Philippines Nov/Dec 2014

Our latest adventure was a trip back to the Philippines, last seen last year here. Our flight was via Hong Kong and was pretty stress free. We got to experience Cathay Pacific Business class on our second leg, so that set up the trip pretty well.

That evening we hit The Butchers Shop pub and restaurant for some well earned reacquaintance with the repertoire of the San Miguel brewery. They didn’t disappoint with the  Cerveza Negra being added to Sam Mig Light and Pilsner as drinks I would have again ! I also came across a newcomer to the market from a local craft brewery called the Katipulan Craft Ale. I say brewery, this stuff is hand made ale, and although a bit bitter its great.   

Day 2 was a mainly a long lunch (in 2 restaurants !) followed by Basketball . Basketball was 2 games from the PBA, basically the national league level and is a big deal over here. This was held at the world famous Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City. This place was the biggest indoor arena in the world when it opened in 1960. That doesn’t make it world famous though. What does is the fact that it was the venue for the Thrilla in Manila, and one of the original flags commemorating this still hangs up in the rafters. We watched 2 games and then headed off to Eastwood for a few more San Migs. The next day we took a bit of a rest as we had an early start for day 4.

Day 4 saw us take a short hop to one of the most beautiful places on the planet. Boracay. We arrived and stayed at our usual hotel , and were given a massive room. Result. Top floor with a nice balcony. I noticed that the balcony door was a little loose but hey, we are on the top floor. We go out, have a few beers, and come back about 2 in the morning. I couldn’t sleep , so went  to get my ipad from the safe. Its not there, but thats not an issue as I left it on the bed. Check bed. No Ipad. Oops. Check balcony door, and its open. Oooops. We call security, and poor guy has no idea what to do, He couldn’t operate the CCTV. BUT I could , but it didn’t show anything. So, we agreed to leave it till the morning and they would clear the room top to bottom.

Which they did, and found nothing. By this team the safe had been emptied and checked by me, my wife, and at least 2 members of staff. Remember the ipad was on the bed ? Then the police arrived . And searched the room, and the safe (!) Upon which they produced the ipad. From the safe. Which should of been on the bed. By this time I was happy just to have it back, and how it got back in the room will always remain a mystery, but I’m sure a member of staff had missed a bullet.

Anyway, this is when we started to hear about the typhoon. Not any old typhoon but one that was nearly as big as the one that claimed over 7000 lives last year. It was looking to appear over the weekend and we flew back to Manila on the Friday, so no worries (for now). So we enjoyed the beach, and the sunshine interspersed with small showers, and the odd black cloud. One night we went to a paluto resturant. The deal is there is a large market selling fresh fish and meat, and you buy what you need and take it to one of these “paluto” restaurants where they will cook it up. Pretty low rent, but very cool in my opinion.

We were lucky on our journey back to Manila ,as our flight was one of the few that left the island that day as flights were being cancelled nationwide in response to the impending typhoon. The weather was starting to get a little worse, but it was still warm, and better than being in  London. The same day we got back, we set off again about 2 hours out of Manila to Tagaytay. Tagaytay contains the now dormant Taal volcano, in the middle of a massive lake. The views are amazing. Last time I went was back in 2007, but it was foggy and we saw nothing. This time it was misty, but you could take in the incredible scenery. Our friends who hosted this trip, have a property in the Tagaytay Highlands resort. This place is something else. You have residential properties, mixed in with world class restaurants, cables cars, funiculars, and 2 golf courses. We enjoyed a very nice steak that evening and retired to the veranda for some very good Johnny Walker Double Black. The next day we tried the cable car, which unfortunately was closed due to typhoon activity. But the funicular was open and was pretty cool (and steep). However, due to the fact the whole resort was sparsely populated this particular weekend, the resort did feel a bit like The Prisoner.

Back to Manila for my final weekend and the the rain was coming in, and word regarding the typhoon was getting worse. We spent the weekend relatively local as we didn’t want to get stranded. Saturday night in the Peninsula was very pleasant. Cheap cocktails, good band in an amazing hotel. Would go again ! We also made a couple of trips to the Resort World casino, which has some interesting craps rules to say the least. If you try and pick up dice in vegas this way, you will be escorted to the desert pretty quickly !

On the following Monday it was time to leave, and the rain was becoming relentless. I arrived at the airport with plenty of time to spare and was told I had a 30 mins delay straight away. This turned into an hour, then nearly 1.5 hours. Anyway, we took off, at a rapid rate to get away from the weather and were on our way. On landing at Hong Kong for my connection, I had 0 minutes to make my BA flight. I was collected by a lovely lady from Cathay, who whisked me through the airport and onto one of their flights to London. This landed about 3 hours after my BA one should of. This meant that after my relaxing holiday I ended up right in the middle of rush hour London. Back to reality !!!!!

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