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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

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The beginning of our journey to Manila went fairly slowly as the driver negotiated our way down the windy hillside roads in the rain. Once we had made it on to the flat, it really should have been plain sailing but unfortunately our deluxe bus seemed to have a few problems in the suspension department. It made the ride to the rice terraces on Salvador's tricycle the equivalent to floating along on a mill pond, this was more like sitting on top of a pneumatic drill going to work on some concrete. To begin with it was quite amusing when we were thrown about 50cm out of our seats, but for me at least it soon got a bit tiring. I had to move to another part of the coach which was a little better and managed to drift in and out of consciousness.

We arrived in Manila at around 3:15am, we had very little money and needed to find some where to stay. A taxi picked us up and we simply asked to be taken to an area with a few hotels via a cash point. He ended up returning us to the same area we'd stayed in before, which was quite good in a way because now that we were both well we got to experience it in a different way.

We ended up staying at the Sohotel, which is not exactly a conventional hotel. The rooms are all situated above garages and reception is really just a desk outside. You can pay for rooms here for as little as three hours, which may give you the picture. Also when I left the room they felt the need to phone Adam to make sure he was aware of this and ok with it. Although it does market itself as providing rooms for parties and gatherings, there is definitely a certain vibe to the place. That said the room was really nice; it was modern, clean and at 3:30am all we wanted was to go to sleep.

When we woke up the next morning we went in search of some food, and ended up at our old haunt, the mall. Having had a bit of a chat about the Sohotel over breakfast we both decided that it was a little on the expensive side and the badly hidden undertones were hard to ignore. After filling our tummies we went in search of somewhere else to stay, we stumbled across a few more dodgy establishments before settling on SoGo. Again you could rent rooms here for less than a full night, although they were more like windowless cells, but it at least presented itself as a hotel and was good value for money.

The next day we wanted to head South to the town of Tagatay because it offers a great vantage point for seeing the Taal Volcano which sits on an island in the middle of Taal Lake. We had an idea of where we could catch a bus from but decided it was a good idea to go on a recky to find out when the buses left. We caught the MRT which is Manila's light railway across town to an area called Edsa and found out that buses went regularly so that provided us with some good options for the next day.

We then rode the MRT all the way across to the other side of the city to go in search of a Chinese graveyard. It is somewhat unconventional in that people have actually moved in and set up home in and around the graves. We got off the train and walked up a very busy street. A lot of the pavements in Manila are undercover, there are plenty of raised walkways and the tracks of the MRT loom over head which gives the city a slightly oppressive feel at times. Still it adds to the atmosphere and you feel like you are delving deep into what makes the capital tick.

In the end it seemed that we had gone the wrong way and there didn't appear to be an entrance into the graveyard. By now it was getting a bit late and the sun was beginning to set, there was something slightly creepy about the idea of wandering around with the dead in the fading light, even if they were surrounded by the living. Although I think Adam would have tried to find a way in, we decided it was better to head back towards the hotel and find some dinner.

After having a nice meal at a restaurant that had been recommended to us by the taxi driver when we'd first arrived in Manila we began a new search. Adam's guidebook made mention of a local bar called the Hobbit House, which unsurprisingly is run by dwarfs. We thought it would be an unusual place to go and have a drink, we haven't really had a night out since we came away so we thought we were due one.
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Finding this watering hole however proved to be tricky and we were told various different things by different people. We gave up for a little while and sought refuge in the Hyatt's casino. When we had been in Manila before our hotel room was just across the street from the casino and it is most definitely a place which never sleeps, so we were intrigued to have a look around inside. I've never been to one before, so it was all new for me. Adam has been to Las Vegas so had more of an idea what to expect.

We played it safe, only changing a small amount of money and then we hit the slot machines. I'm really not sure how people sit there all day long hitting the play button. Although there is a slight rush when the machine decides something significant has happened on a spin, we could never quite figure out why some things were good and others weren't, it is really short lived and at the end of the day there is no skill involved. It was fun being a part of it for a short while, but as Adam and I said later, there is something very depressing about a casino. You wonder just how many people's lives have been ruined in those places, or how for some people that soulless room is their whole world.

Back out in the real world we continued our search for the Hobbit House.
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After getting some directions from a couple of security guards we headed down one street but found nothing except some other bar staff trying to lure us in. We asked them if they knew where the Hobbit House was, and tried to signal that it was run by little people. Now in a town where you can rent a room by the hour and there are a number of bars with scantily clad women parading around outside, you can kind of imagine what people may have been thinking. In the end we were worried people were getting the wrong impression and asked a tricycle driver to take us.

The door to the Hobbit House was huge and circular, I was quite excited when we stepped inside. I'm not quite sure what I was expecting but it wasn't like stepping into Lord of The Rings, it was really just a bar and the majority of the clientèle were Westerners. There were a few dwarfs working there but not many, I'm pretty sure the bartender was in fact a child rather than a dwarf. We stayed for a couple of drinks and then headed over to another bar which we'd come across earlier in the night. It was ladies night so I got in free but Adam had to pay, we tried to get him in for free too but they weren't having it. In the end they gave us a 10% discount card for drinks and food.

We were shown to a table and settled down for an interesting evening. There was a band up on stage who were playing some quite heavy rock music. As the evening progressed we were increasingly impressed with them. They only played covers, but that was good for us because we knew most of the songs and it highlighted just how talented they were. Especially the lead singer who had a kind of glam rock feel to him with seriously long and slightly frizzy black hair. He was a demon on the guitar though and really got into it, head banging and all. There was also a country and western acoustic set by a lady boy. All in all it was a really fun evening and we went back to the hotel having experienced a completely different side to Manila.

The next morning we were feeling a little bit sorry for ourselves, so after devouring a pizza we took a taxi to the bus station and started our journey south.

More Soon

Laura & Adam

Posted by LauHot10 05:53 Archived in Philippines Tagged round_the_world

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