From Sydney to Manila

Thursday 22nd Dec 2016

I woke up at 7.30am, did some last minute washing of sheets and clothes, prepared some rice salad for lunch and dinner and packed that in tupperwares. Got ready, had a quick shower, made sure my room was tidy for the girl subrenting it for when she would turn up in the afternoon. Finally took off at 9.10am after saying good-bye to my flatmate Gemma. I walked along the beach and took in with me some lasting images of the surf. On the beach volleyball courts, Michaela and Radim who are professional players were having fun playing a 5 against 5 with some very good players. It was fun to watch. Walking further, about 30 young kids were taking a surf lesson and practising the stand-up technique. I passed a woman who was walking around 4 beautiful dogs.
People were walking, running, chatting, boxing on the beach, swimming, surfing. The every day life in Manly paradise. I had just started my journey and my big bulky Nikon D700 was too hard to get out with one big backpack on my back and a small pack in front and my small snapshot camera was buried down in my small bag. I felt a bit like a rusty traveller and only took a few snapshots like this one.
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I turned onto the Corso and headed to the public library where I dropped 3 out of the 4 books about Philippines, keeping  with me the Lonely Planet. Then I headed to the ferry.

They were offering free hot drinks so I got a hot chocolate.
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Then I boarded the Manly slow ferry of 9.40am and went to sit in my favourite spot, upstairs on the outside back deck. There were just 4 people sitting there. The cup I had got looked actually pretty nice!
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Bye Manly! See you in 3 weeks!
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It was quite a cloudy day that day.We arrived in Circular Quay at 10.10am and I said hi and bye to the opera.
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I went to the train platform and contemplated the magic Circular Quay bay and the ferries coming and going.
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Then I boarded the train to the airport.
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I had a thought about work when passing Mascot. ‘Mmmm, should I go to work? Naaa…Let’s go to the International Airport today and jump on a flight to Philippines instead!’

I arrived at the International Airport and went to Cebu Pacific counter. The queue was super long, it took 40 minutes to go through to check-in.
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My big backpack turned out to be 18 kilos and my small pack 8.2 kilos. Saying that, I did bring with me 5mm diving wetsuit, 2mm snorkeling shorty, rashie, dive computer, dive torch, mask, fins, snorkel, go pro, small camera, big camera with 50mm lens, additional 28-300mm lens, chargers for small camera, big camera, dive torch rechargeable battery, netbook and charger. All these do take space and weight! But a friend of a friend had just come back from 2 weeks in the Philippines carrying only a 5.5 kilo bag and I have to say, I am quite admirative!!!

I headed to the passport scan and baggage check. I had not been in the airport getting out of Australia since the 1st July 2015 and I was very surprised to see that now it was all almost automated. Scan the passeport, a gate door opens. Put your feet in the feet spots, look at the camera, the photo is taken and some human nearby checks you out. Then the second gate door opens.Then you drop your departure card into a box. And you are done, walking next to the baggage scan. Well, it might be modern, but it lost the human touch. I felt like treated like a random person. I like it more personalised when you go to the counter and talk to a real person!

The baggage check at least remained the same with a human talking to us and asking us to take the laptop out and any liquid. Walking to the gate, I saw our Cebu Pacific plane arrive.
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Then went to the gate, sat a bit further away first and then went down to the area at the time of boarding. The gate room was super packed.
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We finally boarded around 1.10pm (the plane was supposed to take off at 1pm.
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Here is the plane route roughly from Sydney to Manila.
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There was no screen but I had my netbook with some surf movies from 4 years ago and watched them again and read the AIDA 2 book. My neighbours were Fernando and his son J-C. Fernando was from Davao, the capital city of Mindanao and with his wife they had moved to Australia 18 years before. They were travelling with their 3 kids, first to Palawan and Coron to see 7 islands in a week on a boat trip, then to Bohol to spend 4 days there and then spend 2 weeks in Davao with some of their family still based there.

I asked him how he did with money and he explained to me he was doing a transfer of AU dollars to Philippine Pesos with LBC then picking the pesos at the bank. Interesting way! I had brought lots of Australian dollars in cash with me to change them as Philippines is known to never have any money in its ATMs at the moment so quite hard to find ATMs to withdraw with a card.

Most of the journey had nothing interesting to watch out of the window. It was mostly like this.
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The sunset was really nice though and lasted for quite long.
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After a 9-hour flight, we arrived in Manila on time at 6pm local time (9pm Sydney time).
Everyone waited to pick up their luggage.
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Then I shopped around to find the best money exchange. First one I saw was offering 1 AUD = 33.60 PHP. I went upstairs to the Departure terminal and one was 35.70 PHP and the other one 35.80 PHP so I went for the last one. There were a few more on the Arrival floor but that day the best exchange rate was the one upstairs at the Departure level.
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Then I got a SIM card for a month from Globe. Both Smart and Globe offer pretty similar card plans.
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Then I walked to the airbnb hostel, it took me 40 minutes as I got lost a bit. It was strange to walk directly on thehighway road. Luckily there was not too much traffic and I could cross the road the Asian way like a chicken.

Then I arrived at the hostel and got my room and had a shower and spent a fair bit of time wondering where my cable to charge the phone was and how the hell I had managed to loose it when. Then I tried to sleep but it was very noisy. There was the constant background noise outside of the motorcycles and dogs barking. I put some earplugs but was afraid that then I would fall asleep and not wake up and miss my next plane so I kept waking up in the night ahah.

Next day, off to Apo Island!

 

 

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