Jan 14

Philippines 2013: Khalsa Diwan Sikh Temple; leaving Manila for Hong Kong

Date: June 3, 2013

Today was my last full day in Manila. I had to step out of the condo as Janet had to go for work. I really didn’t have much planned for today as far as sight-seeing was concerned. I packed light and carried only my Canon 7D camera.

I said my goodbyes to Janet and made my way to UN Avenue station. I was at this stop because I was searching for the Sikh temple in Manila. Online, the Khalsa Diwan was listed as being situated on UN Avenue road. I walked down the road a bit, but didn’t find any temple and the people I asked couldn’t comprehend what I was asking about either.

I walked back to UN Avenue station where I was approached by one of the many cycle taxi drivers who asked me where I wanted to go. I told him I was looking for the Sikh temple… which he didn’t understand. So I just said “Indian temple” and then he went, “ah! sure!”

From inside tricycle taxi Manila

The cycle went down the same road I walked on earlier… only much further down

Indian grocery stores Manila Philippines

I guess he was in the right direction when I saw these Indian grocery stores

The name is Khalsa Dewan Sikh Temple and it is the oldest (and only?) gurudwara in Manila. Like a lot countries in South East Asia, much of the Indian population that have been here for decades are predominantly of Punjabi/Sindhi origin. Philippines isn’t that different either.

Khalsa Dewan Sikh temple Manila Philippines

The facade

Inside Khalsa Dewan Sikh temple Manila

It doesn’t appear to be very big

Khalsa Dewan Punjab icons

I went upstairs

Khalsa Diwan Sikh temple floor

The main prayer hall

Khalsa Dewan langar room

I came back down to the langar for a meal. Like all gurudwaras, anybody and everybody is served a free meal — regardless of their faith.

Roti dal thali Sikh temple Manila

After two weeks of “non-masala” food, Indian flavour tasted so good. Even if was just roti, dal curry and semolina paysam.

Feeling full, I left the gurudwara after making a ₱100 donation.

Paco Manila UN Avenue bridge

I crossed the road to get a better view of the temple’s exterior. The temple is situated right after a bridge.

I walked back to UN Avenue LRT station and took the train to Monumento station. I had seen quite a few malls and markets in the area way back in 2011, but couldn’t explore much because it rained heavily that day.

But after roaming around the area for nearly two hours, I didn’t find much of a difference in prices or quality than what you would find even in areas like Makati. So I left.

Pasay aerial view Manila

An aerial view of the Pasay junction from one of the overbridges

I made way back to Ayala because I made plans with Janet to go out for drinks in the evening.

Manila city skyline evening sunset

One final evening sunset in Manila

Janet promised to take me to her favourite restaurant/bar she frequents called Giligan’s at Market! Market!

TV channels camera crew Manila

On my way there, I saw a big gathering of camera crew all lined up

Ayala condo BGC explosion

Just yesterday, there was a loud explosion at this Serendra condos, which claimed the lives of 3 people. The damage was caused by an LPG line explosion.

I met up with Janet and we went to Giligan’s after I picked up a bottle of watermelon rum I really liked.

Baked cheese oysters Giligans Manila

Fresh baked oysters for ₱138 (Rs. 190/$3/€2.2)  just a plate!

Razon's Halo Halo Filipino dessert

After a pleasant dinner, Janet recommended I try halo halo from Razon’s. Halo Halo is the Philippines’ equivalent of India’s falooda

After that, it was back to the condo for packing bags and an early night’s sleep.

Date: June 4, 2013

I left the condo with Janet after a light breakfast. Janet was kind enough to hire a taxi and see me off at the airport. Much like how my “2011 Pinay friend” Aimee was of immense help on that trip, this 2013 Philippines journey wouldn’t have been the same if not for Janet’s help. It really helps to have a local in a foreign land to help you out.

I was sad to say goodbye to not only her, but also to Philippines. I really like this country and I wish I could travel and explore this beautiful nation at my own pace, but alas, 21 day visa it is.

