Mini Manila Adventure
Last year I received a Christmas gift in the form of an overnight stay at the Manila Hotel for one night — what better way than to spend it with my family!
We finally found a date where everyone was available and after weeks of excitement, we were there! Being the curious traveler that I am, I checked out Google for “travel tips” when in Manila. Despite living here for more than 10 years now, I have never strolled along Roxas Boulevard or see the gardens in Luneta Park. I had also just recently heard of the KM 0 mark — where all maps supposedly use as the center of Manila. For example, if the map states that Quezon City is 14 km (<– random figure!!) from Manila, the point starts at the KM 0 marker.
So, after searching, I invited my family to go out to Luneta Park to explore and just walk around. Just before sunset, we set out. While walking from the hotel, I tried to imagine myself as a tourist. I've strolled through many streets in different countries and if I try to ignore the exhaust coming from the cars, I can almost see Manila as a popular city destination.
Our first stop was the KM 0 marker, which I immediately found (thanks to a previous blog post). I can imagine it being unnoticed as it is near the main road and faces it.
It’s sad that I don’t have a shot of the marker with the “M” on it. Wow. Amazing what people actually steal here. If someone ever chooses to steal the remaining letter and number, no one would recognize the marker. It’ s bit hilarious.
So we crossed the street and walked around Luneta Park.
I read that we actually have a Japanese and Chinese garden (surprise, surprise) and since the entrance fee was only P5, I begged everyone to go in with me.
It was funny because the tickets states “Japanese Garden” but the arch marking the entrance had Chinese characters all over it and there was a memorial inside the garden celebrating Filipino-Chinese friendship/cooperation. Weird.
Sooo.. there was nothing special in the gardens. It was a bit dirty. The lake (pond?) was green and unappealing, there were trash everywhere, and most of all, couples! The garden was full of couples lying in the grass you had nowhere to step on. Seeing we are Chinese, they must have thought we were tourists and we had to endure several stares. Ugh.
After going around the garden, we headed back to Roxas Boulevard, crossed the street again, and headed for the Hotel H20 where I suggested we eat dinner. The sun was already setting…
…and by the time we got to the hotel, it was almost dark. I had eaten at Makansutra before with my officemates, but to my surprise, it has been changed to Makan Makan Asian Village. We had a great dinner before heading back to our hotel to rest.
Despite knowing our tourist spots are not well-maintained, take time to explore them. I remember enjoying riding a kalesa around Intramuros listening to the driver talk about the old buildings that use to stand. It’s my hope that I can visit other famous landmarks and wondrous sights of nature within the Philippines soon.