Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Truly Amazing of True Manila

First of all I admit that I am a bad blogger. I have not update my South East Asia trip in September. The last post was in October 17, 2015. What I've been doing? I've been doing plenty.

My First destination of my South East Asia trip is Manila, Philippines. Since my good friends move to Manila for a job, I was tempting to see the city.

I heard many things about Manila. Bad and good. Mostly bad things about Manila. Heard and read from someone and somewhere, Manila is a dangerous city to visit. This negative thought about manila from different persons who are actually not a well traveled person I considered them. After all, all those negative comments about Manila does not affecting my excitement visiting to the city.

From Kuala Lumpur I flew to Manila with Air Asia. Other airlines that has route from Kuala Lumpur to Manila are Cebu Pacific, Philippines Airlines and Malaysia Airlines.

Manila from above.
What to expect when you arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. The immigration and custom clearance are not much different from any other International Airport. The condition of the airport is a typical poor country airport.

Transportation from the airport to your accommodation. Coupon taxi. White colour taxi that charge a specific amount depends on the distance. I was approached by a sweet petite lady, a taxi agent. Filipino are very hospitality. They always address someone by 'Sir' or 'Mam'.

The lady gave me the price to my destination (Airport - Makati) for 750Php. But I quickly said "Woww it's already gone up?" Pretending that I've been there before, the fact is it was my first time in Philippines. 

The tricks I created worth it. I only have to pay 450Php from Airport to Makati. Some bragging about they can bargain as low as 300Php. Hey, come on guys. Where is your human sense. You are in the third world country, poor country. Don't bargain too much. They are hard earn people.

Another taxi service is Airport metered taxis, the yellow colour taxi. They are about 30 percent higher than average taxi. They also highly unlikely to cheat you. 


WHAT YOU WILL SEE IN MANILA? These are according to what I have seen. 

Manila is a well known for its congested traffic. According to the survey from Waze, Manila is the worst city on earth to drive. However, my French house mate learns to drive and got his first driving licence in Manila when he lives there for 3 years.

I have to agree with him that Manila may have the worst traffic on planet earth but it does not means they fall in the category the dangerous city to drive. People seems have respect with others while on the road but lack of discipline.

Millions of humans! The population in Manila is reaching 18 millions. It is so clear from the air how despicably chaotic it is down there in Manila. What happen in Manila is the result of poor governance through the years. Corruption is an everyday hobby in Philippines. 

Meeting the most hospitable and friendliest people in the world. They are ready to help you in any situation. I had a long chat with the taxi driver, the lady boy food vendor at the night market, cleaning lady at the airport and the jeepney driver.

Intramuros is a must place to go if you love history. This is the oldest district in Manila located along the Southern Bank of Pasig River. Intramuros means "within the walls". It was built by the Spaniards in the 16th century. You can hire a tricycle to get around in Intramuros.

If you prefer walking, make sure you are all well prepared to use the power of your legs. If you planning to hire a tricycle, make a deal with the driver how much is the fare. It could be confused and you might trapped in their trick. They put certain amounts for 30 minutes ride.

Manila Cathedral.

Palacia Del Gobernardo, The first residence of the Spanish Governor General.
The Katipunan or known as KKK was a revolutionary society founded by anti-Spanish movement. The KKK Monument at Padre Burgos, near Taft Avenue. 
The homeless and the slums. My reason visiting Manila other than to meet my good friends was also to see with my own eyes the poverty in Philippines.

On my arrival, I saw a lot of sign and poster about APEC meeting. The meeting date was not far from the time I stay in Manila. The government were doing the best as they could to clear up the city from the street kids, but the country's leader that will come to Manila knows that third of the population in Philippines are poor and millions live in a slums.

My hostel located at Makati CBD, a business district with a modern high rise buildings and a huge luxury shopping mall. If you just staying around here when in Manila, you will never experienced the true Manila. Makati is just like any other business districts.


Makati CBD where I stayed when in Manila. 

