A Travellerspoint blog

Day 2

Sydney - Manila - hopefully!

sunny 26 °C
View Japan 2023 on nattybats's travel map.


Both of us got a relatively good sleep last night. Pullman hotels have reliably good beds and quiet rooms and it was so welcome after the long day yesterday.

Awake early, eyes closed, and dozing again for a few hours, then out of bed in time to head down for the buffet breakie. Good food and coffee and once again warm and attentive staff. Today we get to repack our bags and then wander over to the airport around 1ish. Em and I are both feeling more anxious today but hopefully once we get through the mess that is security (and I don't in fact get stopped leaving the country as my mind keeps telling me), hopefully then we'll be able to chill a bit.

Our tickets give us complimentary use of the lounge at Sydney Airport (either "The House" - whatever that is, or the SIngapore Airlines Kris lounge) but they're both at the opposite end of T1 to where we depart...and I'm just not sure I can be bothered. We have our kindles and I'm sure we can find a seat for a couple of hours somewhere. But we'll see when we get over there.

Off to repack and then read for a bit. Hopefully the next update will be from air side of T1.


Late checkout is a god send. After a delicious and leisurely buffet breakfast we meander back up to the room and repack the bags. Given how anxious I've been, not having to rush or just sit around at the airport aimlessly is wonderful.

At 1300 we go downstairs to check out and organise a cab. The wonderful concierge, Stewart, says that he's sure there's one outside, he'll grab it for us. Stewart also helps us with our bags and he and the cab driver load our gear into the boot and we're off by 1310. Once more an amazing stay at a Pullman. Pricey - yes - but the service and level of care for this anxious traveller are well worth it.

Our cab driver is lovely - certainly the most personable of the 3 we've had in the past 24 hours. We chat about where we're from and where we're going. He's from Bangladesh. I've been watching a travel vlogger recently who is in the capital of Bangladesh so it was lovely to be able to talk to him about what I'd seen. He confirms that it is as noisy and busy as the videos show. Too much sensory overload and poverty for this sensitive soul and I assure him that Bangladesh and India are probably not on my travel list. I pay him cash with a few extra dollars - the level of thanks greatly outweighs the currency involved and I'm again reminded of how privileged and grateful we are.

Wander up to the Philippine Airlines counters and I'm regretting wearing the nice/cool shoes I'd chosen - but 30 degrees in Manila with walking boots just didn't seem like a happening thing, so sore feet for a few minutes it is. Ad(Em)dum: Spoiler alert, it wasn't 30 degrees - more on that later. They're obviously busy and there's some pissy customers, but we're eventually served by a lovely lass, Mange. There was a guy in front of us with his Filipino wife and their 7 bags. We'll circle back to Dick McDickus and his 7 bags later. I'd read reviews about PAL saying that the ground staff were subpar but that the cabin crew were exceptional. We're lucky enough to be able to say that the in our experience, both teams are exceptional. Even with all the paperwork and checks (travel QR codes for both Philippines and Japan were checked along with our vaccination certificates), Mange managed to make the process quick and painless.

I'm not sure I'll ever enjoy international travel in cattle class ever again. Just up from the check in counter is the Business and First Class priority gate to security. Through the gate, around the corner, and to our own dedicated passport lane. Same with security - straight through. Amazingly we are through to airside quicker than we got checked in!

A quick stop at a bar and a light lunch between us. Ad(Em)dum: Today I learned the importance of specifying whether you mean a pizza or a cocktail when you order a Margherita at a bar/bistro. Touch base with home and head towards the gate. Priority boarding for us business class passengers - economy appeared to have to line up just about back in Canberra from where I could see the line!

Down the airbridge and onto the plane with only an elderly gent in a wheelchair ahead of us.

The PAL cabin crew are warm and inviting and immediately make Em and I feel welcome. The seats are comfortable and will lay down into a 180 degree bed. Large touch screens, ample space around us, and a lovely amenities pack wait at our seats - 1D and 1G. The absolute pointy end of the plane! Problems with the seat are dealt with quickly and effortlessly and orders are taken for lunch. Em chooses the chicken while I go with a traditional Filipino dish - Beef Pochero. Entrée that we both get is a fresh smoked chicken salad. A French champagne to pair for me and hot chocolate for Em.

