Intramuros - the nicest part of Manila
Everybody warned us of Phnom Penh and Saigon. People were really great in giving warnings about places we really fell in love with. Sure, SEA cities are special, but they can be very charming and we had great times. Not in Manila. Nobody warned us from what we encountered there. Some of my friends just told me they'd not know the city too well because it's dirty. Dirty is very relative.

When we came out of the airport we wanted to try the cheaper taxi version, which was to take one of the city taxis that bring guests to the departure part of the airport. The fifth driver finally said he'd know where we wanted to go and he promised to turn on the meter. When we were in the taxi he immediately started to talk non stop and ask us questions. We still focused and asked him to turn on the meter as we agreed on that. After a couple of minutes driving and talking we started to really not answer any question but to tell him over and over to turn on the meter.
Harborfront buildings
He turned it on finally, but started again to argue about a possible fixed price. We started bargaining as we collected information about it before and we were ready to pay about 200 PHP (4 EUR), which is a bit more but well. When I started at 120 PHP to meet him at about 200 PHP (because the former drivers started at 300 PHP) he started swearing, said he preferred to go home, kicked us out of the taxi and drove off. We learned that maybe bargaining in the Philippines works a bit different. So we went back to the airport and stood in line with all the others for the regular airport taxis. After about 45 minutes of waiting we got one of the regular taxis that work with a meter. They're a bit more expensive, but still affordable. We payed about 280 PHP (5.5 EUR) to get to our guesthouse in Malate.

When we arrived at the Wanderers Guesthouse where we made a reservation a couple of days earlier it didn't get better. The area is horrible, the building is very ugly, there are hobos everywhere even in the entrance and people ask you for money when you want to enter the building. The elevator doesn't work half of the time so we carried our luggage to the forth floor where the guesthouse is. The people at the reception probably made a joke but it wasn't funny at all for us, as nobody of them seemed to want to show us to our room, even when the receptionist told one of the staff. Finally he had to bring us, so he went upstairs with us, opened the door to our room and disappeared.

The pope is coming to town
The room was extremely small. On the booking page it showed a photo with a bed, a table and a chair. There was neither a table nor a chair and the bed was extremely small. Around the bed there was barely enough space to park our backpacks, that's it. Privacy is not available, all the sleeping rooms are only divided by very thin walls with holes in it, you can hear the others breathe. There is no fresh air at all as there is not a single window in the entire sleeping area. So in this stinky, noisy, extremely tight thing we would spend our next days.

A bit scared of that we wanted to discover the hangout area. Our friends told us about all these great people staying there. All we saw were people sitting around with their gadgets. It seemed like nobody would want to talk to anybody. Well, we soon found out why. As soon as you would start a conversation the music got so loud that it was impossible to understand anything. If you'd ask the staff to turn it down a bit they would do it for five minutes and then it was even louder than before. A playlist of about 30 songs, that's what they played over and over again. More than half of the people in the hangout area that wasn't too big anyway seemed to belong to the staff and their families. It was very dirty, smelled like the empty alcohol bottles that were stapled behind the corner and there were cockroaches running around.

People queuing to see a self proclaimed Jesus
After seeing that, we really hoped that we could at least discover some nice parts of the city, as the hostel was not an option to spend our time. But we were wrong. One could barely see the difference between begging children and stray dogs in the streets. Both got too close, the children grabbed us and were very obnoxious. Pregnant women or some with sedated babies were hanging around in the corners. Women barely dressed were standing in front of the clubs and spas to sell themselves, in a bit posher places guys with catalogs offered the women, you had the choice. It was very obvious, what the main business in Manila is. We were not too happy about the things we saw. There is only a market for things that are demanded ... and we saw plenty of clients.

We already saw quite a lot of westerners who went to SEA to "meet" women. In Manila it was the uncovered, dirty, horrible truth, visible for everybody. Sometimes I really like to at least let these men pretend that the human being is worth something. There, it was too obvious that they aren't. After three days in this horrible place we were too glad to flee to the beautiful islands the Philippines have to offer and we were incredibly curious about the situation outside Manila.

More pictures from Manila


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