What will Go’s first full day in the Philippines bring him?

Welcome back to the second part of our Japanese-language reporter Go Hatori’s extreme budget travel to Manila, where he tries to fit round-trip airfare, hotel, food, and entertainment costs all into a 50,000-yen ((US$333) budget  (see Part 1 here)! After his first night, he still had a comfortable amount of money left, but would he blow through it all on the second day?

Day 2: Manila, Philippines → Tokyo, Japan

When Go woke up in the morning, he was ready for food right away. He was planning on finding some pandesal, a standard bread breakfast roll in the Philippines, and things took an interesting twist when he realized that he could sample it at a place both familiar and foreign to him here.

That’s right, he was headed to the Filippino McDonald’s. Its breakfast menu includes breakfast sandwiches made using pandesal.

Consequently, he ordered the Cheesy Eggdesal with Sausage for 148 pesos (390 yen). It was something like a cheese muffin with a hash brown and a drink on the side.

Taking a bite, he almost cried out in happiness because it was just that good. Why the heck had he never eaten anything like this before?! The bread was of course good on its own, but put it together with the cheese and sausage and it was beyond heavenly. He definitely recommends that you should try it if you visit the Philippines.

Even the coffee was good, and he was completely content in his choice to go to McDonald’s.

Having overflowed with happiness, Go returned to his room to pack his belongings and checked out. From now until 4:45 a.m. the following day, he’d be exploring the city with his backpack, just like old times.

He stopped at a convenience store again to purchase the day’s Coke for 45 pesos (119 yen) and bottled water for 21 pesos (55 yen). He had learned during his younger serious backpacking days that there was some mystical property in Coke that always revitalized him when tired. Another plus was that he could find it in all corners of the world–so it made for a reliable source of energy no matter where he went.

He walked onward at a steady pace under the blue sky towards his next goal.

That goal was none other than another food destination–this time, a famous restaurant called Lydia’s Lechon. Lechon refers to a whole-roasted suckling pig.

Go asked the staff for a serving of lechon that would be enough to satisfy one person and the following spread arrived. Note that he also decided to really live it up by ordering a Sprite instead of water. The whole order came to 548 pesos (1,444 yen).

The skin was incredibly savory and crispy, while the meat was delectably juicy.

He took this opportunity to practice saying masarap! (“delicious!”).

With a full and content belly, Go then headed out for some more exploring. He decided that it was as good a time as any to try riding a Jeepney.

Despite mapping out the area where he wanted to go and showing it to the drivers of about five vehicles, unfortunately none of them were headed in the same direction as him.

Finally, however, the friendly middle-aged driver of the sixth vehicle told him to come on board. Go presented him with the fare of 13 pesos (34 yen) by hand.

So this was what it was like to ride in a Jeepney!

His adventure took an unexpected turn, however, when he was dropped off somewhere near a train station that he didn’t recognize from his prior research.

Perhaps the driver had dropped him off there because he assumed that he would want to take a train to his destination.

In any case, it wasn’t a big deal, and Go was able to laugh it all off. Getting (kind-of) lost is part of the thrill of traveling, after all.

He decided to keep moving by foot for now. Slow and steady wins the race.

He walked on and on until he was greeted by the wide-open expanse of the ocean.

It was strange to think that just yesterday, he was in Tokyo, and now he found himself walking along Manila Bay.

Truthfully, the water smelled a bit unpleasant…

…but he was able to ignore it by focusing on the clear blue of the sky and water.

It made him think that he should really take a moment of reflection like this every day.

Meditation done, Go headed back towards the city. Along the way, he spotted a sign outside of Max’s Restaurant advertising a Filipino sweet that he absolutely wanted to try: halo-halo, a cold dessert consisting of crushed ice mixed with evaporated milk and various small toppings such as fruit.

He didn’t need this giant version, but he went inside to see what other size options there were.

Thankfully, there was a regular size, so he ordered one of those for 129 pesos (338 yen). It was quite pretty-looking.

Once again, Go was blown away by its deliciousness. He likened it in his mind to the Vietnamese sweet beverage chè, only with ice cream and other toppings added.

In fact, he liked the halo-halo so much that he promptly decided to seek out another one at a nearby Chinese-style restaurant called Chowking.

Wasn’t it a thing of beauty? This second one cost 90 pesos (236 yen) and was even sweeter than the first, if that was even possible.

Amid his halo-halo hypnosis, Go realized that the time was already past 4 p.m. He started to feel like his time in the country was running out.

Therefore, he started heading to Nuat Thai, a chain of highly regarded massage salons that was recommended to him. The nearest location was still a bit far away, so this time he would hop on a motorcycle taxi to take him there.

The female driver collected the fare of 60 pesos (157 yen) and they were off. It was his first time riding in any kind of sidecar. He was so low to the ground that he felt like he was driving a go-kart. It was super fun!

