Wednesday, 27 August 2008

last post from my 2008 trip

The typhoon that hit Hong Kong on Friday a.m stopped all flights in and out of the country.

My flight was obviously cancelled and at first I was told that there would be no seats available for the Saturday either. Philippine airlines were trying to schedule more flights which they did.
I was re booked on the Saturday 6am flight which was later changed to 1.30pm..... a more reasonable time for me thank goodness !!

So I had 1 more lazy night in Manila, as I said before my hotel was in the red light district of Manila. The hotel itself is really nice and the area actually is OK too, it's a very small area really, only 2 streets that's all, the only hassle I ever got was the Viagra/knives/swords/sunglasses vendors constantly asking you every time that you walk past.... sir do you wanna buy.......this or that!! I just always gave a wave of the hand to say no, and of course in the evening you have the girls asking if you want a "massage" or if they really have had no customers they will be more direct and ask you if you want "serviced" which is a more direct way of offering sex.
I have no problems with any of them as most of them are friendly and totally non aggressive in any way, I have even chatted to a couple of really friendly working girls in the street, something I wouldn't dream of doing in the UK. One night I even bought 2 of them a take away meal as they were so hungry. No point in me trying to explain the difference in prostitution between here and other countries as most wouldn't understand...... suffice to say that if you said to one of the girls that she is a prostitute...... she would be totally aghast !!!!!

So anyway on the Saturday morning I leave my hotel before 11am to get to the airport for my 1.30pm flight to Hong Kong. I get there early, check in , do the immigration, passport and 3 security checks then wait at my gate for my flight. To cut along story short we take off at 3pm arrive in HK just before 5pm but are not allowed off the plane until 5.45pm.

I should have a rep from my hotel waiting for me at HK airport, I walk out onto the concourse and can''t see anyone, OK no problem just got to find my own way to the hotel but hey I have no HK dollars. I find an ATM and after a 15 min wait I get 2500 HK$, before I go to the MTR (trains) I decide to have one more look around and sure enough I see this guy holding the sign "Mr.McGuire Harbour Plaza hotel"..... good..... my bus awaits, after a VERY long walk (big airport) I am told to wait in the shuttle bus area. This is an area designated for all tourists where they wait for the bus to take them to their hotel. lots of people arriving, taking seats while waiting for their hotel name to be shouted from one of the shuttle bus reps.

Obviously as they are Chinese it isn't that easy to understand them, the "holiday Inn" becomes the "Olredy Inn".. you get the picture. My hotel is called the Harbour Plaza so I wait to hear the word Plaza they can't get that wrong. I waited some time, during that many hotels were called but this one guy kept saying " Len... and...sons.....abba foo"... we all looked perplexed, he kept saying " 2 peeple for Len....and...sons.....abba foo ", no-one moved..... he was getting angry and insisted on looking at every ones bus tickets... he got to one lady and he said " ladi.... yoo ar for Len... and ...sons.... abba foo".... she was embarrassed and said I didn't understand you, I am booked in at the Renaissance Harbour View.... "thats wot ah sed the Len and sons abba foo"... stoopid wooman !!!

Eventually it came my turn... no problems I got the Plaza bit. Onto the bus and on my way to my hotel, it's now after 7pm. Driving to my hotel the roads looked just like if you were in the UK, obviously as the British owned this Island and modernised it over the last Century it was all designed and built by British designers and engineers. They drive on the left there, all the road signs, motorway and non motorway are in our familiar blue and green. it was just like driving along the M4. I could see the lights of all the skyscrapers along the harbour as we drove nearer to the city and my hotel.... it was a beautiful sight.

Arrived my hotel, checked in, got to my room with the "Abba Foo".... albeit between 2 skyscrapers and over the expressway.... just had a meal in the restaurant and went to bed as I was tired and it had been a long day.

Rose the next day, met Aileen at 9am and we spent the day in Hong Kong city and also managed a couple of hours at Disneyland Hong Kong.

Hong Kong without a doubt is the cleanest, most organised, efficient city that I have ever visited in my lifetime.... and this was built by us.. the Brits.... so why isn't the UK like this. Well I think one of the reasons is that there aren't too many of the average Brits living here !!!!
The buses and trains had no graffiti, no names scratched into the window glass and there was no litter anywhere.... I really looked hard..... there was NOTHING anywhere !!

The city itself was very modern with many walkways for pedestrians, of course you have the beautiful harbour to walk along.