Flying out of Manila

My Cathay Pacific flight departed on time

Hong Kong airport way to buses

… and landed in Hong Kong an hour later

I had a few hours before my connecting flight to Bangalore, so I decided to step out of the airport and go see an ex-colleague. (Hong Kong gives free visa on arrival to Indians so that’s why it’s easy to step out).

Hong Kong Lantau near airport

I took the high speed train last time, so I figured I would try the bus this time. Bus to Kowloon cost around HKD$38 while the train costs HKD$100

High speed train Hong Kong

The train is obviously faster

Hong Kong longest bridge

Hong Kong’s infrastructure impresses me every single time

Hong Kong city skyline from bus

Kowloon public area Hong Kong

I reached Kowloon in 30 minutes time, but the bus slowed down as we hit traffic

The Peninsula hotel Hong Kong

I got down near the The Peninsula hotel and made my way to a mall where my friend Bikram was waiting for me

Chili crab Hong Kong lunch

Bikram treated me to a nice chili crab lunch. We talked about work and his future ventures.

Post-lunch, Bikram and I parted ways and I took the MTR to Tai Po. I had wanted to see Tai Po market during my 2012 visit to Hong Kong, but I didn’t get a chance to. I had time to kill before heading back to the airport, and I had no interest in wasting time inside malls and amidst the maddening crowds of Kowloon.

MTR underpass Hong Kong

I wasn’t carrying a map so I really didn’t know where exactly Tai Po market was

Hong Kong apartment buildings

Tai Po road sign Hong Kong

I just followed the signs

Tai Po market Hong Kong

Was this it? It was A market in Tai Po, but is this what Hong Kong Tourism Board was promoting as a heritage market?

Tai Po street bus stop

I kept walking

Narrow apartment building Hong Kong

That’s how narrow some apartments can be in tight-spaced Hong Kong

Tai Po road Hong Kong

But after dropping in and out 7-11s to remain hydrated and picking up snacks, I gave up my search for Tai Po market and figured it was time to board a bus and head back to the airport

Bus station Hong Kong

I sat upstairs and looking out the window, I admired Hong Kong’s impressive city planning and infrastructure as bus took around 30-40 minutes to get to the airport

Inside Hong Kong bus

Along the way, it began to rain heavily as the bus neared the airport

I arrived at HKIA two hours ahead of my flight. I already had my boarding pass, so I just walked straight to the security check and completed immigration. I felt hungry so I went up to the food court, which has quite a few restaurants and popular food chains.

Popeyes chicken biscuit meal

I’ve never had Popeye’s before, so I got the chicken and biscuit meal. I really liked it!

It continued to rain outside so we had to make a dash to the bus which would drop passengers at the Dragon Air plane to Bangalore.

Lamb rice meal Dragon Air

My second dinner meal was in-flight. This was a lamb and flavoured rice meal. Pretty okay.

The flight landed on time and I had my younger brother pick me up from the airport.

Although this visit to Philippines wasn’t as “WOW” as my 2011 visit, I look back at the previous few posts and realize it wasn’t too bad either. Yeah, yeah… I couldn’t see many things I had planned on seeing/doing (whalesharks in Donsol, Mt. Pinatubo trek, para-sailing in Boracay) all because I arrived at the tail-end of the tourist season.

Whatever — at least I could use this as an excuse for a third visit, if needed.

The biggest highlight of this trip was possibly all the underwater photographs I managed to capture, all thanks to Janet lending me her friend’s underwater camera. I’ve been snorkeling many times before but this was the first time I could give my readers an idea of what I saw with own eyes rather than just describe how awesome it looked.

The other thing that convinces me to continue travelling across the Philippines is just based on the fact my Philippines posts do so well. Even from the newer 2013 series, several posts continue to get hundreds of views every week — and I thank my readers for that. I keep getting friend requests from Filipinos on a weekly basis, and I consider that a sign they like really my blog. Not to mention some of my most shared stories online on social media are my Philippines posts.

Unlike last time, I don’t have a lot to say to wrap up this travel series. I still don’t enjoy Filipino cuisine (sorry), I still find Filipinos to be some of the friendliest people on earth, I discovered the ugly side to tourism development in island destinations like Boracay and Coron, and I realized the best time to travel Philippines is between February and April, no later than that. Oh, and NAIA Terminal 1 still sucks.

