Tuesday, 1 January 2019

My trip to the Philippines : Perth - Singapore - Manila

PERTH - SINGAPORE - Saturday 8 December

After a visit from my son, daughter in law and baby grandson, I received an email from the online travel provider advising that my 9pm Scoot flight from Perth to Singapore would be delayed by 3h30 to half past midnight.

I panicked when I noticed that my arrival in Singapore would be about 15min later than the departure of my flight from Singapore to Manila, so I called the airline "Scoot" and after a 20 minute wait managed to get through to someone who said that because the next flight was with the same company they would wait.

At the Check-in at Perth Airport the gentleman said that was highly unlikely and I would most probably only be able to fly to Manila on the 2,30 pm flight instead of the 5,30 am flight which meant I would only arrive in Manila at 6,30 pm instead of 9.00 am, so a whole day wasted!! But he couldn't be sure either, and said it was up to Singapore to make that decision.

Christmas lights at Perth International airport

After the planned delay the flight only took off at 1,45 am instead of at 12,30 am, and we landed at terminal 2 in Singapore at around 7.00 am. 
Passengers with connecting flights were directed to Counter E to get re-booked on other flights.
Here I was given a boarding pass to the 2,30 pm flight and offered a room at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, plus breakfast and lunch.
I had to exit via passport control as I was going to Terminal 3 where the hotel is located.

All the way to the hotel and on the return to Terminal 2 I took the opportunity to take photos of the wonderful Christmas decorations and other art works at Changi Airport

It's truly one of the most beautiful airports that I know, known as an "Airport in a garden".

Orchid garden, various sculptures, A Million Times at Changi ,waterfall

Christmas Decorations at Changi Airport, Singapore

After checking in I went to the beautiful room, connected to wi-fi to let my daughter Karina know I wouldn't be arriving on schedule. She was already at the airport, having taken a lift with a couple who were flying out. She lives 80km south of Manila, but it takes them 2 hours to travel to Manila due to the traffic.  A few minutes later she sent me a message to say that as the driver was still there, she had decided to return home and come back later, as she could do a lot at home in those 8 or 9 hours. They were still unpacking boxes from the container that had arrived a few weeks before from Amsterdam, as well as preparing the house for the visiting family from both sides.

I also called my husband in Sydney to let him know where I was.

Crowne Plaza Hotel - views to airport tower, internal garden and my room

Then I went down to the restaurant for the buffet breakfast, returned to the room, 

had a shower, got into bed and slept soundly for 5 hours until my alarm woke me up.
Got dressed, went down to lunch - another great buffet but I only ate a little bit of sushi and  salads and found my way back to the departure gate at Terminal 2, where I went through security and passport control before taking off to Manila.
The 3 hour flight was uneventful, but being a low budget carrier (Scoot) there was no entertainment and I had forgotten to take a magazine to read or a movie to watch on my laptop. 

SINGAPORE - MANILA - Sunday 9th December 

Landed at Ninoy Aquino Aiport, Terminal 1 at about 7pm, and since I only had hand luggage - the first time in my life I managed to just travel with hand luggage for a 2 week trip - I was out very quickly. 

The terminal was empty, and I found it strange there was no one waiting for the incoming passengers. 
My daughter had said there was free wi-fi, but I couldn't connect and asked a young Filipino man how to go about it. He couldn't get it either, and he said he was going to buy a local sim card and would let me call my daughter.
As soon as he got his card he came to me, asked for the number and I spoke to my daughter who said it was now prohibited for family members to go inside the terminal, and I had to cross the road and go down a ramp to the Car park and she was waiting there.
Uff, what a relief!! I thanked the young man and made my way there.

Karina was waiting with the driver that brought her from her home in Batangas, we got in the car and he drove us to Shell Residences (City of Pasay) where Karina had rented an Airbnb apartment just 10 minutes away from SM Mall of Asia, the 4th biggest shopping centre in the Philippines.

Bonus: no jet-lag as the Philippines is on the same time zone as Perth.

