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Excerpt from the Journal of Olds – Day 149-150 – Manila

After a comedy of errors we reached Manila. We were dropped in a post-apocalyptic scavenger hub – so it seemed. Teething masses of tuk-tuk drivers, street vendors and people going about their daily business amidst the dirt and smog. We’d arrived.

Our hotel for the evening was away from all this inside the walled city of Intramuros. This was the main / only reason we’d elected to visit the capital. The Spanish colonial architecture protected from the writhing overpopulated metropolis that surrounds it promised some interesting photo opportunities. We’d booked into the White Knight hotel and were immediately impressed by the place. We tried to extend our stay only to find it fully booked so had to settle for one night only.

We set out to explore the place. We had no idea of the layout but passed the time taking photos at a skate park and inside an old church. A cyclo  driver coaxed us in to taking a tour at a reasonable price so we hopped in and made our way to the old fort. Or what was left of the old fort. Or more accurately the place where an old fort might once have stood – there was a gate and a quaint park but not much else.

We rolled to a few more sights before my rip-off radar started going off and caused me to double-check our helpful guide’s price. Oh, so that was the price for 30 minutes? And we’ve now been “on tour” for an hour despite the fact you’ve only pedalled for about 15 minutes? We’ll get off here mate, ta very much.

We ended our day with a fairly mediocre meal at a chicken restaurant and a wander through the old streets which was nice – especially with a splurge on a Starbucks coffee.

The next day we set out to find an impressive looking golden mosque that Fi had researched into hidden deep within the city proper. The images on Google suggested a bold and impressive structure so after walking out of Intramuros we got a taxi who assured us he knew the place. After 20 minutes of asking everyone on the street where it was we finally pulled up outside Manila’s Golden mosque.

It looked nothing like the photos on Google.

This was a small community mosque that looked like it had recently been subjected to an arson attack. On all sides of the compound surrounding the mosque was what can only be described as a shanty town – it had the look of refugee camp. We stood out – clearly few travellers ventured to this spot. We took a few snaps and politely made our way out giving a nominal donation to their security fund.

We wandered back over the course of a few hours via another mid-service catholic church and a market. Manila wasn’t really doing it for either of us so we grabbed our gear and made our way across town to our next guesthouse marketed as close to the airport but in fact an equal distance in the opposite direction.

We settled in, had a great late lunch at a wrap cafe and whiled away our remaining time relaxing before our morning flight to Bohol.