Other than that, I ❤ Philippines and I recommend this country to all those seeking adventure, beautiful beaches, wonderful nature and equally wonderful people. But just get out of Manila and Angeles City first.

Until next time…

Previous posts in this series:

Philippines 2013: Flying from Coron to Manila; visit to Ocean Park

Philippines 2013: Coron island-hopping tour (Part 2) – Twin lagoon, CYC island; climbing Mt. Tapyas

Philippines 2013: Coron island-hopping tour (Part 1) – Siete Pecados, Kayangan lake

Philippines 2013: Aerial view of Mount Mayon; arriving at Coron

Philippines 2013: Lignon Hill Park, Cagsawa Ruins and Mount Mayon

Philippines 2013: Arriving at Legazpi; going to Donsol to see whale sharks

Philippines 2013: Leaving Boracay; Kalibo to Angeles City

Beachfront hotels and resorts on White Beach, Boracay

Philippines 2013: Bulabog beach, Mount Luho viewpoint and sunset at White Beach

Philippines 2013: Boracay island tour, Puka beach and snorkelling

Philippines 2013: Flying from Manila to Boracay, White Beach

Philippines 2013: Taal Lake Volcano and Peoples Park, Tagaytay

The crap I went through to get my Philippines tourist visa this time

Jan 14

Philippines 2013: Flying from Coron to Manila; visit to Ocean Park

Date: June 1, 2013

I woke up early to have breakfast before leaving for the airport.

WG Diners Coron Palawan

I ate at WG Diners; affordable and decent food

The staff at the guesthouse booked me a van taxi for a drop off at Busuanga Airport. I packed up my bags, said my goodbyes and left Coron Backpackers Guesthouse when it was time.

Driving Coron island airport road

It was the same road back to the airport

Coron green fields Philippines

There was a discerning lack of cows in the fields this time though

Cattle grid Coron Philippines

A few

Busuanga airport Palawan Philippines

Busuanga airport, paid for by the Koreans

Immigration took it’s own sweet time. This is as basic as a small airport can get, so not every passenger can get in all at once.

Seized coral shells Busuanga airport Philippines

Oh, and don’t even try to smuggle coral shells out of Coron. It’s against the law… but that didn’t stop many from trying.

Cebu Pacific flight Coron Palawan

My ride back to Manila was a Cebu Pacific flight

Cebu Pacific airhostess Philippines

Being a Cebu Pacific flight, in-flight games were in order

Clouds Philippines

The sights out the window on this flight were nothing spectacular

I arrived in Manila at around 3pm. I had lunch at a Burger King at the terminal and then stepped out of the airport to catch the bus going to Pasay. From there I hired a taxi to get to Bonifacio Global City (BGC), where I would be staying a condominium my friend Janet had access to.

BGC apartments Manila

I wasn’t allowed to take any photos of the condo nor allowed to share any details as it didn’t belong to Janet. But it sure was nice to stay here! :)

After freshening up, Janet and I went out for a walk around BGC in the evening.

Continue reading “Philippines 2013: Flying from Coron to Manila; visit to Ocean Park” »

Dec 13

Philippines 2013: Coron island-hopping tour (Part 2) – Twin lagoon, CYC island; climbing Mt. Tapyas

Date: 31st May 2013

This is a continuation of the first half of this Coron island-hopping tour. After lunch, the boat set off towards the next stop on the tour.

Emerald green water Coron Palawan

Goodbye to the emerald green water

Floating hut Coron Palawan

Floating bar?

Karst limestone rock Coron

Coron hills Palawan Philippines

Telephone signals seemed quite far away

Filipino girls Coron tour

Some of the tourists were in their post-lunch nap

We were supposed to go to Barracuda Lake next but we couldn’t because of some “problem” there. So instead, the boat took us to the Twin Lagoon. The water here looked far clearer than Siete Picados and the skies were clearing up too. So I got ready to jump in.

Twin lagoon water clarity Coron

Here we go!

Continue reading “Philippines 2013: Coron island-hopping tour (Part 2) – Twin lagoon, CYC island; climbing Mt. Tapyas” »

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