He gave his thanks to the kind driver and hopped out.

He soon arrived at the massage place.

Now, Go was still doing pretty well with his money, so he asked the staff for their recommended course. They suggested a body scrub with a Thai massage course for 2.5 hours, which he sprung for because it was 1,600 pesos (4,193 yen)–pretty inexpensive compared to that long of a massage back home.

It goes without saying that the massage itself was amazing and he left feeling very refreshed. He even left a tip of 100 pesos for the massage therapist.

When he stepped outside again it was already dark. About the only things left to do were to eat and head to the airport at this point.

On a whim, he ended up heading inside a place that he been seeing everywhere called Mang Inasal.

He had had no idea what kind of a chain it was until he stepped inside and was greeted by a menu of barbecue and other similar dishes.

The menu even had the famous Filippino dish sisig (made with minced pork jowls/ears/belly, chicken liver, garlic, and onions), which Go had been wanting to try. It seemed like fate had brought him inside.

And it was a very good thing that he had been brought there. This might possibly have been his favorite meal of the entire trip. Just look at his expression of utter disbelief at how good it was.

While riding that food high, he also decided that a third halo-halo wouldn’t hurt, either, since calories consumed while abroad don’t ultimately count. All together, the sisig, halo-halo, and a sweetened black tea drink that the staff recommended came to a total of 213 pesos (558 yen).

At this point it was now past 9 p.m., but he still had plenty of hours before his flight. He let his tired feet make the decision to carry him to another branch of Nuat Thai.

Since he’d already gotten a body massage, this time he opted for a foot massage and a head massage for 1.5 hours total, which came to 800 pesos (2,097 yen) total.

Yup, his exhausted feet thanked him. A lot.

Before Go knew it it was 11 p.m., so he headed to the airport.

He grabbed a taxi and tried chatting for a bit with the driver about other good places to visit in the Philippines. The driver said that Cebu was crowded like Manila, so he recommended visiting Palawan next. That was actually already on Go’s list of personal places he wanted to visit someday.

And so, even in the midst of some heavy traffic, Go enjoyed his time conversing until they reached the airport. The fare came to 408 pesos (1,067 yen) this time. Now he just needed to kill some time before his flight.

Editing a 90-second summary video of his trip seemed like a great way to start.

So what was the end result of Go’s extreme budget traveling to Manila? Here’s a breakdown of all of his expenses:

Airfare and lodging
Round-trip flight from Tokyo (Narita) to Manila (NAIA) with AirAsia: 24,940 yen
Pre-booked lodging (shower, toilet) in Manila: 1,757 yen

Day 1: Tokyo, Japan → Manila, Philippines
Taxi from the airport to the city: 183 pesos (481 yen)
Dinner (Jollibee): 164 pesos (431 yen)
Sweets (deep-fried ube spring roll): 49 pesos (129 yen)
Fruit snack for himself from the supermarket (pomelo): 79 pesos (209 yen)
Souvenir for himself from the supermarket (high-quality soap): 114 pesos (302 yen)
Souvenir for the office from the supermarket (two packs of sweets): 113 pesos (297 yen)
Reusable bag with the supermarket’s logo: 54 pesos (144 yen)
Coke from the convenience store: 45 pesos (118 yen)
Bottled water from the convenience store: 17 pesos (45 yen)
San Miguel beer from the convenience store: 75 pesos (197 yen)
Frappe from a stylish cafe: 90 pesos (237 yen)

Day 2: Manila, Philippines → Tokyo, Japan
Breakfast (McDonald’s): 148 pesos (390 yen)
Coke from the convenience store: 45 pesos (119 yen)
Bottled water from the convenience store: 21 pesos (55 yen)
Lunch (lechon and Sprite): 548 pesos (1,444 yen)
Transit by Jeepney: 13 pesos (34 yen)
Sweets (first halo-halo): 129 pesos (338 yen)
Sweets (second halo-halo): 90 pesos (236 yen)
Transit by bike taxi: 60 pesos (157 yen)
First massage (2.5 hours): 1,600 pesos (4,193 yen)
Tip: 100 pesos (262 yen)
Dinner (Sisig, drink, third halo-halo): 213 pesos (558 yen)
Second massage (1.5 hours): 800 pesos (2,097 yen)
Taxi from the city to the airport: 408 pesos (1,067 yen)

Total spent: 40,237 yen
Left over: 9,763 yen

Incredible! Despite splurging on everything from taxis to massages, Go still came out in the clear–by a wide margin. It was a far cry from his Thai and Cambodian travels when he actually went slightly over budget. He was also a bit regretful that he didn’t stay at a luxury hotel.

Everything was amazing about this brief trip. The food was delicious, the people were great, and the climate agreed with him. He would definitely be returning to the Philippines and exploring some other islands in the very near future.

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