Manila Travel Blog

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Day 12 - The Thrilla In Manila

Big thanks to my buddy Edgar, “Abe,” as we call him. An old colleague and friend of mine who is Filipino-American, still has family over there, and when he heard that I was headed here, he arranged for his sisters, and brothers-in-law to pick me up from the airport and treat me to a proper layover in town. A 12 hour layover, enough time to check out the famed neighborhood of Intramuros, some really old colonial churches, and the oldest Chinatown in the world (outside of China, duh)….not to mention they’re going to take me to the best food joints in the city…man did I get lucky!

I arrived in Manila at 0530.

By the time I cleared immigration, Joe Joe, Cris, and Jocelyn pulled up outside the terminal to meet me. We chatted about all kinds of things on the ride to Intramuros. Intramuros is an old walled-off chunk of city that the Spanish used as a fort complex in the colonial period. They were here from the 1500s-1800s so there is a lot of Spanish influence in their buildings and culture. We strolled along the wall for awhile with its many old cannons still lining its perimeter. Then we stopped into a restaurant in a very old building for breakfast. I had scrambled eggs with garlic rice and longaniza, which is a type of Philippine sausage. I have to admit that although I liked its crispiness, I found it to be very salty.

Next we visited a handful of beautiful churches, I can’t remember all their names, but I do remember Manila Cathedral Basilica and San Augustin Church. All were impressive. After this we toured Fort Santiago which has a lot of historic value. There were many rooms and presentations dedicated to The Philippines’ national hero, Jose Rizal. Rizal was an opthamologist by trade, but also a poet, a writer, and a Filipino freedom fighter. He took up arms by way of his words…and the Spanish didn’t like that. They executed him in December of 1896. He is widely considered to be the George Washington of the Philippines. I even got to go down inside the dungeons of this fort where he was imprisoned, which I’m sure was not a nice place to be back then. There was even a few inches of water covering the floor due to the river being elevated outside.

It reminded me of the slave chamber I saw last year in Zanzibar that also filled with significant water depending on the tides. What a lousy place to be kept imprisoned.

Finally, it was off to Makati where my hosts took me to their house and gave me homemade adobo to try. How cool. I got to see my friend Abe’s childhood home, and if you’re reading this Abe, we got a laugh at your expense when your sisters told me stories about you, and the fact that you really can’t swim, haha! We then enjoyed lunch at a restaurant in the Bonafacio Global City, traditional Filipino food (sisig and a chicken curry). 

By then it was getting to be time to take me back to the airport. I bid my farewell to my new friends who treated me just like family. They picked me up from the airport, took me to see some great sights, made me homemade Filipino food, and refused to allow me to pay for anything… not breakfast, not lunch, not even the admission ticket to the fort.

Now that is good Filipino hospitality. What a great day we had! 

Once at the airport, to my dismay, I realized again that my flight was assigned to terminal 2… the only terminal with a lounge that I do not have access to. I slipped into a bathroom to put on a new shirt (I had spent my whole morning and afternoon profusely sweating through the previous T-shirt). It’s probably the one thing about SE Asia that I will never adapt to. I’ve been through the hot months in this region before and it turns me into a puddle, there is no escaping it. I even got creative trying to freshen up and used the bum gun in the bathroom to spray myself down a bit and then patted myself dry with paper towels I took off the wall. What is the bum gun you ask? Well in Asian culture they don’t normally use toilet paper.

They see it as more hygienic to have either a bidet (which is a spray pipe inside the toilet that washes off your “area” at the touch of a button, or a “bum gun” which is a spray hose hanging next to the toilet where you manually aim it to wash your, ahem, “area.” Don’t worry, the hose itself is not dirty and the water coming from it was clean. So I freshened up the best I could being that I had no lounge access, and then I made my way to my flight. 

Now for the Manila-Honolulu leg, the cost to upgrade from economy to business is $800. However Philippine Airlines also has a bidding system for empty first class seats as a way to make something for them when they are still unfilled within 24 hours of the flight. I had put in a generous bid, however it wasn’t $800 and I didn’t get the seat.

Why is this important, because the internet lied to me. told me that this aircraft was an A340 with a 2-4-2 config. When I boarded I nearly wanted to scream, another A330 in a 3-3-3!!! 

#@%$^##$#%$^$#^!!!! Two saving graces occurred though they preserved my sanity. The first was that I was able to move to an aisle seat with no one in the middle seat next to me, and the second is that due to the jet stream tailwind this flight will clock in an hour shorter than the flight to here at 9.5 hours. Thank goodness because 10.5 hours is rough when you’re crammed in like Koreans on the Seoul Metro (and that is not a racial statement, I’m speaking from the experience of living in Korea for a year - trust me).

TravelingChris says:
Yes, it was a great day. I'm sure we'll bump into each other at a meetup eventually. I am considering the Budapest NYE meetup as I'll be living on the east coast of the US by then.
Posted on: Jun 08, 2017
nolan says:
Good that you got to tour Intramuros and BGC - that is the usual touristy drive I do when TravBuddies arrive in Manila. Too bad we couldn't meet as I work Saturdays but it's nice to know you had a great family to host you during your layover!
Posted on: Jun 08, 2017
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