Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Project Visayas - Day 1 (Manila)

My fren and I planned for this trip half a year before it started. We managed to get cheap air tickets which cost us around RM750 (for 2 international flights, 3 domestic flights and 1 ferry ride - so I considered it cheap enough as it might take years to get to the Philipines on raft, kiddin). I was very excited back then as this is my 1st real out-of-Malaysia travel trip. 

Christmas trees at the airport
Our Cebu Pacific flight to Manila was scheduled at 1.20 am. It was a sound and safe night flight I fell asleep despite the discomforts from sitting in a low-cost carrier seats (yeah yeah... i didnt expect it to be a business class suite with personal LCD screen and free spa treatment on board with handsome flight attendant serving each of the passenger with delicacies from all around the world... i'm just grateful enough to get the chance to go and see the outside world). We arrived in NAIA Airport, Manila around 5am (its like 7am in Malaysia). We took a shuttle bus from the airport to EDSA LRT (20 peso). From EDSA station, we took the LRT to Central station (15 peso if I'm not mistaken) which is the nearest station to get to our very 1st destination, the 'Intramuros'.

One of the jeepneys
Tricycle that can be chartered in Manila
FYI, the exchange rate at that time is around RM7.5 for 100 peso. Even after conversion the price of goods and services are almost the same (esp. in the cities area). In a bit rural area, you might find the food are very cheap compared to the ones in the cities. The main public transportation is the bus, jeepney and tricycle (trike). Jeepney is like a small bus and it has its own specific route unlike the trike that serves like a trishaw that u can charter to go any nearby places that you like.

One incident I cant forget is when we walked to the LRT ticket counter, there was a roadblock by the police officer. They checked everybody's bag for security reason and all these filipinos obediently queue ((I can see that they are already used to this) to be checked (if not, they cant get through). Since we were still with our backpack, it also needed to be checked which hold the others long in the queue for for quite some times. Can u imagined that our backpacks had created a bit of ruckus early in the morning? 
Part of the Intramuros wall
And then another incident happened, I got separated from my fren as he cant manage to get into the crammed train (where a lot of ppl are pushing to get inside). I got pushed inside and then the door closed. I quickly gave my friend a sign to meet up at the station where we're supposed to stop. At the same time, I was also quite worried because my passport was with my fren. The train ride was not a favorable ones but it clearly gave a glimpse of how busy and populated Manila is. Once arrived to Central station, we walked to the Intramuros which is just 5-10 minutes distance.

One of the entrance to Intramuros
  Intramuros is the oldest district in the present day city of Manila, the capital of the Republic of the Philippines. Nicknamed the "Walled City", Intramuros is the historic fortified city of Manila, the seat ot the government during the Spanish Colonial Period. Its name in Latin, intramuros, literally means "within the walls".Districts beyond the walls of Manila were referred to as extramuros, literally "outside the walls."

St. Agustin Church
from the back
St. Agustin Church
From the Central LRT station, we walked into the Intramuros high-spiritedly. Since we are not checked in yet, we had to carry around our heavy backpack (mine was like 13kgs weight). To save cost, we walked within the walled city to the interesting tourist spots such as St. Agustin Church (the oldest building in Manila), Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago and many more. 

Inside Intramuros, there are also small residential areas, educational center, churches, governmental building, fast food outlets (such as Starbucks, Jollibee - like McD etc). Next, we walked our way to the Rizal Shrine, Rizal Park and Lapu-lapu Monument. Its more like a historical visit on the 1st day - just to know the origin of the Philippines. Then around 12pm, we checked in into Friendly Guest House somewhere in Ermita, Manila. We got an A/C twin-sharing without bathroom there (PHP 900/night = around RM70) when we're expecting to get a cheaper one that we had googled before (rate at PHP 675/night). The 675 Peso room was not available because it was the only room that comes with that rate and was currently occupied. But then, this Friendly Guest House provided us with a very 'friendly' public pantry for us to serve our own food as it is hard to find halal eateries or food outlet somewhere near the tourism spots in Manila. We learned to eat bread, fruits and not to forget Maggi mee for our trip this time. Ngeee....


Makati Shopping area
In the evening around 3pm, we went to Makati to have a look at the bunch of supermalls (Green Belt, Glorietta, SM Mall) over there (which is recommended by a few frens as they claimed that's the best spot to 'cuci mata'). It happened to be quite a nightmarish experience with the very crowded LRT/MRT trip (and its just an understatement - its super duper crowded actually you dun have to walk to get into the train as ppl at the back will voluntarily push you so that they can get inside the train - scary huh?). A lot of ppl is crowding the mall area as well. 1 thing needs to be really considered when having a walk in  Makati malls is to avoid bringing along a lot of bags (dun even bother to bring any if u can) as u will need to open each time u walk pass EVERY mall security-guarded entrance. Tedious, but to us tourists, we tried to give our very best perception esp. when dealing with the police officers. But we do enjoyed our walk in Makati as its one of the places you can skip the very dusty air of Manila.

After a lot of walking done in the 1st day, we decided to call it off and go back to the hostel and rest as we have a very early flight to Boracay the next day.

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