We have arrived in Manila, the Philippines! Landing in a beautiful 33 degree heat, I realised how British I am as I sweated buckets and frantically fanned myself whilst waiting for my luggage. We’re only taking a short stop here for the night, as we’re jetting off again tomorrow to go to Palawan to make the most of the exotic islands here.
We stood out like a sore thumb against everyone else when trying to get a taxi outside the airport. You could tell because the second we stepped outside we were basically rugby tackled by taxi drivers, all surrounding us shouting “taxi taxi”. They followed us and when we walked away and didn’t want to take no for an answer. These guys made the salesman outside our hotel in Hong Kong seem non- existent! Take note- if you ever go to Manila airport, take a “yellow taxi” rather than “regular”. The regular taxis will only try and rip you off.
Another thing to bare in mind is that the traffic in the capital is crazy! Anyone who thinks London traffic is bad, will think it’s a breeze in comparison! Always give yourself extra time to get places- it’s took us two hours to drive 11km to our accommodation! But it was a fun journey looking out the window and admiring life in Manila and playing “count the mopeds’ in my head.
It seems very westernised here. Everything is in English and it had a very American vibe driving through the city, with its green road signs floating above the middle of the road and stereotypical American, enthusiastic radio station.
We had a nightmare trying to get to our digs. Our phones had no internet and we couldn’t get hold of the man whose house we were staying at. The taxi man didn’t know where we were going either and we started to worry. Bless him he went so out of the way for us! He stopped and got Out on multiple occasions and asked for directions and even borrowed someones phone to call the man whose apartment we’re staying in! He didn’t stop until he was outside the apartment block with us and knew that we were safe.
We paid £11 between us for our own studio apartment with a roof top terrace with a jaw dropping view of Manila and its lights. Just like Hong Kong, Manila has its misty, foggy air, allowing you to only see so far ahead.
Everybody here is so, so friendly. It’s crazy how much each place feels so different to the next. I felt so happy witnessing from the cab window what a close knit community it seems here. Some People were busking and dancing in the streets, others were all chilling playing pool. The whole vibe just felt like everyone was one big, happy family. Every twist and turn even more full of life.
Although it’s summer here, it was dark by 6:30pm because of its place nearer the equator.
Once we’d settled, we took a walk to find a restaurant. Everywhere we went served chicken skin or chicken feet or something worse and even if I wasn’t vegetarian I still wouldn’t go there! The funniest thing was how everyone stared at us like we were some sort of aliens or celebrities. At one point when we were stood trying to cross a road for about ten minutes, we noticed three heads hilariously popped up behind a fence across the road. Three heads turned to four, then five, then six! People were laughing with eyes fixated on us and even when you look back they don’t look away. I don’t think we’ve ever laughed so much!
They have these weird metal buses that people in the street just run and jump into the back of once they’ve slowed down!
After wondering aimlessly through the different alleyways and pathways, we grabbed some instant noodles, beer, fruit and Cheetos from a Supermarket, once again being greeted and smiled at by the locals, before heading back to our cute little apartment.
I’m so excited to be starting our island hopping tomorrow, but am also buzzing to come back here and spend one more night at the end of our trip. Observing the caring community here is something I won’t forget (even though I didn’t feel a part of it, I felt more like an alien)! The way of life here is so different and the values seem so much more down to earth in comparison to the values in Western civilisation.