I’ve had the opportunity to come to Manila for a workshop, at the Shangri La hotel. To save my School money, I booked at the Stonehouse B & B, which was cheap, and, according to the map on the internet, was just over 1km from the “Shang”.
The China Southern flight was uneventful, and I climbed into an airport taxi. It didn’t take long before I realised that we were going past a large mall that was supposed to be near the Shangri La. We kept going, and going, although “going”, in Manila means a lot of sitting in traffic jams. Eventually we arrived at the Stonehouse, in a fairly down-market part of town (assuming that there are up-market sections of Manila). The rooms were fairly basic. I moved rooms, because the original was beside the elevator. It didn’t matter, the second night, because the cleaning staff were out and about in the corridors, rattling their mops and buckets, literally, all night, and my sleep was, consequently, very unsettled.
The first day, I had an afternoon and evening to kill. I walked down E. Rodrieguez Ave, past an area reminiscent of west Jakarta. I dined with The Colonel, then caught one of the public transport vehicles back up the street, for the equivalent of about 20 cents. The footpath, in Quezon, has a pink line painted along it, and periodic signs exhort the populace to follow it. When it disappears, under vehicles or street vendors, this is not possible.
After dark, I had a beer in the hotel restaurant, then went for a walk. There were a few restaurants around, but no “night life”, except for what seemed to be adjoining strip clubs.
I had three goes at catching a taxi to the Shangri La, the next morning – the first two drivers claimed not to know where it was. It seemed like the third one didn’t either, because all but the last two minutes of the half-hour trip were spent in suburban back streets. However, we emerged in a sort of business district, on the correct side of the road for alighting at the hotel.
The Manila Shangri La is fabulous. The prices are cheap, and the staff were very friendly. En route to the workshop room, I encountered two Surabaya I. S. folk who had been attending the international schools conference there.
The workshop, about becoming part of an accreditation team for schools, was good. I paired with one bloke in an activity, only to find he had been an administrator at Utahloy. We swapped a few stories after the workshop. At lunch, a woman joined me who, as it turned out, was an administrator in a Jakarta school in which an ex-cCiputra colleague is working.
Back at the Stonehouse, I spoke with Helen (and Machi) on Skype, in the restaurant. I wandered out into another nearby street, which had excellent restaurants, but no decent-looking bars. I had a beer at two, but the only place where there was entertainment was back in the hotel restaurant – a passable jazz group.
The last day loomed grey and dreary, as the previous two. The girl at the desk told me I could buy souvenirs at a place called Cubau, just up the road. I climbed into a truck and ended up at the terminus at Cubau. The only things I could see for sale were cheap clothes, fake watches and sun glasses, and young ladies. It looked like rain, so I trucked back to the hotel.
I checked out, and headed to the mall, to see if I could get a memento or two. The mall was like malls everywhere. I bought some Body Shop stuff, unprocurable in Guangzhou, and headed to the airport.I obviously didn’t see the best of Manila, but it is unlikely that opportunity will present itself in the future.