Manila and the Bittersweet Intramuros

Finally we arrived in MNL Boutique Hostel, in Valdes Street, a place where Valentina will stay during her trip in Manila while I am going separated from her and continue my journey to Banaue Rice Terraces, the Unesco Heritage Site. It took so much energy to find the hostel, most of the reason because we knew nothing about the area and get lost by the Jeepney. But once we arrived in the hostel, we feel so much better because the hostel looks so small outside but so comfort inside. Guys who welcomed us also very friendly and willing to answer our question regarding to places to visit – for me, about Banaue and how to go there.



MNL Boutique Hostel from outside.


Fresh after able to shower!


Later on I got a permission from him to take shower and have a rest a bit before we (Valentina and I) continued the journey to go around Manila city. The idea to only taking a rest for few minutes ended up to be around 2 hours! We felt so tired more than we think before! After fully waking up and had a shower, we try to find lunch first before going to Intramuros. The old town area that famous because of it’s history during Spanish Colonial Government in Philippines.


We walked a bit to one plaza and come inside Gilligan’s restaurant. It’s so funny to see there is an local ice cream seller in front of our hostel and look just the same with one we have in Indonesia! Later on, I found many words similar (or almost the same) between Tagalog and Bahasa. For instance, Jackfruit in Tagalog is Langka, in Bahasa it’s Nangka. Then street = jalan, both of us use it.


Valentina bought the local ice cream. We called here es tung-tung 😛


Came inside of the restaurant and have no idea at all what to ordered that moment, then a friendly guy explain to us about the menu. His name is Neo and he’s the one who assure me that it’s possible to go to Banaue tonight and back again tomorrow night. Now I trust local people more than google, hehe. It was so good that they have lunch promotion, I ordered chicken while Valentina order pork and it’s only cost us for 99 peso/person. A good deal, isn’t it? 😉


The low cost lunch promotion deal.


I forget this sweet dessert name, but we don’t have it in Indonesia, and it tastes really really good!


With Neo, the friendly restaurant crew.


Then we took the Jeepney to go to Intramuros, it was a funny story again, because we got lost in our way to go there. Someone suggested us to take a jeepney to Intramuros from a street close to Peninsula Hotel. We were trying so hard to walk and find the hotel but can not find it. I brought my own backpack because I wanna go directly to bus station from Intramuros and it’s kind annoying to walk with heavy backpack. Fiuh. Anyway, finally we able to take right Jeepney to go to Intramuros, but when the driver dropped us in an empty building (I think it was a theater before) – we suddenly feel so strange and a bit afraid with the area. To go to Intramuros, we need to pass a Post Office Building, a beautiful building but have parks which become into kind of slum area, where so many people sleep, showered, eat, talk in the park. Yes, shower. We pretended to look normal and not showing any nervous, just walk straight to Intramuros even we don’t really know where is the Intramuros located! Then we found a rickshaw – after bargain a bit, he agreed to bring us to Fort Santiago.



In the park where so many people gather and seems to sleep there too 😦


The normal view you will see in the park.


Intramuros actually is a huge area which has many great building to visit as well, such as Manila Cathedral, Fort Santiago, San Agustin Church and Museum, etc etc. We didn’t have fix plan which building we want to visit. We just stopped in Fort Santiago and try to enjoy the day.


The ticket counter.



Beautiful park inside Fort Santiago.


To come inside of Fort Santiago, we need to pay 75 peso/one person. And it will open for 8 am to 6 pm. There is a guard with cool costume that makes you think you are in Spanish Colonial era, greeted us. I just like the dress he wore. Later on, there is also another classic horse ride which really completely make you feel you are in an old era not in 2014. Fort Santiago area itself really clean and very nice to visit for a good walking. Later on, we met such an angel boy. His name is Sebastian. We didn’t understand at the beginning why he wore an angel costume. But later on, we found out, it was a Santa de Mayo celebration day, that’s why so many people wearing unique costume around Fort Santiago.



Me and Sebastian, he told me so proudly about his “magic glow in the dark” stick, so cute!


