Day 1 – Manila
I made it! After an 8-hour flight from Dubai, I finally arrived at 12am in the capital of the Philippines, Manila! There was no TV screen or food provided in the plane. Therefore, I was pretty happy that I took a flight during the night. The flight itself was okay. As I mentioned before, I was really the only foreigner and one of a few who didn’t wear a hygiene mask. But I arrived safely, and that’s what counts.
At the airport, I first picked up my Backpack. I decided not to take a suitcase with me because the weight restrictions to travel to smaller islands is pretty strict. You are not allowed to bring more than 10kg with you. And that’s not a lot. I really didn’t expect to go backpacking on my own so soon again, but it almost felt like I am back on my world trip. Afterwards I decided to buy a sim card for the Philippines. The WiFi situation here is not the best. I just really wanted to make sure that I am not stuck in the middle of nowhere and cannot even use google maps.
Then, I took a taxi to my guesthouse, which was just a few minutes’ drive away from the airport. Manila is not really a popular place to stay for tourists. It is not the most beautiful city on earth and is actually seen as quite dangerous. That’s why I decided to stay for only one night. It took me a while to find the entrance of “Siayan Travellers Inn”, but some locals guided me to the guesthouse and even helped me to carry my luggage.
I was very happy that I was able to check in already. The staff members were really nice. And by the way, almost everyone in the Philippines speaks very good English. Most of the time even better than Europeans do. That’s definitely an advantage for travelling here. I experienced in Japan how difficult travelling and living can be when you are not able to communicate properly with the locals. But that’s not a problem here.
To be honest, I just relaxed the whole afternoon in my room, watched some Netflix and thought about my first impressions. I mean, at that time I couldn’t say much about the country and the people. But already in the first hour, the atmosphere, the traffic, the noise, the hot weather, the low prices and the people let me feel that I am literally on the other side of the world. There couldn’t have been a bigger contrast to Germany or Dubai, than being here in Manila.
However, even though Manila is seen as unsafe and nothing special, I wanted to go out and make my own picture of the capital. To be honest, my biggest motivation was to find something to eat for dinner. The moment I stepped out of the guesthouse; I knew immediately what other people meant. I really didn’t feel that comfortable and had the thought of just turning around and going back to my room. There was no tourist as far as I could see. Everyone was staring at me and almost every second car or motor bicycle honk. I felt very uncomfortable, but just tried to avoid eye contact and walk confidently and rather fast.
I saw on google maps that there supposed to be a local area with a market and some shops. That’s where I headed. But the situation got rather worse. More and more locals stared at me from a 300-meter distance. However, I never really felt extremely unsafe. The people seemed to be friendly, but I guess they just had never seen a “white” person before. Maybe it wasn’t that common either that a girl walks alone through the local neighbourhood. Some kids came to me and ask for money, which I tried to ignore. But quite a few people greeted me very kindly with “Welcome to the Philippines”!
I went in a couple of pharmacies to search for hygiene masks, but even here they were all sold out. I was already giving up. It seemed like they were sold-out all-over Asia. Anyway. I first wasn’t really brave enough to take out my camera and take some pictures. But I gave my best. It was just crazy. People, cars and scooters all share the same road. Locals were selling street food, as well as colourful clothes on the street. Moreover, I don’t think I have ever seen so many “wild” dogs, cats and chicken. It was a cultural shock. But to be honest, I didn’t regret coming here.
It was very interesting, but also shocking to see how different their life is to the western world. It seemed like I just travelled back in time for a couple of hundred years. The people here have totally different issues to deal with. In such situations I realize how lucky we are to have the privilege to travel, go to school and live in a house. It’s just a different world.
Then, I tried to search for a restaurant to eat something for dinner. The hygiene level in this area didn’t seem like I should be eating here. And I really couldn’t afford to get sick. Therefore, I walk a little further to a Chinese restaurant, that had quite good reviews online. I ordered a Tofu – Seafood hot pot, some sautéed spinach and rice. The food was very fresh and delicious. I absolutely enjoyed it. Obviously, the prices were higher than on the local market, but still very affordable.
When I finished eating, it started to get dark already. I definitely didn’t want to walk back at night-time. On my way back, a police officer stopped me. He was very kind and just worried about me, I guess. He asked if I am alone and searching for someone. He was shocked when I said that I was travelling alone. But he just told me to be careful out here. Very sweet!
I was very happy and a little bit proud when I finally made it back to my room. But I am more than happy that I saw the real face of Manila. I went straight to bed, because I knew I wouldn’t have much sleep this night. Stay tuned where I headed next!