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Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

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Kuala Lumpur...
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Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

Just wanna share our "adventure" upon our arrival at NAIA Terminal 1.

After 2 flights we finally landed in Manila at 530pm. Upon our arrival, we passed through immigration pretty quick as there were only 2 flights landing around that time.

We saw driver / agent holding their customers’ name tag at the restricted area so we were busy looking out for our names.

There were probably 5 chairs available at the terminal and most of them were occupied by “staffs / touts” so we were wondering around looking out for our guides. As we were communicating a few hours ago with our guide confirming the punctual arrival of our flight, we began to wonder why they have not shown up after 30 minutes.

We then asked the security guard whether there is another gate or exit or another Terminal 1 in Manila just in case we were waiting at the wrong place. Hubby even walked in and out of the terminal just to check for any sign of our guide but was told by the security guide that he is only one Terminal 1 and one gate to enter and one gate to exit so we waited. The security guard question his reason for reentering the terminal and he told him.

We bought the local SIM card at the terminal and try to contact the guide but failed. Eventually, we sent an email to them telling that we have left the airport after waiting for more than 2 hours to seek other alternative.

We explained our predicament to the information counter personnel and asked him to recommend a place near the airport for us to stay just for the night. He made the necessary arrangement and led us out of the terminal, across the street, went under some underground ramp and we ended up at a place that looks like a waiting area for taxi. He told us specifically not to talk to anyone who attempts to approach us while waiting for the hotel pick up.

Suddenly our guide appeared from no where (escorted by a taxi driver) and ran across some barricade towards us. Apparently they were not allowed to enter the terminal or even the taxi pick up area. We were basically waiting for each other inside the terminal and outside the meet and greet area.

Then the taxi driver who supposedly got the special permission to allow our guide to meet us at his turf demanded a fare of 1000 peso to take us from the airport to our condo at Sucat (which was less than 10km away). The lowest price he offered was 500 peso but our guide still think it was too much so we walk about 5 minutes and hail a White Metered Taxi and it cost us less than 100 peso to our destination.

What baffled us was that :-

1. We saw some agent from hotel and travel agencies in the restricted area of the airport holding their customers’ name card so we naturally assumed that they should be the case. When I asked our guides, apparently those were the people with connection with the airport security who got special permission to allow them to enter the “restricted” area. What’s the point of having so called tight security but “selected” agent can easily access to restricted area ?

2. We were wasting our so much time waiting for our guides in the terminal and what the security guard, information counter personnel could have just told us that we have to proceed to the designated meet and greet area away from the terminal. Everyone speaks English and communication was never a problem but why couldn’t they just tell us this piece of important information that we can wait till kingdom come but no one will meet us in the Terminal unless they have “connection”

3. There is no signage at the airport to direct tourist as to where they should go. The Meet and Greet Area is not that easy to get to as I recalled. The information counter is literally a counter which has absolutely no brochures, no maps, no promotional material whatsoever.

This was really an exciting but stressful way to begin our adventure and I hope by posting this will prevent any tourists who doesn’t booked with agencies or hotels with special connection to get detail direction as to the exact location to meet up or to be picked up.

By the way, we took 2 internal flight via PAL and Cebu Pacific (Terminal 2 & 3) and as comparison with Terminal 1, we were shocked at the state of the country’s gateway (Terminal 1).

Melbourne, Australia
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1. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

I agree that this is poor but the guide should really have told you to proceed downstairs and cross the inner roadway to the fence with the crowd waiting behind if I recall the setup.

Filipinos may give information to save face. It may not be the correct information, but they rarely ask one of their mates for guidance: 'any answer' is the go.

I hope that after this stressful entry you enjoyed yourself touring around. Filipinos are generally very friendly.

T1 is old and shabby, but is having some work done on it. T2 is basic although Philippine Airlines' new Mabuhay lounge for its departing international passengers is very good; T3 is good while T4 may be basic but I find it quite efficient.

2. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

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Negros Island...
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for Bacolod, Negros Island
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3. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

Civilised countries like what? Your country?

Manila, Philippines
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for Hong Kong
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4. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

Almost every time there's negative feedback posted here, it's from folks who are either new TA members with just 1 post or old TA members who never posted in the Philippine forums.

