I arrived yesterday in Manila – capital of the Philippines. It has a pretty shaky reputation as a city, and these fears were well-founded, with endless rows of homeless people scavenging away an existence, laptop dancing bars and smog generating buses.
However, perhaps as a result of its Spanish colonisation days, and certainly because of my time spent in the Americas with fond memories, it really reminded me Mexico and Guatemala. I was certainly a project for local taxi drivers to rip off, call girls to attract and I spent much of the time dancing from kerb to street – avoiding said girls, their horrifically aged and overweight Western partners or jumping out of the way of the Jeepneys (Asian version of Guatemalan Chicken Buses, based on old G.I. issued Jeeps).
But through all this, the place has a real robust charm. The colonial heart of the city is attractive(I especially appreciated the golf course outside the city walls, which is probably the only reason it is not shanty town or hotel complex), the people are friendly and inquisitive and the place has the makings of becoming successful, though I assume corruption will keep any real progress at bay for some time to come.
And now? I am sitting on a beach on Boracay. I have a broken wrist, so I can’t dive, eat properly, or do any other activities of any excitement. But this is perhaps just what I need. I have a pile of books to worm through, and there are plenty of interesting looking people walking by as I nosh on a rather good Greek Salad. 9 days of doing nowt. Could be the first and last time in a while!
Colonial relics – the rather handsome centre to the city called ‘Intramuros’
The historic city walls / local golf course – I am not sure the Kind of Spain had this in mind