Shell Residences, Manila - lobby, building, pool area and apartment

After dropping our bags at the apartment we walked about 10 minutes to Mall of Asia so we could go and eat something and we settled for an Italian restaurant. After dinner we popped by the gigantic hypermarket to buy yogurt, fruit and nuts for our breakfasts.

The hypermarket sells everything imaginable including shoes, clothing, furniture and appliances. The selection of fruit and vegetables was mesmerizing as I had never seen most of them in my life!

MOA (Mall of Asia), opened in 2006 and has an area of 4,2 million square feet or 42 hectares and 200 thousand visitors a day,  and is owned by Chinese-Filipino business magnate Henry Sy, Philippines richest man.

On the way home I was shocked to see a teenager sleeping on the bare pavement not far from the shopping, and that was my first taste of the reality of the very poor in the Philippines 😢.

Mall of Asia decked for Christmas, and the gigantic hypermarket fruit section

MAKATI - Monday 10th December

The next morning after breakfast, Karina and I caught a GRAB (the Asian Uber) car to the suburb of Makati so we could go and look for a white dress suitable for her wedding.

She had ordered one online from England when she was in Europe a few weeks before but it didn't get delivered.
Makati City, within metro Manila is the Philippines's financial center, where the Stock Exchange, major banks, department stores, foreign embassies and multinationals are located.
A very modern and clean area with lots of skyscrapers, modern shopping malls, entertainment areas, the Ayala Museum, the Ayala Triangle Gardens, Greenbelt Gardens and lots of al-fresco restaurants behind the Stock exchange building.

The ever present Jeepneys, lots of statues, "Make it Makati" sign and a traffic cop directing traffic

After searching a couple of shops that were indicated to her we went into the SM Makati Mall, and after trying out 12 white dresses at the SM Store, Karina found "the dress". 

Search over and we were free to wander around the Greenbelt Gardens with it's Christmas decorations, restaurants and a pond in the middle with a Catholic chapel - Santo Niño de Paz Greenbelt Chapel. A really pretty and relaxing area. 

Sampaguita (national flower) made with steel garden chairs, and Bumper to Bumper (made with car bumpers) by Pete Jimenez, a Swatch with the Philippines flag and an art structure in front of the Stock Exchange Building.

Greenbelt Garden with the Chapel on the pond (bottom left)

Christmas decorations at Greenbelt gardens and Ayala Triangle Gardens

It was getting dark (the sun sets at 5,30pm), and we thought the quickest way to get a taxi would be to walk to a hotel and catch one there. We walked to the Makati Shangri-la Hotel and asked at the reception. The lady offered the in-house taxi which would cost 4 times more than the usual fare. It was peak hour, if there is ever a non-peak hour in Manila I don't know, as traffic is chaotic at any time!!
So we went outside and flagged a couple of taxis going past, only three stopped, two refused to put the meter on and just wanted a fixed rate but the third one agreed on the meter plus 100 pesos (about 2.50$), which Karina agreed to.

The Makati Shangri La Hotel and it's Christmas decorations

He drove us to our apartment, and after freshening up we walked to an area about 1km away where we had seen a lot of restaurants when we drove past. We chose Kimono Ken (Metropark), where we enjoyed a lovely Japanese meal.
After dinner we crossed the park and had an ice-cream for dessert at Dairy Queenbefore walking home.
We felt very safe wherever we went, people would just look at us because we were European.

 Christmas decorations at Metro Park, where we had dinner at Kimono Ken

And so ended my second day in Manila.
You've probably got an eyeful of Christmas decorations with this post, but the Filipinos take Christmas very seriously!!
Believe me they do, as their decorations go up on the 1st of September!! But I have to say that it was in Manila that I saw the best Christmas decorations ever.

But... you also get non-stop Christmas music wherever you go - shopping malls, hotels, restaurants, parks, resorts...I was only there for 2 weeks and I had enough of Christmas music, I kid you not, I knew all the lyrics by heart by the end of the holiday!!! 😄😄😄


  1. It almost seems after all that trouble, this marriage is either doomed or will last forever. What a first couple of days. Yes, I was amazed at the airports at Perth and Singapore. I loved the statues and sculptures in Manila and the Christmas decorations and MOA were over the top.