Sunday in Hong Kong is Filipina day..... that is as 90% of the domestic helpers are Filipinos and they are all given the same 1 day off per week.... always the Sunday, they all come to the Central area of HK to spend the day with fellow Filipinas. As there are literally 10's of thousands domestic helpers in HK city, you can guess what the Sunday meeting place is like.... for those of you with little imagination..... all the sidewalks along the pedestrian areas throughout the Central area have filipinas sitting there on their mats, sheets, cardboard...anything to make it comfy to park your butt. Most are in groups of between 6- 20, they sit there for the day chatting, eating, massaging each others sore feet, passing on information about better ways of sending money home to their families and probably gossiping about their employers too..... well they are female so what do you expect !!!

Some info on domestic helpers here in HK. Most are from the Philippines, if you work in HK it is the thing to have a domestic helper... a bit of a status symbol in some ways.
I think that it is more like slavery, lots of these DH's have degrees and have worked at a higher level than their employers here in HK. They work here as DH's simply because it pays 3 times more that being a teacher in the Phils. The same as lots of doctors in the Phils work in the US and the UK as nurses simply because of the pay.
The DH's that I know have to work 12 hours per day 6 days each week. They have to be in bed whenever their employer tells them to be.

Aileen works from 7am to 9pm Monday - Saturday, she has to be in bed at 9pm when she finishes work. Even on Sunday her 1 day off she has to be home and in bed by 9pm !!! She is not allowed to use her own phone when she is in the house. Remember she isn't a child she is a 27 year old woman.... being told to go to bed at 9pm because that's what her employer wants.
All that work and rules for £250 per month.

Anyway we said goodbye at Hong Kong station at 8pm Sunday night, she to get home for her 9pm curfew and I to get to the airport for my 9.40pm flight back to Manila. I got the train to the airport, as the train pulls into the platform the doors on both sides of the train open, exit right for terminal 2 or left terminal 1..... directly into the terminals..... what a good idea !! As I walk through to the actual terminal it feels like a futuristic setting. There are no walls like at heathrow or other airports that I have visited. This is like just one HUGE open space with signage to make finding your location easy. I walk across this sort of platform.... about 50' wide with only glass guard rails towards the main terminal, you can see far and wide all the check in desks, shops, gates to the aircraft etc. So easy to find my check in desk and so clean, modern and the only word that keeps coming to my mind is.... futuristic !!!

Great experience in HK airport, straight to my plane, on and upwards towards Manila. I arrive in Manila at midnight (Sunday), get a taxi to my hotel, straight to my room, shower and straight to bed, I was in bed by 1am which I was aiming for. Got up from bed at 7am, changed clothing, quickly packed, checked out and in a taxi to the airport. Straight to the business class check in.... walking past the 100's queuing for the economy seats is a relief, having to queue in that would depress me especially at Manila airport where it's like drinking time at the waterhole in the Kalahari desert !!

Straight into the business lounge where I can relax, drink coffee, have a sarnie and read the papers. While I was sitting there waiting, this attractive Filipina looking girl asked to sit at the settee where I was sitting... no need to ask I thought but I said yes anyway as I went back to my paper. She sat there for 10 mins, I could see that she wanted to talk but I like to be left alone in lounges, she then moved on to another area where there was another single guy sitting.

I was right that she was just looking for someone to talk with as she spoke with this guy non stop for the next hour.... thank goodness it wasn't me.... it turned out she is an American and I think she likes the sound of her own voice. She must be doing something right as she was allowed in the cockpit during the flight, the pilot came out many times to talk with her and the flight attendants were all over her like a bad rash. One even sat in the aisle way at least twice for 30 mins each time talking with her..... so she must have something worth talking about... who knows !!

Anyway I was sat next to a right eejit, a business type from England, 6'+ and clumsy with it, when I was trying to sleep he would try and cross over me to get to the loo and each time his leg would catch me and he would grab the chair in front to avoid falling..... nuff said.

I arrived in Amsterdam at 6pm their time and just had a 2 hour wait for my flight to London which itself passed peaceably... other than the guy sitting next to me grabbing the seat in front with both hands at the slightest hint of any turbulence. On the subject of turbulence, I experienced the worst turbulence ever in my flying career on the journey from Manila, we dropped 200 feet in an instant, the women around me all screamed and the men wanted to as well but most of us just grabbed the arm rests very tightly..... and I thought.... shoot... I wished I had spent that money I have in the bank...... and the girl that I met in Manila.... I wished I had brought her back to my room !!!!!..... then the turbulence stopped and the previous thoughts were restored to their rightful place in my mind :-)

I arrived in London heathrow at 8.30pm, picked up my bags and went to the customs area, I went through the " something to declare" gate as I had mikes and chips for my sis Anne and SIL Karen. I went in and their was no-one there.... I waited for 5 mins but I wanted to get home.... there was a green phone there to use if there was no service, I picked it up and waited.... no-one answered.... this is a waste of time so I just walked through the "nothing to declare" gate and went home.... In all that time I never saw 1 customs officer anywhere.......well I did try to be honest.... didn't I !!!!

