One of the best thing about living in Seoul is being able to travel to the surrounding Asian countries, even if it's just for a weekend. This past weekend was a quick trip to Manila, Philippines to explore the food, culture and of course lifestyle. Of course, there was barely any sleep involved, maybe two hours in total for the whole weekend. At the very minimum, sleeping on the plane before working a full day.
Filipino is one of the things I grew up on personally with friends that introduced me to the culture in high school. While teaching English in Seoul, it is impossible to find good and authentic Filipino food so taking a trip to Manila for the weekend was totally worth it. The first stop after being picked up at the airport is definitely a food court to pick out all the goodies along with a fresh coconut! Dessert definitely involves halo halo which is a mix of varieties depending on where you get this from, but it's pretty amazing everywhere you go.
In addition to food, shopping is definitely a must in Manila. In many places, other than the big department stores, bargaining is HIGHLY recommended. Although prices are so low, it is still possible to bargain them to be even lower. I didn't push it to much for the simple fact that they're trying to make a living too! On the topic of everything being so cheap and affordable in Manila, getting pampered is a must on my books. For ten dollars, even less, you can choose between a facial, eyelash extensions, manicure, pedicure, and even a massage. For me, all of the above was a must in a less than 48 hour time period before going back to Korea!
Nightlife is also a recommendation in Manila. Being lucky to have friends that live in the area, getting super VIP access to the best clubs just made my one night in town. The number one club, right across the street of the airport is Republiq, located in the Resorts Casino and Hotel building. Next door to Republiq is Opus, and going around town visiting Palladium is also a recommendation. One thing that is special about Palladium is the service of a mini container of cranberry juice with your cocktail, definitely something that I haven't seen elsewhere in the world!
Purchases of souvenirs are also recommended. Although the most popular souvenir to get from the Philippines is dried mangoes, I recommend the dried green mangoes! They are my ultimate favorite, tart in taste and chewy, just like regular dried mangoes. Many of my students who are not a fan of regular dried mangoes definitely like the green mangoes so that's sure of a winner! I think the best part of being in Manila is also the option of going to the Duty Free that sells Reese's and all these other foreign goods!
Still, with all the good things, there are a handful of things that were difficult to accept about Manila. Many things seemed to have been a culture shock which includes walking around barefoot, eating with your hands, a jitney bus that locals travel on, the selling of practically anything and everything you can think of in the streets to people driving by, and probably the worse for me to see was little kids asking for plastic bottles from cars.
Nonetheless, it is a great place to go and visit for a vacation. Although many people don't consider Manila to be the best place in the Philippines to visit, it is recommended. I am glad I didn't skip it and go straight for the islands like many said!
Graduating with a double major in Communications and Chinese from Rutgers University, it wasn’t long after working in the Big Apple that Cindy Ung decided to take a break from the cliché 9-5 lifestyle and move to Korea to teach English for CDI. Making the bold step to leave her comfortable, mapped out life in the States, she has fallen more in love with the Korean culture as each day passes. With weekly mountain hikes, weekend road trips, discovering great foods and beauty products, constantly meeting new people, her life in Korea has been everything but mapped out.
Check out Cindy’s blog to get a glimpse of what Korea has to offer!