    I hope the problems with delays and poor taxi service are now out of the way, and you can relax and enjoy your time with your daughter. Happy New Year, dear Sami.

    1. Thanks Elizabeth, we returned home just before Christmas as my son, daughter in law and baby couldn't travel so we decided to be here for Christmas with them. We had 15 days with our daughter which was great :)

  2. A Sami é uma mulher do mundo! Sempre a viajar, a viver novas experiências. .. Mesmo com os contratempos dos atrasos, do trânsito, foram dias de alegria.
    Que o ano de 2019 seja muito feliz para todos vós.

    1. Obrigada Catarina, tem que se aproveita enquanto nao somos demasiados velhotes, lol.
      Desejo igualmente um ano de 2019 fabuloso.

  3. Great reportage with wonderful pictures !
    Happy New Year 2019, Sami !

    1. Thank you Karl. A wonderful 2019 for yourself too.

  4. Singapore is my all time favourite airport, and I noticed in a recent survey that it was ranked No. 1 in the world. Great city to visit too. We used to walk down to a Hawker Centre every night for dinner and the selection was amazing at very reasonable prices. I guess you can say that with this trip, “All’s well that ended well!”

    1. I've only been to Singapore airport 3 times, but never visited the city. It's on my wish list, although we had a bad experience on our return flight and my husband will need a lot of convincing to go back to Singapore :(
      Yes, but all is well than ends well of course, thanks David.

  5. Fotografias espectaculares e aproveito para desejar à minha amiga um Bom Ano de 2019 com muita paz e saúde.

    Dedais de Francisco e Idalisa

    1. Obrigada Francisco, igualmente para si e familia.

  6. You certainly had an eventful Christmas!

    1. Christmas was actually quiet at home, this was all before Christmas, lol.

  7. ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆ ★ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ╔╗╔╦══╦═╦═╦╗╔╗ ★ ★ ★
    ║╚╝║══║═║═║╚╝║ ☆¸.•°*”˜˜”*°•.¸☆
    ║╔╗║╔╗║╔╣╔╩╗╔╝ ★ NEW YEAR ☆
    ╚╝╚╩╝╚╩╝╚╝═╚╝ ♥¥☆★☆★☆¥♥ ★☆ ♥♥♥

  8. What a beautiful place, Sami! And especially so with all the xmas decorations :)

    1. Thanks Carole, yes the Christmas decorations were just amazing!

  9. Tenho a felicidade de conhecer a maior parte desses locais.
    Tão diferentes, tão agradáveis.
    Feliz 2019!

    1. Que bom Pedro, tambem gostei de conhecer e fiquei com boa impressao do que vi. Feliz 2019 para si e familia.

  10. That must have been annoying about the flight and much inconvenience for your daughter. There seems to be much beauty in Manilla, although I guess you were in pretty nice areas. I suppose we had about four weeks of Christmas decorations and they came down today, thankfully. I didn't hear to much Christmas music this year.

    1. We saw the good and the bad in Manila Andrew, but overall I was impressed with what I saw. Still have my Christmas decor up but they will come down this weekend.

  11. Dearest Sami,
    Oh Lord, having such a delay can really screw up things in a big way. But you got there and as you mentioned, there was no time difference with Perth so that worked well.
    For Pieter and me, Jakarta and Singapore have been the best Christmas decoration memory. We've never been to Manilla... My great-uncle and Priest is buried in Manilla. He was an advisor to several bishops and they had a conference there. One of my favorite people, and certainly a big role model to me! Once day I will write more about him... got still some more research to do.
    We have lots of Filipinos at our local Catholic Church. Their food is so identical to Indonesian and some words are too.
    Singapore is the cleanest, safest and most favorite city for both of us. Fond memories and also its airport! Taxis you can trust and rely upon. In Indonesia we had to figure out which companies you can trust and which taxis not to take. You learn that when you speak their language...
    Too bad that the dress she ordered never got delivered but no doubt you found a dream version right there in Manilla!
    Looking forward to the rest of your story.
    Wishing you again a Happy New Year!

