After an 11 hour plane ride from LA to Japan and then a 5 hour ride to Manila, we finally landed at our final destination. I'll spare you the after photos...
Our flight conveniently landed at 10 in the evening local time, so once we got to our hotel, it was straight to bed. We didn't really have too much of an issue with jet lag that way.
We were greeted by a giant Christmas tree at our hotel, friendly staff and a very interesting room layout... there was a massive picture window that showcased every last detail of the bathroom to the bedroom. Thankfully it had a shade to pull down for privacy. Apparently they're doing new things with hotel design these days, as the place we stayed had recently opened in November.
Our first day was pretty relaxed. We hopped over to Pancake House for breakfast and met up with the other wedding guests to go to a mall. The malls are packed with people trying to get out of the heat on a daily basis.
If there's anything I learned about the city of Manila, it's that they don't really follow traffic rules. The above photo is atypical... it seems somewhat organized. There's regularly no defined lanes, few traffic lights... and when there is one, you just kind of choose whether or not to stop at a red one. They're big fans of the U turn lane instead of lights. I got so turned around riding in this city I can't even describe it- and I'm usually really good with directions. Chaos is the only way to describe it... pretty much every hour of the day. Many taxis look like this:
That colorful, solid metal vehicle is called a Jeepney. They. Are. Everywhere. They're all painted vibrantly, with nicknames and murals all over, and are constantly crowded with people. Many of them have been refurbished from US military jeeps left over from World War 2.
Much to our surprise, they do have McDonald's in the Philippines. This is Jadyn, Justin's (the groom) little sister, posing with Ronald. My favorite part was that they serve rice with most of the value meals... and it's a compacted scoop wrapped up just like they would wrap a burger.
Oh, and they have Starbucks as well. It was quite refreshing to me to find that even though we were half way around the world, Starbucks still had free wifi. Justin really just wanted the coffee. He's on the right in the above photo with his now wife, Anya. She's eating cheese ice cream. Yes I said cheese. And no, it isn't that great.
Ivy and Mike are friends of the bride and groom from graduate school. Mike is also eating cheese ice cream. He thought it was good.
Justin's brother, Jordon. He's enjoying ube ice cream. Ube is a purple yam; purple because of the volcanic rock that it's grown in. Surprisingly, the ube ice cream was good. That is indeed a True Value hardware store, in the mall, behind Jordon.
So our first day was fairly low key. Up next, we take a tour of old Manila from a very interesting man named Carlos.