I chose to come to Manila this January because I was able to get round trip tickets for about $180 last August. Like last year, I chose the cheapest flight I could find from Korea and went with it. People sometimes ask why I don’t just save up and go to a place I really want to go. Well, my problem is I want to go everywhere and one of the most expensive parts of traveling can be just getting there. Plus, economies and change rates are always changing. It’s not a bad idea to assess where one can go and get the biggest bang for their buck.
When I got to Manila International Airport (has a different name, but too lazy to look it up), everything was fine until I stepped outside. The traffic was horrendous. It probably didn’t help that I flew in on a Friday, mid afternoon, on a holiday weekend. I didn’t think about this when I booked my ticket! Saturday was the Feast of the Black Nazarene. This festival attracts over 3 million people. So, at the airport there were no taxis and a line of people waiting for a taxi that stretched on forever. I ended up getting persuaded into taking a shuttle van for 2,000 Pesos ($42) because I didn’t know what else to do. I also ended up sitting in traffic for about 4 hours and finally said I would just hike it to my hostel and hit up a McDonald’s before my bladder was about to burst. I don’t think I have ever been in a more congested and crazy driving situation in my life. Seriously, the driving here is so screwed up!
After McDonald’s, I walked through the neighborhood of Makati. This is basically the red-light district. As you walk through, prostitutes are trying to get your attention, along with poor kids trying to get money, or someone else trying to sell any number of items from water to cigs. I did finally make it to my hostel and also found I was basically in the middle of Korea town too Many of the restaurants and marts in the area were all Korean, including the signage. And I mean scary identical. For example, there was nothing in a small supermarket that wasn’t Korean and it had nearly an identical set up to the market near my home in Korea. Also, I then started to notice a lot of Korean men walking around. No Korean women (I wonder why?). I realized pretty quickly that this neighborhood is for Korean men to come and have the comforts of home while paying for the pleasures and company of Philipeano women. You catch my drift!
After I checked in to my hostel, I decided to hang out down in the lobby for a bit. Here I met a Scottish guy and his Polish girlfriend. They had also just arrived and we decided to take a walk around the neighborhood together to get our bearings and have a few beers.
I got up and headed down to the lobby around noon. Right away I ran into Steven, the Scottish fellow. I found out where some old Spanish buildings were in the city, so we all decided to go check out some history. We took a cab there and got to see Fort Santiago, the Cathedral of Manila, Church of San Agustin, and a number of other historical buildings as we walked through the old neighborhood. Honestly, the driving and hustle and bustle of Manila is crazy, so being in an area that was much more relaxing was nice. But, it didn’t come without the annoyances of people trying to sell me on a small tour around the area at every corner I turned.
That night, the Scottish/Polish couple and I decided to go out for a Korean BBQ. It was cool to show them something I know very well. I was amazed at how authentic tasting all the food was. It was also their first taste of soju. That didn’t feel good the next morning, which is also authentic. It was also interesting to watch some of the Korean men interact with their Philipeano girls. All of the men I witnessed projected a superior arrogance. I feel bad for the women who married these a-holes.
I spent most of the day just trying to figure out where to go next, which was really stressing me out. I was supposed to check-out, but extended my stay one more night. I finally decided to book a fight to Cebu for $125. That’s what I get for booking the day before and not planning ahead. Still, I can live with that price and I look forward to getting out of Manila to see something new tomorrow! I was originally going to take a night bus to a place with whale sharks to dive with, but read that recently many ventures out to find them have failed. I guess I can do that near Cebu anyways, so we’ll see when that time comes!