A Long Weekend in Manila
The Manila weekend began at 11:30 that morning when I was picked up by my coworkers; a big group of 13 of us were all heading to Manila.
The drive there took a few hours and I couldn't turn away from the window. The mountains, rice paddies, jungle, and gray skies were mysterious enough to occupy my thoughts.
The part of Manila that we stayed in is called Makati. I stayed in a lovely hotel called The Picasso, a modern hotel full of quirky artwork, as I'm sure you can imagine from the name. This was my first time ever booking my own hotel room to stay in by myself. I felt so grown up!
My favorite part, of course, was the balcony view. With just a slide of a glass door you can see the Makati skyline and hear the people from the street below.
One perk of staying at The Picasso in Makati is that it's a nice walking distance from other attractions.
As a group, we walked to the Greenbelt Mall, and let me tell you, it was nothing like malls I have experienced back home in the states. The mall consisted of five different buildings of stores (many of them luxury) with a beautiful green garden in the center. Lights were hung in the trees, pathways were paved with bricks, and a sense of magic was in the air as the day faded into night--there was even a church in the garden so on Sundays people can go to mass and go shopping (and this mall wasn't even the most luxurious one in Manila!).
Now as a minimalist, I'm not a huge shopper, but I probably could have wandered around this mall for days, hanging around the garden and exploring all of the stores that we don't have in the states.
The next day some friends took me to Green Hills mall in a different part of Manila. This is the market where you can get filipino foods and gifts, all of the fresh and saltwater pearls you could imagine, clothes, gadgets, you name it. This is a good place to bargain and find deals--it really reminded me of the Suq in Muscat, Oman, with all of the little shops so close together in one area.
The evening was spent with a couple of friends on the roof of a hotel. The view was incredible--the city lights seemed to go on and on forever. I watched the lightning light up the sky above the skyscrapers while listening to good conversation (we were so lucky that it didn't rain!).
I spent the final day by myself until we had to leave. I woke up, headed to Wild Flour, a cafe and bakery two minutes from my hotel, and treated myself to my first Vietnamese latte while I did some journaling (by the way, Vietnamese lattes are so amazing because they have sweetened condensed milk in them). I finally used a little pocket journal that one of my best friends gave me when we went to college. I had been saving it, and what better time to use it than my first road trip in the Philippines!
After breakfast, I decided to do some exploring of Makati by myself. I walked all through the area around my hotel. This was my first time exploring a big city by myself--every other time I've been in a major city I've always been traveling with someone else.
As great as exploring with someone else is, I HIGHLY recommend exploring by yourself when you get the chance. The act of letting your body wander with your mind is freeing like you wouldn't believe.
I ended up stopping at a cute coffee shop and having a picnic in a nearby park.
It was nice to sit quietly for a few minutes on a bench in the sun and just take things in, enjoy a pesto vegetable sandwich, and a coffee recommended by the barista.
Unfortunately, long weekends, though long, don't last forever, and we made our journey back home early that afternoon.
This weekend was just a tiny taste of the great metropolis of Manila, but the taste was sweet enough for me to be craving more--more balcony views, more solo coffees, more park picnics.
More of everything that's new and exciting.