30 December 2010


This is a trip that we have been waiting for over a year to happen. This is a chronicle of our adventures and experiences as first time Balikbayans.

We booked our tickets last April and I had already asked for permission to take at least a month and a half off work. And finally on the morning of the 18th we finally started to take our journey back to the Philippines courtesy of our good friend Glen who kindly offered to pick us up at 4 in the morning to take to the airport.

From Wellington, it took a little over 3 hours to go to Brisbane. The Air New Zealand flight was very pleasant. An activity kit was given to Jo-Lo to while away the time, but the individual monitor consoles were more than enough to keep him occupied. The plane service was also top-notch.

At Brisbane, we had to wait for around 5 hours for our connecting flight via Philippine Airlines. While waiting at the terminal, we befriended some fellow Filipinos. There was this very fun little girl who played with Jo-Lo; they definitely made the waiting a bit more bearable.

Oh, and in case you are also first time Balikbayans like us, I would like to inform you that the airport establishments accept only either Australian dollars or credit cards (at least, those we went to).  We had some US dollars with us thinking this will suffice but we did not want to exchange it with AUD and be stuck with unspent paper bills.  So we used Visa credit card instead.

Finally, we saw the Philippine Airlines bus head to the passenger terminal.

After the Air New Zealand experience, I was also expecting the Philippine Airlines facilities to be similar, especially since it is a 7-hour flight.  Sadly, the plane was one of the older models where there is a projector screen on the wall and a couple of small overhead screens.  Oh well.  Service was good though, so that's ok.

When we finally landed in Manila International Airport, my good friend Harry was there to welcome us and bring us to his pad where we were staying for the weekend.  It was great seeing him again!  He pointed out things that were new in the city while Jo-Lo initially got confused about the location of the steering wheel.

My wife and kid were very tired to go out for dinner so they just ate what he had with us while I was keen to have a look around the nearby mall.  So Jo-Lo's first official meal in the Philippines was a Jollibee breakfast which he loved!

Right after breakfast we crossed the road to the Don Bosco Chapel where we wanted to hear mass, this being Sunday and all.  We were quite fortunate that we were able to hear a beautiful mass, coupled with carols by the Don Bosco Seminarians.
And then it's back to the mall to buy mangoes! And bananas!

And while walking around, I spotted Quickly which is in my foodie to-do-list so we ordered and promptly sipped it up in one sitting!

to be continued

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