It was dark when our driver stopped the car alongside a tall wooden fence with a small sign saying “Happy Coconuts Insurance.”
Traffic swerved around us on the narrow road so he put on the hazard lights and then began to walk away.
I began to panic.
It was our first night in the Philippines and I had booked us a rental car and a room at the Happy Coconuts hostel. The rental car had turned up an hour late, and now the driver was going to leave us in front of an insurance building in a dark but busy alley.
The words of a security guard at the airport came back to me with a thud. He had said, “Manila can be dangerous. Get the number of the driver and take photos of the rental car before you drive off. Also don’t leave your window open when driving or someone might lean in and steal something when the car stops.”
It had made me exceedingly nervous and now I had even more to worry about, like what happened to the hostel I booked?
The driver kindly returned, and walking along the fence he found a small almost hidden door and a button which he pressed. In response a young man peered cautiously out. When he saw us he quickly invited us in.
Behind the dark unwelcoming looking fence was a tiny courtyard and what appeared to be the most security conscious hostel I had ever seen.
|The Gates to the Hidden Hostel|
The entry room was all old wood and linoleum floors with a few Asian items on display. The bedroom had double locks and was also wood and linoleum. It was not luxurious but it seemed clean, and although the beds were unusually firm they had clean sheets
In the corner was a door leading into a small cupboard-sized room containing a toilet and a shower fitting behind the sink.
We had read several reviews of the hostel from previous guests so alongside our toothbrushes and paste, my thoughtful husband had packed toilet paper and soap. We needed both. There was a bucket of water and a scoop in the corner for use instead of toilet paper, but we couldn't bring ourselves to use it, even if we knew how.
What I didn't expect was the almost complete lack of floor space for the shower and the towels so thin I could see through them.
I had chosen this particular hostel partly for its proximity to the airport and partly because it advertised that it was in a safe part of town. I wondered why they needed the elaborate hoax at the gate.
We were soon to find out.
We had arrived without enough cash to pay the hostel and we had to go for a walk to get some.
The young woman at the desk suggested we would be perfectly safe, but the young man was quite adamant that we should not go walking at night.
We decided to see for ourselves. In my next blog I will tell you how it went.
Expect some surprises.
See you then.