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  • Writer's pictureKirk

Welcome to Manila

I've never been a fan of Manila although I've been several times. But this time it was just a stop over on my way to the island of Leyte. A place I had never been. I wanted to try a less touristy part of the country as Manila is probably the #1 stop for tourists.


I've never cared for Manila as it just seems so dirty of a city. There are many tourist hawks ready to swoop on the first time traveler to take advantage. And...there's just no appeal to the city. But, this post is about my flight.


The previous night I arrived in Bangkok from Phnom Penh Cambodia. After a six hour stay in a dingy nearby airport hotel, I was up for my morning flight to Manila. This was one of those weird two leg flights from Phnom Penh to Manila that included an overnight layover. Those are the worst, as you have to mobilize and pass through security twice on the same trip.


I was flying business class on Thai Airways, so at least I had access to the fast priority lane at Bangkok airport immigration to save me 20 minutes.


This was a nice flight in business class as I had my own pod with no one seated beside me. Plenty of seating room and a seat that unfolded to a complete lie down position. Also a nice sized personal screen which I watched one movie on this 3 hour flight. A foreign movie in subtitles called something like "The White White" set in Iceland.



Only one meal was served on this three hour flight. But it wasn't memorable enough to photo. Just a simple omelette with spinach and potatoes.


But this is not really a review of the airline or the services, since this flight was not really that much different than previous business class flights I posted. I will just post some aerial views I took flying from Bangkok to Manila and talk a bit about the Philippines.


And we are off!



Suvarnabhumi international airport is located several miles outside the city of Bangkok. In all my flights there, I don't recall ever flying directly over the city. But if you zoom in, you can see the city in the background.



Now, approaching Manila:











Manila just doesn't share the same flair that is Bangkok. It doesn't have the number of high rise buildings nor the international flavor. When traveling through Manila you will not see the diversity of people and cultures that is a Bangkok.


Although both cities feature their share of poverty, Manila seems in a much deeper state of it. The housing in the city does not feature as many high rise condominiums as seen in Bangkok so much, but instead many houses that look like they were put together with whatever building materials they could find.


A survey I saw recently showed 82% of Filipinos make less than $10usd per day compared to 34% in Thailand. The cost of living is slightly lower in the Philippines, but not enough to compensate for the difference in income levels.


It's been a curiosity to me that a country like the Philippines, so heavily influenced and visited by Americans, could be in such a state of poverty. The country lacks the manufacturing capability of many other Asian countries which can serve to lift them out of poverty. The jobs exported there are mostly call center jobs of low pay.


Added to that is the very high population growth of the country, there simply isn't enough resources to go around. It is, perhaps, the most depressingly poor country that I've visited, and that includes rural India near Bangladesh. There just seems to be more of a sense of poverty depression in the Philippines in my experience.


I'll end this post with one fairly amusing story. Upon arrival at the Manila airport, everyone was supposed to have filled out an immigration card online. I was informed to do so by the gate agent back in Cambodia. This is a new (to me) thing as I've never done it on previous trips. But, that information never made it to many foreigners entering the country.


I was in a long line going through immigration service at Manila airport but noticed it moving rapidly as many in the front of the line were sent to the back. When I got near the front, I could see why it was happening. One of the officers was checking to see if everybody had filled out the immigration form online when they got to the front of the line. If they did not have it filled out, he would tell them very abruptly, "go back to the end of the line, fill it out now".


You could see the confusion on the faces of the people being sent back. They had no idea what was required to be done, but this guy really had no sympathy. He reminded me of the soup Nazi on the Seinfeld episode. "No entry for you!"


Oh well, welcome to Manila.



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Roger Wells
Roger Wells
Feb 11
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

When I see the poverty around the world and then watch the money spent around Super Bowl week just frustrates me. Yes, I am a football fan but to see the billions of dollars spent on one game seems wasteful when it could be used to help the poor around the world. I know there is a lot more to this but just maybe we could focus on doing good things with all this expendable money out there. Okay, now I am just ranting. 🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏🙏.

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Kirk
Kirk
Feb 11
Replying to

It’s ok. I do it all the time 😀

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Mike Wells
Mike Wells
Feb 10
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

It's amazing the accommodations that they have on international flights. Looks like you could get very comfy. This surprises me a 3 hour flight would give you such accommodations. Sad about the poverty in this world

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Kirk
Kirk
Feb 10
Replying to

Yeah business class international flights is 10x better than domestic first class flights.

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