“I am going to America!” – was my first statement when I got my physical passport just a week after I went through the tedious US visa application process. I was in full joy when they gave me a 10-year multiple entry status – which means, I have more time to plan for my US trip!
To learn more about how I went through the entire process, click this LINK.
But of course, since I have the tendency to be very impulsive, I want to conduct a VISA test drive. And the fastest and cheapest way to do it is to book a flight to GUAM!
Thankfully, airlines from PH to Guam dropped tremendously when budget airline Cebu Pacific introduced their first US fleet. And as a budget conscious traveller, I want to spend less or else I’ll go broke.
After carefully choosing the cheapest flight options, I have finally found the cheapest round-trip fare. Manila – Guam round trip at Php5,400! And after converting my GetGo points, it went down to P5,000! Way cheaper than the United Airlines or PAL!
So the research period began…
Guam is an unincorporated and organized territory of the United States. It is not a US State, but it is an area controlled by the United States government. So whatever laws they have in mainland are applicable in Guam.
Guam is the biggest island in the Marianas and is part of the Pacific (and not Asia). They are big in tourism because of their pristine white beaches that are comparable to Boracay. The fine white sand beach for me is already worth the visit!
As I was doing my research, I realized that my trip to Guam will be a bit expensive vs. my previous trips around Asia. Hotels are quite pricey and they are ranging between P3,500 (per night) to P15,000. So my best option was AirBnB. Good thing, I found one! The place I got was near Micronesia Mall and resorts are just 15-minute away by foot. Price per night was at Php2,000.
Transportation was also something I need to research as there is only one tourist bus available in Guam. I cannot rent a car as it would definitely rip my budget. Thankfully, tourist buses are available at Micronesia Mall so I don’t need to spend a lot on transportation. But comparing the fees to the other places in Asia, it was expensive!
Overall, the Guam trip was challenging, budget wise. There are no available blogs that talk about budget travelling in Guam. But still, I want to give it a shot. After all, this is still cheaper than going to mainland.
After I was done with everything, I came up with three to-do things in Guam: shopping, eating and beach-bumming. But oh well, it’s the price I have to pay for being too impulsive. The only thing that kept me excited was for me to taste a little bit of America.
TIME to FLY!
The moment has finally arrived! I was at the airport, obviously late. I arrived at 3:00am, just an hour before the scheduled time of departure. I was panicking because the long line at the entrance was something I did not expect. I also need to pay my travel tax which was another burden to endure. Good thing, I was (a bit) smart so I did some ninja moves to get pass through the obstacles.
So I thought that was it! It never crossed my mind that the trip to Guam (being a US territory) requires a more stringent security process. Here’s what I went through vs. my previous trips abroad.
And I had to bid farewell to my sunblock and lotion!
The flight to Guam was around 4 hours. We were scheduled to fly at 4:00 AM, and ETA was 10:00 AM, with 2 hour time difference.
It was a little bumpy ride (yet tolerable) with a series of heavy turbulences brought by the Pacific winds. The cabin crew (as I was sitting at 1A) explained that since it was the almost the end of summer, scattered weather are expected, thus creating strong turbulence. I tell you, it was a bit scary.
The plane arrived 30-minutes before the scheduled arrival. But prior to rejoicing, I had to go through the final stage of the process: US Homeland Security check.
For non-immigrants like me, it was a tedious Q&A. It was by far, the lengthiest immigration check of my entire life as a traveler. And I thought that frequent travelling and acquiring a Visa was enough, I was wrong. Here’s how it went:
Immigration: What’s the purpose of your visit?
Me: For vacation.
Immigration: How long will you be staying in the US?
Me: For four days.
Immigration: Show me your return ticket.
Me: *Presented the return ticket*
Immigration: Is this your first time in the US?
Immigration: Where will you be staying?
Me: I have a AirBnB reservation at Harmon
Immigration: *And she gave me THAT look*
Me: Would you like to see the receipt?
Immigration: Do you have relatives here?
Immigration: So you are travelling alone? Why would you travel alone? *Slightly raising her voice*
Me: I have been travelling alone to several countries around Asia and this is not something new to me.
Immigration: What do you do for work?
Me: I am an HR Manager.
And there was uncomfortable silence for 2 minutes
Immigration: Alright, welcome to America!
Me: Thanks! *And I hurriedly packed my documents and left*
Tip: Always expect this kind of scenario. Understandably, they just want to make sure that you will not overstay.
It was a sigh of relief after passing the immigration check. And then I finally saw a huge banner saying: Hafa Day! Welcome to Guam, where America’s day begins!
I am finally in America!
To be continued…