back pack. I was pleased to finally arrive at the terminal a little later than expected but warm and with windswept hair. I joined the already long queue and waited my turn to check in.

The flight to Sydney was uneventful and we arrived in Sydney to a beautiful morning.  Even with a favourable rate of exchange between the Kiwi and Aussie dollars I still found Sydney to be quite expensive. Lucky I didn’t need any duty free but did need a snack during the 4 hour layover until the flight to Manila.  The Airbus A330 took under 8 hours to reach Manila and I enjoyed some good food and entertainment on the Qantas aircraft which kept me awake the entire flight.

Checking through immigration and customs was a breeze without incident and at 7pm I walked out of the terminal building, oh how I wished for that “breeze” as I walked down the terminal ramp to the passenger pick up area outside on the ground floor. Despite taking regular sauna’s in the weeks prior to departure in an effort to help my body adjust to the heat of the Philippines it still hit me and wasn’t long before I was searching for iced water to replenish the body. After about 20minutes of waiting my friend Sofi arrived with taxi driver in tow, thank goodness for the AC in his taxi.

For the one night in Manila I had booked a hotel online before leaving NZ. I had wanted something in close proximity to the bus station in Cubao to make it easy for the early morning departure. I had found a hotel chain called SOGO with a hotel about 800m from the terminal, “So Clean… So Good!” is there motto and the rooms were at a good price too! I had the voucher with me and gave this to the taxi driver. About 40 mins later he said “This is it” I looked at the hotel, it didn’t feel right, it had the right colour scheme but seemed to be on wrong side of the road for a start and looked a lot bigger than I remembered in the picture. The driver was insistent it was correct but I was hesitant about getting out of the cab with my pack in the boot so asked the driver did so as well. He was ok about it and when I showed the doorman my voucher, “Hinde” (no) he said, shaking his head, “This is not the right hotel it is back the other way” he told the driver. With a now grumpy driver we got back in the taxi and after another 15 long minutes with the meter still running we reached the correct hotel. The doorman held open the door and on entry my eyes “popped” open as I walked in as I  looked around the reception area.

In the reception were rows of double seats in cubicles, a bit like old railway carriages, people, mainly couples sat waiting for there turn to be called up by the receptionist. I ignored all these and walked straight up to the desk showed my reservation, she confirmed it was Ok and asked me to sit down to wait for a bellboy. I joined Sofi in an open area and then started to look around. At first I didn’t think too much of all the couples cuddling up in the booths and then I noticed a sign showing you can rent rooms for just a few hours, I wish I had known that at the time of booking! I still hadn’t put two and two together at that stage and then Sofi informed me the hotel was used for “Quickies” OMG I was suddenly quite embarrassed about what was happening around me and quite relieved when my name was called and taken into the elevator and up to the room.

The room door was opened and a red glow came out from the lights mounted above the headboard, it really was like being in the “Red Light Zone” – totally appropriate to what I had witnessed in the lobby.  The room was extremely small, not even enough room for my backpack on the floor and nothing like the pictures I saw online, the towels and sheets were so old they were faded and grey through repeated washing and the AC on max barely did enough to lower the temperature. At least the room was clean and after all it was just for 1 night, in fact, only for 5 hours in reality!