Typed up at: Legaspi Tourist Inn in Legaspi
Posted from: Internet cafe in Naga

For our second visit to Manila we stayed at Malate Pensionne, a simple but gorgeous accommodation with lacquered wood everywhere. The rooms were basic, but we had AC and plenty of restaurants and Internet in the neighborhood. We didn't really want to come back to Manila, which was just a big sprawling city. So we spent a lot of time at Internet cafes which were large, cheap, and air conditioned. A sizable chunk of this time went to working on my resume because it looks like I'm going to need it when we come back.

But we also spent quite a bit of time with Bill and Faith. One afternoon we had a tasty lunch together, followed by a lightning tour of Intramuros, Manila's historic center. The other time we saw them was for Faith's aunt wedding anniversary. It was a big event at a fancy hotel with great food, and an excellent band. We had a good time. The main thing that struck me was how western it all was. The exact same event could have taken place in a hotel in Los Angeles.

We wandered the Mall of Asia a bit, the biggest mall (and presumably air-conditioned space) in all of the Philippines. We had some truly terrible lunch at an otherwise good-looking restaurant. Afterwards we ate popcorn watching Monsters vs. Aliens in IMAX 3D. The 3D was quite well done, and the movie was OK. All in all an enjoyable air-conditioned afternoon.

A particular frustrating morning was when I went to the Philippines Airlines office to get a refund for the onward ticket we had to buy in Hong Kong. I now had another onward ticket (to South Korea) in hand so what could possibly go wrong? After taking a number and sitting around for 20 minutes, the friendly representative told me that I had to have an authorization. After some initial confusion it came out that I couldn't get a refund on Danielle's ticket without her explicit permission, despite the fact that I paid for it with my credit card. So I fetched Danielle (15 minutes walk each way) who was researching what else to see in the Philippines.

Another 10 minute delay and we were helped again, now with everything we needed in hand. It took an astonishing 25 minutes to fill out paperwork, make copies of our passports, and whatever else was going on. Then we were told that in 2 weeks I had to call some phone number, and that maybe in a month I would have my money back. Considerably annoyed at this point, I made some comments about how when I buy a ticket I make the payment right away. But I guess that's just the way the game is played at Philippines Airlines.

We spent quite some time trying to decide where to go next. Holy Week (the week before Easter) was coming up and wherever we called to make reservations we found places already booked up. We were unable to reach any phones on Camiguin Island and the guidebook made it sound like a bit off the beaten path. We decided to go there and stay wherever had some space. The trip took 2 days. The first day we flew to Butuan, a town with a small airport much like the Santa Barbara airport. We stayed in a hotel downtown, eating more disappointing food and using the ATM.