Philippines Insider" The Ultimate Philippines Travel Guide for Tourists and Expats

Author Topic: First experience- the smell  (Read 7225 times)

Offline Mike M.

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First experience- the smell
« on: January 05, 2008, 07:18:36 AM »
My first visit here was in 1992.  I stepped off the plane and was hit with the heat.  Not Miami heat, but, soggy and foul smelling heat.  After 20 hours in the plane, I was ready for paradise, and this wasn\'t it.  I reached the long lines and kept looking around to see if I was in the dummy line.  The huge number of people moving around followed by the baggage area was overwhelming.  It took me a while to get a cart because the \"handler\" wanted money and I only had dollars... and I gave him one.  Then I watched the wierd boxes, cases, packages, flow onto the conveyer belt, people pushing shoving and completely unaware of others.  They were intent and if they were in front, they had the right of way.

The smell was pervasive and as I exchanged my dollars for pesos at the airport (22:1), I couldn\'t wait to hit the streets and see the beauties and explore the country.  Now I know that I should have purchased a few pesos and found a money stall later- would have saved a lot.  The taxis were swarming and I felt grateful to get one right away.  He took me the 1/2 mile to the hotel I had reserved and I paid the 500 (not on the meter) thinking I was lucky.  If I had taken a metered cab and held the driver to the meter I would have paid 75 pesos.

As I watched the dizzying display of dingy stores, broken buildings, unfinished buildings, teeming brown people, scaggy dogs, garbage piles, tall buildings, confusing, confused traffic, mixed with my feelings of tiredness from the flight, I didn\'t know if I liked or disliked it.  I needed bed. 

Checking in, I tried to give them my best American version:  Hi, I\'m Mike, I have reservations,....etc.  I was listening to po every other word (which I already, smugly knew to be \"sir\"), but hearing confusion.  Watching people reading manual reservations sheets, bothered by Filipinos cutting in line directly in front of me without a qualm and the reservation people stopping looking for my reservations and talking to the line cutters.  Boiling with American anger I demanded my due and with the po\'s here and there eventually got my room.

In the room I noted imperfections everywhere.  Shortly a knock at the door announced what I assumed was a hotel worker with a small vase of wilted flowers.  He waited for my 100 peso tip.  This was followed by a knock and some jaded bananas...another 100 tip.  I went to bed at 9AM but couldn\'t sleep.  I finally slept, and woke up exhausted and starved at 4 PM.

With some excitement I went downstairs and walked into the streets.  It was one thing to watch this mess from a cab, another to be one of the mess.  I towered over people (6\'4\"), but most didn\'t give me a second look.  Manila is used to people like me.  I wandered though carefully after tripping on broken sidewalk.  Cars, cabs, bikes, trikes, jeepneys, guys pushing big carts loaded with bananas....  everywhere.  I got lost after 2 blocks because the blocks weren\'t blocks.  The roads seemed straight but I couldn\'t identify any landmarks.  I asked a few people who spoke English, sorta, but my questions didn\'t fit their logic systems.  Finally, someone helped me get back.

That night I went to a section known for girls...........  In the bar, I paid 1,000 to sit with a girl.  Eventually I learned that the girls didn\'t go out unless you were able to make a date and take one out the next night.  I paid 30 pesos for each beer the girl guzzled.  And... I left after 30 minutes.  Took a cab the 8 blocks to the hotel and went to bed.  I had arrived.

Mike M.

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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #1 on: January 05, 2008, 08:07:58 AM »
Hi Mike,

Ah! The memories...! :o It so brought back my 1st time here 10 years ago. I had already lived in Malaysia, Hong Kong & Kuwait by that time & was confident in my \'street wise\' knowledge of the Middle & Far East. Like you, the airport was a HUGE wake up call, nothing like the airports in my other countries. I was flying on to Cebu the next morning so needed to check into my hotel. \'Where is the ATM?\'  I asked at the Airport, \'there isn\'t one came the reply\'. What to do, I had no cash. \'Taxi.! Can you take me to an ATM & then to my hotel?\' How nieve.! So lucky that I had a friendly Taxi driver who actually looked out for me, watched my back while I got Peso\'s & although I don\'t remember how much I gave him, he was worth every penny. ::)

The next morning & I saw the new day from the Domestic airport & things seemed a bit fresher & cleaner than where I was in Manila, lots of smiling friendly pinoys asking where I was from & a little surprised that I wasn\'t American.  I was glad to see the back of the noise & chaos of the city. On to Cebu where my wife to be was waiting. Gotta luv this place, like nowhere else

Rick B

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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2008, 10:13:46 PM »
Difficult experiences here and a bit intimidating at first, the smell, the chaos, everything. Really i can\'t see why anyone could settle in manila i still find it like you outline, ok maybe a bit better but let me get to the provinces anytime (davao for me)

Offline BigBird

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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #3 on: January 10, 2008, 12:57:55 AM »
The smell was great!

Having had my first sniff in Korea in 1974 it had me well prepared! And then I felt let down as it was so much better in Manila than I had memories from my Seoul days!

And no stinky kimchi breath too!  What a delight!  Beatuiful little women who not only smell great but look so fine too.......

Offline Robm

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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #4 on: January 10, 2008, 03:29:23 PM »
Ah.. if you have traveled much in China you would be very used to the \"lines\" or the total lack of....and the people cutting on front of you at the baggage claims.... The stench of tofu frying iin the markets. If you ever flew into Deli you would know what being knocked to the ground by the smell when getting of the plane really is.....   

Maybe that is why I did not notice any of these things when flying into Cebu.


Offline RUFUS

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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #5 on: January 10, 2008, 03:45:08 PM »
I didn\'t think Cebu smelled that bad at all...
But I did not like the smell of Manila...
To me it was a combo  pee, burning garbage, exhaust fume aroma that not only you could smell, but almost taste.
Manila... no thanks.. give me a province



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Re: First experience- the smell
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2008, 07:23:35 AM »
For me one of the best experiences when traveling  is that first blast of air when you get off the plane in a tropical country. Especially coming from Canada. I think the feeling of the heat, humidity, smell and dank sort of rotting/burning wood/garbage is exciting. Especially when you land in Manila. I\'ve heard it said that NY is the city that never sleeps. Not too sure about that. I\'ve spent many a night looking for a good place for a bite or night cap in Manhattan but when you land in Manila it seems like the world is your oyster. Anything that interests you is there, almost 24 hours. It may be big, dirty and smelly when you compare it to the province\'s, but when you decide to do something you can almost always find a way. How many times have you landed at midnight in Manila. got through the huge line, grabbed your bags, checked in and then (because of the time difference) decided to go out for a drink or a bite to eat.. at 2am. On a few occasions the place will stay open long passed closing to accommodate a party of 3 or 4. All this talk is making me antsy for a trip back  ::)