. Manila has the worst traffic I've ever seen...worse than NY, Houston, LA, Denver, or Osaka - BY FAR! Just a slow night of getting to the hostel, having a big ol grilled meat dinner and then looking around the Malate area.
The next day I slept in and then met up with Stefen at the mall and had a huge Chicago-style pizza pie, which was superb! We decided to go to Divisoria market, a cheap market with supposedly everything imaginable, but strangely to us where like the only foreigners there and it seems like they rarely get foreigners. Its fine by me because I'm used to all of this and its again good because Stefen can see once again what I deal with on a regular basis as everyone is staring or yelling something at us or trying to get us to come over...its pretty funny. Anyway, Stefen gets a new watch for $3 and we both need a new towel and get big bath towels for $2.50 and are really happy when they stitch our names on them for free - we enjoy the simple things in life! Then I buy two Polo shirts for $3 and being happy with our purchases we decide to walk back to the hotel through a few of Manilas parks and down by the harbor. First we walk through Intramuros, which is the old Spanish occupied section of Manila and has some great Spanish architecture and courtyards and cobblestone streets. Then we walk on through Rizal Park, Rizal being a famous hero who rebelled against the Spaniards and was executed. It's a really nice park with a lot of open space and grass and trees and fountains and a few memorial statues. It also has some Japanese and Chinese gardens but they aren't too impressive really. As we're taking a picture of La Madre de Filipinos, a man comes up to us and asks us to take a picture with some girls...confused, we look around and see two young and cute Filipino girls shyly looking over. Again, being something that I'm really used to I tell them sure and they come over and take a group picture with us, I was looking fabulous being that it was laundry day, and then they want individual pictures so we oblige them being the humble and noble men that we are
. But we're both really hungry and then take off to the harbor or wharf for some fresh seafood. The fish was amazing, Stefen had red snapper and mussels and I had grilled tuna belly. Fresh seafood is the best and I'm loving it as I can't eat seafood where I live in China. We then walk back to the hotel and coincidentally bump into the same two statue girls on some random street, so we walk and talk and tell them where we'll be later, but don't really expect much. We didn't see them again and end up at this Spanish-Caribbean restaurant with live singers and a friendly bar manager, who we drink with for a while and we have some fun with the waitresses. After Stefen throws up from a tequila shot (haha) we head off to another close-by area that's supposed to have a good nightlife and go to LA Café, which the guide book describes as a late-night place for dancing and drinking when in actuality LA Café just might be the worlds largest hooker bar! We walk in and of the 500 people there, 95% are young Filipino women, all with eyes like a hawk so if you look around the room just to take in the place you can see dozens of eyes lock on you hoping for that come-hither look that says "come join me"! It's a funny place and we talk to a few of the girls and they're pretty nice actually. They try to work us and we have a few laughs. "Oh we go with you and stay the night" is asked and then Stefen and I squeeze away and make some excuses and fly out! A really funny time and definitely one of those 'had to be there to truly enjoy it' nights.
There's only one bus from Banaue to Manila and it leaves at 17:30 and arrives in Manila at 3:30 am! Who the hell decided that schedule? I can't even fathom why anyone would want to arrive in manila at 3:30 am - we decide that the vendors in Banaue wanna keep the travelers there as long as possible! So instead of waiting we hop a jeepney to Bagabad junction, where the main northern highway meets up with the mountain passways. At the junction we only have to wait about 20 minutes before we are able to get on a bus to Manila and we figure that's a much better way than waiting around Banaue all day and then being stuck on the same bus in the same seat for 9 straight hours. We try to entertain ourselves in various ways - making new inventions such as the bus head sling, the adventures of having my seat fold forward in half on me and then Stefen and a Filipino wrestling it back into position while I lie on the floor laughing and not helping! Then we force the driver to put on a movie and its some old Stephen Seagal flick, but we finally arrive in Manila about 8