Philippines | Manila Chaos

Having just left the ease of Taiwan, Manila has been a bit of a challenge for us. Luckily, our hotel let us check in early, so we got to nap most of the morning, though we did spot a mouse and cockroach in our room within 5 minutes of each other. After that, it was pretty rough going. We quickly realized that we have no idea how to find food in the Philippines… Considering the limitless street foods in most of Asia, this was rather surprising. There seemed to be no restaurants in sight! Frantic with hunger, we finally sauntered into the Manila Hotel, which is one of the fanciest places in the city – not our usual style of backpacking, to be sure. A lot of businesses here have armed guards outside (including Starbucks!), and the Manila Hotel is no exception. Gates and police galore welcome you to the arched main hall, but not before running your bags through security, walking through metal detectors, and being rubbed down. Here, we had some sandwiches, priced on par with our hotel room, and bathed in the air conditioning until we felt ready to emerge and again face the chaos of city streets.

Guys, this trip was tough on us. I struggled to find something charming to grasp to, but was met with aggressive street vendors and jarring touts. Many parts of Manila simply did not feel comfortably safe.However, there was light in the darkness yet! Despite the extreme heat, we walked through the park and market, where we ate some (delicious!) fried bananas from a vendor. Then, off to Intramuros, a historic neighborhood (built in 1571) that still envelopes the Manila Cathedral and other remnants of Spanish architecture. Though the cathedral, which has been destroyed several times by fire, typhoon, earthquake, and war, is rather pretty, and the area a bit more lively, it is still largely lacking any structure. It is hard to see how the poverty spills into the streets. Truth be told, we are ready to move on from the commotion of Manila. Perhaps we will find escape in the calming waters of Anilao…



2 Responses to “Philippines | Manila Chaos”
  1. Joshua says:

    Hello, I just read this post of yours and what you saw is the physical aspect of Manila. I bet you didn’t do research before you went here in Philippines. Manila is not in chaos because you might have just stumbled in the worst place. Try going to Palawan, or Boracay, Pagudpud, Sagada, Baguio, La Union, and many more. Your opinion about Philippines will probably change.

    Nevertheless, thanks for coming here in our country. I just hope you can appreciate more about things that doesn’t only concern of physical appearance but some aspects as well like culture and customs.

    • ciaourte says:

      Joshua, thanks for your honest words! As we moved on, we found enjoyment in much of the nature in the Philippines, but still found some of the aspects difficult to deal with. I feel it would have been much wiser to have hired a local guide to explore Manila. Also, as I have traveled more and more, I have found that the enjoyment of place can be very closely linked with the experience as a whole. Perhaps we were simply not ready for the ‘chaos’ of Manila. (Notice that I have edited my piece; as time has passed, I grew to think of Manila in a way that is not necessarily reflective of my original experience.) I feel like I am sure to give Manila another try, if only for the desire to see the northern rice fields of your country. And to do some more of that glorious diving!

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