My flight from Osaka to Manila was with Cebu Pacific Airlines, an airline I had never previously flown with, nor even heard about before. They offered to put me in the emergency exit seats with extra legroom, which was a nice start and I ended up not having anybody sat next to me for the next few flights with them which was even better! When I boarded the flight (which was late – if you ever fly with Cebu Pacific there is a 100% chance your flight will be delayed and you will not even be informed about it, enjoy!) I took in the clothes of the air steward; he was in a bright yellow polo shirt with the Cebu Pacific logo… and jeans. He was wearing blue jeans. Oh good, I thought, that’s a reassuring sign for an airline; when their staff can wear whatever the hell they want on their bottom half – that didn’t bode well for their professionalism. Then one of the stewardesses sashayed past and I realised she was wearing a blue, denim pencil skirt. Then it finally clicked. That was actually their uniform. Yellow shirt with logo and blue denim trousers or skirt. Phew, maybe I was going to survive this journey after all. It was actually quite a cute idea once you realise it is intentional and the staff aren’t just allowed to wear whatever they can be bothered to chuck on.
Upon touching down in Manila, I had a good 11 hours until my connecting flight to Puerto Princesa. I had researched beforehand a little capsule hostel they have in Manila airport called Wings, so I headed towards that to grab a capsule for the night and get some sleep. The hotel was pretty convenient, a perfect little pod to sleep in along with shower and toilet facilities and a little kitchen where they offered “snacks and drinks” – snacks being tiny, dry, tuna sandwich cubes with a speck of tuna in each and some “lemon” drink that actually tasted like cucumber. Mmm nice.
My connecting flight was interesting. First it was delayed – standard. Then when we had all queued up at the gate number stated on the screens, they then announced – oh sorry, we have changed your gate now. The new gate was the other side of the bloody airport, so I lugged my bag over there and began queueing up again. Then we get another announcement saying – you will be boarding from the back door of this gate not the front (where everybody was queuing). Are you freaking kidding me guys?! So after we had queued up for the third time we finally managed to actually board the plane. I would not recommend flying with Cebu Pacific if you want to keep your sanity. After another very quick flight I was finally in Puerto Princesa. I took a taxi to my guesthouse – Santiago Guesthouse, checked in and took in my surroundings. The hostel was… average. It was pretty yucky, there were cobwebs and stuff on the bunkbed and the toilets were full of little spiders and other creatures that I would have preferred not to shower with. But hey, it was cheap and I had to make do. I asked the staff if there were any hotels nearby that I could pay to use the pool of etc, as I fancied a chill out day with a pool and some food to rest my feet after the constant walking in Japan. The staff recommended a hotel called Blue Palawan Resort about 15 minutes away and offered to drive me there for 200 pesos which is just under £3, so I was like yesssss please, how very kind of you.
The hotel itself was perfect. It had a gorgeous little pool which was right behind a lovely beach. There was a bar which did all kinds of cocktails and the waiter bought them right to your sunbed, the same with lunch. I ordered a burger with sweet potato fries and it was bought right to me on my sunbed – heaven! I had a pina colada and a couple of cheeky mojitos to wash my lunch down with.
Something I immediately noticed the first day I arrived in the Philippines is that everybody calls you “maam”, or if you’re male – “sir”. Everywhere you go it’s “Hello maam”, “Thank you maam”. And if they know your name they will call you “Miss April”; “Hello Miss April”. It’s pretty cute!
Once I had had my fair share of the pool and the beach I headed back to my hostel to chill out. I met a girl there whose boyfriend had recently flown back to New Zealand after they had an argument, so she asked me if I wanted to get some dinner. She was a vegan so she wanted to go back to a vegan restaurant she had previously eaten at, but after wandering around for a while and taking me down some pretty dodgy looking streets in the dark, my sensible voice kicked in and I started to worry that she was actually trying to get me trafficked or kidnapped… so I insisted we head back to the main streets to find somewhere we can eat and still remain alive. We ended up eating at a restaurant in the mall there. The mall is pretty modern and fancy for Puerto Princesa, they had a cinema in there too – which I made use of another day when I went to watch Avengers Infinity War.
Back at the hostel I was excited to explore the rest of Puerto Princesa and see what the various tours I had booked had to offer!