Born in California, VJ Alan joined MTV in March 2013. On his second trip to Asia, Alan visited the Philippines and, in his own words, enjoyed “an amazing journey”. Here are his tips for things to do in the nation’s capital.
1. Try the chicken inasal. Among the amazing foods to sample, my favorite was the seasoned inasal chicken with coconut vinegar and garlic rice.
2. Ride in a jeepney. Not the quickest or most comfortable way to travel but the colorful jam-packed buses are definitely an experience! To pay the bus fare, hand your coins to the person next to you and they’ll pass them along up to the driver. Never seen anything like it.
3. Talk to anyone and everyone! The people in Manila were the most memorable part of my trip. Everyone was so friendly and helpful, and interested in my travels.
4. If you’re traveling around a lot, get a personal driver if you can afford one. Traffic can be a nightmare at times and driving around Manila can be difficult and confusing. Much easier to have a local show you around and keep you safe.
5. Check out the beaches! I got to experience Bacolod, and it was beautiful. But I’ve also heard amazing stories about Palawan and Boracay.
6. Visit during Christmas season. This isn’t hard, as Christmas starts way early in the Philippines. There is something like three months of celebrations, and they take it seriously. The decorations are outstanding and the cheer is contagious.
7. Go to Starbucks and get a drink with coffee jellies! The Philippines is the only country I’ve been to where Starbucks’ iced coffee has small coffee jellies at the bottom. Similar to pearl tea but coffee flavored.
8. For a night out, spend some time in Metro Manila. There are bunch of restaurants and bars where you can hang out.
9. Get some shopping done. There are malls literally everywhere. Prices are good and it’s a great way to escape the heat and humidity.
10. Bring a friend! I’m a firm believer that travelling alone can be fun, but travelling with others can be even better.
EL Reader’s Tip
By John K Johnson
Perhaps not at the top of everyone’s list of “must-see places in Southeast Asia”, Manila, nonetheless, has its charms. These two excursions provided some brilliant travel memories.
1. An afternoon on the bay: For a reasonable 550 pesos (about S$16), Sun Cruises offers a three-hour cruise with a set dinner buffet. A young folk-singer provided mellow entertainment as the sun set, the glassy new buildings along the shore shimmering in its reflection.
2. Old Manila Walks: The company’s promise was hard to resist: “We’ll horse around the streets, taking in Tsinoy (Chinese-Philippine) history, chomping down food and gorging on specialty treats as we nibble our way down through Chinatown!” The lumpia (Philippine spring rolls) were my favorite. But, everything was fresh, tasty and delicious. OK, I didn’t try the pig bowel soup that was offered. Next time?