If you will to ask me what is the purpose of visiting Manila, I would say it is just for a dinner with some online friends that I have never met.
The other reason is I found that I am falling into a typical tourist mentality is to treat Manila as a stepping stone to the other islands or places in Philippines. I have not taken time to take time to visit Manila again. As a matter of fact, I have not even visited most of the sights in Manila.
So I will take this opportunity to visit some of the sights that I have missed out.
I am impressed with Jetstar with their views on safety. The really make sure all the bags are stowed under or above the seats and all safety measures are in place by passengers. They even want my waist pouch is removed and place in the baggage compartment!
Cebu Pacific and Airphil Express failed in these area miserably.
It seems to be my first time flying into Manila from Singapore in mid morning. This is the first time I saw Corregidor Islands from the air. It really look like a tadpole. Too bad that my camera is not with me!
It has been also ages since I last in NAIA Terminal 1. To me it still looks the same but the toilets has been clearly renovated.
I was out of the terminal in 30mins, reasons due to I have no check-in luggage and the immigration queue for foreigners is short.
When I step out of the terminal, I tried to find buses going to the city but there seems to be none. So I have no choice but to take an airport taxi.
First stop, Salcedo Saturday Market and the fare is P300 with a toll of P20.
Salcedo Market is located at Salcedo Park, between L.P. Leviste and Tordesillas Streets. They are open from 0700hrs to 1400hrs and admission is free.
This market is very obvious for foodies. If you love food, this is a market to visit. Though it does not offer all the food from the different province in Philippines, but it does offer good food. In the market, I found food from Ilocos, Cebu, Zamboanga, Bacolod etc. The smell of grilled and barbecued food is so nice. I even saw expats selling their food.
The market is not huge but the variety is there. You can even find fresh vegetables, fishes and even live crabs!
I decide to take a walk around Makati while walking towards the heart Makati where all the malls are.
My destination is Greenbelt 1 and believe it or not, I got lost. I am walking in circles and I still can’t find my way despite asking for directions from the security guards. I am really bad in city navigation.
I got a room for a night at P1,141 with 24hr air con, 24hr wifi and TV. Durban Inn which is on the next street is heavily recommended by my friends so maybe I should try that next time.
Honestly, I found the location of Tune Makati is not that good. It’s surroundings is quite dark at night. There are only two small roads that leads to the hotel. One is a very quiet street with residential and the other is to one of a better lit road.
The downside is the room that I have, the shower area flood when I shower and it takes a bit of time to drain out the water.
Other than that, it is still a good hotel to stay.
After settle down and get the safe deposit fixed, I leave for my next destination; Intramuros.
I always resisted visiting this place which I do not know why. I finally decided to sign up for Carlos Celdran Walking tour of Intramuros.
The walk cost P1,100 and it last for about 3 hours.
There is a table near to Carlos where his minders will keep a look out on the participants. If you did not pay, they will remind you.
Once you have paid up, you will be given a sticker to put on your shirt to prove that you have paid for the tour.
I saw some visitors standing a bit of distance at the back of Carlos to listen to what Carlos have to say but they can’t see the pictures that Carlos have shown to the paying participants.
As I was late, the tour started when I arrive. This tour though it is termed as walking tour, but there actually isn’t much walking. I think we just walk to about 4 destinations and sit down to listen to Carlos performance. Oh yeah, he love to dramatise his speech.
Firstly, there are more than 100 participants. You actually do not need to reserve a seat. If their website publish that there is a tour, you just appear at Fort Santiago at the designated time and pay on the spot and you are in.
Secondly, not everyone can hear what he speaks. There is one time that suddenly our group break into two. One of the groups walks to the next destination and the other took the Kalesa. I am in a lost of what is happening so I just follow the group that walks.
Overall, I would still say that this walking tour is still worthwhile.
From this tour, I understand more about the history of Philippines. How its language evolved till today’s tagalog with heavy influence of American culture. Why the Spanish language did not make much inroads into the Philippines despite being controlled by Spain for more than 300 years.
