Thursday, August 6, 2009

One Night in CDO

I took the 8:20am flight from MNL to CDO this morning. I left the house a little past 7:30am and there was heavy traffic along Katipunan. I did not really panic because I felt I had sufficient time to get to NAIA 3 for my CEB flight. But as Cols started to text me asking where I was and whether I can reach the terminal in time, fear started to settle in.

It was close to 7:20am and I was still along the service road going into Nichols. I was travelling on Go Lite fare since I have no check-in baggage. Got to the terminal and rushed to the check-in counter where they were already making the final call for CDO. Phew! Made it in the nick of time. NAIA 3 is quite large. And with only CEB and PAL Express operating off it, I'm not surprised why this place is bleeding. The electricity and air conditioning cannot possibly be covered by these two airlines alone. They should really just shut down NAIA 1 and move all the international carriers here.

My gate was at the very end of the right wing. By the time I got there, it was already boarding time. So I went straight to the plane. I actually got good aisle seats even though I was late. I guess single passengers have more options for seating. The 1.5 hour fly was hardly felt as I worked on my slides for the presentation at the CDO City Hall this afternoon. The plane arrived about 10 mins earlier than scheduled.

Compoint's Robin Cui picked me up from the airport and dropped me off at my hotel -- Dynasty Court, to freshen up. I have to admit that I wasn't particularly looking forward to my hotel. I originally planned on staying at Mallberry Suites as it looked newer, but it was fully booked. When I checked out reviews of Dynasty Court, well, it wasn't really flattering. Bad experiences of tourist range from money being stolen from the hotel safe to cockroach infestation. Robin assured me that they recently renovated.

There seems to be no known hotel chain operating in CDO. I guess there is really no big clamor for foreigners to come here. The hotels are all old and small. According to Robin, the lot that Dynasty occupies used to be a Chinese school. They demolished it and put up Dynasty Court. The ground floor which houses the lobby also houses their Chinese restaurant. My room was listed at PHP2,500. But the front desk offered me their promo price of PHP1,800. Can't complain since I wasn't even aware of it and was ready to pay the full fare.

My bell boy brought me to my room (415). The elevator and the hallways has that "old" smell. The hallways had baskets containing charcoal -- to kill odor no doubt (but it doesn't seem to be doing its job very effectively). My room was not too bad. Its window was overlooking the street where there was not much of a view other than the rooftop of Pulse disco.

There's a small TV (not that I ever got to use it). No refrigerator. The bathroom looks clean with its white tiles although the edges are mostly broken or the graut has chipped off already. Even the bottom of the bathroom door looks like it has seen much better days a long time ago. The airconditioner is "window-type"; probably about 1.0 or 1.5 HP judging by its size. The beds weren't so bad. The pillows did not have any funny smell either, so that's good at least.

One nice little surprise I discovered -- they actually have free WiFi!!! When I opened my notebook and searched for a signal, it saw "global dynasty". But wait, it is asking for a security key. So I quickly called the front desk for the key. They told me to look at my physical door key because they taped the code there. Apparently, each room has its own WiFi key. Even with just two signal bars, it was "decent". I noticed that there was only one hotel WAP appearing. Does that mean they are serving the entire hotel off a single access point? Hmmm.... how could that be? Or do the upper floors have no signal?

I walked across the street and had lunch at "Butcher Barbecue". Its always nice to eat at the province and revel at their low prices vis-a-vis the same fare at Manila. Robin picked me up past 2 and we headed for the presentation at the city hall. It was very informal with about a dozen attendees representating different departments. I gave an overview of NetSecure Biometrics. Hopefully, something will come out of this.

After the presentation, we drove to Limketkai Mall to check out Robin's Brazilian grill restaurant that is opening this Saturday. The place still look very unfinished but the crew is working double time to get it done. We bumped into Mozcom CDO/Sotelco's George Nolasco so we invited him to join us for dinner later at an Italian restaurant just across my hotel (supposedly one of the best Italian place in CDO).

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