2/3/10 12:13 PM
We got in last night around Midnight in Manila. Our hotel provided transport from the airport and we got a taste of Manila’s traffic and night-life. For 1 am on a Tuesday night this place is hopping! There was a lot of traffic, tons of people walking around and plenty of stores open. The ride was short, yet harrowing. Traffic rules and lanes are more suggestions than RULES, Vehicles is a rather broad term here – with regulation vans and cars mixed in with bicycles, motorbikes, Jeepneys and myriad other contraptions. The best bet was to avoid watching out the window and holding on for dear life.
We got to our apartment and were very pleasantly surprised. We have a very large (bigger than our apartment) 2 bed 2 bath apartment with living room, kitchen, dining room and 3 balconies. The hotel has a pool, restaurant and work out room as well. We are located about 4 blocks from Manila Bay, 2 blocks from the hospital and 3 blocks from a humungous mall.
I got about 3 hours of sleep before we woke up and had a group breakfast. We had a terrific buffet breakfast at another nearby hotel on the 21st floor. There was an amazing view from all 4 sides and we kind of got our bearings. I think already I’m going to enjoy the many different fruits. There is a large mix of foods here, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and traditional Philippino.
Along the roads there are many peddlers, multiple money changers and of course, beggars. People are sleeping and living on the street all around us – this is definitely the most exposure I’ve had to begging and homeless children. Most of the peddlers will leave you alone if you say “no”, but the kids will walk next to you for blocks, bare, dirty feet slapping on the concrete and hands reaching into pockets or held out for money.
After breakfast we visited Manila Baywalk and saw the infamous Bay. We will go down there for sunset as it is supposed to be gorgeous. Next we hit up the large mall nearby. (Not to be confused with Mall of Asia – the size of the airport which we’ll go to later on.) There were many many shops, some familiar, dozens of restaurants and a movie theater in the 4 level mall. We stopped at a hardware store to get a 3prong-2prong adapter and then did some window shopping before going to the grocery store for some necessities.
Next up is a trip to the US Embassy which is also near our hotel.
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