After going through all of the red tape that needs to be done to get a VISA to another country for a Chinese citizen, waiting through Saturday and Sunday classes and then passing the morning in anticipation and nervousness, the day of our trip had finally come.
Here is Jiao Jiao strapped up and ready to go. We got on the plane without any major problems, one hop from Beijing to Xiamen where we went through passport control, an hour and a half late thanks to China Southern Airlines, and the official literally looked at Jiao Jiao's passport through a microscope. 2 more hours, we were in Manila and Jiao Jiao had her first stamp.
We got the airport taxi to Malate area, lucky for me I had some Peso's left from the last trip because all the money changers were closed. I told Jiao Jiao to lock the door in the taxi, a common practice in the Philippines, but something never done in China and this obviously shocked her, but not nearly as bad as when the small kid came pounding on the window asking for money. She also got a bit nervous about the policemen with machine guns around their neck.
I had intended to go to the Duck Inn, where I had such an enjoyable experience the previous year. Small and affordable rooms that sit on top of a small pool bar, the food is a bit overpriced but it is tasty and the service is good. However, they were full on this night. They did call their friend down the road and Jiao Jiao and I walked the streets of Manila during the midnight hour, not a good first impression for Jiao Jiao. We got into our old and slightly delapitated room and went out to buy a phone card for Jiao Jiao to call her mom and let her know she was alright.
On the street, we were persued by a child beggar. We have experienced this before, but Jiao Jiao was definately feeling lost and afraid, and she shouted at the dirty and dangling boy, "Don't touch me." Feeling her tension, I pulled her quickly into the mart to get the card and also to get the boy off our track. We got the card and busted back to the room to try it out.
After activation and trying two or three times to figure out the calling standard I could hear the tension rising in Jiao Jiao's voice, but luckily we got through to her mom and she was able to tell her mom she was ok, despite being unconvinced herself. We stayed in that night, I had to take my test the next day.
The next day led us toward much more sucess. Jiao Jiao felt much more confident when it was light out, we changed to the Duck Inn and I passed my test. We were off to a good start. We walked around Makati area after the test, smiling and laughing. Here are some pictures:
Our flatmate at the hotel.
The skyline in the Makate area. That blue is a perfect background, it looked even better after passing my test.
An interesting looking bar.
This is the taxi we took back to the malate area. As you can see, the man did not use keys to start the car, maybe a screwdriver? I was a little worried at this sight, it made me wonder if he was really a taxi driver or part of some necro-sodomite cult with a fetish for white meat. Unfortunately, the former was true and we did not get to enjoy the latter, but we did make it home.
More about the first days to come tomorrow.