AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Manila: Day 2


Posted on Feb 10, 2014

Today we planned to see lots of the city as our first full day Manila had been a disappointment and we had seen nowhere near as much as we’d hoped. We woke about 9 ish and went to have breakfast. The hostel was tiny, not at all equipped for the number of rooms or guests it could accommodate. The kitchen had a small table with 4 stools around it. There was a toaster with some bread on the side, along with a coffee machine. Basic. We sat and ate our toast and started looking at where we were going after Manila. This took a little longer than expected and we didn’t leave that table until almost 1pm. There are many reasons why this took so long but the main points are: Almost unusable internet A total lack of information regarding buses, accommodation, sights and anything useful for tourists We decided to eat before going into the city, luckily about a 30 second walk from the hostel is a great Falafel restaurant. We ate a delicious lunch then caught a taxi to San Agustin church. This trip took almost an hour as traffic in Manila was very bad. As churches go – especially after the number we’ve visited across Europe – it wasn’t very impressive, but after seeing nothing but Wats and statues of Buddha for the last few months it made a refreshing change. The church also had a monastery attached to it filled with lots of interesting artwork. But, as per usual, whenever there is anything interesting to look at there is also a sign stating no photography. Our next destination was Bahay Tsinoy, a museum dedicated to the influence China has had on the Philippines over the millennia. It started during the last ice age when the Philippines and been linked to China via dry land, over a ridge of which Taiwan is a part of. Then through the ages the Chinese have been a major trading partner with the Philippines and it ended with famous Filipinos who had Chinese ancestry. Overall it was a very interesting museum. We had the whole museum to ourselves. We left at 5pm just as it was closing. With nothing else to do as everything was closing at the temperature still on the uncomfortable side of 30’c we decided we might as well get a taxi back and then eat. The taxi took over 2 hours to get back to the hostel, of which the meter showed that we had been stationary for 80+ minutes. The traffic in Manila is like nothing we’ve ever seen anywhere else. Every road is totally...

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Manila: Day 1


Posted on Feb 10, 2014

Our first morning in Manila wasn’t so great. We had only eaten snacks the night before so we wanted to find some food and we needed an ATM because we had no Philippine Pesos. We wandered around the shopping mall which was next to the hotel. Unfortunately, the only food places it had was American style burger places, pizza restaurants and then the usual KFC, Pizza Hut, McDonalds. We picked the least worst option and had McDonalds for breakfast. The shopping centre also had an ATM so we got enough cash for a couple of days. With both our objectives complete we went back to the hotel to get our bags and leave. The hotel didn’t even ask about us still having two nights remaining. They quickly dealt with us and called a taxi to take us away. We had picked a hostel which had amazing reviews and was located in Makati the rich part of Manila where most of the large companies in the Philippines are based. This area was supposedly safer and had good restaurants. There was only one downside, Makati is not near the tourist bits of Manila. We decided that was the price to pay for staying in a nice area. We reached the hostel at almost midday. We had planned it like that so we could hopefully get straight into a room at the hostel. But no. We were told that to leave our bags and either go into the city or sit around and wait. We chose to go into the city. In other cities on this trip we have either stayed near the center or used public transport to get around, so in keeping with our usual habits we decided on public transport. BIG MISTAKE! The hostel is not near the MRT which is the train into the city centre. The hostel had said get a Jeepney towards Ayala Road, then another Jeepney to near the MRT station. A Jeepney is only useful for locals, they have specific routes which are not published or described anywhere, on the side of each Jeepney is the start point, end point and sometimes a name of a place it goes via. So unless the destination you want is a destination of a Jeepney they are impossible for tourists to use. Luckily we saw a Jeepney which had its destination as the road we wanted so we jumped in. It was very cheap but the driver clearly doesn’t care about the passengers, his brake and accelerator usage was incredibly violent meaning everyone had to hold on to counter the jerking of the stop, start, stop, start...

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Nong Khai to Manila


Posted on Feb 7, 2014

The train left Nong Khai at 18:15. We had arrived at the station early and spent almost an hour sitting in the carriage. Each carriage sleeps about 36, but for most of the time there was only about 6 other people in the carriage. Lucky us we were thinking, a nice peaceful journey back to Bangkok. Only one thing disturbed us as we sat waiting to depart and that was an overwhelming stench of super strong pee. Someone had been to the toilet and left the door open just a crack, that was enough for the truly horrible smell to make its way down the carriage. Minutes before the train was due to leave a large group of Japanese tourists appeared on the platform, we could hear them through the sealed window. They personified chaos and confusion. We immediately had a gut feeling they were going to be in our carriage and sure enough they made their way down the platform towards us. The noise they made when they entered the carriage was deafening, they talk at about the same volume we shout at. The kids just ran riot, they climbed on every surface, swung on everything they could, pulled every curtain near them, jumped on the seats and ran around. And shouted too! Great! Luckily they went to sleep after a couple of hours and were no more trouble. Unfortunately, yet again neither of us slept properly and we arrived in Bangkok at 06:30 feeling tired, sweaty and sticky (spending the day sightseeing then taking the overnight train without having a shower is a recipe for bad smells). Getting to the hotel was easy, the MRT links the train station with the Skytrain in Sukhumvit. We had booked a hotel about a 1 minute walk from the MRT station. Unfortunately the road around the station had been blocked by protestors as had the walkways over the road. This made the route slightly longer to the hotel, maybe 2 minutes instead of 1. At 7am there were very few people around anyway so wandering through the protest area with huge rucksacks wasn’t an issue. The hotel told us we couldn’t have the room until 2pm, so with everywhere still closed and lack of sleep kicking in we just sat on the sofa in reception. Annemarie started to doze off and I sat reading the news on my phone. After 45 minutes either the receptionist felt sorry for us, or the sight and smell repulsed her and she gave us a room. The catch was the room was at the front of the hotel, in the direction of the protestors....

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