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Manila, capital city of Philippines, is world’s most densely populated city with over 46,000 people per square mile (nearly twice that of New York City). Time magazine even predicts that by 2025, the increase in population will me more than 3 million. Given the fact that it was the biggest city of my journey, I was surprised that I didn´t manage to find there feminine hygienic products. After 24 hours I spend in Manila, I would rename it as : THE CITY OF NO TAMPONS.
The very first task in Manila was to find accommodation where they would don’t rip you off. Before arrival to Manila, I thought I will be brave enough to stay awake until the next morning when my flight out was scheduled. Arriving to still dark and unfamiliar Manila at 4 am, after 12 hours bus drive in all the way from Northern Luzon (Sagada and Batad), the reality felt a bit different. The true was: I was exhausted. I could t help myself not getting on taxi and searching for place to get some. After few tries of hostels according to my list of addresses (which were for some reason leading to red light district), I ended up in one of the hostels near the airport. The economic (or more precisely ”claustrophobic”) room in Rodgers hotel cost 2000 php (38 Euro) per night. The fat that I found cigarette but there speaks for itself.
After some hours of sleep I decided to travel to the city centre. The overpriced tax service offered by Rodgers hostel (about 1000 php/14 Euro) made me going for the local transport: apart from metro that involved also “pedicab”. It is basically two seats cabin attached to the bicycle driven by one of the young guys. Extremely cheap and extremely bumpy, but very enjoyable drive (the rider didn’t hesitate to go through paces like crowded local market). After reaching the city centre, I got some cool Filipino brunch in local restaurant so that my stomach got ready for the sightseeing tour.
The historical part of the city is represented by Intramuros, old Spanish city with history going back to 1570. The area is not huge, so first I walked around following the wall dividing Intramuros from the rest of the city. I passed the Manila Cathedral (it has been closed since February 7, 2012, for major repairs and has not been re- opened until now) and paid the visit to the Fort Santiago where I learned about the important person of Filipino history – Jose Rizal (he has own museum within Fort Santiago – “Rizal shrine”). Writer and revolutionary Rizal pays for a national hero. He has been given credit for advocating reforms during the Spanish colonial era (since the arrival of Ferdinand Magellan in 1521 to 1898). Until today, there is national holiday held in his name (Rizal day on December 30).
My most beautiful memory from Manila is going around Intramuros in a carriage. There is special station of them near Manila Cathedral, one hour is worth 350 php (7 Euro). The driver took me around, telling the history and stopping by the old churches. The oldest one – elegant baroque styled San Augustin Church – was even hosting a wedding that day.
Further, I needed to arrange few things: withdraw from ATM, buy some more beach clothes and get some tampons. The first two solved out eventually, but the third one didn’t. I am not gonna explain further, but let´s say that kind of item is –for female travelers of course – kind of basic. Since I didn’t find that item in offer of smaller shops, I proceeded to one of many big shopping malls located in the city centre. The search in the section of female hygiene products soon became desperate: There was no tampon setion there. Not one box. And not even single one tampon ! Until today, I don’t know if they just do not use them in Manila, the whole Philippines, or what. Sure I will welcome some explanation (you can comment on posting or white me message). Anyway, at that moment I just had to give the “tampon search” up and continue the journey to the south of Philippines without it.