Wednesday, 25 February 2009

The Philippines: Manila

a jeepney, manila

As we trundled along Nathan Road, Hong Kong, in the semi-darkness to catch the first airport bus of the day, A was horrified to accidentally run over a homeless man’s foot with her suitcase. Then at the check in desk at the airport we were both asked if we were pregnant, which seemed a bit odd, and made me feel slightly paranoid! It was too early for the food shops to be open, so I was extremely glad when I got my airplane meal, which was amazing. I even asked for (and got) another chocolate muffin.

manila bay promenade

Arriving in Manila, I felt as if I was walking through a viscous substance rather than air, it was so humid. After seeming to spend the entire journey in a traffic jam, our taxi finally reached our hostel, the Manila Bay, where we found that the room we booked didn’t exist. This result in a long wrangle with the management, which after our early start was the last thing we were in the mood for, but eventually they agreed to let us have the room for cheaper as it lacked several of the facilities that we had been promised.

a street in intramuros
We went out to explore, and apart from amusement at the colourful jeepneys that crowd the street were not impressed by what we saw. The place is truly filthy, and bear in mind that the city I live in is one of the most polluted in China and I live in one of the more ‘ghetto’ districts. We were continually pursued by child beggars and aggressive hawkers. We wanted to have a relaxing walk along the promenade, but it was impossible to be left alone for more than a few minutes.

cathedral, intramuros

We had a long, hot walk to the Intramuros area, which is the historic walled area of the city, and seems to be the only thing not razed during the Second World War. We were only there for about twenty minutes before heading back to the hostel: it was not particularly interesting or attractive, we were continually harassed, and the combination of heat and exhaustion were making us feel quite ill.

When we got back to the hostel we both ended up curled up on the bed (we were having to share a double), sleeping like a pair of cats. That evening I squashed a giant bug on the mirror with my flip flop. We were both glad to be heading to Puera Galera, an island a few hours away, in the morning.

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