Just one big traffic jam

Manila Travel Blog

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View from my hotel 1

The day has finally come when my holiday starts. Five weeks in the Philippines. My very first trip to this part of the world so I am kind of exited about the prospect of the trip. It all starts out pretty early - I have to be in the airport way before I really want to be there. It will turn out that this day is setting the norm for my holiday - up too early almost everyday.

                         

Well I have to fly to London first to catch my plane to Hong Kong and then Manila. Flying to Heathrow is not really one thing I look forward to. Because I have to go to terminal five.

View from my hotel 2
Which got almost instant fame as the place which would surely loose your luggage. And when the Brits wanted someone to fix it all who did they call upon to sort it out? The Germans, the Swiss or the Dutch, Danes, Swedes or even the French. No they decided if they already had made a mess then it was up to the Italians to sort it all out. This would most likely change the status of the luggage from temporarily lost to permanently lost.

 

Well I went by Heathrow and got to Manila where I waited for my luggage. Well it seemed like they have sorted out the problems in Heathrow - my luggage arrived without any problems.

 

The first day is a bit boring - because I need to take care of several administrative matters which I did not have the possibility and foresight to take care of from home.

View from my hotel 3
First I need a plane ticket to a plane the next morning. For some reason it seems virtually impossible to purchase plane ticket in the Philippines if you live abroad but at least I made a reservation and were told I only had to be at a ticket office before 3pm to get it. Fortunately there was not much of a queue.

 

Next I have to go to the immigration authorities. For some reason you only get a 21 day visa when you enter the Philippines so I have to get a visa extension within the first 3 weeks and I don't know when I again will be in a place where they will extent my visa. So I take the train - the only part of the Manila transit system which seems to work reasonably well.

 

I get off and try to find a place where I can get a visa extension.

The lobby area
It takes a while but find an office which can get it all done in one hour. I kinda decide not to leave the office because it is raining outside. The boss is a man - off course what else could it be in the Philippines - and in the front office are a couple of girls who clearly have not got very much to do. One of them is trying to fall a sleep at her desk.

 

One hour pass along and my passport reappears with an extension on my visa to the Philippines I can know legally stay for 59 days instead of the 21 I got on arrival.

 

After the formalities are taken care of I will go out and do some sightseeing in Manila.

Manila Cathedral
I am right next to the old town so why not go out and have a look around. I have just come from Denmark where was pretty cold and here in the old town of Manila it is hot and humid like hell. So it is not the most pleasant walking tour I have ever done but I guess I have to get used to this climate if I am gonna survive the coming weeks.

 

I get down to a small church or more precisely I get to the other side of the street of it when the rain starts. And it is not the slow peaceful rain I am used to from home. No no it a massive shower which mean I will get socked if I try to cross the street to go in and see the museum. Hence I decide to wait until the rain slows down somewhat. And being a foreigner the cabdrivers and petty cab drivers don't really understand the concept of foreigners waiting until the rains stops.

Manila Cathedral
They all assume you want a ride immediately. Hence there is a steady stream of cabdrivers who use the horn to make me aware of their presents. After a while the rains dies down a bit and I venture across the street to have a look inside. Not the most interesting of museums but given the alternative of being outside getting wet it is quite good.

 

The rain has stopped when I get out of the museum and I want to walk back to my hotel seeing a bit of the city. I want to go and have a look at the big Rizal Park in town and the coast line. The park is a nice spot in the centre of the city. There is a lake area in the middle and for some reason the people in charge of the park has decided people will probably like to hear some sort of pop music if they sit down around the lake area - hence music is blasting out of the speakers around the lake.

The war destryed theis place
Just when you thought you may have found a peaceful spot in the general Manila madness you are let down again.

 

The rest of the town is basically one big traffic jam with an extreme number of jeppneys going down every road in some sort of order - which is impossible to understand for outsiders. Next to the traffic you will get constant reminders that this city is in a poor country homeless people is scattered across the city on most streets and small kids will come up and beg for money. Sure you can give the kids some cash but I don't know if they will actually use it for food or something else. And in any case it will be a very short term solution to a long term problem which may just be even worse if you start handing out cash to some of the kids. My first impression of Manila is not that positive and it immediately makes it to the second place on my list of least favoured cities in the world - it is still far behind LA I doubt there is any place in the world less pleasant than that hell hole.

Old church which had survived the bombing during the battle of Manila
My later visits to Manila did not really change my first impression of the city - it is not a place you should go unless you really have to.

 

Walking from the park you have to go by the USA embassy. And whereas most embassies are sort of small this is clearly not the case for the US embassy. It takes up about the same space at the shoreline like a few city blocks and it is generally not that pleasant looking. But it is a constant reminder of the close ties between the USA and its former colony.

 

And then it is time to go to the hotel and just put my feet up for a few minutes. Sure only a few minutes - after the flight I fall asleep and realize I do not have the energy to go out and search for a place to eat when I finally wakes up after a while - so the first diner in the Philippines got to be at the hotels restaurant.

Jeroenadmiraal says:
I am going there next month. I wonder what I will see.
Posted on: Jan 13, 2009
Isabetlog says:
I'm sorry to hear your stay in Manila wasn't quite pleasant. It's an easy city to hate, I admit, but that's if you only see the surface. I'm curious, that walking tour you mentioned, was it with a particular group or just you going around on your own? Had you had a proper guide, you would've been able to see beyond all the dirt, grime and traffic and maybe see the poetry of the city. We've actually got a very rich culture, which sadly, many Filipinos fail to realize or even appreciate. Our government isn't really of much help, but if you dig deeper, you'll find Manila's got much to offer. Unfortunately, the same can't be said about our museums - after WWII, Manila was the second most devastated city in the world next to Warsaw, and along with all the structural damage, destroyed 90% of our art.

In any case, I do hope you enjoyed the rest of you stay in the Philippines. Will have to come back here and read the rest of your blog tomorrow :)
Posted on: Jul 30, 2008
B-Town says:
I knew this would get featured just looking at it yesterday. Way to go Mick!

Well deserved my friend :-)
Posted on: Jul 30, 2008
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View from my hotel 1
View from my hotel 1
View from my hotel 2
View from my hotel 2
View from my hotel 3
View from my hotel 3
The lobby area
The lobby area
Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral
Manila Cathedral
The war destryed theis place
The war destryed theis place
Old church which had survived the …
Old church which had survived the…
The inside of the church
The inside of the church
Loudspeakers in Rizal Park
Loudspeakers in Rizal Park
Jeepneys
Jeepneys
More jeepneys
More jeepneys
Just jeepneys everywhere
Just jeepneys everywhere
Manila
photo by: Deats