I packed one luggage of shirts and pants (weight = 7.86 kg), one backpack of my cameras and gadgets plus their chargers (weight = 7.38 kg), also had one tote bag of Alif’s snacks and bottled drink (small ones, 90 ml because cannot bring liquid in containers bigger than 100 ml into cabin) also our snorkels (weight = 3,38 kg). Total = 18.62 kg but gladly didn’t pay for extra over the free cabin baggage allowance (2 x 7 kg = 14 kg).
Alif and I left home at 7:30 PM, took bajay to Gambir Train Station to get DAMRI Bus to Airport. The last bus departed at 8:00 PM, apparently there were buses that departed later but weren’t available anymore then they erased it from schedule board.
We arrived at Terminal 2 Soekarno-Hatta International Airport after one hour trip, still 3.5 hours before our flight departure then we spent the time waiting at Mutiara Lounge until 11:45 PM (their actual closing time was 11:30, but kind enough to let us there until 45 minutes before ETD 00:30 AM probably because feel sympathy for this sleeping boy :D).
The flight was delayed 30 minutes, took off at 1:00 AM. After 4 hours of flight until 6:00 AM (Manila’s time is one hour ahead Jakarta), we arrived at NAIA. For some reasons, all of the passengers had to wait 50 minutes before could walked out from the plane to get to arrival gate.
The immigration process was quick, Alif and I got cleared by 7:00 AM. But then money problem started: I couldn’t leave the airport because had no cash in local currency.
I brought two ATM cards to withdraw cash from my saving: BNI (MasterCard) and Bank Mandiri (Visa). Based on my previous experience, there is always automated teller machines at airport (even in Kabul, Afghanistan) then no need to bring foreign currency from Indonesia because could get it upon arrival.
Unluckily, only one ATM which connected to Mastercard network at Terminal 3 NAIA but it couldn’t dispense money, so I couldn’t withdraw any cash from my BNI saving acocunt. There were three others ATM which connected to Visa network but there was only US$20 in my Bank Mandiri saving account.
I had no choice other than made a phone call to my mom at home, asked her to transfer some money to my Bank Mandiri saving account, then I could withdraw it from any of those ATMs which connected to Visa network. By the time finally I got the money, it was 9:00 AM already.
Alif and I took a bus from Terminal 3 NAIA to Baclaran (20 minutes, 2 x Php 20). With a help from a kind old man, later we got a taxi to drop us at Leesons Residences, 944 Remedios Street, Malate. Only 20 minutes, metered fare = Php 92.50 (I gave Php 100 to the driver). It was a raining Saturday morning, but not much traffic jam.
We couldn’t check in yet, because I booked the room for Saturday night until Monday morning. So I just used the rest room to change dress then left Leesons Residences at 10:00 AM.
After walked 25 minutes, we arrived at Shawarma Snack Center. Well, I would have taken pedicab if known that it’s quite far instead of “near only 10-15 minutes of walking” as the hotel guy said.
Our lunch was sandwich (Php 55) for Alif and shawarma with rice for me (Php 165) with banana shake (Php 75) and ice lemon tea (Php 45). I bought 2 more shawarma, then our total was Php 450.
At 11:00 AM, we left SSC and took a taxi to Fort Santiago (15 minutes with heavy traffic jam). Fare = Php 71.50 (I paid Php 80). Entrance fee = Php 75 (adult) + Php 50 (child).
It was heavy rain, a very bad time to visit Intramuros because we were supposed to do a walking tour. Somehow (perhaps because not much visitors) the place felt a bit creepy, you know…that was the place of people who died un-peacefully. Anyway, Alif had few pictures before we left the place.
We took a pedicab from Fort Santiago to Manila Ocean Park (fare = Php 60). Perhaps because it was indoor theme park (not much affected by heavy rain), MOP got lots of visitors on that Saturday afternoon. Alif had a good time although it was a bit disappointing for him that Manila Ocean Park was much smaller (and less entertainment) than Hong Kong Ocean Park. We stayed there until Musical Fountain Show ended at 7:00 PM.
