South East Asia - Winter 2012 travel blog




The last few days I've been resting in Manila trying to get rid of my cold. Not the worse cold I've ever had, but still, I'm glad I didn't go to the rices terraces in Batad.

Randy was working so I had to occupy myself. I usually got up around 9:00 or 9:30, and went for a latte in the late morning and spent an hour or so people watching and reading. One of my favourite spots was the Starbucks down the street. (Yeah, I can hear some of you laugh). But as I said, all the coffee shops neaby are Starbucks. Besides, this location had Nathan, the most adorable Starbucks' employee ever. He even remembered my name the second time I came by. :) I'm surprised by how well the locals speak and understand English, especially after my time in Laos!

On Tuesday I went back to the Greenbelt Mall on the skywalk, an elevated walkway that goes along the main street (passing though parking lots and buildings and avoiding traffic). I had my legs waxed (in preparation for the beach) and bought a few items. That night was my birthday dinner and Randy and I went to a Spanish restaurant (photos). I had a nice pumpkin soup and a seafood curry. We followed that by a walk on Burgos Street, a neon-lit avenue lined with girlie bars with names like Pussy Cats and High Heels, as well as massage parlors. But it was only 8:00 PM so not much action yet. :)

Nights feel as hot and humid as daytime here. It feels similar to Cambodia, but it rains more often.

On Wednesday, I went to the bank next door to withdraw some money from an ATM... and the machine swallowed my card! My mistake was to try to withdraw more than the limit of 10000 pesos. After telling you you're over the limit the machine just retains your card instead of asking you to enter a smaller amount! I've never seen anything like this in all my years of travel. First I was shocked and then pissed off. It took almost two full business days for me to get my card back as some special servicemen had to come to open the machine. I was there hassling them two or three times a day until I got my card back. Geez.

So basically I didn't do much on Wednesday (my cold was bugging me as well) but yesterday I managed to visit a local museum (Ayala museum) with a display of pre-colonial gold, some modern Philippino paintings, and some information on the country's history. Of course I managed to head out just as it started raining and at some point the rain was torrential and I had to stop as even covered sidewalks were getting lashed. Had another nice dinner in a French restaurant. Randy is not very keen on Philippino food so I haven't tried much yet. I'll try to change that on the last week of my trip.

This morning I'm finally leaving Manila (been here a week) for the island of Boracay, which apparently has one of the nicest white sand beach in the country. It's quite touristy as well, and pricier. Randy is coming along which is good as I might finally be able to take advantage of the 2-for-1 happy hours! After that I'll head out to some other Visaya islands on my own.

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