Got to the central station at heathrow and got on the "express" bus home which was ok, I was back indoors by around 10.30 pm. Anne kindly spoke to me all the time that I was on the bus as that is the boring part of my journey.

So all in all it was an eventful trip in many ways, I got sick as always but still managed to enjoy myself, met many interesting people and managed to avoid some too.

Thanks to all that commented on my posts....... it helps me to keep in touch.

Another trip over..... well there is Christmas soon so hopefully I'll be " Gerry back..and back again in the Phils"

It's now Wednesday morning and I'm back at work... well sort of anyway.

Goodbye all.........................................

Friday, 22 August 2008

Typhoon in Hong Kong !!!!!!

Sorry but I didn't post last night. It's now 1pm Friday, my flight was at 2.50pm but all flights in and out of Hong Kong have been cancelled today. I was lucky to get rebooked on the 6am flight Saturday.
So it is going to be a whirlwind weekend in Hong Kong, I arrive Saturday morning after litttle sleep and I leave Sunday night in time to get back to Manila for Midnight. Hopefully I will be in my hotel room before 1am as I have to leave again at 7am latest which of course means getting up at 6am !!!!.......... this world traveling business isn't easy you know ..........

This will probably be one of my last posts before I leave Asia, Iwill probably post one more time and that will be early Monday morning at Manila airport lounge.

Hope you all have a great........ but less hectic.... weekend than I....!!

UPDATE My flight has been changed again to 1.30pm on Saturday now.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

Thursday 3.30am

Yesterday morning (Wednesday) I returned to the KLM offices to change my ticket departure from Manila to Hong Kong....... alas the hong kong flight to London is fully booked... oh well that's life.

After returning from there I went straight to bed as I woke up with a fever, headache, sore throat and cough. I got some tablets to help and basically I have done nothing since. You would think with all the illnesses that I contract here that I would hate it.... but I don't.... if I lived here again my body would adjust as before. It has already started to as the mozzies leave me alone now.... I wonder why that is !! Any mozzie experts out there ?

I just stayed in bed all day and night dozing in and out of sleep... it's a wonderful feeling.... as long as you don't fell sick at the same time. I just woke up and thought I'd better post on my blog as Anne comes online around midnight UK time ( 7am here) and she will have a hairy if I haven't posted :-) ....Joking Anne...

I forgot to mention yesterday that when I went shopping for the magicmics I managed to get an even better price in a shop in Glorietta as I offered cash.... their eyes lit up when I mentioned that I want the 18000 complete, another mike and 2 chips, they gave me a price and I said I would come back if I couldn't get better elsewhere. When I returned the assistant and the manager were in the shop watching me walk towards them, when they realised that I was coming back they looked really excited.... or maybe it was just my good looks....... ok.... ok.... stop was the good sale !!
Anyway what that means is even if I have to pay customs duty the extra saving of £23 will soften the blow.

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Oooppss stupid me !!!

This morning I visited the KLM offices in downtown Makati, they have their office on the 39th floor of a very prestigious building, they have special lifts that only go from the ground floor to the 39th and above non stop, it took only 20 seconds to go 39 floors !!

I was dealt with quickly and they kindly changed my flight form the 24th to the 25th and even booked me on the exact seat that I wanted.

Back to my hotel and booked my flights to and from Hong Kong, I wanted to go to HK on Saturday afternoon and return on the last flight Sunday evening which is 9.40pm getting back to Manila at 11.35pm. This ticket was US$ 650 but if I left on the Friday and returned on the Sunday it's ony US$ 400.... so obviously I took that deal. This all means that I will arrive in Manila just before midnight then onto my hotel for a quick sleep and then return to the airport for my flight home to the UK..... well done I thought to myself...... :-)

Then later that day as I was sitting having a coffee....... the penny dropped........... Hong Kong to London is 2 hours faster....Duh !!.... and it would mean I could just stay overnight in HK then fly home from there in the morning..... no flying back to Manila and then rushing to my hotel at midnight then rush back to the airport for my flight home.

So tomorrow I'm goingt to the KLM offices again to see if I can fly home from Hong Kong instead of Manila...... why didn't I think of that before..... the old brain is on it's way out !!

