Finally I had left Sydney. I say finally as I had been preparing for this voyage for a number of years. More thinking than action. But thinking is a very important part of planning. Day zero had arrived and I was going to Manila with a two hour stop-over in Malaysia.
I had no troubles on the flight to Kular Lumpur. I had paid an extra $30 and was given two empty seats next to me which was a life saver as I was able to lie down and get some sleep. I had smuggled two of my mum’s lamb sandwiches on board with the only regret being I did not bring any sauce.
I left Sydney at 11AM and arrived in Kular Lumpur at 6PM. I had confused myself with the time difference between Australia and Malaysia. I thought I had to take off two hours and it was a four hour flight, but turns out I needed to add two hours so ended up being a nine hour flight as I arrived at 1800 local time.
We flew over Singapore for a while and it was very interesting as I have never been there before, it is not a huge country and was not long before we were flying over Kular Lumpur. I tried to spot the famous Petronas Towers , I think it would stand out, but I could not spot it. ‘I will see it one day’, I think to myself. At the airport you could not walk straight into the airport from the plane. The planes just parked on the tarmac and all the passengers had to walk to the terminal. I have done this before but usually get on a bus or is a small plane, however KL it was unusual to me in that every plane were doing the same thing and there was a stream of passengers following a line to the terminal. With the unique airport traffic of baggage carts and cut off trucks zooming around, I thought someone would be knocked over soon.
I was only in Malaysia for two hours before flying out but was worried it might be enough time since most airlines have strict rules around check in times. I needed to go through immigration, customs, collect my luggage, figure out where departures were and check back in. Since the plane arrived thirty minutes late I had to do this in in an hour and a half. The airport was quite basic and after being finger printed the immigration official said ‘G’day mate’ with a grin and stamped my passport.
I collected my bags and walked through the customs area, which did not have any staff in it. It was very different to Australian customs I often watch on TV, grilling unsuspecting travellers for not declaring food. After seeing so many of these shows I throw the other lamb sandwich in the bin before I get to customs to save time only to discover Malaysia did not care about what I was bringing into the country.
Stop over in KL airport
I made the flight quite easily. My mind was ticking over about what to do if I missed the flight because I couldn’t clear customs etc and check in on time, but my worries were unfounded. I had over an hour to wait and not wanting to use any data on my mobile phone to save outrageous roaming charges the only other thing to do was read a book. Since I did not have one, I found the bar. That did not take too long, however now my dilemma was not having any local currency, and only being in the country for another hour I did not want to withdraw any money. The bar tender explained they accept credit cards. I order a beer, pay for it and settle into a booth. Only realising that I have no idea how much money I have just spent. The beer was 50 Ringgit. I was off to a fantastic start to my world adventures and being careful with my money, spending $15.50 on a beer, my only saving grace was it was a pint.
Immigration to enter the Philippines
Before I knew it I was on the next leg of my journey and headed towards the Philippines. I was travelling on Air Asia who does not fly into Manila, but into Clark airport, about 150 kilometres out of the capital. Arriving at midnight (2 AM by my body clock) I enter the country and find the driver from my hotel. The town is Angeles and known as a party town, but after such a long flight, I can do no more than look at all the neon and clubs from the car. I check in, switch on the TV and fall asleep. I am thankful that the check out is midday. The same driver who picked me up the night before takes me to Manila, about a two hour drive. It costs P2500 (about $50).
Manila Bay from my hotel in Malate
I check into the Tune Hotel in Malate, a block from the ocean of Manila bay. Not quite as nice as you imagine as is what the locals call ‘black water’ and full of pollution. The hotel only opened the month before and because I flew Air Asia, I got a great rate of just eleven dollars per night and I have eighteen nights booked in. That should be enough to find a place to live I think, and if not I will extend or book another place, but at least I have arrived with no major incidents.