The Philippines – Part One: Manila


Yeah I am a year behind posting these photos but whatever. This blog isn’t about being famous.. just a way to show you my photos.

As most of you know, when I left Thailand (and George, unfortunately) I made my way alone to The Philippines, starting with Manila. Back in the USA, I worked for a company that had some departments based there so I’ve spoken to some people and was curious about what the country was like. My favorite was Ardie, a great artist who was always a pleasure to work with. He even is the artist who designed my “Angry Dumpling” that I use for this blog!

I thought it would be pretty cool to meet this guy so I asked him if he’d want to meet up. He was pretty enthusiastic to share his culture and we arranged to meet the weekend after I arrived. Before then though, I had to entertain myself, so I had previous booked a bike tour with Bambike Tours which seemed pretty decent and the business seems to help poorer Filipinos by providing jobs in building the bikes. The bikes, made out of bamboo, are made by hand and can even be purchased and shipped abroad. I thought this was pretty cool and I wasn’t disappointed. That time slot actually was only booked by me, so I basically had a private tour. My tour guide (and I feel bad I have forgotten his name) was SUPER awesome, funny, and knowledgeable.  He even helped me go to a pharmacy to buy pain killers because as luck would have it, I got my period that day and I was cramping something FIERCE!

I was sure to give him a great tip… painkillers saved my day from being miserable. The tour basically did a historical overview of the country by riding around Old Manila, the most beautiful and historical part that was built by the Spanish when they took control of the country via colonization. The tour taught about the colonial history, development of the country, the control by the Spanish and USA, and the fight for liberation.

I highly recommend this tour to anyone visiting Manila.. it was great value for the money and very interesting. I really liked the bike, too!  The bamboo is somewhat naturally shock absorbing.

After the tour I had to make my way back to my hostel, but first I wanted to explore a little.  I made my way to Chinatown to see what it was like.. which to be honest wasn’t particularly nice but I found the Chinese church and it was quite pretty.  After returning, I ate dinner, which was a great Filipino dish of fatty, melt-in-your-mouth pork with crispy skin. I could eat that again, that’s fo’ damn sure.

When the weekend arrived, Ardie who works in Manila, came to pick me up. He wanted to take me to his hometown of Malolos, Bulacan to meet his friends and family and show me his side of the Philippines. This was freakin’ great because I was able to not only meet some truly genuine, kind, and generous people, but I was also able to see the real life of normal Filipino people, not just tourist attractions. I got to try home cooked food, which was great and even got to go out with Ardie and some friends and ate more great food in a restaurant.  It was really nice to spend time with people, because otherwise my Philippines travel was alone. If I go back to the Philippines, it will be to visit Ardie and his family more than to travel other places.

I got to try some great local dishes and I was suprised how much I liked some of them. The most surprising was Sisig which, according to Wikipedia is: Sisig is a Filipino dish made from parts of pig’s head and liver, usually seasoned with calamansi and chili peppers. I wasn’t told this before I ate it, but I was told after the fact it was pig ear… but I didn’t really care. It was awesome.

Another dish is Sinigang, which according to Google, is a Filipino soup or stew characterized by its sour and savoury taste most often associated with tamarind. Ardie’s family was surprised I liked it as they thought I wouldn’t like the sour flavor, but as someone who is a fan of 酸菜鱼 (sour veg fish), I can appreciate the flavor profile. Actually the two dishes are quite similar.. not the same, but not too far off.

Banana lovers, rejoice, Banana-cue is a think in The Philippines, which is a banana barbecued with I believe, brown sugar. It was pretty freakin’ tasty. I had it courtesy of one of Ardie’s aunties who made it with this other crunchy thing, but I actually can’t remember details of that. (pictured below)

The last dish I remember, was my FAVORITE.. I think I ate this every single day. This would be Filipino Adobo. It can be with any meat I think but I always chose pork adobo. It’s usually served with rice, but I would always spring for my favorite side, GARLIC RICE. Anyone who knows me know’s I live for eating garlicky things, haha.

Ardie also took me to a dog coffee which was awesome. It’s like a cat cafe but with dogs.. duh. The blue burger was from there.. and the burger wasn’t anything special, just blue lol. But I didn’t care about the burger as much as I was there for the MoonMoons, Doggos, Puppers, and Pupperinos.  The dogs were super cute but it’s obvious they’re tired of all the attention and perhaps want to be left alone.

We finished our time together at a bar where we had a final chat, Jaeger shots, and some great cheesy dishes.

It was a great time with great company.. and a great start in the country that would have more exploring to come.

The next day I would depart for my next stop in The Philippines, the Island of Palawan where I would be visiting the towns, El Nido and Puerto Princesa.


Laowai Shye


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