36 hours in Manila
Scott and I took an overnight flight from Kuala Lumpur at 1:20am and arrived in Manila at 5:20am. Needless to say, we were exhausted.
We were only in Manila for 1 night/36 hours. I had some Marriott hotel points saved up and Scott suggested we use the last of them to stay at the Marriott directly across from the airport because generally hotel chains are nicer about letting you get in your room earlier.
Well that husband of mine is brilliant! We received a room right away and passed out for a few hours. We woke up around 11am and decided to hit the town.
Our hotel window overlooked the Manila skyline which is comprised of almost 4 different cityscapes. What a large city! Scott says the skyline reminds him of NYC looking across from New Jersey.
We didn’t know how to spend our day so we asked our taxi driver where we should go and his response was “the mall.” We then asked where the locals go and his response was again “The mall. That is where you find locals. It is clean, air-conditioned and safe.” Apparently malls are not just for shopping in Manila. Rather they are oversized entertainment complexes that consist of shopping, dining, cinemas and sometimes even aquariums or performing arts theaters!
We didn’t want to go to the mall so we went to Intramuros instead. Intramuros was an old fortified city in the heart of Manila. After the Second World War, the city was abandoned and left devastated for years. The city just eroded away and was left to squatters until finally in 1979, the Philippine government decided to open it as a tourist attraction. Now anyone can visit the place to see what is left of this important piece of history. Here are some photos:
We also visit San Agustin Church which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and was built in 1607. It was the only structure still standing after the Second World War. It was unfortunately closed for renovations but we got to see the outside:
Eventually it got very hot and we needed to return to our air conditioned haven. We were given access to their executive lounge which boasted great views of the skyline and offered free food and drinks all day. Membership Gold Status definitely has its privileges and in the flashpacker spirit we took full advantage of that! You would not believe how hard it is to get access to real cheese or even real milk in SE Asia. It was nice to eat some cheese and crackers and fresh cut vegetables after so long. Scott thoroughly enjoyed the open bar:
On our way out a man stopped us and said “hey you both sound American, can you please join me and my friends for one drink before you leave?” We kindly obliged and ended up conversing for two hours him and two army soldiers that served time in Afghanistan and Iraq. The guy who asked us to stay for the drink turned out to be a retired marine Colonel who used to work closely with Oliver North. Scott thought that was pretty cool, and we really enjoyed the chance to spend time with “America’s Finest.” It is incredible to hear what people endure (little and big) in order to serve and protect our country.
Unfortunately he lost money and gave up. I then took my chances at roulette and was up a lot of money but then hit a huge loss and was down. Finally I just had enough money for one final bet and Scott said “You heard the soldier earlier. Bet it all on black!” So I did. Luckily we won and I earned back all of our losses from the night… And a little more. Okay it was $5 more but I will still elated!
The next day we had half of a day to spend in Manila before our flight to Puerto Princesa. After a late night in the casino, we wasted the next day by sleeping in, gorging on the gourmet breakfast in the lounge and then wandering in the high end mall that was also connected to our hotel. So yes, we did end up going to a mall. Our Manila experience probably wouldn’t be complete without it!
We then boarded a 6:30 pm flight for Puerto Princesa.