The Worst City In The World (that I have ever been to)
Manila is a shithole. Apologies if that offends you. Actually, no apologies. It’s accurate.
I disliked Manila enough that the only pictures I took were at a restaurant that had sort of a dinner theater theme.
What’s to hate? I have been to some bad places – like San Pedro Sula, Honduras – and I know there are far worse, but so far Manila is easily the worst place I have visited.
While stepping from the airplane into the airport is pleasant enough, exiting the airport is a disaster. Everyone is herded outside like cattle to waiting friends and family in a chaotic area that smells like sewage and cigarettes. I was amazed to find myself preferring Lima’s airport, where a thousand touts and taxi drivers try to grab your bags and get your business.
The traffic is an absolute nightmare. Leaving the airport, it took over an hour for the taxi to drive maybe 6 miles to the hotel. Most intersections have no stop signs or traffic lights, and it is every person for themselves, which only adds to the mess and jams.
Garbage is everywhere. I seriously doubt that garbage pickup exists in the city. Trash is piled everywhere, and you can’t escape the smell.
Pollution. What a stinking, polluted mess of a city. I feel like I took a month off my life in the 2 nights I spent there.
On a run in the middle of the afternoon, I was propositioned twice by prostitutes.
Homelessness. Never have I seen so many desperately poor people with no homes. This is after multiple trips to Brazil and Peru, whose big cities are infamous for their slums. Walking through the city was terribly depressing. You can’t walk more than 100 feet without a starving person begging.
When you see 12 year old girls prostituting themselves, how can you be anything but angry and sad?
Disparity. It is obvious that many of the rich and powerful have purposefully built a system that benefits them, while perpetuating a society that creates hopelessness and despair for the other 98%. But it’s such a nasty city, I have to wonder how they could possibly enjoy living there either, despite the creature comforts in their immediate surroundings.
(and sadly, I keep thinking – is this where we are heading in the US? Yes, we are well on our way down that path)
Not all is negative though.
The day before flying out, I went for a 7 mile run. A young boy, maybe 10 years old, decided to run with me for well over a mile. He didn’t want anything, just to run with me and talk. He was a sweet kid, and brought a big smile to my face. I was sad when he sad he was turning off to go home. I am sorry I had no camera with me because I would have loved to get a selfie with him.
My last night in the Philippines, I experienced a state of bliss via a 2 hour body scrub and Thai massage in a nice spa, my 3rd Thai massage in as many days. Cost of this bit of heaven? About $30.
And on my last night, I met a wonderful Filipino family. Daisy and her daughters Steffi and Mischka stayed in the same hotel, and are just… awesome. YAY for new friends and for new reasons to return to the Philippines.
But the best part of Manila? It is a portal to a beautiful country with amazing people and sights that I hope to visit again soon.
(stay tuned for a soon-to-come post about my snorkeling vacation on the island of Mindoro)