Manila is not a popular city among travelers. Everybody has to pass through it, because it is the gateway to the Philippines. But practically everybody gets out as fast as possible. It’s a chaotic, crowded, confusing place.

I met a traveler on a bus who was quite enthusiastic about Manila. He spent a month there doing street photography. Cities are, after all, where people live, and hence the best place to photograph them.

That encounter encouraged me to give Manila a chance, and not just flee. I spent a couple days visiting the main site, the Spanish colonial Intramuros, and wandering the neighborhoods.

The thing that stood out in my days of wandering was that Manila is not really a city. It is a collection of towns that have merged together. Each one has a different character. There is sparkling new Makati, residential Malate, gritty Ermita, bustling Chinatown, and countless others that go on seemingly forever.

Church of Christ churches, like this one in Manila, are all over the Philippines
Church of Christ churches, like this one in Manila, are all over the Philippines

Getting around was a pain. There are only two light rail lines, and they are always packed. Jeepneys ferry the locals around, but they are inscrutable to foreigners. Bicycle taxis rip off foreigners. So I walked. A lot.

In my days of wandering I only photographed the sites. I didn’t really capture any of the daily life in the city. But I think it would be an interesting place to return to and explore more thoroughly.

I liked these statues in Intramuros.
I liked these statues in Intramuros.
A busy market in Chinatown.
A busy market in Chinatown.
This church was opposite the market in Chinatown.
This church was opposite the market in Chinatown.
Terry
I'm Terry, former cubicle-dweller, and now traveler, photographer, writer, and entrepreneur. I quit my job in 2014 to travel to US national parks, then to South East Asia. I write about independent, flexible, long-term, budget travel. Sign up to my newsletter to get the latest news on what I'm up to. I hope you join me on my trek around the world.

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