So, are you ready to take a journey with me on my next visa story into the Philippines? If, after reading all of the visa mess-ups, you haven’t learned what the hell not to do on a visa in the Philippines, Europe, or Thailand, you may have a more complex travel life than I do. So, get ready to learn what happened on this very eventful trip so you can make your travels smooth and seamless. So, let’s begin our journey to the Philippines.
Visas in Asia
According to Britney Spears, “Oops, I did it again”. Good God, can traveling get easier? Yes, if you have someone who plans your trip professionally, sure! As a solo female traveler, let’s say, if I could afford to let someone plan everything for me, I most certainly would! Until that day comes, I’m stuck doing it myself and just dealing with my screwups as they come.
So, on this particular trip, I was bouncing around Asia and Indonesia back around 2018. I believe I was in Thailand (I swear my screwed-up visa stories are starting to sound like the beginnings of my old war stories).
So, there I was Sicily, 1964 (if you get the reference, you’re my kind of human), ok ok, I was in Thailand and had to get out of the country because, well, there was a hurricane (cyclone) a’coming. So, I reviewed the path and decided to get far enough away to ensure I was safe and didn’t have to deal with potential logistics issues later.
Next Stop: Jakarta
I made it to Jakarta, Indonesia. At this point, I’m only there for maybe 4 or 5 days and who comes knocking on the door? The cousin cyclone that I had just run from in Thailand. Well, knock-knock biatch, cuz is in town. So, here I am several countries away, thinking everything is all good, and since it’s another 3rd world type of country, I was not prepared to deal with the potential flooding/tsunami, logistical problems that could arise, and let’s just say it was time to find my next spot.
So here we go again. It’s time to find the next country that’s even further north to outrun these cyclones. This time, I’m getting good at this visa thing, so I made sure I researched and picked a place that didn’t require one 😉 Check and Checkmate.
Visa, What Visa for Philippines?
Now, what do you ask? Well, I picked up and booked a ticket for the Philippines that was pretty cheap and packed my bags in order to outrun the cyclone. It wasn’t planned, and I had never been, but decided, why the heck not? New places, new experiences, and away we go.
So, I booked the ticket and headed to the airport the next day, not even thinking about checking the requirements back then, especially after booking it so quickly. Assuming that a majority of countries allow Americans in for 30 days with a passport, I didn’t overthink it, I was just trying to outrun the cyclone.
I arrived at the airport to check in and the lady at the counter asked for my passport and my visa. I get that sideways puppy dog look on my face and say, huh? Visa? Umm, can I get that here? That great big resounding answer was nope nope, nope you sure can’t. She told me I could go online and apply for the e-visa there, pay an expediting fee, and immediately call them just to ensure we make the check-in window. Let’s just say, I filled in the paperwork, paid an extra $300 over and above the normal rate for the visa, and called them. They transferred me from one person to another and thankfully I had arrived early enough before my flight that I was able to make it in time with my visa in hand. No stress, naaa, not at all.
Now for the next part of the story, oh ya, did you expect that it would end like that, just that easy and everything? Pay a huge fee, stress out for several hours, and magic, it’s over and it’s all good? Nope, nope, nope, that is not how my travels go.
Entering the Philippines
Thankfully I made it to Manila in the Philippines after that debacle and found my accommodations. This time, I booked an AirBnB for around three weeks, knowing that I was far enough away from the action. Unfortunately, the AirBnB I chose was located in the not-so-nice area of Manila and on the 36th floor of a hi-rise. Cyclones be damned, I will win. Lol.
Even my Filipino connect asked why in the heck I’m staying in that area. Once again, my answer, I was running from a cyclone. Sheesh. Beggars can’t be choosers. More time, and I would have hit her up first. Next time, I now know. So, I’m staying in this place that was not exactly lovely, and after only a few weeks there, my mother or sister texted me to ask if I was affected by this huge earthquake that just hit the Philippines. I’m like, what earthquake? Good sign, at least for me, as I hadn’t felt a thing. At least at that point, they knew I was safe and sound.
So, within the next day or so, I’m thinking, lucky me, I’m lying in bed, and the whole place seems to be going around and around. I’m thinking, I know I’m fairly high in the building, and it might be the wind, but no, my friends, that was not the wind, that was an earthquake. WTH?
All I could think at that moment was, I’m in a country that isn’t exactly known for its structural safety, and staying in an older building where I’m totally sure that OHSA was present. I know that this building isn’t up to code and now we’re getting hit with the aftershocks of that major earthquake. Oh, the good times to be had.
I’d never really experienced one and wasn’t entirely sure of what to do. I did know enough not to use elevator during an earthquake and hell if at that time of night if I was walking down 36 flights of stairs in my jammies. Earthquake be dammed. So, let’s just say, on that day, the shaking stopped, but I began to wonder how many lives past the nine lives I was at. Within just a month, I had experienced two cyclones and an earthquake. I think I’m well beyond my quota, and it was officially time to go. It was now time to figure out the last of the countries I would travel to and head back home where snowstorms were the worst that could happen!
Visas and Natural Disasters
So now, when you think I was telling you a story about getting your visa process right, I throw in a few natural disasters just for fun. Yes, traveling with me is never dull! So, now that I’ve learned from having the most fun learning experiences of all time, here are my recommendations.
While I can’t help you avoid natural disasters, other than telling you, don’t go during the time of year they are known for, I can help you with your visa. To help ensure you get your visa right time, first check with the individual country’s embassy. Type into Google, “As an American, Canadian, etc., etc., do I need a visa for country X”. Look it up and research, research, research to ensure you understand the visa requirements.
When in doubt contact a visa company and work on getting your e-visa if you’re not comfortable with doing it on the individual country’s website.
Now, after all of these visa snafus, Thailand, Europe, and the Philippines, I’m going to do my best to not screw it up again, but heck, I make no promises. So, if you haven’t read the story of my lovely experience with what the hell not to do on a Thailand visa run, you should check that out here, and if you haven’t read how I screwed up my European visa and whatnot to do, you probably should read this. Let’s just hope I’m at my limit for jacked-up visas and natural disasters and can enjoy the remaining portion of this trip in peace. Enshallah. 😉
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