13 – 23 APRIL 2015:
The journey continues!
Onwards from my last post, two of my very close friends joined me in Manila recently. Sadly they were only here for 10 days, so we couldn’t do as much as we would have liked. However we still managed to tick a number of places off the list!
As it was their first time in the Philippines, it was my duty to be a good tour guide. I’ve already seen many of the great Manila sights before, but as I haven’t been here for a number of years things have obviously changed, and there were many new places that I personally wanted to check out for the first time.
Here’s what we discovered…
Address: 71st Floor, Century City, Kalayaan Ave, Makati, 1210 Metro Manila, Philippines
Phone: +63 917 809 4093
One night my friends and I were sitting on the balcony of our apartment admiring one of the skyscraper buildings opposite. There were lots of flashing lights so we assumed it must be a bar/nightclub of some sort. After a little help from my friend Google, we found out it is 71 Gramercy which is a New York-style bar / lounge / restaurant on the 71st floor of Manila’s highest residential skyscraper, the Gramercy Residences. I expect a lot of celebrities would go there if visiting Manila.
We quickly booked a table for dinner, which as you can guess was on the 71st floor. I was a little uncomfortable looking down as it was seriously high! But to be able to see that view was well worth it. The dinner was what you would expect from a restaurant of that calibre – expensive for the Philippines, but we enjoyed a night out with dinner and drinks for around the same price as I would pay at my local pub in England.
After dinner we moved to the outdoor deck on the roof which has a full bar, and if you could believe it, an even better view of the city. The deck had a DJ playing some chilled music during our visit; however I believe the style of music changes depending on the night. We were there on a weeknight and it was reasonably busy so I imagine it’s a favourite after-work venue. It was already dark when we arrived but I can only imagine how beautiful it would look at sunset.
ART IN ISLAND (Selfie Museum)
Address: 175 15th Ave., Brgy. Socorro, Cubao, Quezon City, 1109 Metro Manila, Philippines
Art in Island is an interactive art museum located in suburban Quezon City north of Manila. It has to be one of my favourite tourist attractions because it’s unique and definitely caters to the whole ‘selfie’ phenomenon which seems especially crazy in Asia. People seem to be selling selfie sticks everywhere I turn.
The museum features over 50 trick art murals ranging from traditional to nature to modern art concepts. They were all painted by a team of 18 Korean Master Painters who were specially flown in for the project. The museum only opened in December 2014 so it is still very new and as far as I know it is the first museum of its kind. The murals give the illusion of depth when viewed from a certain angle, and are designed to serve as a backdrop for photo opportunities. Not only can you touch the paintings but you are encouraged to climb into paintings and take photos while interacting with them.
Things to note about Art in Island:
- You have to take your shoes off at the entrance (socks or barefoot only)
- It’s a bit of a wasted trip if you forget to bring a camera! (but no flash photography)
- Takes around 1-2 hours to get round the whole museum
- There isn’t much to do outside the museum so arrange return travel appropriately
- There are stickers on the floor by each painting to indicate the best place to stand to take a photo
- They provide photo suggestions to inspire you to position yourself correctly in the paintings to create the best effect
MALL OF ASIA
Address: SM CITY MALL OF ASIA, Seaside Blvd, Pasay, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 556 0680
SM Mall of Asia is a shopping mall in Bay City, Pasay, Philipines It is owned and developed by SM Prime Holdings, the largest mall chain owner and developer in the Philippines; it has a land area of 42 hectares, a gross floor area of approximately 406,962 square metres (4.38050×106 sq ft), and attracts daily average foot traffic of about 200,000 people. It is the 10th largest shopping mall in the world in terms of gross leasable area.
There are over 1,000 shops including approximately 350 dining establishments. I was there for several hours but I am sure there were parts of the mall that I still managed to miss.
One of the mall’s main attractions is the first ever IMAX theatre in the country, a Premiere Cinema, and the CenterStage Cinema which can be used for live musical concerts and theatrical performances. Three cinemas in one mall!
The mall features the Philippine’s first Olympic-sized ice skating rink. At 61 by 30 meters, the rink is described as the biggest of its kind in Southeast Asia. It can accommodate both recreational and competitive figure skating, as well as ice hockey.
It’s very easy to spend a full day here without being bored. Although word to the wise: You could get very fat here!
Whilst waiting outside for our ride home, we were even lucky enough to witness a marching band outside the mall. Something I’ve never seen in England…
OCEAN PARK, MANILA BAY
Address: 666, Behind Quirino Grandstand, Luneta, Manila, Metro Manila 1000, Philippines
Telephone: +63 2 567 7777
Manila Ocean Park is the country’s first world-class marine theme park and a premiere educational facility. An integrated urban resort with marine life attractions and aqua-themed hotel, the park is geared towards an all-year, all-weather destination for locals and tourists. Included in the complex are many bars and restaurants where you can witness the stunning sunset which Manila Bay is famous for.
We paid 600 Philippine Pesos per person to access the Ocean Park. The only disappointing thing was that the route through the park was very unclear so as a result I think we may have missed a huge part of it.
The ticket price also includes admission to witness their outdoor show called Symphony, which is a fusion of the Philippine’s version of earth’s basic elements – water, fire, air and light, which ignites Manila Bay’s night sky.
Boracay is a small island in the Philippines located approximately 315 km south of Manila and 2 km off the northwest tip of Panay Island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines.I confess! This isn’t actually part of Manila, but as the most popular tourist beach destination in the Philippines, I had to take my friends there. I had been before around 7 years ago and it was similar to what I remember then – Beautiful clear blue sea and white sand. What more could a bunch of girls seeking a sun-kissed tan want…
We stayed at a 5 star hotel called Henann Garden Resort, which has private access to the beachfront. The hotel room we chose also had direct pool access which we loved! The resort was very pleasing, lots of swimming pools and a large restaurant. The staff were amazing and looked after us well. We were disappointed by their customer service during check out, but besides that we had a lovely stay there and would go there again.
From Manila you can fly to Caticlan or Kalibo airport. Caticlan is nearest to the island and is therefore a more expensive airfare. We opted for Caticlan as we prefer easy over cheap! Unfortunately our flight was delayed, and after waiting around for 5 hours, it then got cancelled. It was too late to fly to Caticlan (Caticlan airport has no lights on the runway so you can only fly during daylight), so we were forced to fly to Kalibo instead. From Kalibo we then had to take a 2 hour road trip to get to the jetty port in Caticlan and then take a 15 minute boat ride to the island. What should have been a 3 hour trip in total turned in to 9 hour trip! We were exhausted and frustrated when we arrived, but we didn’t let the experience deter us from having fun!! Our 5 days there were split between sunbathing, drinking and eating on the beach with some Australians who we made friends with at the airport.
One night whilst we were having dinner on the beach, a man came over to give me a piece of paper which he said was a gift. I opened it up with a little hesitation and discovered a drawing of myself. He must have been sitting opposite me drawing me whilst I was eating. Little bit weird but lovely at the same time. It’s not incredibly accurate, but the guy must be pretty talented to be able draw it whilst I was wolfing down my dinner and laughing with friends.
That’s all for now! Stay tuned for Part 2!
11 August 2015:
The atmosphere is quite cool but you may get a bit hassled by the strippers/prostitutes. The midgets are super friendly and all in all even though it is not very PC, everyone seems to enjoy the show and the boxers/wrestlers seem to get good tips. They also do lady boxing on some of the nights. Free entrance but drinks are quite pricey. You can also offer to be referee so you can be part of the action.