I also finally understand that to me, why modern Manila has lost its soul. The destruction of the various Cathedrals in Intramuros by the Americans ironically is really a 400 years setback in Manila’s heritage.
It amazed me that many stone structures in Intramuros is actually made from volcanic ash.
So for those who are interested in history, I would recommend you to join this tour.
The trip ended with a treat of halo halo. I always wanted to try this Filipino dessert for a long time.
This dessert is just like our Ice Kachang or Chendol here but halo halo is so much sweeter. As I am aware, Filipinos have a sweet tooth and this dessert has brought it to a new level.
The tour ended around 1800hrs. I try to catch a cab to bring me to Bonifacio Global City (BGC) but without much success.
I reach Cafe Juanita in about 40mins. Cafe Juanita is located at The Fort in Burgos Circle. I foresee BGC is another Makati in the making. Roads are clean and places are filled with nice restaurants.
This dinner is actually organised by Tripadvisor Philippines community. This is the second time they are organising it but I missed the first one. Regular posters and Destination Experts in the Philippines forum gather here to share our thoughts and also to put a face on each ID.
I am really honoured to be invited to this event.
We have forum users flying in from Dumaguete (Oh, I am so curious about this place), Cebu (one should visit the neighbouring islands of Cebu, fantastic beaches), Melbourne and me from Singapore.
The Department of Tourism even send a representative to attend this gathering and a Hotel Consultant also attended the meeting.
Tripadvisor gotten to know our gathering had even send us a small token to express their appreciation.
It was a great night.
Woke up at 0700hrs after sleeping for 4 hours.
I only drag my butt out at 0830hrs. Washed up and check out of the hotel. Flag a taxi to bring my to Legazpi street.
My destination is actually Legazpi Weekend Market.
Legazpi Weekend Market is located at Corners of Rufino (formerly Herrera) and Legazpi Street.
Legazpi market is a combination of arts and crafts and food.
They also featured products from other province in the Philippines. The size of the market is comparable to Salcedo market.
I believe the prices of products at these markets will be higher compared to buying them in the respective province.
This time, I again lost my way so I hail a cab to bring me to Landmark.
Do some shopping there and ended up with a few bags.
Took a cab to Five Star bus terminal in Pasay for P120.
Board a bus bound for Dau Terminal for P150.
Reach Dau in 2 hours and took a trike for P70 to Devera Hotel in Perimeter Road.
Check-in and continue with shopping.
I met up with my ex-domestic helper for some catch up. She has also run into some financial problem and I just hope I can help her with something.
One may ask why am I so attached to my ex-domestic helper. The reason is she stayed on with our family when I am at the lowest point of my life despite having the need to get used to the new living culture and have to take care of my difficult kids.
For this, I really appreciate her effort.
After meeting her, I just continue to idle in Angeles City.
I walked down Fields Avenue hoping to see any Christmas or New Year decorations by the bars but I found none.
I was told that all the decorations has been taken down by 1st Jan. I was a little disappointed.
Woke up at 0330hrs and by 0400hrs, my airport transfer is ready. There are another two passengers going to the airport with me. So we share the van and each of us pay P300 which I find it reasonable.
Reach the airport and check-in and clear immigration within an hour.
An advice to travellers to Clark.
If you are leaving in the morning like 0600hrs to 0800hrs, try to reach the airport early.
Clark airport has re-organise their stations. During my departure, there are two counters collecting terminal fees and only 6 immigration counters.
Between 0600hrs and 0800hrs, there are 7 flights leaving and the immigration staff are overwhelmed by the number of passengers.
Flight is late due to long immigration queue but still reach Singapore on time.
Overall, I enjoyed this trip very much.
Finally I have a chance to meet up with other forum users and also I did not regret visiting Intramuros. I guess I will need to find another time to visit Intramuros and explore by myself.