Welcome to the Philippines
Trip Start Jan 17, 2008
186Trip End Jun 30, 2009
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The large amount of malls means that you have everything you want all in one place, we were able to do some shopping, then have lunch, then go ten-pin bowling (Daniella beat Jon convincingly), do more shopping, then have dinner -all without leaving the mall). One slightly less nice thing we have noticed in Manila, is that are many older Western men with young Filipino women. Manila, and the Philippines in general are big prostitution hotspots as over 70% of visitors to the country are single men, who come with only 1 thing on their minds. In the area around our hotel, which is very nice with upmarket malls and hotels, there are also lots of bars catering for this type of action with pictures of women on the outside or a few sitting around the entrance trying to get men to go in.
Manila, as far as I can see consists of two different types of areas, either flashy large malls and shopping areas or run-down areas which have been left behind in the drive to modernize. It is a chaotic place and getting from A to B takes a long time due to the absolutely terrible traffic situation - probably one of the worst I have ever seen - it is really badly congested. We got around by a combination of taxis and jeepneys, which are old jeeps or vans that have been lengthened to accommodate passengers on two rows of benches at the backs. Some are decorated really individually with lots of crazy designs and colours, as well religious sayings (Philipines is a very Catholic country - apart from the Southern island of Mindanao which is mostly Muslim (and fighting a separatist conflict there at the moment).
We have spent only two days in Manila, before we are leaving the chaotic and extremely polluted metropolis of 16 million people, before we headed southwards to Batangas to catch a ferry over to Sabang. On the way to Batangas we stopped at the Taal Volcano, which is one of the most active volcanoes in the world. We took the brave decision to hike up to the crater, rather than go by horseback which is what all the other visitors were doing. It was really hot, and there was no cover from the sun but it was not too bad at all really. At the top, we peered over into the crater where there is a lake at the bottom. You can see smoke coming out of the ground and there was a really strong smell of sulphur about - the views were incredible, as we were on an island within an island!