Metro Manila · Jay travelling Manila – a tourist’s perspective
Leaving the well air-conditioned aircraft and crossing the cooled visa area, every traveler needs to pass this wall before arriving the taxi-zone. Locals and Asia-experienced tourists might be familiar with this sudden climate change into hot but wet air.
Myself, I needed a couple of breaths to realize that my need for oxygen was well satisfied by this unknown surrounding, too. From a European perspective the welcome area for international arrivals was overcrowded with suitcases and bags lying everywhere, and taxis with their drivers engaging the arriving travelers to board their car. Quickly, local friends welcomed us and guided us out of the crowd and to a smiling driver they already had dealt with. They took care of us and, while being stuck in the daily jam on our trip to the city center, the rainy season sent its regards.
At the first glance, Manila is like a typical Asian Megacity: people are living close together and extreme poverty and wealth are sometimes separated by a tiny fence only. Public life happens on the streets where people craft their goods and offer their food for sale. A complex system of streets brought us closer to the tower-dominated finance district and after a one hour-ride we arrived at our hotel. We had diner at a mall whose name promises to be the "green belt" within the concrete-dominated city center. Indeed, built along a tiny river surrounded by plants and even trees, the mall hosts all kind of luxury brand stores, high-class restaurants, cozy bars and pleasure places. One of the better spots to spend your time, if you bring some money.
Sandwiches were available for breakfast the next day before we left the city to engage in tourist-like island experience for a weeks’ time. Seven days later, when we came closer to the metropolitan area of Manila the second time, there were no clouds. Our aircraft flew an extra circle that allowed us to grasp an idea how enormously large this city expands its borders. The area for domestic arrivals is a bright and spacious place. We boarded a taxi that brought us to a friend’s villa where we planned to stay over the weekend – within one of those areas that are fenced and guarded to keep crime and poverty away. Despite all our apprehensions, it was possible to ignore the outside world and to spend a good time in this superficial area.
Another trip took us to a neighbored district where we hoped to meet a tailor for choosing and fitting hand-made suits. Manila is already large in terms of its sole expansion, but turns even bigger by the traffic-related average pace of stop and go and stop and go and stop and go… The respective rides took us through all kinds of short-cuts to escape from the primary route jams and therewith offered the opposite perspective with oppressive poverty and criminal contamination of living spaces. If one asks me if this is the real Manila, I would deny. I assume the truth embraces both the just described impressions, contains all shades in between, and goes way beyond.
Open your eyes yourself, come by, have a look and experience the diverse city of Manila! Doing this, I recommend, as a closing tourist advice, to secure your taxi before the rain starts.