From MOP, Alif and I took pedicab to UN Station, then MRT to Ayala to buy some t-shirts and pins at Hard Rock Cafe, Level 3 Glorietta 3. For dinner, I went to New Bombay Restaurant. There we met Inna, a young pretty Pinoy lady who planned to visit my country after one week. I needed to see her her to give my local money (Indonesian rupiah) and she would give Philippine peso to me. It’s a good deal, no loss on exchange rate for both of us compared to bring international currency from/to our respective countries (to be exchanged at money exchanger).
Alif and I traveled from Ayala to Malate by taxi (fare = Php 140), it was 9:40 PM already when we finally checked in to our room to have a good night sleep.
01:00 AM departed from SHIA
06:00 AM arrived at NAIA
07:00 AM cleared from immigration
09:00 AM bus from airport to Baclaran, taxi to Malate, change clothes at Leesons Residences
10:00 AM left from Leesons Residences, 25 minutes walk to SSC, lunch
11:00 AM taxi to Intramuros, walked around Fort Santiago
12:00 PM arrived at Ocean Park, entered Oceanarium
12:50 PM fish spa
01:15 PM All Star Birdshow at Acquatica (25 minutes)
02:00 PM Sea Lion Show and Marine Life Habitat
02:40 PM Penguin Talk Show
03:00 PM Birds of Prey Kingdom
06:30 PM Musical Fountain Show
07:00 PM pedicab to UN Stations, MRT to EDSA, MRT to Ayala, walked to Glorietta 3, bought t-shirts etc at Hard Rock Cafe
08:30 PM dinner at New Bombay Restaurant
09:40 PM back to Leesons Residences
Alif and I left our room at 6:45 AM, only 15 minutes by taxi (Php 75) to Sun Cruise’s port at CCP Complex, Roxas Boulevard, Pasay. The boat was clean, fully air conditioned with TV displaying some history of Corregidor Island.
– The seats are limited, only 285 passenger per day. So, book in advance to guarantee your seating (and perhaps cheaper price if book it through websites like I did). Otherwise, be at port before 7:00 AM (reservation closes at 7:30 AM of when seat is full).
– Ask for seat near window, more to see during 75 minutes of cruise. But if bad wave (few passengers got sea sick during trip from Manila to Corregidor, including my son), then choose open space at upper deck.
– Bring your own food and beverage drink because it would be too expensive when purchase it at the island.
– No extra time for visitors who buy one day tour package because the trip around the island starts at 9:30 AM (15 minutes after boat arrival) and ends at 2:15 PM (15 minutes before boat departs back to Manila). I brought our swimsuits and snorkeling equipment, couldn’t use it because north side beach had high wave (too dangerous) while south beach was too dirty with waste from cities. Visitors could enjoy optional add on (Zipline/ATV/Kayak) only if don’t purchase day tour package (only ferry transfer which is not recommended) or stay overnight at the island.
– Light and show inside Malinta Tunnel (Php 200 per person) was good to see and feel the history of The Philippines during WWII, but not recommended for visitors who could get tired easily because it was scheduled at the end of the day tour (started from around 1:30 PM) and involved of walking-standing for 30 minutes.
For Muslim visitors:
– Better do shalat during lunch time at Corregidor Inn. Ask for a quite room to the frontdesk, they might assign you to the library at the 2nd floor.
– No pork at La Playa Restaurant, should be okay to eat Seafood Paella (fried rice), salads, fruits (but chicken or meat is not halal).
We arrived back to Sun Cruise’s port at CCP Complex at 3:40 PM. I took a taxi back to Leesons Residences (fare = Php 90), then another taxi (fare = Php 75) to Museo Pambatta (http://www.museopambata.org/). The entrance fee was Php 150 either for adult or child , quite expensive but I guess that it did worth the money for kids to learn things about The Philippines’ history and culture, also about some biology and technology. Alif really enjoyed it.