The food is both delicious and plentiful - too plentiful. Em has food envy after I share a bit of the beef with her and neither one of us finishes our mains. Portion sizes are surprisingly good. And boy is it nice to have a tablecloth and real cutlery. The champagne is a little sweeter than I like but still, a nice crisp French one. Em states that her hot chocolate is delicious. I finish with a few bites of a too rich Maggie Beer chocolate ice cream while Em gives into her French side and has an assortment of cheese.

The crew don't rush you but when they notice you've finished they promptly whisk your dishes away. They're helpful and warm, but not overly in your face.

It's now 1730 Canberra time and the blinds have been drawn on the windows and cabin lights are off. Em was just journaling and her lovely FA (Penny) came and asked if she'd like her reading light on. I know, it's Business Class, but it's nice to be taken care of.

The only downside, is the obnoxious older Aussie seated just behind us and to our left. No surprise here, it Dick McDickus of the 7 bag fame.
He's given the cabin crew a hard time because he refuses to wear a mask. I can't imagine being that damned entitled and am very much looking forward to going to a country where everyone's well being is important....not just the damn noisiest obnoxious dick.

Em has hunkered down under the cosy blanket you're supplied with, bed half reclined. So far, apart from the usual bumps and jolts after take off it's been an exceptionally smooth flight (touch wood). We'll be met at arrivals by a driver and taken off to the Hotel and I've gotta admit, I'm looking forward to a good nights sleep.

That this is really happening still feels surreal. Since the end of Year 6 this has been a dream. And with 2 attempts in 2020 and 2021 cancelled at what felt like the last minute, the fact that we're on the first leg of the journey hasn't really hit home yet. I can't imagine how it's going to feel when we touch down in Haneda.

Next update from Hotel Okura in Manilla.

2130 Manila time

The rest of the flight was smooth. A light 'breakfast' is served an hour and a half our of Manila. While the seats are comfortable and we've amused ourselves with a mixture of reading, writing, and playing cards, we'll be glad to get off the flight. A relatively smooth landing, a long walk through a humid and shabby airport (I've read it's the worst in the world - I believe it) and a rapid trip through health check and border control. Em went off to grab our bags and we literally stroll past the single 'customs' officer who didn't seem to really care whether we handed her our customs declaration or not.

As there's some concerns about the safety of taxi drivers etc, we'd organised for the hotel to have us picked up, and dropped off tomorrow morning. I'm a little concerned that I can't see someone with our name as I'd been informed there would be. I guess I'm used to them being inside the terminal in Australia. So we walk out the door and there is a throng of people - and a gentleman in a uniform to the right with our hotel name on a board.

He is Rey - Rey is literally our personal assistant. Ray tells us that he will take care of us and that our driver is on the way. I'm confused. He's not the driver? Come and sit down says Rey, you've had a long flight. So we do. Rey's English is perfect and he chats to us about our plans and recalls that we're off to Tokyo the next day. 5 or so minutes later, Rey points to a long white BMW and says this is your car - we will get your bags. Much to our amazement, we've got doors opened for us, we're inside a 7 Series BMW, and Din (our driver) and Rey are popping our bags gently into the boot. It's not a long drive, but Din effortlessly meanders through streets and cars that I wouldn't consider having a crack at. Apparently pedestrian crossings are a suggestion as Din is a man on a mission and glides through them - literally defying people to walk in front of him. Rey chats to us as we swan along and before we know it we're in front of a hotel - resplendent with armed guards.

Inside you go Ma'am I'm instructed so off Em and I go (feeling bewildered and overwhelmed) and Rey comes with our bags. Grabs a porters trolley, takes us up to the 5th floor and stands around while we check in. He then takes us into our room (which is amazing - pictures will come at some point) and says that he will see us in the morning.

The Hotel is a Japanese chain hotel. The room has a cedar bath. It is over the top and beautiful and it's almost sad we only have a couple of hours in it. Ad(Em)dum: The bath is worth it - I feel like a new person so much so I might need a new passport. Rey has organised a 4.30 wake up, our breakfast will made 'to go' and delivered at 5 and our car will collect us at 5.30am. Flight leaves at 0855 and we arrived in Tokyo 4 hours later and will be just 2 hours behind Australia.

I'm currently downing a Grant Burge Shiraz and am about to crash - another long day tomorrow.

Posted by nattybats 03:23 Archived in Philippines

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Once again "fabulous details" I'm living this trip and loving your blog. Can't wait to see what's in store when you get to Tokyo!!!

by greynomadm

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