Edit Blog Post
Published: December 11th 2009
We arrived in the evening at Ninoy Aquino international airport in Manila after a two hour flight from Hong Kong. After a lot of confusion we finally made it to our hostel in Santa Cruz, the Red Carabao. I was very impressed with the place, extremely clean and very pleasant staff. There was also a full kitchen so we went to the supermarket and picked up supplies like oatmeal, fruits, peanut butter, bread, etc. We also met a few other backpackers and I picked their brains for some info on areas they've been that we'd be heading to eventually. I'm still quite new to this whole backpacking thing, so I have a lot to learn.
The following day when we awoke we ate and headed out, and boy did we get some good old culture shock. The area we were staying in, apart from the actual hostel building, was kind of like a shanty town. It wasn't very clean and there were street vendors all over. Some people were even taking showers on the sides of the street. We rode a tricycle (motorcycle with attached passenger area to the a nearby mall to look for a few items. It seems
like Filipinos are mall crazy as there are dozens of malls in Manila alone, although half of them live on less than two dollars a day. Also apart from the malls themselves, the infrastructure in general is atrocious. Many houses and shops seem to be held together with whatever materials can be found. Filipinos in general seem to be very helpful and seem to be happy.
We took the train into downtown Manila and walked around for a while checking out Malate and Manila Bay. For the first time in my life, I was a minority (appearance wise). People around me would just stare. Not many Caucasians to be seen in general, and now everyone thinks Billy is a Filipino so he fits in perfectly. The tables have turned! I was getting hassled quite a bit to buy all sorts of crap which I had to repeatedly decline, sometimes rather forcefully. Another thing I feel I'll have to become accustomed to in some places. I witnessed many children roaming the streets at all hours trying to hustle some pesos any way they can. Some would approach me while holding their stomachs and say things like "Sir I'm hungry" and
putting out their hands for some coins. I didn't want to give money but gave some peanuts or a fruit instead when I had some on me. A lot of people take an interest in where we're from and what we're doing.
I also went into a small side street gym near the hostel to train as I've become very interested in bodybuilding over the last recent years, and was hoping to at least do some training from time to time while on the road. Most everyone training inside was a bit surprised to see some foreign guy randomly stroll in. My training went relatively well although with such humidity I was sweating buckets and must have drank about three liters of water - at least! A couple of people were asking me training questions and I literally had a lineup of people wanting to take turns spotting me. The rest of the time people were watching me train and trying out some of the exercises I was doing. To be fair, I don't consider myself to be anything special physique wise but I guess sometimes you get that novelty factor effect. Maybe similar to that average guy that
stands out for having an accent or something.
Our time spent in Manila consisted mainly of walking around and seeing the sites like Makati city. I also got a Shiatsu massage and got stretched every which way. One hour came out to around six dollars. I also went to see the movie 2012 one night and that came to around three dollars for a ticket. The Chinese Cemetary was near the hostel and we visited that often as well. I can't say it's a very nice city by any stretch but it does have it's charms, albeit in a dirty and disorganized way. I didn't really like Manila at first but it seems like it's growing on me.
Tot: 0.03s; Tpl: 0.018s; cc: 10; qc: 23; dbt: 0.0054s; 1; m:saturn w:www (22.214.171.124); sld: 2;
; mem: 1.2mb