Upon arrival, I got my first stamp in my passport. I've been waiting my whole life for that stamp. It took 26 years but it finally happened! I hope to accumulate many more over the years to come.
After checking through customs we loaded into a taxi and headed for our hotel. That taxi ride was the most terrifying experience of my life. Hands down, no exaggerations. I really thought it extremely likely that we would die or be seriously injured. It was insane. The driver drove so fast and wove in and out of lanes with no regard to the lines on the road or the other drivers. He drove on the wrong side of the road when traffic on the right side was too slow. He came so close to other vehicles and pedestrians I thought for sure we would have an accident. Little did I know that EVERY taxi ride in the Philippines would be the same way. One driver explained to us that the lines on the road were just for decoration.
We zoomed through the streets of Manila and arrived at our hotel a few minutes later.Upon arriving at the hotel (the Dusit Thani) our taxi was searched for explosives by two policemen (along with every other car entering the hotel.) We were also sniffed by dogs at the hotel entrance for explosives and manually checked for weapons by guards. This was both reassuring and worrisome.
The interior of the hotel was lavish and probably the nicest hotel we have ever stayed at. Definitely worthy of it's 5 stars.
This girl played different instruments in the lobby. Her costumes were so beautiful and I wished so badly that I could get really up close to examine her jewelry. It was gorgeous. I felt bad taking pictures of her though and didn't want to get all up in her face so I didn't.The view from our room.
There were so many vendors, but we found some great stuff. We weren't very good at bargaining, but it seemed wrong when the prices were already pennies compared to what we would spend if we were buying these items in the states. We did do some bartering but probably could have paid a lot less than we did. Despite that, I was really happy with how we did and what we came home with.
After leaving greenhills satisfied with our shopping, we headed to a local Philippine and seafood cuisine restaurant called Zamboanga. They had entertainment that depicted the evolution of Philipine traditional dances. See video below.
This shows the bamboo dance, which is a crazy dance in which the dancers have to step quickly in between moving bamboo rods. They went so fast it was incredible!
The restaurant also had a great little trio that serenaded us with songs from the Beatles, the Eagles, and Kenny Rogers. It was a great end to our first day in the Philippines.