Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A New Adventure (Conclusion)

My wife Lydia  and I just returned from our first trip out of the Philippines since relocating here over five years ago. It turns out that the concerns that I mentioned in my previous post "A New Adventure" were baseless. Our I-cards (along with valid passports of course) got us through Immigration upon both leaving and returning in just a few minutes  It took a bit longer when exiting the country because of the P2,880  per person yearly departure tax transaction  for which we were prepared anyway.  Also it helps that  the tax collection agent  is at the same window as the immigration officer. The process would have taken even less time if we hadn't fallen into the wrong line upon our arrival at NAIA.

On our return trip, the plane was full, and I was concerned that this would result in a huge traffic jam at immigration at NAIA, along with baggage retrieval delays and competition for taxis. As it turns out, it really wasn't bad at all. None of these areas were congested. However, airport taxi fares are quite a bit more expensive (more than double the rate) than their counterparts that ply the streets of  Metro-Manila. 

The vacation itself was a wonderfully unforgettable experience. We went on several tours in both London and Paris. Still, we barely scratched the surfaces of these great cities.  We were also satisfied with the service that we received on our flights via Cathay Pacific to and from our destination. 

I don't understand how anyone can travel abroad and not take home a new perspective on the world. Yet I know of people, Filipino and American tourists alike,  who have visited other countries and  come home completely unaffected by their travels.  For example while overseas, they patronize restaurants that serve only the dishes that they get at home and hang only with their fellow nationals rather than sample the local culture.  With that kind of mentality, why even go abroad in the first place?

It's unlikely that Lydia and I will ever be able to afford to go to Europe again. But it's that very circumstance that will make this vacation  all the more special. And we'll still be able to revisit London and Paris any time we want to—in our memories.

Photos of our trip are posted on Shutterfly.


Kano said...

Hi Rick,

Very nice pictures! I can identify with many of the pictures, as I come from the Continent. I was born there and raised, in Belgium. I can see the cleaniness and order in this part of the world.

It must have been an unforgetable trip and vacation for you both. A little bit cold for you guys, I see, but I can imagine, after being in the warm greenhouse for a number of years in Manila, it takes a while to get used to being in a temperature of +5 degrees outside.

Always try to take a white or van taxi home, because the yellow taxis charge you twice the fare. They also drive very scary on the road, so you get the same service as the other ones, anyways. We always go to the Hertz station when we come out of the International Arrivals at the NAIA and then proceed to Avis across where they will assign you a private van-taxi. You will pay your fare at the Avis desk according where you go. If you go to Makati, it was before (a few years ago) about P350, I believe. I'm not sure though if Avis is still there, as it was some years ago. But, you both arrived safe home, that's the most important thing.


Secular Guy said...


Thanks for your kind words about the photos. I'm not much of a photographer, so I'm glad that the pictures captured the essence of the sites we visited.

When I saw the order and cleanliness of London, I developed culture envy instead of culture shock. And don't get me started on the excellent public transportation in both London and Paris. tis

Thanks for the tip about the alternate transpo service at NAIA. That is important and helpful information.