The next destination, just across the street from Museo Pambata, was Rizal Park. We visited the site of dr.Jose Rizal’s martyrdome and of course make a pose in front of the famous memorial tower.
Another taxi from Rizal Park to SM Mall of Asia (fare = Php 100), Alif and I visited the huge mall (http://smmallofasia.com/moa/?p=1097). We had dinner of fried rice and fried noodle at Martabak (served Indonesian cuisine) because it was still hard for Alif to eat food other than the ones which was familiar for him.
As promised, I let him bought a toy of his choice at Toy Kingdom for his 9th birthday present (he was born at October 15, 2004). It was his dream gun: NERF!
At the end of the night, of course, I wouldn’t leave the mall without taking Alif’s pics in front of the iconic giant globe.
06:45 AM departed from Leesons Residences
07:30 AM boarding
08:00 AM sailing
09:20 AM arrival
09:30 AM tour started
12:00 PM lunch time
12:50 PM tour resumed
02:20 PM tour finished
03:40 PM back to CCP Complex
04:15 PM Museo Pambatta
05:15 PM Rizal Park
06:30 PM SM Mall of Asia, dinner at Martabak (Indonesian Food and Cafe)
07:15 PM shopping at SM Supermarket (dried mangoes/pineapples etc)
08:00 PM Toy Kingdom (Alif’s birthday gift = NERF gun!)
09:30 PM left SM Mall of Asia, taxi back at Leesons Residences
Alif and I left Leesons Residences at 7:00 AM, after quick breakfast of cereal + milk in our room. We took pedicab ride (15 minutes, Php 50) to Manila Zoological and Botanical Garden. Too bad that they don’t open until 8:00 AM (at 7:00 AM, as I read from internet, only on weekends). There was another family came early too, but the officer wouldn’t let us in. I had to be at Malacanang Palace for the tour, then couldn’t wait (might take one hour to roam inside the zoo). So I took a taxi from the zoo to Malacanang Palace.
After 20 minutes ride (Php 90) and few minutes’ walk, Alif and I arrived at the entrance gate of the palace (tourist must enter from Gate 6) at 8:00 AM. We waited for 50 minutes before finally invited to enter the museum and the tour started at 9:00 AM.
It was 2 hours 15 minutes of great time with our tour guide, Louie. He took us around the museum (not the palace which was not accessible by public) with impressive and comprehensive explanation of The Philippines’s history and the country’s leaders.
After bought some souvenirs, Alif and I left the palace, took jeepney to Quaipo.
We got off right in front of the gate of “Muslim Town”. It was 11:40 PM already, so we had a lunch at the famous Moud Halal Restaurant and prayed (Shalat Zuhr-Ashr/Jama’ Takhir) at Golden Mosque until 1:30 PM.
I planned to get around Quaipo also go to Chinatown (for shopping at Divisoria, 168 Mall etc) but traffic jam was crazy because there was religious event of Iglesia Ni Cristo (October 14, 2013). Therefore, I only take one pose of him front of the famous Quiapo Church (officially known as Minor Basilica of the Black Nazarene) on our way to Carreido Station.
We took LRT to Quirino Avenue continued with jeepney to Manila Zoo. Alif had a good time until 4:00 PM.
From the zoo, we took a pedicab for a quick visit at Rajah Sulayman Park, located in front of the magnificent Malate Church.
Rajah Sulayman Plaze was a landmark to remind that Muslim kings ruled the region before lost their power to Spaniards. Rajah Sulayman III (1558 – 1575) was the last native Muslim king of Maynila Kingdom, now the site of the capital. He was one of three chieftains, along with Rajah Rajah Lakandula and Adults, to have played a significant role in the Spanish conquests of the kingdoms of the Manila Bay-Pasig River area, first by Martín de Goiti, and Juan de Salcedo in 1570; and later by Miguel Lopez de Legazpi in 1571. (http://mandirigma.org/?p=923)
From Rajah Sulayman Plaza, we took a pedicab (fare = Php 50) to Robinson’s Place (http://www.robinsonsmalls.com/malls_manila.php) to buy traditional dress.