This homeless family found their place to live on the roadside of a busy main road near Intramuros.
I found this interesting facts about homeless in Manila from www.homelessworldcup.org. A quarter of the population lives below the national poverty line (World Bank, 2012). It is estimated that around 44% of the urban population live in slums (UN Habitat, 2008). The capital, Manila, has the largest homeless population of any city in the world - 3.1 million. An estimated 1.2 million children in the Philippines sleep rough, with 70,000 in Manila (IBT, 2014).
This is considered a luxury slums compare the slums in Tondo.
When you travel outside Makati, the true Manila is right in front of you. The street kids playing on the street, people sleeping rough on the street, smell of urine, the poor scavenge for food or for any recycle items, a skinny street beggar in dirty torn shirts, a family with their carts full of stuff like mattress and their clothes, a tricycle driver touted the passer by try to make a living, try to survive day by day and all this what I saw really broke my heart. Nothing much I can do at that time but only to observe and reminds me how lucky I am and for this I should thanks my mum for gave birth at the right place.

Night Market and the happy Filipina. A. Avenue night market was the only night market I've been in manila. It was right in front of my hostel. Almost every night on my stay I visited A. Avenue night market and make friend with one of the seller there.

An open mic at the night market always the best entertainment. The world knows that Pinoy love singing and are a great singers. I have to say that this archipelago has the most singers and karaoke machines.  

There is no research or study has been done but I'm sure one of the reason contributes to their singing talents are Pinoy are one of the happiest people in the world. They can easily find contentment without the finer things in life, one of which grabbing that mic and warbling.

The downside part of the night market were the foods. There were nothing special about the food. In general there are almost the same kind of food.
 
Night market in Makati, just right in front of my hostel. If you expecting of variety and delicious food, night market in Makati does not offer that.

Deep fried or bbq foods were the most you can find at the night market.
Philippines cuisine. There's no stronger term to capture the essence of Asia's most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. Unlike their neighbouring countries, Vietnam, Thai, Indonesia and Malaysia which have a vast choice of the local cuisine. Many of their food are not spicy or not well used of spices. No Asian identity or ingredients in their food.

You can do some research about Filipino food and will come across with chicken adobo, lechon, tapa, longganisa, mechado, puchero and kaldereta. Mostly their food are rice and meat, a kind of meat with no expression.

Filipino are easily offended when you complained about their food. They are very defensive and telling you that you are not doing a good research about a good place to eat in Philippines.

In comparison with the country where I came from, the foods have the true identity of our own country. The taste is good, the unique essence are blended with the different ethnic and culture.

By the way food is not my main reason visiting Philippines.

Halo Halo one of the famous dessert I found in Manila. Nothing special, you can find something similar in any South East Asian countries.

GETTING AROUND in Manila is highly challenging. The public transport system in Manila are not well organised. The easiest public transport you could take is taxi. It does not hurt your wallet so much. LRT & MRT does exist here but the lines are not well spread out. I did used LRT & MRT for a couple of time from Ayala station, which is the nearest station to my hostel in Makati.


Jeepney is the cheapest and the most popular means of public transport in  Philippines. No two Jeepney are decorated the same way. Jeepneys were the left over from the US military jeeps from the World War II. 

In Metro Manila, we were always touted by the tricycles drivers. Tricycle is another ubiquitous means of transport in Manila. Unlike taxi, tricycle is only for a short distance ride that transfer you from another form of transportation to the other. 

The drivers park the tricycle in a queue waiting for the passengers at San Andres.
ACCOMMODATION. There are a lot of choice for the accommodations but not for a tight budget traveler. A very limited decent backpackers hostel in Manila and a bit pricey too.

I choose to stay at Our Melting Pot hostel on Makati Avenue due to the location is closed to my friends apartment. Overall the hostel is just average. The staff are friendly except the young girls that work in the evening shift doesn't seems have an interest to answer my questions. She seems more interested talking to the whites. Yes, I got it, unless if I am a westerner with blonde hair and sparkling blue eyes. What I have just a dull black hair with dandruff and yellow skin. So, I'm not in her list to be helpful.

Eventhough I only visited Manila, the experienced are exceeded to my expectation. I would love to come back to explore more on Manila and Pinoys.

The trip that was planned to visit my beloved friends changed into something adventure. Eventhough I explored the city quite well, but lack of photos due to my phone 'flat battery' syndrome. I left my iPhone 6 charger back home in New Zealand and bought the fake one in Kuala Lumpur and it does not work properly.

All the photos were taken with iPhone 6, very practical, good quality of photos and make traveling easy for you.


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