Manila, the Philippines

Downtown Manila

The Pacific ocean is wide, wider than a look a world map would suggest. My travelling time to Singapore from Honolulu was to be 23 hours first through a 11 hour flight to Manilla and then a 3 hours and a half flight to Singapore with a good 8 hours of layover in between. Since spending the better part of my day killing time in the Manilla airport international terminal did no sound very appealing, I decided to pass the customs and go walk around the Filipino capital for a couple of hours.

A local market in Manila
A local market in Manila

I had to negotiate my taxi ride pretty hard with several threats of opening the door and getting out but eventually I managed to reach the city. My apologies for being an asshole tourist mr cab driver, but the fact that I’m leaving from the airport does not justify multiplying your fare by 8. The make a short list short, all I had time to visit was the Rizal park, the Intramuros (old town), a UNESCO world heritage church and the Chinatown. Add to that a few intrusions into the local life at markets, street food stalls and churches and that was it for my excursion into Manila. Much to the disappointment of all these very feminine looking men that seem to have a keen interest in me, that was all I could cram into the couple of hours I had away from the airport.

Jeepneys, Manila's most popular way to get around
Jeepneys, Manila’s most popular way to get around

Manila, being situated in a developing nation and having had a long history of Spanish colonial rule, had much in common with state capitals of Central-America I found. It smells, its dirty, its hot, save a couple of nice older buildings, its full of ugly, circulation is a huge mess, manifestation of abject poverty are abundant (the amount of street children…) and I bet it can be visited in a day or two. But on another level, its exhilarating to be in and its an overwhelming feast for the senses. It’s definitely a departure from Honolulu and a nice foretaste to what is coming my way in South-East Asia. I’m travelling again.

See you another time Philippines.

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