Philippines – Thriller in Manila


The first European group I was with in Manila

Here is the start of a series of posts about my trip to the Philippines.  I'll try and add a new one every other day so I can catch up and write about my China trip!  Hope you enjoy.

Now over a month ago I arrived at the main Philippine airport, Ninoy Aquino International and as soon as the plane doors opened you could feel how hot the place was – which was brilliant.  Whilst I loved my time in Japan and Hong Kong the weather just wasn’t hot enough – one of the dreams of this trip was to spend a long time in a hot place, ideally on a beautiful sandy beach.

Learning a tip from one of the Philippine forums I headed out of arrivals and into departures to pick up a taxi that’s just dropped someone off (you tend to get better rates and aren’t ripped off).

The fare to get to the hostel, Our Melting Pot, was PHP 200 (pesos).  This was about £2.90 for a thirty minute ride – crazy cheap.  The taxi driver was really friendly, and we had a good conversation about the disaster in Japan and how in some areas of the Philippines they were evacuated on the advice that the Tsunami was coming their way.

The living room in the hostel

Our Melting Pot was a hostel that occupied two apartments in a brand new office, residential and hotel complex in Makati (the posh part of Manila).  The place was really nice and not what I was expecting.

The hostel had a really nice homely feel to it, and the staff there would bend of backwards to help you with anything that you needed and were never short of advice on what to do, where to go and what to avoid.

I met up with a few people from different countries across Europe; and we headed out around the more tougher parts of the capital – on recommendation from one of the groups members who frequented the area the night before.

Heading over in our taxi the place was like a ghetto, seriously you were under the feeling that we are going to get car-jacked, it was dark and creepy.  Emerging out this darkness we came to the area with all the bars and was advised to head to this bar.

The gang enjoying quite a few drinks

Sat down with our drinks one of the group (who shall remain nameless Patrick) suggested that him and I talk to a group of girls on one of the tables behind us as the keep looking over.  I had a quick look and turned back to him and said “they’re all guys”.  “No, no Dave they’re definitely girls, come on”, “No you go ahead mate and I’ll wait here”.

About 10 minutes later the anonymous person (Patrick) returned “OK.  Two of them are guys and the others are definitely girls”.  Another quick look reaffirmed my original belief that they were certainly guys – admittedly one of them (girl in a red dress) looked exactly like Michelle Obama and so genuinely quite pretty, but went with my gut to be safe.

He headed back to the group and returned another five minutes later, “okay, okay, four of them a guys and two of them are definite girls – we’re in man, the one in the red’s really nice”.  “Look man, they are for sure guys, and I’ll prove it”.  I called over the waiter and asked if the group of girls on that table came here all the time, which he confirmed, and then I asked were they all guys and he confirmed that too – Patr….oops, the anonymous guy was gutted – but I like to think I saved him.

A nervous but smiling Patrick and embarrassed Bernd.

We were also introduced to a Philippine snack that was an egg with the foetus of a chick inside.  None of us had the stomach to eat one, but one of the locals was more than happy to show us how it is eaten.

The chick in an egg

A local devouring it whole

Leaving the bars we headed off around the area to a couple of other bars, one of which I got to sing with a live band – which is pretty cool, and as you hop between bars you are constantly approached with a menu of women to have a lap dance with.  We all declined obviously.

The selection of women 'on offer' that night

The thing that struck you most about this area was the people sleeping on the streets in boxes and on benches.  This was really a poor area of the city.  Children as young as seven were coming up to you as you leave a bar begging for money or trying to sell you cigarettes.  It’s not a nice image to see.  I spoke to one of the kids whilst we were waiting for the rest of the gang to leave this bar and I asked him why does he do this.  He eventually replied with “I’m told it will make me have friends”. 

That ended the night for me, I just wanted to go home.

Despite being forced to sell the Children were still
children who just wanted to play

The young boy who wanted to make friends with people sleeping
in the background on the streets

More people sleeping in the street


  1. Hi Dave great blog of Manila.The pic's of you and friend's are good.Sad though the pictures of kid's and people sleeping in the street's makes us realize just how lucky we are.Speak to ya soon.Take Care.Love ,Mum.Dad n

  2. Thanks for the intro to Manilla Dave. Interested to hear more stories of your travels, so will keep my eyes peeled.

    Pretty sad seeing the people living on the streets, particularly the kids. As you say, kids are kids the world over, very sad indeed...

    Hope you're enjoying China so far, can't wait to hear more.


  3. Excellent post! laughed my ass off on the lady-boys, such a classic. I didn't have the adventure of the fetus egg, bummer. And the kids are really brutal, bit like India I think


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