Manila Skyline in Makati City

Exploring Manila: Big City Lights & Stinky Streets



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For most Peace Corps volunteers, a trip to Manila is something to look forward to (because of the food) and something to get over with (because Manila is not a really pleasant place). Coming from a small city like Dumaguete where I feel like I know a lot of people, becoming a regular nobody in Manila can be a shock sometimes. Even so, I always look forward to hamburgers, pizza and corn dogs that come with a trip to the big city.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    The airport in Dumaguete has a few daily flights to Manila.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    From Kurt's palatial room at the Shangri-La, we figured it might be appropriate to celebrate with a bourbon and coke.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Makati, the busy financial center of the city bleeped, flashed, and glittered from the streets and office buildings outside the Shangri-La window.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    The Shangri-La dining room has a legendary buffet, but Kurt and I didn't wake up early enough to try it out unfortunately.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Like most living in the Philippines, Kurt had the hang of sending text messages on his phone. The people of the Philippines send more text messages than any other country in the world!

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Near the Shangri-La are several all night clubs where the dance floors are packed until dawn.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Even though we didn't stay out until dawn, we stayed out long enough to get our fill of Manila's night life.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Most of the time, the dance floor was so crowded you couldn't even move.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Sometimes all you could really do was to stare at the mirror balls on the ceiling while the crowd flowed past and the music blared.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Kurt had a pretty good time.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Back at the Shangri-La it seemed appropriate to call up friends on the other side of the world to let them know what was going on over here. Nobody seemed to be around the phone though.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Air Philippines and Cebu Pacific airlines each fly jets to the capital city, it only takes about an hour to get there. For some reason the afternoon flights of the competing airlines leave within only a half hour of each other.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    In one of the huge malls in Manila, I was really excited to find a place selling corn dogs.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    I didn't buy this copy of "Power Classics: Classical music for your active lifestyle", but I laughed at the pictures of the hyperactive folks on the box who were supposedly listening to classical music.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    On a later visit to Manila in October for a Peace Corps training, I met up with Kurt again at the Hobbit House, a music club in Manila where are the staff are "little people".

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Kurt had some ideological differences from the Peace Corps liberal types.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    After our adventures through Southeast Asia, Steve flew into Manila where we had a great dinner at Shawarma's Restaurant with Kris and Kristen Kerecman and one of their friends who was visiting too.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    One item on Shawarma's menu, the "Oozi Party Pack" really stood out. Especially since it included the before and after photo of the blank-faced whole goat that was included with the Oozi pack.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Steve told some really funny stories about his Peace Corps program in Nepal.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    After dinner at Shawarma's, it seemed customary to try out their hookah that was stocked with their own blend of tobacco.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    The two "flavors" of tobacco we were "fruit" and "apple".

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    It was really hard to tell which flavor was which, they both pretty much seemed the same.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Just in case you were wondering, a live fighting cock rooster is legal for checked baggage.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    The tobacco smoke didn't smell like cigarettes, more like potpourri.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    No, that cock-a-doodle-doo! isn't a new cell phone ringtone, it's the very pissed rooster in a cardboard box on the baggage carousel.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Old friend Kurt, also from Winchester happened to be in Manila one of the times I was in town. Kurt wanted "American food", so in this case that meant TGI Fridays.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Kurt was staying at the swanky Shangri-La hotel where they provided extras like this mangosteen.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Mangosteens are great.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    Sunsets over Manila Bay are legendary for their brilliant colors. Unfortunately the bright colors are the result of the stifling pollution that belches from this urban center.

  • Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004

    Manila: Two visits to the big city - 2004
    From a distance though, it's easy to forget about the pollution and just enjoy the colorful sunset.