After almost a month at home catching up with people and eating way too much cheese we were back on the road again for the last leg of our grand tour, first stop was the city of Manila in the Philippines. Two long flights later (we do not recommend Emirates!) and a quick stop over in Abu Dhabi and we found ourselves walking out into the glorious 30 degree heat which Manila had to offer. We found ourselves a Grab taxi and headed straight to our hostel.
We hadn’t realised until we arrived but Manila is a huge city split up into lots of smaller towns, our hostel was located in Makati – the party district. Over the next two nights we would discover it was great for a good night out but not so conducive to jetlag curing sleep with many loud bars just outside and no sound insulation!
As it was around 6pm we went up to the hostels rooftop bar for our free sunset cocktail before heading out to get some food. We had been awake for about 30 hours now and didn’t have much more in us so called it a night.
A new day and time to plan how we would be spending our time in the Philippines, we had done some research into what we wanted to see so now we just needed to work out the logistics. The first stop would require an overnight bus which we booked for the following day. At 4pm our hostel offered a free walking tour of the local area we joined and I have to say it was one of the most useless tours I have ever been on! The guide took us to a couple of bars, all of which were closed, a boat pier and a police station. The best thing about the tour was it finishing in time for our free drink at the bar.
We ended up hanging out with some Canadians bonding over how useless the tour had been, we had a few drinks and went out to get some food from a Filipino restaurant which was really good! The guy we were with had his eye on a bar which advertised Midget Boxing which was free so we reluctantly went in. We very quickly regretted this decision, we only caught about 5 minutes of the fight and then discovered the the bar was actually a sleazy ex-pat titty bar full of prostitutes and old men, we finished our drink and got out of there as quickly as we could.
The next morning it was time to be cultural, in a slightly more high-brow way than the previous night, so we planned to visit China Town and the old walled city of Intramuros.
We boarded a ferry and rode 45 minutes to China Town, apparently this is the oldest China Town in the world. On the way we were very strictly told to put our cameras away for a small portion of the trip – where we went past the presidential palace. When we arrived in Chinatown, we strolled around the streets looking at the many shops and restaurants, we saw the main Church and had some dim sum. It was ok, but not particularly exciting. When we were done we crossed the bridge to the old city.
Intramuros has some old buildings and Manila Cathedral, it also had a large Fort Santiago which had a museum in praise of Jose Rizal who’s death somehow ignited the Philippines independence from the Spanish although the museum didn’t really make it clear how.
We found a great spot for a cold drink in the back streets of the old town to hide from the heat of the day. We carried on our walking tour to the park which housed the National Museums of Anthropology and Natural History, two very impressive buildings sat across from each other, we didn’t have time to visit as the queues looked really long so we added it to the to do list if we find ourselves back there one day.
We carried on walking back to the ferry port, passing the monument to Andres Boniface, a key figure in the freedom of the Philippines from the Spanish, to to make our way back to the hostel to start making arrangements for our evening bus.
Although only a short stay in Manila we had a good time and got to experience both the highs and lows of what the city had to offer.