Greetings once again from the road. For anyone traveling to the Philippines via Manila and Ninoy Aquino International Airport that needs to stay connected during their trip, it's well worth picking up data cards, 3G thumb drives, or portable Wi-Fi units. At least at the airport's Terminal 3 (why is it always Terminal 3), you can choose Smart or Globe, which can sell you a data card that you will give you Internet connectivity, usually over mobile networks. Users from China won't find the speeds slow; they'll find them normal, but at least you won't need a VPN. Rates start at PHP 500 (about RMB 70) and go up to around PHP 1,995 for a "4G" card with unlimited data for 14 days in a mobile Wi-Fi machine. Ask very specifically for data plans based on the actual number of days you will be staying. Don't get stuck with a 30-day plan if you only need five. I am currently using Smart to write and send this fine column.
Speaking of the Philippines, if you're not into ironic travel, then you should give this archipelago a look for the September 3-5 holiday. It will still be a bit rainy and there will be a chance of typhoons. That said, for travelers willing to bear slightly more weather risk, prices on flights are pretty good. Cathay Pacific Airlines is offering fares about RMB 2,200 roundtrip to Manila via Hong Kong, including tax and fees for that period. If you're flying on to somewhere beachy like Palawan or Boracay, you'll need to change in Manila anyway.
In an interesting contrast, in this case the so-called full fare airline is about RMB 1,000 less than the so-called budget airlines, Cebu Pacific Airlines, which now has very limited seating Beijing-Manila for about RMB 3,200 during the same period. This flight is non-stop between the two cities, so yes, that does reduce travel time. And Chinese travelers appear to have no aversion whatsoever to flying in the middle of the night, so the 1am departure time isn't an impediment to this flight's popularity. However, it's clear that Cebu Pacific has established such a brand among flyers in China that they're actually able to charge more, especially during a holiday, and get away with it.
Don't miss reading about what might be the travel opportunity of the summer: seeing Slovenian industrial band Laibach in North Korea.
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Photo: Steven Schwankert/the Beijinger
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