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blue pin: visited; yellow pin: transit;

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Day 5: Manila (Malacanang Palace, Ayala Triangle Garden)

Malacanang Palace
The Presidential Palace is open to public and tourists could visit the palace by making a reservation in advance. I made our reservation one week earlier and we almost didn't get it because it was all fully booked. 

The palace is in the middle of residential area and the road entrance is heavily guarded by the soldiers. After we were cleared by the security we were greeted by the tour guide who showed us the palace on our own private tour.

Gate of Malacanang Palace

Former ballroom that is converted into a display area.

Painting of Imelda Marcos
Artwork by President Corazon Aquino

Addressing the nation :D

Ayala Triangle Garden
We almost missed the Christmas Illuminations if we didn't walk back to our hotel on our last night in Manila. The light show starts every half an hour for the duration of 6 minutes. It was such a pretty sight.

Monday, December 02, 2013

Day 3-4: Manila (University of Santo Tomas, Chinatown, Mall of Asia)

University of Santo Tomas (UST), founded more than 400 years ago is the oldest university in the Philippines. For comparison, Harvard is slightly 10 years younger than UST.

The only reason we came all the way here is to admire the architecture. I felt a bit awkward taking photos with those young students wondering what I was doing in their campus with a kid in tow. :D

The oldest university in Philippines

Next, we went to Chinatown to check out the wholesale shopping mall. 999 mall is huge, with thousands of kiosks selling clothes ranging from bridal gown to pyjamas. The best part is most items were priced at 100 pesos (SGD 3) only. Design and quality wise, it wasn't as nice as those in Korea, I think it's more like Bangkok kind of level. Nevertheless, we were pretty happy with what we could find here. :)

Got to love the vibrant atmosphere, it motivated me to find more stuff to buy. :D

Only for Hello Kitty maniacs

We didn't have time to explore the market. I guess it was even cheaper out there.

Chinatown at night

Jeepney is a popular public transport mode in Philippines. We saw them often on the road with their unique and colorful decorations. My daughter was very excited whenever she spotted one, she would say "Mommy, that's the funny car." These Jeepneys below were on displayed in Chinatown. Painted by the artists, they showcased the Philippines culture.

Mall of Asia is the 11th largest shopping mall in the world. The retail space might be huge but it doesn't have a lot of shops that couldn't be finished in one day.

Manila Bay
After browsing the shops for one whole day, we went to the promenade opposite the mall to enjoy the sea breeze from Manila Bay. Too bad the sky wasn't very clear for us to catch the sunset.

A small amusement park at the promenade

The view of Manila Bay

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Day 2: Manila (Intramuros and Greenbelt)

On the second day, we took a taxi ride up north to the historic city of Manila, the Intramuros. This walled city is the most famous tourist attraction in Manila.

Fort Santiago, the most famous landmark of Manila.

The Catholic Church was having a flower parade in Intramuros on that day. Since early morning, we could see many volunteers arrived and helping to decorate the saint statues with fresh flowers. I wasn't sure what the event was about and unfortunately we couldn't wait to see the parade because it would only start in the late afternoon.

Preparing for the flower parade

Intramuros cobblestone street

Monument to commemorate 100,000 victims killed in the Battle of Manila

San Agustin Church
It is one of the most beautiful church I ever see in Asia. When I entered the church, it was as if I was in a church in Europe. :D

We went back to Makati and had our lunch at Greenbelt. Greenbelt is one of the biggest shopping mall in Manila with five buildings interconnected by the bridge. The shops in Greenbelt are mostly mid to high end which doesn't really appeal to me. But anyway, it's a nice place to hang around in one of the cafes by the garden.

A small chapel in the Greenbelt garden

We had our lunch at Sentro 1771, a modern Filipino cuisine restaurant. We ordered sour beef soup, crispy pork rib and a jug of tamarind lemon juice. The meal was good but quite expensive, cost us close to SGD 50.

Crispy pork rib and Sinigang, the sour beef soup. The beef was so tender that it melted in your mouth.