I was cranky and pissed off. My start in Manila was not good. In fact, it was horrible. I had it all planned out, and the universe decided to shit all over my plans and make me remember that travel isn't always rainbows and unicorns. Sometimes, it can really suck.
I had ended on such a high note in Borneo. The beautiful forest, rewarding volunteer work, wonderful people, delicious food. I spent my last evening with my Kota Kinabalu Couchsurfing hostess, who took me and some other members of KOPEL out to dinner. She dropped me off to the airport where I waited for my 2 am flight. I thought I would get some sleep at the airport, but, alas, that was not the case. Hard benches and bright, fluorescent lighting were the first to throw a wrench at my plans.
I arrived at the Manila airport just after 4 am. The plane ride had been turbulent and bumpy, and I was not able to drift to sleep. In my confused, tired state, I wandered through the airport like a zombie. I was swooped up by a taxi driver almost immediately. After visiting an ATM, the driver quoted me a price of 1700 pesos and I did some quick math and figured that was on point. I stepped into the van, it wreaked of fish. I almost vomited from the smell. This guy must transfer food for the market in his down time. Ugh.
After a couple moments, I realized that my sleep-deprived brain had miscalculated the exchange rate. Instead of a taxi that should have cost me $4-5 dollars, I was paying $40. I was pissed off at the driver now, but had paid a station at the airport and knew there was nothing I could do. I was looking forward to getting to my bed for the night, errr, morning.
I had arranged to stay with another Couchsurfing hostess. She seemed fantastic and we had exchanged several emails already. She had provided some detailed advice on places to go during my trip, left me her address and phone number, and told me the door would be unlocked so I could come in and go right to sleep. I would be meeting my partner and a friend the next evening, but had found a cheap flight so decided to come explore the city with a local before ending my solo travels.
We arrived at the house; the gate was locked. I could see the back screen door open. There were razor wires on the fence. The taxi driver had left, and I looked around exasperated. I was so tired, I thought of sitting down right next to the gate and falling asleep. Had I written the wrong house number down? I tried banging on the gate. A dog barked. Here I am about to wake up the entire neighborhood.
The taxi driver had gotten turned around and drove back past, he slowed and checked if everything was OK. I explained that I could not get in, and he let me use his phone. After countless, stalker-style repeat phone calls, I gave up. I asked the driver if he knew of a decent hotel for very cheap. I had already spent more money on the taxi then I had planned to spend for the day. He told me there was a place nearby for about 500 pesos, safe and clean. Great, take me there.
We bumped off, away from the nice neighborhood of Makati, and into the ghetto slums somewhere near the airport. Watching the trash lined streets and homeless people digging through garbage, I arrived at the hotel. It was almost 6am at this point. The hotel itself looked like the nicest building in the neighborhood, so I walked in, ready to crash on any bed that fell within my line of site. I went up to the desk and found that instead of 500 pesos, it was 7,999. I was so mad. And tired. And mad. I was not going back outside of the building. Traveling alone, in the dark, white female with all of my belongings in this neighborhood. No way, my luck was not on point to risk that decision today. Too tired and pissed to give any more fucks, I forked out the cash and went to my room. I was fuming. I had spent triple the amount that I had saved by booking a red-eye flight and did not feel safe walking outside. I bolted the door and double checked my lock. I crawled into bed furious, emotionally drained and physically exhausted. I closed my eyes and sighed as I tried to force myself into a much needed rest. Well.....No such luck. Have you ever been so tired that you just couldn't sleep? Yeah.....
Only three hours in, and I was already ready to get the fuck out of Manila.