I had an interesting chat with the taxi driver on the way to the domestic terminal. He recognised my accent as being vaguely Scouse, and we got chatting about the Beatles (despite me being more of a Stones man). He'd seen them in a gig at the Rizal Stadium in 1966. The full story is quite amusing, a comedy of errors. I can only imagine how Manila was back then. Anyway, the driver was about to get a tip as I jumped out; until he said "What you tip is up to you..." I counted my change, pocketed it and smiled "Don't eat yellow snow" before closing the door. Didn't say anything about money, did he?
Landing late in Cebu, I was glad of the tip in the Rough Guide which said don't get a cab outseide the airport, but to walk around the corner for a metered one. I duly did, and was treated to the sights of Cebu's edgier quarter. At least in Manila, there are always plenty of people on the streets. Here it just seemed to be roaming packs of youths, beggars and other ne'er-do-wells. Dropped at a cheap guesthouse, I hastily escaped the street.
The reception was bleak but, at 3.50 GBP, I wasn't fussy. I headed up the stairs after paying, and wasn't too happy with the place. Filthy, stained concrete walls and plenty of rubbish about. I looked for 311, and got as far as 310 before hitting a wall. Turning to head the other way around the corridor, I noticed the guy in 310 on his bed; hugging his knees while rocking back and forth, mumbling to himself. Always a reassuring sign of a quality inn, I find. Perturbed that my room was located behind his, I dropped my bags on the bed. The couple in the room opposite were having noisy sex. Lucky bastards. I surveyed the room, and noted that the wall ended a good two feet above the ceiling. I was half expecting Robert Carlisle to pop his head over the top and start rambling on like the lunatic he played in The Beach. I picked up my bags and headed downstairs, no way could I stay here. I didn't even have to badger the guy to get my money back...he held the cash out as I approached without even having to turn around. I thanked him and made my way through the edgy streets to find somewhere else. "Hey...hey mister..." as a few youths crossed the street to me. I sped up, heading for brighter lights, dodging through the traffic to avoid them. You feel very vulnerable walking around with all your gear late at night in Filipino cities.
I reached a reasonable place, got into the room, threw myself on the bed after bolting the door, exhaled...and flicked on the TV. Safe. After a half hour, I needed to eat. On heading back to reception, who did I meet there but the American guy from the Cebu Pacific office in Manila? Which brings me nicely on to my next couple of stories...