Dragon Air Bangalore flight breakfast meal

Philippines: The itinerary this time around; UP Diliman and Maginhawa

Well, I did it. I visited Philippines a third time. Why? Well, truth be told, I was supposed to visit Japan in March. I have been longing to visit Japan since childhood, and I was dreaming about visiting Japan around the sakura (cherry-blossom) season for over a year now. But for reasons too long to mention (mostly related to income tax paper work for visa processing) I missed the cherry-blossom season. So I decided to visit Philippines instead, a country that always rewards me traffic-wise more than any other nation I have visited.

This time I would most certainly do the Mt. Pinatubo trek, visit Oslob and finally see whalesharks, fly down to Davao and visit places in and around Manila. Unlike last year, I didn’t face any harrowing experience getting my tourist visa. Although, it did cost me a dear Rs. 7k to get it done quick using Thomas Cook as an agent. I could have gone and applied for it myself, but I’m still scarred by the Chennai Philippines Consulate experience of last year.

Anyway, the trip was planned for 25 days. Mostly because now tourist visas are granted for up to 30 days of stay for Indians, not 21 like before. I also decided I wouldn’t rush around this time. I wanted to relax and take it easy for once. It’s okay if I didn’t go anywhere on a particular day. Plus I still had my freelance work to do while travelling.

April 26, 2014

Like last year, I was going to be flying Dragon Air from Bangalore to Hong Kong, and then catch a connecting Cathay Pacific flight to Manila. Even though the flight was slightly delayed, I was kind of impressed by the fact Dragon Air had remarkably improved its service on this sector.

Dragon Air interior Bangalore flight
Last year, the plane I flew was old, the in-flight entertainment sucked and the food was mediocre at best. This year, Dragon Air made flight depart earlier, every seat had a video screen with great entertainment choice and plane was very new!
Dragon Air Bangalore flight breakfast meal
I slept through much of the flight, only to wake up when it was time to eat breakfast

The stop-over at Hong Kong airport was around 5 hours and I used the opportunity to get some work done. I was feeling unwell, so the freezing cold inside the airport wasn’t helping. The flight from Hong Kong to Manila was Cathay Pacific, and all we were served on the flight was a chicken cheese wrap, of which I asked for one more as they had extras — and I was hungry.

I landed in Manila around 5pm and made my way to Cubao by bus. It was a mistake to take the bus — the journey took over two hours due to evening traffic. I finally made my way to the hotel I would be staying at. I decided to stay at Fersal Hotel on Annapolis Street in Cubao. It’s a budget hotel and I chose to stay here because it was close to where I could meet reader/friend Gale, who lived and worked near University of the Philippines, which wasn’t too far away. Also, most good hostels in Manila are all in Makati and Malate.

Fersal Annapolis hotel room Manila
It cost me PHP 1020 per night inclusive of breakfast
Spanish mushroom omlette breakfast Fersal hotel
And the breakfast options weren’t bad

The next day, I met up with my friend Gale, who offered to show me around University of the Philippines, Diliman campus — or UP Diliman as the locals call it. It’s also where she works as a researcher.

UP diliman park
Despite Manila being a concrete jungle, there is lush greenery around the University of the Philippines, Diliman campus and inside it
University of Philippines Diliman-entance
Today was graduation day. The girls were dressed in off-white gowns and the guys wear barong tagalog, which is a traditional embroidered Filipino shirt
Oblation statue UP Diliman
This statue at the entrance of the university is called Oblation, and it’s an icon of UP
Dory fish fillet meal Manila
Gale treated me to lunch at a cosy eatery called ROC inside the campus
UP Diliman main road trees
We then walked around the massive campus
UP diliman film center
The film center where they showcase films by students of the film school
UP Diliman engineering building
The engineering block
UP Diliman campus Manila
An old sun dial
Church UP Diliman Parish of the Holy Sacrifice
Gale then took me to a church inside the campus
UP Diliman church Manila Parish of the Holy Sacrifice
The Parish of the Holy Sacrifice was a dome with open air columns all around allowing for natural air flow

Funny thing. While walking out, a young boy begging for money called me “Father”. Not as in ‘dad’ but assuming I was a priest. Gale told me Indian missionaries occasionally visit this church (I’m guessing Keralite Christians).

Shopping center UP Diliman
This is the shopping center in UP, but it’s mostly filled with copy centers and restaurants — and places that do both πŸ™‚

The tour of UP Diliman was brief because I still wasn’t feeling my best. I said my goodbyes to Gale and took a jeepney back as I wanted to rest some more. We agreed to meet up for lunch the following day.

On Saturday, Gale took me to Maginhawa which has been nick-named “Food Street” given the plethora of eateries in the area.

Maginhawa restaurant complex Manila
Meshwe is a Lebanese/Middle-Eastern restaurant we wanted to try, but when we went there it was closed

So we walked to Uncle Moe’s shawarma joint nearby.

Uncle Moe's shawarma Maginhawa Manila
I had a chicken shawarma, while Gale had minced beef, rice and a pita bread. Total cost came to PHP 255 (Rs. 340/$5/€4) including a beer.
Maginhawa Sikatuna barangay Manila
The neighbourhood where Maginahawa is located at looks quite nice, although you won’t really notice the eateries much because many of them are spread apart
Maginhawa street Manila
But trust me, this place has a lot — eateries specializing in burgers, pasta, Japanese, Korean, Persian, American, pan-Asian, and Filipino cuisine
Manila shanty homes Philippines
Passed by these shanty homes on the way back to my hotel

The next post is my trek to Mt. Pinatubo with Gale (and others), and it’s a big one! My trip begins!

Next posts in this series:

Philippines 2014: Trek to Mount Pinatubo crater lake

Philippines 2014: Oslob – Swimming with whale sharks

Philippines 2014: Tumalog Falls; Oslob church, Cuartel

Philippines 2014: Leaving Cebu for Davao; Davao City sights

Philippines 2014: Sky Cycle at Eden Nature Park, Davao

Philippines 2014: Attractions at Eden Nature Park… and getting lost

Philippines 2014: Philippine Eagle Center, Davao

Philippines 2014: Scuba diving for the first time, at Samal Island (Davao)

Philippines 2014: Japanese tunnel; leaving Davao for Manila

Philippines 2014: Bargain shopping in Manila; Paseo de Santa Rosa & Solenad

Philippines 2014: Corregidor Island tour

Philippines 2014: Manila Chinese Cemetery

Philippines 2014: Pahiyas Festival in Lucban; Kamay Ni Hesus

My Philippines journeys: 2011 series | 2013 series

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