I grew up in Manila, technically, but I have never really been to THAT side of the city. I have always wanted to but I lack the guts to walk around Manila and be a tourist. First, it’s hot and it’s not really appealing. Second, I’ve heard horrifying stories about people getting killed or robbed in broad daylight in Manila… it’s all over the news, and I am a wuss when it comes to that.
Putting all that nonsense aside, during the Chinese New Year long weekend, I went ahead and staycationed there with this unggoy.
We stayed at White Knight Hotel in Intramuros. From there, it is easy to go to Binondo by jeep and around Intramuros by foot.
Day 1: Binondo
As it was a day before Chinese New Year, Binondo was already sprawling with people. We didn’t really care about Chinese New Year because we are not Chinese, we only care about their belly-busting dimsums and fried siopaos.
We went there early, before 10am, just in time for brunch. Our first stop was Dong Bei. It is famous for their dimsums and xiao long bao. We didn’t get to eat there because 40 plus tourists were ahead of us and it would take them forever to serve our food. And, they didn’t have xiao long bao yet.
At this point, we were getting hAngry.
Our second stop was Tasty Dumplings. It was a random choice because we were starving. Their dumplings, both steamed and fried, were okay. They also serve gigantic pork chops with rice. It was good too.
Third stop: Wai Ying. Despite the long queue, we achieved our dimsum craving at Wai Ying. We got hakaw + fried cua pao. It was amazing. Really good. I mean, really good.
No, we didn’t take photos of the food. So here’s a selfie instead and few other stills.
Dong Bei, we will come back for your Xiao Long Bao! For now, we’ll settle with Shi Lin or maybe Din Tai Fung.
Filipinos and Filipinos of Chinese descent really value their traditions. From the lucky charms, dragon dances, fortune plants, and other things I don’t know were on full display on the eve of Chinese New Year.
It wasn’t my first time in Binondo but it’s always entertaining every time I go there.
Gong Xi Fa Cai, folks!
Day 2: Intramuros
I’ve been to Intramuros when I was a kid for a field trip. I don’t remember any details about that trip nor did I imagine going back there just for the kick of it.
Thank heavens for a cloudy day since we explored Intramuros by foot.
There can always be mini adventures in a city as batshit as Manila. It wasn’t all that bad, honestly. If anything, I enjoyed the peculiarity of this staycation and found Manila a bit more interesting. The city looks dirty and daunting but despite that facade, there are wonderful treasures to be discovered.
There are always new things to be learned and seen – all we really need are fresh eyes, an open mind, and strong legs to appreciate the simplicity and beauty of an old and somewhat dilapidated old town.