Don’t leave The Philippines without these delicacies!
We walked back from Robinson’s Place to Leesons Residences at 6:00 PM, then left 30 minutes later after repackaging our luggage by taxi. It was only 20 minutes from Malate to Terminal 3 Ninoy Aquino Internation Airport (fare = Php 160 plus Php 20 for highway fee). I explained the name of the airport to Alif, Mr. Ninoy Aquino was the name of the country’s hero who lost his life for freedom from then-President Marcos dictatorship exactly at that aiport (http://www.ninoyaquino.ph/the-death-of-a-hero.html). Alif was quite familiar with “laban” sign for “fight” (in Bahasa Indonesia = “lawan”) after our visit to Malacanang Palace, so he raised his thumb and forefinger highly in front of the hero’s statue at departure area of NAIA.
The check in process at Cebu Pacific Air was smooth, but the immigration was not. Alif and I queued for 50 minutes before got our passport stamped (luckily the flight was 50 minutes delayed from schedule).
I read from some websites, departure charge at Manila Airport was Php 750 per passenger, although other websites mentioned that it was reduced to Php 550 this year. I spared Php 1,500 of cash (just in case), then only paid 2 x Php 550 = Php 1,100. Got extra Php 400 as monetary souvenir to bring home to Indonesia. :)
Interestingly, there was a guy roamed around the departure area near check in counters said that he needed money for departure charge but had no cash then offered some passengers (local people only because he couldn’t speak English well) to buy his watch for only Php 550. It look expensive, but I guess that it was only cheap replica watch that can be bought at malls in Jakarta for only Rp.35,000 (around Php 120). Unluckily nobody bought that watch from him, at least not around the seating area where Alif and I enjoyed our dinner prior immigration process.
The plane departed at 9:45 PM, we arrived back to Jakarta 4 hours later, safely and happily. Yes, there were lots of fun in The Philippines!
08:00 AM arrived at Malacanang Palace
11:40 AM arrived at Golden Mosque
03:00 PM arrived at Manila Zoo
04:25 PM arrived at Rajah Sulayman Park
04:40 PM arrived at Robinson’s Palace
06:00 PM arrived at Leesons Residences
06:50 PM arrived at Terminal 3 NAIA
09:45 PM departed from Manila (50 minutes late from ETD 08:55 PM)
END NOTE: CHECK WEATHER FORECAST BEFORE YOU GO!
I was late to learn that rainy season in Manila starts from June to October. I thought that it’s same with Indonesia (where rainy season starts from November to April, dry season starts from May to October). It was a mistake that I didn’t check weather forecast, not until when Alif and I were waiting for our flight departure at Jakarta airport. Best time to visit Manila was actually from December to April.
I planned for a walking tour in Intramuros for the first day (Saturday – October 12, 2013) but as predicted then I didn’t make it. Heavy rain with strong wind, still got wet although under our umbrella. Museo Pambata was closed.
Luckily, it was sunny day on Sunday (October 13, 2013) during our trip to Corregidor Island. Only light rain in the afternoon, at the end of our visit to Rizal Park before went to SM Mall of Asia.
Although forecasted chance of rain was 60% for our third day (Monday – October 14, 2013) but didn’t bother us much because only in the morning and light rain later in the evening. The sun was still scorching hot in the noon (I drank so much bottled drink in Quaipo).
Manila municipality had interesting flood control/warning system. You can see this kind of painted electrical power pole in many places with water height indicator. Green means “passable”, yellow means “not passable”, red means “warning”. Well, in Jakarta, even 3 feet of water height then Indonesians still classify it as “passable flood”. Hahahaha…
Two weeks after I left the country, thyphoon Haiyan originated. My condolences and deep symphaty for people and the families in Leyte (http://edition.cnn.com/2013/11/22/world/asia/philippines-typhoon-haiyan-deaths/). May God bless you.