The first stop of our 2 months trip in Southeast Asia, was the capital of the Philippines, Manila, a city heavily populated, with a very complex and troubled history.
Although we considered it more like a breathing space or just a stopover, after our very long and exhausting flights, we managed to recharge our batteries and explore the city as much as possible in the two days that we had.
We landed at Ninoy Aquino International Airport or NAIA short, which had been fully decorated with artificial Christmas trees, and other Christmas ornaments.
It was an interesting sensation to make the transition from -10 Celsius degrees, as it was in Romania when I left, to +25, to be the end of January, and to feel like I came back to winter holidays, this time in a very hot country.
The checking point was pretty loose. The only questions that we received were where were we going and how long we were planning to stay. We answered honestly, we got our passports back to us, with the deadline of our stay, and voila, the adventure should begin.
Regarding my luggage, I was kind of nervous. Leaving Romania on January 22, and reaching the Philippines on 24, with two long layovers and 3 longer flights, I had the feeling that my baggage will be lost in any airport that it has been transited and I was going to receive it by the end of the holiday.
Fortunately, it was not the case, and it arrived safely, on time, and with only a few cracks, almost imperceptible. Ayman’s luggage was intact. Lucky!
Stamps in our passports and the first day was about to begin. Being accommodated in just 10 minutes walk from Baywalk, that was the first place that we wanted to visit. While we were walking the extremely crowded and noisy streets, I had a kind of deja vu.
Manila city resembles my soul city, Miami, but only at first glance or at an overview, a zoom out; many skyscrapers, palm trees, green wherever you look, lots of people, loud music, smiles and good vibes.
However, if you look beyond the appearances, beyond the tall buildings, the lush vegetation, and luxurious restaurants, you’ll realize pretty quickly that there is a lot of poverty and disarray, misery.
There are many places where walking and exploring is a real pleasure, and others where you feel like you’re back in time, places where the garbage is lying on the floor, forgotten, in which dogs and cats are watching you hungry and are full of disease, in which the number of homeless people is unbelievably large, living their days under the open sky, covered only by a blanket or a tent made of palm tree branches and showering only in the rainy days. However, I was pleasantly impressed by their craving for life and their good energy.
In two days, we had time to explore a very small part of the Filipino capital, our itinerary including Baywalk area, the promenade where you have a beautiful view of the ocean and sunset, Mall of Asia, which is said to be the largest in Asia and 3rd in the world, and Makati, the financial, a kind of Wall Street of Manila. Of the hundreds of photos we took, I managed to select 20 who have seemed to me to be representative. Here’s what came out: