Walking the Streets of Manila
By Shanuka Kadupitiyage
Travel is different to each and every person. For one, it's a chance to pamper oneself and live a short time of luxury.
For another, it could be the chance to step outside the comfort zone and try new things. Others may travel to unplug themselves from their distractions and have a spiritual journey.
For everyone, it is a chance for something new and different. It is a chance to look inside and appreciate what you and the world have to offer to each other. A path of escape and self discovery.
That may be a reason why people decide to travel and visit other countries as well. One's everyday ordinary is another's rare extraordinary and to see those differences can become an eye opener that will increase one's appreciation of what may have been considered drab or mundane.
An experience in the capital city of the Philippines, Manila is definitely one that can be an eye opener to appreciate the small comforts we find in our own island nation. It also is a great escape that leads the adventurer to sights and sounds that are unique to the island nation.
When walking the streets of Manila, it should be said that travelling favours the bold and the careful. Navigating the streets of this bustling city is definitely a must-do when visiting the country.
While the city is generally safe, Petty crime and people trying to rip off unsuspecting travellers are common issues that have to be dealt with.
Small counter-measures can be taken such as always travelling in groups, avoiding dim or badly lit areas or places with few people to ensure better safety. Situational awareness is key in the city. Avoid travelling with large, bulky bags and keeping cell phones or wallets in your hands.
Wearing excessively jewellery should not be done either. Having a knowledge of the language or a friend will be a great advantage.
There is no point in trying to avoid standing out. Usually you're the tallest one in the room in the country and the difference of skin colour will attract everyone's attention.
The local culture towards foreigners will only escalate things. Many will mistake Sri Lankans for Indian money lenders who roam the streets everywhere and all non nationals are considered rich.
Many will shout "Hey Joe!" at you wherever you go, a term that started when the US military occupied the country.
The hustle and bustle of the town is never ending. The roar of engines, shouts from people all around, the smell of barbecues at every corner is a unique experience.
There is a basketball court in every corner and they are almost always occupied, and willing to let one extra player into the game if you're willing. Graffiti is everywhere and so is traffic.
It is true that the country loves shopping malls. Metro Manila is dotted with huge malls at every corner with clothes stores, bowling alleys, movie theatres and a plethora of entertainment.
There is also the Mall of Asia, which has a land area of 4.2 million square feet and is the fourth largest shopping mall in the world and the third largest in Asia. A visit here and Manila's other malls is definitely something that should be done as well.
The contrast between poverty and wealth is everywhere in this huge city. In one area the roaring engines of Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Maseratis can be heard as they dart around designer fashion stores and luxury apartment complexes while in another part of the city exist bleak slums with people who struggle to eat three meals a day.
The streets of Manila give travellers something unique; an unparalleled experience that is difficult to replace, and something that should be experienced rather than explained. It is worth making part of your travel destinations.