Without expecting, suddenly rain came and force us to find a place to make us stay dry. We entered a building that already full with people without knowing what’s the building purpose. I just saw the sign it is a Teatro, which I can simply guess it’s a Theater. Good thing that our face looks like Filipino so no one asked us or see us in weird face when see us sitting together with locals which we have no idea what’s going on, why so many people wear dresses like in different era – I could say like in Bible era. Ohh, then again, it’s for the Santa de Mayo celebration. Hurray, we have a free entertainment, hehe. All of us waiting the rain stopped, those people because they want to bring a giant of Virgin Mary statue around Santiago and do the walk, then us, because we wanna see this celebration and their performance.




Valentina sitting in the middle of the locals 😛 Pretending as one of the local.


When the rain finally stopped, they stand in a long line and the walk started, it’s so fun to see them, first time in my life I saw that kind of celebration. Even the weather it’s so hot (before rain) – all of them still wearing those complicated dress and make up. Amazing!





Santa de Mayo Celebration started…


Finish in Fort de Santiago, we wanna walk around Intramuros, but then a rickshaw driver offered us to see around Intramuros with rickshaw. First I don’t feel like taking any rickshaw, but he begged so much and cut the first price he offered into half. While showing to us a laminated brochure with some of famous places to visit in Intramuros, he said, we can see those of places in one ride. First he asked the price about 300 peso, then we bargained for 150 peso (2 person).


Playing with the rickshaw..


Me and the Rickshaw driver…


But later on, when we finally finish our visit in Intramuros he asked for 600 peso, because he said it’s written in the brochure 150 peso (or 300 peso in the beginning) is only for 30 minutes of rickshaw (not 30 minutes riding). Ah yeah, he was right, it’s written in the brochure but it’s already blur words and he didn’t mention it in beginning. He said, the whole (short) usage of rickshaw already took 2 hours (bleh, it was maybe around 1 hour actually) so we need to pay 150 peso X 4 times of 30’. What a scammer!


I was so upset with his behavior and think he tried to ripe us a lot! Actually he didn’t ride the rickshaw that much because one place to another are nearby. Then he brought us to souvernir shop which took around 30 minutes itself – without he saying anything about that stupid terms. Husshaa, it’s not about the money, but it’s really annoyed us as tourist. Since the situation already dark and I wanted go to bus station while Valentina want to go back to the hostel, so we just pay him for 400 peso. We told him, that’s the best we can give to him. In USD it cost around USD 12 for that stupid riding rickshaw. But anyway, I hope it became a blessing for him and perhaps they change their idea of ripping tourist by doing that kind of service.


But he took some good pictures for make us remember about the bittersweet experience in Intramuros.




Pictures of me taken by him.


The glimpse of Intramuros in the evening…








Tips :

  • Beer in Manila only cost for USD 1/can. Crazy price! Almost cheaper than water!
  • Do not forget, again, DO NOT FORGET, to ask the price of rickshaw clearly – how much in total and whether the price is for TWO person or for EACH person.
  • Check the brochure, check every terms they put in the brochure, don’t repeat our mistake.
  • In every MRT station, you need to open your bag for the security check purpose, so make sure you don’t bring heavy backpack as me which so annoying to open it all the time to show them what’s inside (my smell clothes – eh :P).


    • Hello! Thanks a lot for the compliment, Duke 🙂 I wish I ever been in Pallawan, I think it’s such a beautiful place especially with the underwater cave listed as Unesco Heritage. For Manila, I don’t think I’ve seen much there since I only stay there for (maybe) 2 days. I only visited Intramuros – nice old Spanish style area and Jose Rizal Park (will write about it later). I suggest you to find a Filipino friend first so you won’t get lost in the city 🙂 Enjoy your holiday, Dea


      • Will you go to Banaue? if you have few days in Manila, I suggest you to take an evening bus to Banaue and do the trekking there. It’s beautiful rice terraces hills (UNESCO Heritage as well). I once was there and spend time around 2 nights, 1 day. But if you have more time, you can stay over there for 1-2 nights 🙂


      • Hmm, I think we only have a short time in Manilla and will mostly stick to Pallawan (El Nido) to get some relaxation and beach time. I’ll keep that in mind though. You’ve been most helpful!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s