Traveling with a local does not guarantee smooth sailing (specially if he/she isn't well-traveled in his/her own country like I am) and secondly they don't have as much experience with foreign travelers like we do. Most of the time the frustration stems from either not knowing enough or wrong/miscalculated expectations. Which is why I would love for first time visitors, specially active TA members to POST and ASK our opinion here.

What do I mean by expectations? "Inefficient" for you may not be inefficient for other people. The Philippines is still in its infancy stage with regard to tourism and infrastructure. Apparently the local you were with wasn't able to prepare you for all the traveling and transfers involved.

This is not to defend the country but to remind visitors they should have realistic expectations of the Philippines. If you have a mindset that its practically the same as Thailand minus the food and the hoards of tourists then you're already setting yourself up for disaster. Local infrastructure is no where near to that of Thailand or Indonesia. Expectations play a huge role and it might just spell the difference between an OK trip and a disastrous one.

You can't expect all countries in the world to be like Australia. Why travel at all if you're afraid to leave the comforts of home? Foreign lands won't adjust to you, as a tourist, you have to adjust to it. Your post here and in the Hong Kong forum only means you have to travel a LOT more and see places which are worse than Philippines. Or better yet, stick to first world countries.

Edited: 9:18 am, October 17, 2013
5. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

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Luzon, Philippines
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for Philippines, Bandar Seri Begawan
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6. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

Those people from agencies or hotel representatives are not touts, they are there because they paid to be there that is why they have IDs so in other words they are legally doing business there. It is unfortunate to tell you that it seemed that your 'guide' did not guide to the right place, he should have known better if he is really a guide.

Manila, Philippines
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for Hong Kong
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7. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

What's funny albeit hilarious is your self-imposed and so-called definition of the words "defensive", "civilized" and "inefficient".

Just because the locals don't agree with your criticism you cry being "attacked" already? What a cry baby. What do you want to read then? Everyone agreeing with what you said? How can that happen when fact of the matter is most tourists enjoyed their stay here. The fact that negative and nonconstructive criticisms here are far and few just goes to show the ratio of satisfied and unsatisfied tourists. You are the needle in the haystack.

Stay home if you're too afraid of getting "attacked".

8. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

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Manila, Philippines
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for Hong Kong
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9. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

You love to generalize, we get it. You see a street with a massage parlor and tell everyone the whole city is filled with massage parlors. And you hate people who disagree with you. Oh and you come from a perfect utopian world so the rest of the world should be just as good and just as "efficient".

To those who will even attempt to reply, this is the poster's comments about Hong Kong...

"I stayed in Kowloon (TST) and I found it to be rather dingy with a dodgy spa/sauna/massage place on most streets. There were also lots of annoying hawkers pestering Westerners. When I went to HK Island, I found it to be more upmarket with a larger variety of shops and generally much more pleasant. In hindsight I wish I had stayed there...."

"This is a very interesting thread which has prompted me to sign up and post. I travelled to HK for the first time last month and I did not enjoy my time there.

I agree with some of what has been said about the manners of the locals but I think it goes deeper than that - manners are just on the surface. What I found interesting was the lack of theatres/ clubs/ music/ cinemas, most of the 'entertainment' in both Kowloon and HK Island was restricted to restaurants and sex-related venues. I realise HK has the characteristics of a typical big city and people are in a hurry, but the whole place seems utilitarian and uncaring. No entertainment, people are not having fun, and that explains the sullen faces on the street.

I hardly saw any children in HK and the one time I saw a group of children was at the HK Museum, they were playing near the exhibits when they were sternly reprimanded by the teacher (and I mean STERNLY). No fun to be had here, just be quiet and learn!

Maybe some locals can explain it to me - (I realise I am making a snap judgment but I am basing it on what I saw) - what recreational activities do the locals engage in and why do people seem to be so serious and devoid of humour?

Another interesting thing I observed was several times I received extremely poor customer service compared to a local who was in line ahead of me - at restaurants, shops and once at my hotel. I am always friendly and smiling (especially when travelling!), but for some reason I often got a stern look. Not sure if it's because I spoke English, looked different, or something else....

On a positive note - the city and harbour is absolutely beautiful and Victoria Peak is a must see.

I had been really looking forward to my visit to HK especially since I had a fantastic time in other Asian cities but I doubt I will go back, I prefer being around people who seem happy rather than miserable."

10. Re: Our "unforgettable adventure" at Manila Airport

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Removed on: 1:18 pm, October 17, 2013
Edited: 1:18 pm, October 17, 2013