Well after a 12 hour sleepless bus ride we got dropped off in Manila on the opposite side of town to what we thought. A security guard wouldn't let us on the train with our packs because they were too big..... Welcome to the ninth circle of hell, Manila.
With a population of 12 million people (more than half of Australia), the pollution, the horns, the traffic jams, the poverty, the begging, the people trying to shove things to sell in your face and the security guards out the front of every shop with semi automatic guns, I'm glad this isn't the first place we came to. I must admit for the first 2 days we were here I hated it and there is no where we have been yet that I haven't enjoyed. I guess I have warmed to it a bit but it's still on the bottom of the list!
We are staying in the area which is meant to be the 'place to be'. Well I would hate to see the place not to be..... actually I have seen it from the train. You wouldn't believe the poverty here, houses jammed on top of each other just made out of rubbish and tin and tarps. People live there! People who have built these make-shift houses on the median strips of the highway, it's very bad.
Once again luckily though here, we only have a limited amount of time in Manila. We checked out Intramurous, the old Spanish walled city, which I'm sorry got no points as a tourist attraction from me. Santiago Fort was much better as it was looked after as a historical place. We walked thru China town which was crazy as they all are. We've checked out the big shopping malls (there is one that is 1km long). And we did a day trip to a place called Lake Taal.
Once again, as soon as you step out of Manila the Philippines are a beautiful place. Lake Taal is about 2 hours out of Manila and is a big crater of a volcano with another smaller volcano in it. Unfortunately it was a hazy day and we didn't get really good views but you could see how beautiful it would be on a nice day. We went down to the lake though as you can catch a boat over to the other volcano and hike up it.
Well it was a really windy day and we found someone to take us out there on his boat. I'm not sure if we were meant to go in such weather though! I actually forgot we were on a lake. The waves were massive and we got drenched, but we made it safely. We hiked to the top of the volcano, which was a pretty hard hike because of the volcanic dust and gravel. It was quite hard to come back down..... yes of course I fell over and skun my knee L There were some pretty good views and you could see inside the crater, where there was a lake with geysers shooting out steam. So that was pretty good.
Today we decided to take a walk along Manila bay, it was just a couple of streets down and I heard it was an all nice and paved esplanade. Well I wish I'd taken my camera, all I can do is laugh; you have never seen anything like it. OK so they get the points for having it nice and paved but there is nothing else there and the rubbish! OMG! The waves were breaking over the wall and every time one did about 30kg of rubbish came with it. It was crazy, it could be so nice, it could be St Kilda. There is no way I would have been swimming in there!
As I keep saying we have limited time here as we only have a 21 day visa, which is a shame because I think we could have spent 2-3 months here. We really wanted to fit in as much as we could and had planned on going to South Luzon and island hopping but it's really too much to see and you get so tired travelling day after day just to see each place for one day. So we decided to just see one island properly and tomorrow we are heading to the island of Palawan which everyone has told us is stunning and we have no doubt it will be