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Manila, Philippines

Welcome back to SE Asia mayhem!


Our first impressions of the Philippines weren't that great when we were greeted by a scam taxi company at the airport; charging us 1600pesos instead of 300pesos for a taxi to our hostel. I think we'd been in Japan for too long where everyone is honest and polite, we'd let our guards down...well this won't happen again!

We stayed at Hilik Boutique Hostel in Makati; it turned out to be really well located and had some friendly staff that helped us to organise future parts of our trip in the Philippines. Right opposite our hostel there was an outdoor food market with a live band and cheap beer. Jason seems to have got a taste for their extra strong beer, Red Horse, and took to sampling a lot of the food on offer; including pork sisig, prawn curries, stuffed BBQ squid and even homemade cupcakes. We were only paying a little over £1 for a meal.


It's difficult to know where to start your sightseeing in Manila, with a lot of the city poorly developed and not particularly tourist friendly. On the way in on the plane it appeared to be made up of a sprawling network of slums, but within this there's an area called Makati that is a modern business district and very affluent. We visited a brilliant museum called Ayala, which had a really good printworks exhibition on when we were there. There's also a visual walkway that takes you through the history of the Philippines, which I found particularly useful as I can never be bothered to read the history section of our Lonely Planet guidebooks. Other highlights of the museum include a gold exhibition and natural disasters' workshops, plus it was a nice air con break from the Manila humidity. Next door to the museum there's a series of posh shopping malls called Greenbelt 1-4; there's really expensive shops like Gucci, beautifully landscaped gardens with its very own church, loads of restaurants and a cinema. If only I wasnt backpacking I'd have spent hours browsing the shops. It really didn't feel like we were in the true Manila exploring this area...


The next day we got a taxi to a different area of the city called Intramuros. The taxi ride there was an eye-opener; lots of homeless people, bustling shop stalls, makeshift houses from wrought iron, tonnes of children sleeping on street corners and caged cockerels ready for the next cock fight...this felt like the real Manila. In Intramuros we walked around Fort Santiago and its walls that surround this old Spanish district; quite pleasant but unfortunately a lot of it is poorly preserved ruins due to the bombings of WW2. The streets around Fort Santiago are worth exploring though, with lots of Spanish colonial buildings, decent restaurants and the Manila Cathedral. From here we walked to Rizal Park, where we were reminded it was Christmas in the blazing sun of Manila with Christmas carols being blasted out of its speakers throughout the whole of the park. It all seemed very odd to us...sun and Christmas don't normally go together.


Just round the corner from the park there's a golf club and Jason claimed he was getting golf withdrawal symptoms...so as he was suffering I suppose we had to pay it a visit. He only went on the driving range, and to be honest I'm not sure how much he liked it because he said he felt too uncomfortable that a young Filipino girl was at his feet the whole time making tees out of mud for him...we gave her a tip for her help and for risking her life (as Jason had a couple of near misses where the club nearly left the grasp of his hand).


A lot of people we've met hated Manila...we don't feel like that at all. Ayala Museum, Greenbelt shopping malls, Intramuros and Rizal Park are all definitely worth a visit; plus the food stalls opposite our hostel have been fab for tasty cheap Filipino eats. However, I am looking forward to some fresh air on the Philippine island of Palawan.


Posted by bloorsontour 00:18 Archived in Philippines

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Sounds like a complete contrast to Japan. Very fascinating - but stay safe! Xxx

by Ma and Pa

Sounds interesting and very different. Xx

by Mutsi

Sounds amazing what an amazing experience x

by Steph Cartledge

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