Saturday, April 27, 2019

The Thrilla in Manila (an unavoidable title)

I finally made it to Manila for a stay that could be counted in more than mere hours. “Avoid Manila, it’s ugly.” “Get out of Manila, it’s dangerous!” Phooey! I fuckin’ loved Manila.

Under the advice of a Philly friend, I stopped by a spot known for its flavored beer and waited for my next Couchsurfing host to get done with his work. It was a nice spot, if a bit pricey, and I made some friends (and wrote a poem).

My host was a decent dude who was, I think it’s fair to say, ‘enthusiastic’ about Japan. He was located a bit south of Manila, in Muntinlupa, a place I’d specifically searched in the hopes that I would be able to meet up with a couple people from Vietnam who wanted to hike up the volcano. Alas, after a late rendezvous, I was in no shape to hike a volcano, and had to call off that particular expedition.

It was easy enough to explore - I would head up to the Intramuros area of the city and just circle and circle, checking out museums, libraries, and government buildings. Oh, and of course keeping my eyes peeled for another secret brothel (I never got a chance to go back to that first one). I think I came close with the “Duck Inn” (chosen for the pun), where it seemed like it was a whole bunch of Australians and their girlfriends for hire, though I wasn’t sure if one could hire the girlfriends there.

I’m not sure what tale to tell, except that I thought the Intramuros area of Manila was one of the most beautiful and wondrous places I’ve walked around. I’m so glad I went and checked it out - I think some of the best photos I’ve taken on my trip have come from the area.

Closer to my host, I made smaller forays. Muntinlupa is a nice little town with nice people and a hell of a library. Once one gets over the general chaos of the streets (welcome to the Philippines) it was full of fun and vibrant life. Whether it was a craft beer bar, a gaming-focused cafe, or a library full of new books and touchpads, the town wowed me.

I was a bit sad to leave, but my time drew to an end soon enough - unfortunately the Philippines only grants a 30-day visa exemption. It was time to go to Japan and meet my friend Mikey from Philadelphia.

The full set of photos from the Philippines can be found via this link.

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