Trip Start Dec 03, 2012
38Trip End Jan 09, 2013
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Where I stayed
A yawning arrival at Cubao, Manila - 630 am. Along the way, we passed morning markets already bustling with shoppers. Watching out of my taxi, scenes were slowly peeling with Manila waking from a slumber. Bacl at Chill-Out guesthouse, I knocked myself out for a few hours before my alarm went off at 11 am. The reason for returning to Manila was basically to visit Saffy-Mano Mano, a fair trade organisation which is one of Oxfam Australia's filipino producers. My visit wasn't scheduled til 18th Dec but I took a gamble after hearing from guesthouse reception that offices usually open on Saturdays.
Onto a taxi for Santa Ana and found the office in no time. Fortunately, not only the office was opened, Gen (my contact) happened to be working today. And she was pleasantly surprised to see me here 3 days early - I like making unannounced arrivals
After bidding farewell to Gen and Co, I thought I would make my way towards Makati on foot, in search of my Manila city skyline shot. I didn't find it. The closer I got to Makati, the more hope and sweat I lost. It was by chance I walked up to a HSBC bank branch atm machine and was able to withdraw pesos without incurring foreign bank fee charges (I use HSBC bank VISA debit card to access my travel funds - I get charged AUD$5 for each withdrawal on local bank atm machines). [My bank statement revealed that I incurred a AUD$ 4.50 at the HSBC ATM..slimy bank! - Ed) Makati City being the financial hub of the Philippines, eludes this soulless empty atmosphere much like the CBDs of most major cities
Bonifacio Global City
Gen earlier mentioned a place called Fort Bonifacio Global City. It impressed on me like a historical place with a view towards Makati, so I took a gamble and hailed a taxi to take me there. In a complete twist, Bonifacio Global City (dropping the 'Fort') is actually a 'city' masterplanned and designed to cater for expats and the middle class (I avoid using the word "elite" here). Did I just get transported to Docklands, Melbourne (ok, there were no yachts, just jeepneys and maseratis)? You cannot find a single homeless kid here. Even if you close your eyes and throw your wallet in any direction, you are most likely to hit a foreign resident with a toy dog in her arms.
The walking thoroughfare flanked by chains of trendy cafes and international restaurants on both sides, leading to a more local friendly bustling open market/food courts aptly named 'Market! Market!'. This is adjoined to a gignormous shopping mall which I found ramen for lunch, for a change. Surrounding this 'somebody's brilliant idea' are spanking new glass cladded condominiums in various stages of completion. In case anyone is not with their limousine driver, they even have a free shuttle bus going around this man made oasis
My Big Whinge
I didn' hang around in hope to get an empty taxi, so I started marching out the same route my taxi came in. I got as far as the massive flyover after an hour and still no available taxis. Another hour was lost in the immediate neighbour wandering aimlessly, flagging for taxis but in vain. I wasn't the only one. By 6 pm, I got fed up, hopped onto a tricycle and asked to go to Malate but the driver said it was out of his zone! "Ok, take me to the nearest LRT station!" Finally station by station (including changing trains in peak hour), I inched by way back to Malate. I was beat! Revisiting my google map, tricycle driver could have pointed me the closest LRT station 100 metres away but chose to earn my pesos by taking me three stations further instead!
Threatened by Pimps
Drinking at the bars in seedy Malate, can sometimes be tricky. Most drinking holes here are girlie bars (with alot of japanese and korean patrons). Pimps were also touting on the streets when I was out and about
The problem here is that they speak english to you and you cant pretend that you can't understand them. In Bangkok, you can easily brush them off with a "Sorry, no money!" The straw broke when he retorted "Ok, we leave you alone. You tip us 200 php each and this is all over!" That was in essence a robbery using threats! Luckily I was out in the open street so I raised my voice in retaliation and they decided to back off.