An Alien in Spain - Visits Philippines (Manila)

My journey started with an 8 pm bus ride from Torrevieja in Spain to Alicante Bus station which took about an hour and cost me less than 5 euro after which I killed time in a bar until it was time to catch the 01.45 am bus to Madrid at a cost of 45 euro which set me down at T4 Madrid Airport at 06.50 am in plenty of time to catch my Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong at 9.45 am and after a quick change of plane arrived in Manila lunch time local time.

I stayed in a Hotel "Casa Bocobo"(Booking.com), good for exploring the nearby sights of the old city if you don't mind being in the "Red Light District".

I was a 5 minute walk to "Rizal Park" a recommended place to visit and on top of that I was lucky that February was the month they were celebrating Philippine Heritage with free live shows in the open air theatre in the evenings.

My afternoon walk took in the main park with its statues and memorial to Jose Rizal the man credited with starting the freedom movement with his martyrdom which led to independence for the Philippines from Spanish rule.

The Chinese Park within the park cost a couple of Pesos to enter and is a sea of tranquillity despite there being no chaos or clamour surrounding it and it is easy to lose track of time wandering around and taking in the sayings of Confucius, and watching the locals martial arts training or just soaking up the atmosphere.

After an afternoon siesta it was time to head out to see a bit of the city and grab some food so what better place to try than Binondo, Where, after a quick visit to The Minor Basilica of St Lorenzo Ruiz at the top of Ongpin Street it is a simple task to follow the street all the way through the centre of Manilas Chinatown feasting on such delicacies as Fish Balls, Chicken Balls, Squid Balls, Kikiam & quails eggs from stalls along the way or pop into an authentic Chinese restaurant serving meals from 100 pesos.

My companion then decided I should see the largest shopping mall in Asia so a cab ride of 200 pesos brought us to The "Mall of Asia" complex which if you want to go shopping for anything, you will find it here. It is also opposite an esplanade with a big wheel, bit like a London Eye, but older, from which you can get a great view from the top and for only 50 pesos.

Around the Mall you will find eating establishments and one outside had a live group performing so it would have been rude not to grab a beer and relax before a cab ride home to bed and a good nights sleep.

Day 2

Sightseeing started late today due to jet lag from yesterday but by early afternoon I was on my way and from Rizal Park it is a short 20-30 minute walk to Intramuros (The original walled city) where the historic monuments are to be seen. You can do it yourself walking but in the heat of the day it seemed a better idea to take a tricycle tour for 600 pesos (9.50 euro for 2)

The tour started at Fort Santiago built in 1571 it was where Jose Rizal was incarcerated prior to his execution and there is a museum free to visit along with other interesting sites within.

A very short ride (or walk) will bring you to Manila Cathedral which was also built in 1571 but has suffered from fire, earthquakes & wars and has been rebuilt 8 times but is still a place to admire

On the way to our next attraction we stopped off at a square with a monument dedicated to the youth that lost their lives in the war.

The one but last stop brought us to San Agustin Church built at the end of the 16th Century, a UNESCO site and the oldest church in the Philippines. Entry is not allowed when a wedding is going on so unable to post lots of pics.

Our final port of call was to Casa Manila at which stage the battery on my i-pad went dead but it is an old colonial house with courtyards and fountains where you can eat the overpriced and not all that tasty food at exorbitant prices which you will no doubt realise i did.

That evening I revisited Rizal park after dark and my first surprise was the lake had come alive with a sound and light show that happens every night between 6 pm - 9 pm every day of the week

Later I joined a packed open air theatre to watch a variety of acts which included a classical singer, a hip hop group of tumblers, Local Folk Group and even a Philippines got talent winner singer.

A couple of San Miguel beers from the local 7/11 at less than 50 pesos a bottle brought a very happy bunny to bed with a flight to Cebu and a boat to our next destination awaiting when I wake up.

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