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In the Summer of 2016, a travel to Asia. We hit Manila in the Philippines, Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and Phuket in Thailand. We spent 5 days in the Philippines, 7 in Malaysia, and 23 in Thailand. Thailand is a hard place to give up! Here are some of the highlights of our trip with Ultimate Country Guides – 3-part guide
By Cyril House
The streets wept with extreme poverty, and the water of Manila Bay is near radioactive it is so ridden by industrial pollutants, but all beauty of the culture was readily apparent. Underneath its gruff exterior, there was a rich and powerful culture which was not to be bowed by that which lay atop it. We came in at 0200 and had quite the scare when the cab dropped us at our hotel in the middle of a particularly intimidating neighbourhood and they told us we would have to wait 11 hours to check in. But after calling them out on the hustle, and providing them with the apparent solution, we were admitted and slept a restful few hours. The following days we would awake around 0600 (still skewed from jetlag) and hike out on adventures through town. We did 3 days in a row of walking 26 kilometres by foot and taking a Tuk’tuk back after. We saw many beautiful things in the city such as:
The Cathedral of St. Augustine
Definitely worth a tour. There was a wedding happening within when we visited and so some of the auspices seemed dulled by the frequency of high energy interruptions in our gander. Yet, nonetheless, we were awed by the magnificence of the architecture and sculpture-work within. We do not follow traditional religion and this place was overwhelmingly impressive, I suspect that for a Roman Catholic, in particular, the experience would be euphoric. There was also a very nice crypt beneath the place which we were able to tour and check out the sarcophagi of old, dead, prominent members of the church.
The Navy Base
The Navy Base was really cool. We were not able to enter it and tour, but the outside was interesting enough. Many soldiers putzing about with assault rifles guarded the gates and walls of the complex, and around the perimeter of the base are a few displays for the public, such as a tank, a helicopter, and an anti-aircraft gun. Right on Manila Bay, it is set against a refreshing looking backdrop of South China Sea; do not be fooled though, a quick chat with the locals will inform you that this water is extremely polluted and absolutely not recommended for swimming.
The Manila Zoo
The Manila Zoo was fucking depressing. We regretted, almost immediately, supporting the establishment with our entry fees. There were all sorts of exotic animals there, but they were all kept in disgustingly small habitats and confinements. We do not recommend supporting/visiting this place.
Painted Art Museum
We visited two museums in Manila. The first was a painted art museum and was extremely nice with many great displays. We forget the name of it, but it was in the general area of Manila Bay.
Designed Art Museum
The second museum, of which we also forget the name, but was in the same general area, was some sort of a cultural museum. This museum was super cool to hang out in, there was so many awesome knick-knacks and displays and each had a very interesting read associated with it. A great deal of insight was there to be had regarding the Spanish colonial history in the area. There were about a half dozen separate rooms with different types of displays and design themes in them. Some more artistic in nature while others more practical and artefactual in nature.
The Fort was super cool to be inside and to feel the powers and energies of the past flowing throughout. Being a premier tourist attraction there is a great deal of information on this place throughout the internet. We were not aware of its popularity upon arrival, but it drew us to it nonetheless. We spent a good three hours meandering about in this old fort, and I could have spent several hours more except that an old war-time construct was less so mesmerizing to my lovely fiancée.
Intramuros, the original city core of Manila, still encased within its ancient stone walls. This section of town was uninteresting and unappealing. Less so the culture and history that existed within it, but Moreso the current cultural reality of the place. It was extremely expensive to do anything around this area, and the sheer number of tourists made it a hunting ground for the commercial industry. Shopkeepers harassing us to buy products and eat at their restaurant, and taxis harassing us to allow them to take us on a tour. There were several taxi tour guides who literally followed us after we had walked away from them and would not take no for an answer until I got nearly offensive with them. Additionally, this area was packed with tourists and we were there in the off-season, so I assume that in high season this area becomes a cesspool of and white privilege commercial hunting.