Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Manila Trip '07 - Day 2 (Part 2)

Dateline : 3rd Feb 2007.

To read the previous entry, click here.

After my morning walk, I found myself at Manila Baywalk area again for the second time. Unlike in the evenings, the place was full of families taking a stroll by the bay or riding on their bicycles. It seems that the Baywalk is also a popular cycling route as even the area’s security people were on bicycles. There were also quite a few people fishing over the side but I didn’t see anyone catch anything that morning. As I made my way southwards towards the Manila Yacht Club, I noticed that a were a lot of local domestic tourist there as well. At least that’s what I assumed since they were also snapping pictures at the most mundane things like I did but they were speaking the local lingo.

(Manila Baywalk -early morning)

(Children playing at the dinosour statues at Manila Baywalk)

The other thing I notice was the lack of other foreign tourist in the area that morning. I guess that it might have been a little too early in the morning for some of them. Something else that I did not noticed the last time I was at Manila Bay was the number of portable toilets that they had lining the path. While I can appreciate the vital function that they perform, they unfortunately do mar the scenery quite a bit especially when you take into consideration the unpleasant smell wafting from them. It’s a shame really to not have something like that better planned for such a nice public place.

(One of my favorite statues on the Baywalk)

(Philippines flag on the Manila Baywalk)

After snapping a few pictures of children playing around at the bronze statues that dotted the Manila Baywalk and the tall flagpole with the huge Philippines flag, I walked back to the hotel since our group was suppose to meet up again at 11am that morning. Having walked the area before, getting to the hotel was not a problem and soon enough I found the group already waiting for me at the hotel lobby. It was decided that we were going to Quiapo for a bit of shopping and to see the Muslim quarter around the Globo de Oro Mosque. To get to Quiapo from our hotel, we would have to get on a jeepney from Mabini St which by the way will be my first jeepney ride ever.

From our hotel, we walked up the block to the corner of Pedro Gil and Mabini where all the jeepney seems to stop for passengers to get on or off. To get to the destination you want to, you need to look for the destination name that is written on the side of the jeepney. Since quite a few jeepney would have the same route, it was easy for us to find one that was going to Quiapo. Once you get in the back, we had to pass the 7 pesos fare up to the driver. Although the driver can give back change if he had to, paying with small change would be appreciated since he has to drive and count the money to return at the same time. Once you reach your intended destination, you are suppose to tell the driver that you want him to stop and let you off. There was something that the local shouted out to the driver when they wanted him to stop but I did not catch what it was.

(Sights of Manila's jeepneys)

Riding on a jeepney was an adventure. Since there was no AC, closed back door or windows at the side, passengers are fully exposed to the smoke from the traffic. Being in such close proximity to the traffic outside meant that you could clearly see how crazy the traffic was in Manila. If KL had motorbikes weaving in and out of traffic, drivers in Manila had to watch out for trishaws and jeepneys crossing into their lanes. It was both chaotic and exhilarating at the same time. I loved riding on the jeepney but I would never want to drive one as I don’t think my blood pressure could survive it. One drawback of riding in the jeepney was that the passengers seats were higher that the open side panel so you couldn’t really see where you were at that moment. Unless you recognize a landmark in the area, it was hard to figure out when to tell the driver to stop.

That was exactly what happen to us since none of us really knew which landmark to look for to know that we arrived at Quiapo. It was fortunate that the driver was good enough to tell us that we past Quiapo quite a ways back or else we would have sat there in the jeepney for the round trip. Getting off somewhere near Sampaloc Market, we found ourselves lost in Manila, the second time for me personally, without a clue of how to get back to Quiapo. Since the road that were just got off from was a one way lane, we decided to walk down the street in hopes of finding a landmark that we could match to the map that we had.

We walked pass the small hole in the wall shops selling cooked food and it was interesting to note that unlike the colors that you see in Malaysian cooking, Filipino cooking was a bit on the pale side. There was also a marked lack of food aroma from these stalls but I think it was more due to the excessive smoke coming from the road rather than the style of cooking. We also passed what I think was the one of the universities in that area. According to our map, there were quite a number of universities in the area. Not long after that, we saw the Isetann shopping mall and we finally had a landmark to orient ourselves on the map. We walked on a bit further to the Recto LRT station before crossing the road into Rizal Avenue.

(Rizal Avenue)

Rizal Avenue was a pedestrian only mall underneath the overhead LRT tracks. There were shops on both sides of the avenue selling almost everything that you can think of. Not surprisingly, there was even an adult entertainment club in the area which tucked into one of the shops at the side of the avenue. Since it didn’t seemed to be opened, we moved on towards the Carriedo LRT station. I was lagging a bit behind the group looking at the shops as we walked towards the station when I suddenly felt someone’s hand garb my ass. At first I thought that someone was trying to pick my pocket but when I turned around to see who it was the other hand landed on my stomach and started to rub it in a suggestive way. Both hands belong to a young girl who looked like she was in her early 20’s who then started to talk to me in Tagalog.

Even without understanding a single word of Tagalog, I have a fairly good idea of what the girl was proposing. The funny thing was that even though the other people in our group passed her earlier, she locked on to me right from the start. The other guys ahead actually saw this but decided to keep their distance leaving me on my own. It was a bit shocking to be proposed like this in the middle of the day but I had to recover quickly since she still had her hand on my ass in the middle of the walkway. I told her politely that I didn’t understand Tagalog and she just smiled then repeated her offer in English. Since she was not offering something that I was really looking for, I said thanks but no thanks to which she the said that she had a brother who can also show me a good time if I wanted. At this point it was getting a bit too risqué for me no matter how intriguing the offer sounded. I told her that I had to say no to her offer and be off on my way since the others were waiting for me. She looked at the guys who were at this point just laughing at what was happening and told me to come back alone next time.

After that surreal but interesting incident, we all had to sit down for a breather to plan our next course of action. We decided to get some iced teas at a tea shop near the Carriedo LRT station and look at the map to decide which direction Quiapo was from Rizal Avenue. It turned out that we were already within walking distance from Ilalim ng Tulay Market which my guide book noted as the place to get cheap local handicrafts for souvenirs. Since that was the purpose for that day’s walkabout, it was our next destination.
Next installment : Lunch at the Muslim Quarter and shopping in Quiapo


zals said...

Have been thinking of goin to Manila, but due to lack of information on that city, tak berani pergi. thanks for sharing your experience in Manila... :-)

Nickxandar said...

Glad that I was able to help. My trip only covers the older part of Manila since I didn't get a chance to get to the new areas of Makati.

Once you get used to the crowd, traffic and difference in language there, Manila was actually quite safe and fun to go to. Very much worth a visit.