I went to buy 2 magicmics today for 2 members of my family, they are karaoke mikes for anyone that doesn't know. There are other mikes on the market now that do the same thing but they are not the well known one which is call "wow" magicmics. Anyway I visits this one shop and the male assisstant tries to sell me the other type, now I have no problem with them I have no doubt they are as good as "wow" but they are not "wow" and that's what my family expects, he shows me the one in the window, I say but they are not the same.... he says "they are the same".... I say again... no really they are not the same.... he again says "they're the same".... ok I say but they are not as I walk away.... when I was about 5 yards away I could hear him say quietly " they're the same".... it made me laugh ;-)

After buying them I decided to get a taxi home as it was just far too hot to walk, I got into a cab and the driver puts his meter on without me asking... 10 brownie points so far..... then he took 2 turns that were taking us in the opposite direction of where I am staying... he was really shocked when I said, it's best if you turn left here, go up to Ayala avenue, turn right into Makati Avenue at the Peninsular and then straight up for a mile to Burgos street..... he gasped and then said... sorry I don't know Makati very well..... ok right...... my 7 months stay here was worthwhile with these drivers !!!!

Hope you all have a nice day..... I'm just wasting time now until I fly to Hong Kong on Friday.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Monday 10pm

Well it was a real scorcher today, I couldn't stay out there for long.... so just had to be wherever the air con was.

Today is a holiday in the Phils so I couldn't do any of the things that I wanted to get done.

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'm going to the KLM office here in Manila to see if I can change my return date to the Monday instead of the Sunday. If I can then I will fly to Hong kong on Saturday and return to Manila late on Sunday night ready for my long flight the next morning. I want to spend the day with a friend in HK.

It's lucky that I am not in Ozamiz today as there was a gunfight there between the military and the MILF ( the bad guys), I was sent a text today by friends there telling me all about it and then I also saw it on the TV news.... 28 people died, 23 were civilians.

I walked past and then into an "English " bar here in Makati, I have never noticed it before, from the outside it did look like an English pub, the sign for food on the door offered cottage pie.... good so far.... entered and they had Kilkenny and boddingtons..... wow this is neat..... yes it had British beer and British food which was nice but unfortunately on the bad side it also had Brits drinking there too.... now that really spoiled it all... the same losers that you can meet in lots of pubs all over the UK. Standing there having 1 pint endorsed why I want to leave the UK..... stupid conversation and lots of swear words to emphasise their education level.

Sorry it's worn me down over the years...

Have a nice start to the week

Sunday, 17 August 2008

Midnight Sunday

Well my blog is getting really boring as I'm not doing very much. I did go out today to the mall of Asia to visit the Imex centre but they didn't have any 3D movies to see so I gave it a miss.

Filipinos directions are the worst I have ever experienced in my life, it happens so so many times that it is really hard to argue with.

This morning I asked the lift boy is there any where else nearby where I could get a nice breakfast, he said go to the matrix which is on the corner, so obviously I go to the corner of the street, no sign of anything, I asked someone else and they pointed it out to me, it was on the corner ok..... the corner of the building opposite !!... this wasn't too bad as he was correct but different to what I expected.

Much worse is in the street, I ask "can you tell me where so and so is"... they reply yes it's over there... pointing with their finger.... remember I am in the middle of the business district of Makati with huge office buildings everywhere.... and they are pointing to buildings about 500yds away.... "where actually"...... over there still pointing with their finger....."eerrrr which building " I ask.... that one over there still pointing with their finger...... "the one with the sign that says...." I suggest..... yes just next to that...."ok thanks".... so off I go in the direction of his finger and the building I described... after much asking of others I eventually find the place that I was looking for, it was 3 streets behind the area that he was pointing at !!!!! This hasn't happened just the once... this is all the time.
There's no "turn left at the bank then right by the bakers and its on your left" none of just have to follow the finger !!!

I don't know where I would go if he scratched his bum !!!!!

Anyway I hope you all had a nice weekend, we will hear about Anne's tomorrow with a bit of luck.

Saturday, 16 August 2008

10pm Saturday

Well I didn't go to Hong Kong which is sad as I am so close to it here in the Phils and I have never been there, but I wasn't at my best this morning so I just stayed in bed most of the day.

I think the next week will just be rest until I board the plane to go home next Sunday.

I forget to mention that about a week ago I had a wonderful 2 hour massage in Cebu... and the cost for this wonderful relaxing experience was........ £3.50.... can you believe that.. when I go for a sports massage at home it costs me £25/30 for 30 mins !!!!

I've also had a foot spa and foot massage, that really makes me fall asleep, I woke during the last one with a snore !!!!

I have been here for 3 weeks and haven't touched a badminton racket or even met my old friends in Manila yet, I haven't seen much of hte olympics either.

I hope you all are having a great August.....