Mall of Asia, UBER Manila, and a First Flight!

 

Subic Bay to Manila

Old Spanish Gate at SBMA

Old Spanish Gate at SBMA Freeport Zone

We left Subic Bay, after a three days of hanging with friends and seeing some sights we hadn’t seen in years, and headed for Manila for a one-day layover before our flight back to Samar the next morning. We bused it from Olongapo to Manila and once we arrived at the Victory Liner bus terminal in Pasay, we picked up a cab to take us to the Remington Hotel (Resorts World) just across the street from Terminal Three. Our negotiation with the cab driver went as “Manila usual” and I had to threaten him with using UBER before he agreed to use the meter. He wanted P300 fixed and the meter actually clocked P164, so we won that round! And as usual, he was not the happiest camper. I gave him P200 total anyway because of his sweet submissive nature. After he dropped us off we checked in to our hotel and from there we would head over to the Mall of Asia (MOA) where we planned to kill the afternoon and find a good restaurant. Only this time we would use UBER Manila for a ride. I have never used UBER before and I had just downloaded the app to my wife’s phone while at our friends house in Olongapo. This was a perfect time to try it out. Once I logged into UBER, I located a car (Black Uber Car) immediately and he was at the hotel within two minutes. I watched him make his way to the hotel on the UBER GPS screen. He was driving a new Toyota Innova and it was a really pleasant and cool (great air conditioning) ride. The UBER fare was only P146, even with heavy traffic and a rather long 35 minute commute. In most cities, UBER is a cashless experience and tipping is voluntary. Tips are not included in the fare, nor are they expected or required. As a rider, you are not obligated to offer your driver gratuity in cash. I gave him an extra P100 because it was such a pleasant experience and at this juncture, I knew I would never have to deal with Manila cabbies again!

Olongapo Victory Liner Station

Olongapo Victory Liner Station

Becoming Cosmopolitan!

Returning to Samar with us was our 16 year-old niece, who is a pure province girl and basically has never experienced anything beyond what provincial life holds. She has never been to a real mall until this trip and has never eaten in a nice restaurant outside Mang Inasal. A new Super Metro grocery store and Jollibee’s in Calbayog City is about the extent of her exposure to the entire modern world, other than Facebook and what she sees on television. So we treated her to some fine dining that included Japanese, Italian, American, and then a dinner at Chili’s Restaurant. I got a kick out of letting her taste my Japanese Wasabe (came with my sushi). That look on her face was priceless! We also put her on the MOA Eye, gave her a first driving lesson on the bumper cars at the mall, and introduced her to the bowling alley inside the mall where she recorded her first strike! Her biggest thrill would come the next day with her first-ever airplane ride back to Calbayog City, and all the excitement that an airport adventure has to offer.

Eating at Chili's Restaurant

Eating at Chili’s Restaurant

When it was time to leave the MOA and head back to the hotel, I logged into the UBER app and this time I received the message “UBER saturation rates apply this trip.” I requested a “fare estimate” and it turned out to be P256 to P355 and was way more compared to our initial trip, and which was too much for a less than ten minute ride back to the hotel. I was resigned to hailing a metered taxi in front of the MOA. After two cabbies rejected us metered rides, a third one hesitantly took us on, then tried to play the “flat rate” scheme on us after we were all loaded in the car. Damn! Sometimes I wish there was an open season on cab drivers. It was raining out and I wasn’t about to let the ladies get out and stand in the rain so I caved to the driver’s demands of a P300 flat rate for a ride that should be less than P200. I should have just stuck with UBER. Damn again!

Hurry Up and Wait!

Back at the hotel, we arranged for an early 2:30am wake up call as our flight departed at 5:15. We were sleeping so good when Teri woke up and looked at her phone. Crap! It was almost 3:25am and we were late! Unbelievable. We have never missed a flight in our 30 years together and this did not look good. We sleepily and frantically scrambled to get everything in our bags and get out the door. Have you ever tried waking a teenager from a dead sleep to make a flight when they nary understand the sense of urgency of it all? Nevermind. I grabbed what I could and headed out the room door to get to the lobby and stop the airport shuttle which was about to leave (on the half hour). I had about two minutes to get down 7 floors. I arrived at the front desk and the concierge in record time and immediately launched three different conversations at the folks manning the two separate counters at once: Why did we not get our wake-up call? Can somebody please stop the shuttle from leaving! And, I need to express check-out, hope you don’t mind, but I’m in a hurry. WHAT happened to our wake-up call! … all while still wearing my nightshirt. At this point I had to look down… “was I wearing my shorts or my skivvies?” Oh good, Shorts! I must have been a sight to behold. I know the two young counter clerks were completely dismayed as to what this crazy foreigner was rambling on about. Both girls exchanged some rapid banter and one of them kept repeating to the other “1:30… 2:30 wake up diba?… 1:30?” with a totally confused look on her face. It was all I could make out anyway.

The girls finally came down to the lobby with the remaining bags and what a sight that was! Me in my pajamas, and two women with ruffled hair, and crinkled clothes and a “no powdered” look. The concierge ushered us out the hotel’s front doors to the waiting shuttle bus where we got loaded and were off. It was a 10 to 15 minute ride to Terminal 3 and we were pushing the envelope as far as making our gate on time for boarding. We still had to check in and get our boarding passes, and traverse all the airport security. It was going to be a photo finish most likely. It was then that I noticed the time on the shuttle bus clock. It was 1:31. Damn! My niece immediately noticed my facial expression and began laughing uncontrollably. It was pure RAOFL(her)AO! Me, I was dumbfounded. Relieved, but completely dumbfounded. I don’t think I uttered a word for several minutes. MY WIFE says “Maybe I need a new phone?” I was still in my pajamas but was relieved that we did not have to sprint through the airport and I now had time to change into something more appropriate. And I had plenty of time to brush my teeth!

At the terminal, we got ourselves freshened up and we settled in at a snack bar to get something to eat. I ordered a ham and cheese croissant, coffee, and bought a freshly made chocolate chip fudge brownie to share with my niece. When she rejected my offer of half of the brownie, I had to ask the girl, who dreams in chocolate colors, why? She answered “Because I never eat chocolate in the morning.” I then inquired “Since when?” “Since the day I was born!” was her reply. I think the excitement that my niece had for flying had been diminished somewhat as she did not look her teenage best, and she knew it. Once we boarded the Philippine Airlines (PAL) flight and took off, she went back to sleep – in true teenage fashion, only to wake up later and ask “are we there yet?”

Fast Asleep!

Fast Asleep!