Manila is bigger than you think for how poor it is. It is surprisingly spread out so staying somewhere “close” to anything is somewhat pointless. I wouldn’t say I felt safe on the streets at night, but I did find that there was security and police everywhere, so there is that.

Burgos street in Makati is fun people/prostitute watching. They have some regular bars where you can sit on the patio and drink beers for 50 cents and watch the traffic go by. The other bars in the area try to get you to come in and watch a very strange spectacle of clothed women dancing on a stage, presumably waiting for you to grab them and buy them a drink. I visited one such bar called Ringside where they actually had a boxing ring, and every 30 minutes they have either girls or little people box, yes I said that right and yes, it was disturbing and I couldn’t look away. Most of the girls who want you to buy a drink for them are really trying to get you to pay a bar fine and take them home with you (more like Thailand than Korea). They are pretty and fun to talk to and I think the girl drink was only 5 bucks so I sat for a while.

The dollar goes really far in the Philippines. A long cab ride is still only about 6 bucks. Regular beers are usually under a buck and food generally under 5 bucks. Tipping is not expected, but still, throwing 2 bucks their way is so appreciated. I usually doubled the cab fare…you feel bad you know.

The Pasay area (where the Solaire Casino is) is just as dirty and ramshackle as everywhere else…however, they do have a bunch of things being constructed right now. In the future this could make for a really nice home base while touring the various shitholes.

The City of Dreams is fine enough, but it’s really just a few giant hotels with one giant casino. Brand new, modern places, great restaurants, lots of people, and great pools. If you need a break and can’t be on the beach, this is a pretty sweet place to be.

Notes to self:

-The airport is shit. Get there as late as you possibly can. Even business lounges are slightly worse than your below average US train station.
-Gotta love casinos where you can bet 50 cents. High rollers here were doing 25 dollar hands. In the US you need to be betting 100 for someone to even bat an eyelash.
-The Mall of Asia is humongous, and not traditionally laid out. It’s almost like a hodgepodge of malls. The stores are good enough. The movies theaters suck ass, at least in this mall.
-Oh my god getting to the City of Dreams took forever. It’s like a mile away from the airport and it takes an hour. You literally do not move. They are building a highway but it is completely ridiculous right now.


GRAND HYATT (Oct. 2015)

SOLAIRE (Nov. 2013)

DUSIT THANI (Nov. 2013)