13.01.2014 - 16.01.2014 30 °C
Where do we start? After months of planning, many years putting off travel due to work, study and other commitments - we've finally bit the bullet and we're away on an adventure. For me I think the strangest things will be having to live out of a backpack and not going back to work for a while!
We kicked off our trip staying at the Armada Hotel, which was in Malate within walking distance to Manila Bay as well as Rizal Park and Intramuros. However we quickly found out from walking along the waterfront to Rizal Park, that white foreigners are probably best to catch taxis everywhere as we became target to a number of blatantly obvious pickpocket attempts. Once we got used to this, despite the traffic it was a fairly easy to get around. Each traffic light stop was an interesting experience, with each taxi driver making sure our doors were locked so that beggars and car sellers/vendors (who sold everything from papers to drinks to hat racks!) could not open the doors to hassle us. A large number of Filipinos get around in Jeepneys, but we stuck to the taxis as we couldn't figure out how they worked and the lack of air conditioning was certainly a turn off! The highlight for us was probably Intramuros a closed off city within the city that used to be occupied by the Spanish. The country appears to be heavily influenced by its Spanish background in addition to America. We were surprised to see that every second kid had a basketball in his hand rather than a soccer ball and the American food chains, baseball caps and the 1km line at the United States embassy (which was huge).
Although we are on a backpacker budget we spent a fair bit of time at the local malls, first we went to SM City Manila which was an interesting experience with the Males and Females put in seperate lines to go through security which included x-ray machines and pat downs. We seemed to get lighter treatment than the locals though. We then went to Mall of Asia one of the largest malls in the world, so large that there was an ice rink right in the middle as well as thousands of shops aimed at expats and tourists hoping to snap up a bargain.
Day three we went to Greenbelt, which is located in Makati. Although a much smaller and older shopping centre than Mall of Asia, the five wings were seperated by beautiful gardens and had an awesome entertainment area which we stayed at sipping cheap cocktails and cheap San Miguels! We enjoyed our time in Manila but after three days we were certainly pining for some beach and luxury in Borocay after everything we've heard about it.