christmas in Manila

Christmas in Manila

I have a long list of places I want to visit. I have a very short list of places I do not want to go.  Manila.  I think that is the whole list.  But Melane says we are going to Manila for Christmas to visit her sister.  So Manila it is.  Melane wants to buy a few dozen shoes at a wholesale joint there and bring them back to Iloilo to sell.  That would be over the weight requirement allowed in the plane, and she wants to visit her family in Antique, so she wants to take a bus back.  Yes, a bus from Manila… for those of you following along… yes Manila is on another island than Iloilo.  You take a ro-ro bus.  Roll on-roll off ferry.  So I make flights reservations for the 3 of us to get there, and just a flight for me back.  I cannot do a 24 hour bus ride.  Just can’t face it right now ha ha. 
This is one of the busiest travel seasons so a lot of hotels are filled up already.  Also most are minimum p2,500 per night (about $60 USD).  Having a 3rd person with us makes it harder to find a room.  Many are 2 person only.  So I let Melane and her sister find accommodations.  I realize what this means… no aircon, Filipino plumbing etc…  Well they find an apartment we can get for p2,000 for the whole week!  I don’t care how bad it is – for that price I will take it.  I took some video in Manila and most of it somehow was of the apartment we stayed at:

It was a basic Filipino apartment.  The rooms are claustrophobically small.  The plumbing a joke – almost nonexistent.  But hotels are at least p2,500 for a night so p2,000 ($46 USD) for the whole week – I will be ok.  In the video I mention the water issues but don’t really explain it.  So here goes.  The water is turned on only a few hours each day.  Usually in the evening.  So you have to fill all your water buckets when the water is on so you have water throughout the day to wash and flush the toilet with.  The water, of course, is not potable so you have to buy 5 gallon jugs of drinking water.  I guess it is clean enough to bathe & do dishes… everyone does, and don’t seem to die.  We have water all the time at home but the well water is not potable either.  I had no real problems with the apartment.  And I think in the video it might sound like I am complaining but really I was amused by the whole thing!
The Mall of Asia is one of the big touristy things to do in Manila.  And I can see why.  It is GIANT!  And I ate at Wendy’s and got a real Frosty 🙂  The burger was about like all the other Filipino burgers, meaning bad.  But the Frosty kicked ass!  Hey… it has been a year, OK?  The mall is very nice. It is laid out well, clean, tons of restaurants.  But it just did not have the kind of stores I like.  It was more of a girls mall, I thought.  It is owned by SM and I felt SM Megamall was more to my liking.  But it was just a regular mall.  Mall of Asia is pretty cool.  And in the pic below you can see the 3 butts I was following all day.  So it was a great day! 

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For christmas eve dinner the girls had spaghetti & fruit salad from McDonalds.  I had some greasy street burgers.  And we had some bananas & oranges. Happy holidays ha ha!

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To get anywhere in Manila you have to take various combinations of bus, trike, jeepney, train, and taxi – and it is a minimum 2 hours to get anywhere!  On Christmas day we went to Ocean Park.  After the train we took a trike for the last stage of the trip.  I saw a rope wrapped around the drivers hand was at first a bit confused.  Then I noticed the entire bike looked homemade… and the engine was a lawn mower engine.  It died in the middle of the intersection and without missing a beat he leans over, wraps the rope and pulls.  It started right up and we were moving again.  Craziest thing I have seen in a long time.   In the pics below you can see the lawn mower engine, and the exposed battery.  It was not meant to be a pic of Che’s butt – but a pic of the battery.  I promise… but it is a cute butt.  Oh and the best part of the trike was it was belt drive!  He had a wooden box built around the belt, and the squealing was crazy loud.

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One of the cooler rooms at Ocean Park was the jellyfish room.  It had these tubes full of jelly fish, cool lighting, and mirrors on the walls.  So the room looked HUGE.  It looked like there were hundreds of tubes but probably had 40.  There was a sign that said “no flash photography”.  Of course most people ignored it because the room was dark.  I was getting good pics with no flash so was fine.  But I decided to experiment.  The 2 pics below are basically the same shot, near a mirrored wall.  One is without flash, one with flash.  I was surprised at how much the flash wiped out the room.  Lighting it up not only ruined the color effects it also pretty much erased the jelly fish!  There are going to be some upset and confused folks when they look at their pics later.  Ocean Park was pretty cool.  The Dallas world Aquarium is better, I think.  And Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX blows them all away!  But it was much better than I expected.

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Rizal Park was immense!  They say it is usually not too crowded but since it was Christmas day the park was packed so full you could barely move.  I would prefer to be there on a less crowded day.  But it was a nice park.  The water show was pretty cool too.  Good fountain and even had fireballs.  In the video above I have a short clip of the fountain/fire.  Lots of street food and kites at the park.

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Here are all the girls out shoe shopping. It Is cousin Rogena, sister Joy, sister-in-law Che, Melane, and sister Hazel.   Melane bought 3 dozen pair at a wholesale shop and is trying to sell them all here at home.  So far she has sold a lot of them.  If she sells them all she should almost triple her money.  Not too shabby. 

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Overall I guess Manila is ok.  Way too crowded for me – and I am a city boy.  But this is crowded beyond crowded.  Traffic is at a constant almost gridlock.  And like I said it is about 2 hours to get anywhere.  So I would rather go back to Boracay ha ha.  As a matter of fact next month is my one year anniversary of moving to the Philippines and Melane and I are going back to Boracay.  I guarantee that will be an interesting blog post!  See you guys next month 

 

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