    1. Interesting your connection to the Philippines Mariette, it should be interesting to research your great-uncle. I've heard great things about Singapore, would love to visit.
      A wonderful New Year full of health and happiness to you and Pieter.

  12. A 20 minute wait on the phone?!
    Oh, I hate flying!!! Or waiting, but yes, Singapore airport is beautiful indeed. Sadly we always have to run.

    2 hours to the airport, oh, no!
    A very beautiful hotel room.

    You made me laugh, Sami. No entertainment on a flight reminds me of my very first flight to Mallorca with my Mum when I was 14 :-)

    Wow, hand luggage for two weeks! And what a nice, helpful man!

    Wow to that pool!

    Rich and poor side by side is always sad.

    A wedding dress not being delivered?! But at least you could go shopping!
    I love the decorations at Metro Park. But from September on?! I just can´t imagine to listen to Christmas music for sucha long time!

    1. What a pity you don't get to see more of Singapore Airport on your way to Perth. Traffic is chaos in Manila so 80km=2h!! I still remember the early flights with just a big tv upfront that could hardly be seen by the people sitting at the back. I agree a long time for Christmas decor and music :)

  13. What a story Sami, you travel over the world as if you take a bus! Your daughter has gone far from Amsterdam now!

    1. Thanks Marianne. Yes very far from Amsterdam, she's now nearer to Australia though.

  14. Wow. I love this, Sami. Places I've not been and they are so gorgeous, especially with all those fabulous decorations. And no, I can't get enough. That airport is a beauty and the Mall of Asia -- wow! I can imagine how you felt when you got the word on the flight delay. So glad that the connection worked out. It sounds like a really wonderful trip -- beautiful and exotic and so festive. I have to say it has never been a part of the world that called me, but this could change my mind!

    1. Thanks Jeanie. I had heard about the beautiful islands in the Philippines, but a visit was also not on my priority list, but since my daughter lives there now it was an opportunity to visit and I was pleasantly surprised.

  15. Good to hear that your experience ended well, and that they really put you on another flight later that day without cascading delays. Your travel sounds wonderful ... and exotic! Have a great New Year.

    best... mae at

    1. Thanks Mae. Have a wonderful New Year as well :)

  16. I spent my first year of life near Manila. Don't remember a thing. :-)

    1. I suppose at that age you wouldn't remember, lol.

  17. Oh yes, one of the best. We had layovers of 6 hours over there and really enjoyed the place. There is so much to see.

    1. Thank you Haddock. Apparently there are even free tours to the city if you have a long layover. It's really a beautiful airport :)

  18. What an amazing trip! I've enjoyed hearing about it and seeing your great photos! You are a very good tour guide....makes us all want to travel! Happy new year!

    1. Thanks for your visit Lavender Dreamer. Happy New Year to you too.

  19. A última vez que passei pelo aeroporto de Singapura, iria ser aberto ao público, no mês seguinte, a nova terminal, T4. Conheci as 3 terminais e tenho maravilhosas fotos. Vale a pena passar horas neste aeroporto. Que maravilhosa odisseia e tudo teve um final feliz. Bela reportagem, gostei imenso. FELIZ NOVO ANO

    1. Quando regressamos de Manila para Perth aterramos no Terminal 4, mas tivemos outra menos feliz odisseia...

  20. I enjoyed seeing all of your photographs, and how wonderful to spend fifteen days with your daughter … very special :)

    All the best Jan

    PS My good wishes for 2019

    1. Thank you Jan, it was really great and for a special reason too.
      A wonderful New Year to you too.

  21. I too love Christmas but setting up the lights and decorations in September seems a bit extreme!!! Was it also “all I want for Christmas is you” all the time? Or did you get to hear Filipino Christmas songs?


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