Prior to World War II, Manila was known as the “Pearl of the Orient,” now it is just an over crowded asian city with as much smog as Beijing and the smell of Calcutta. I did not find much about Manila to make me like it. It’s worth maybe a day or two at most perhaps a few days longer if you use it as a base for day trips. I’ve ruled it out as a place I might want to live in. I did encounter the best scam I’ve ever come across there, perhaps I’ll write about that later.
There were about 10 people at the guest house in Manila that would hang out from time to time for dinner and adventures. One of them had a friend of a friend in Manila and she invited some of us to a friends house for drinks. For 5 hours we drank Philippines style. One person had a glass, ice and the beer and would serve it round robin to the rest of us. Our hostess, who was pregnant, was not drinking. It was a great way to drink and it was more social. I’ve seldom drank for so long without getting drunk.
My timing in Manila was almost always bad. I’d either get bad information about when something started or would just happen to be there when things were closed. Intramuros the old part of the city, was not as beautiful as I’d hoped. The cathedral was closed for repairs and the monastery was closed for lunch. A bunch of us went over to China Town the day after Chinese New Years, we were given bad info on which day was the big day, but had a nice dinner.
On my last day in Manila 3 of us went on a day trip to the Taal Volcano, about 3 hours transport each way. There is a lake inside the volcano, which itself is in a lake which is in a very large volcano. It was fun climbing up to the top and enjoying the view. To get there it’s a 2 hour bus ride, a half hour on a tricycle and a half hour boat ride.
The food. There is nothing wrong with the food in the Philippines, there is also nothing to get excited about. I’ve not come across a single dish that makes my taste buds stand up and shout. The best thing about this country are it’s people. They are outgoing, happy, friendly and courteous. I’ve never met and interacted with so many locals before.