Monday 15 September 2014 – Thursday 18 September 2014
The Philippines hit my radar about 6 months ago – previously I had never considered it as a holiday destination. I had briefly looked into Boracay but that was it.
When I got the opportunity to check it out for work I jumped at the chance. I was going to be in Singapore anyway and its only 3.5 hours to Manila. So off we go – destination Manila.
We rock up to the Singapore Airport for our Singapore Airlines flight – everything goes smoothly, check in the flight and before we know it we are in Manila. Whisked through customs and immigration and into the hotel car on the way to the hotel.
We had heard a lot of bad stories about Manila traffic and arriving at 5:45 in the afternoon in the rain we were expecting the worst. But 20 minutes later we are at the hotel.
Check in happens seamlessly and courteously. We quickly freshen up head out looking for somewhere to eat.
Makati is the business centre in Manila and luckily right across the street from the hotel is the Greenbelt Shopping Centre, which has a huge selection of upmarket shops and a good selection of restaurants. There is a nice combination of locals and tourist (more locals).
Manila is a massive city – its actually a conglomerate of 16 cities that combined has around 25 million. But is totally unlike other Asian cities we have visited.
Here is a summary of our observations:
Security – is tight every hotel, every shopping centre, every office block has security guards at the door that inspect your handbag or backpack. Standard issue inspection gear is a drumstick or a mirror on a stick!
Food – is cheap
Booze – is very cheap – a 16 oz draft beef at a restaurant is A$2.5. A huge margarita is A$4.40. At one restaurant they had bottomless margaritas for A$12.50. That’s restaurant prices folks!
Locals – speak with an American ascent and the cultures is very Americanised. Their favourite sport in the Philippines is Basketball which is hilarious as all Filipinos are short.
Transport is cheap – a 30 minute taxi ride will cost about A$3.50 – A$5. Other option include air-conditioned buses, buses and Jeepneys.
Jeepneys – are the old World War 2 style Jeeps that have been transformed into cheap, blinged out public transport. There are thousands on them on the road and they contribute greatly to the air pollution.
Taxi drivers – will try and rip you off
Traffic – we didn’t have a real bad experience with the traffic as we tended to travel in non-peak hours. But its infamous and the drivers have very little regard for road rules (presuming of course there are any road rules).