For nostalgia, it is quite a wonderful time to walk down memory lane. I can still remember that day when my cousin and her friends invited me for a food trip in Manila somewhere in March 2007. I was about to take an afternoon nap as I just got home from school when she sent me a message. With a heavy-eyed face I responded yes right away as she told me that street foods in Manila are the best. You can easily wheedle me to say yes as long as food would be included on the itinerary as I don't really like going out.
Working for our thesis during that time was pretty toxic. I’ve wasted an abundance of weekend because of that. I wasn’t so enthusiastic in going out as well as asking consent to go out requires a lot of questioning and I hate that. So when my parents knew that I’ll be with my cousin, they agreed right away. I’ll be forever grateful for my cousin about it because after our brunch, which includes Japanese corn, souffle pancakes, and coconut juice - Intramuros snuggled right into my heart as we walked in.
The Walled City gave us a glimpse of the past with the old buildings, stone walls, and cobblestones restored and preserved for modern-day appreciation. Even the security personnels are donned in Guardia civil inspired uniforms to maintain the historic feel of the place. We visited Plaza San Luis Complex, San Agustin Church, and Manila Cathedral. And of course the famous spot in Intramuros, the old defense fortress built by Spaniards in 1571, the Fort Santiago.
After that long walk, we've decided to take our lunch at the oldest Chinatown in the world, Binondo. We took a jeepney ride from Intramuros to Divisoria, then stopped by Binondo Church. From there we walked to Ongpin street. We got lost actually, there was no Google Maps back then so it was really a struggle. Luckily, a very kind stranger helped us to get to Dong Bei restaurant. We chose that restaurant as one of my cousin's friends heard that they serve delicious dumplings. And it was indeed delicious! Especially the Kuchay dumplings. That was actually one of the reasons why I kept coming back after that. There's a plethora of Chinese restaurants that you can choose from aside from Dong Bei that serves authentic Chinese cuisines. And it’s quintessential Binondo that you try one of them.
And of course, since Divisoria is just around the area, we also went to the "shopping mecca" of Metro Manila. Amidst the throng of people who also go there for the same reason, we managed to buy ourselves a few pieces of clothes and cute stuff for school. The bargain-hunting experience was awesome. We were able to brave through the sea of sweaty people without getting lost. From that experience I was finally able to get why my Mom never allowed us to go there with her (haha!)
The moments are fleeting, time passes quickly before our eyes and landscapes are constantly changing. When this pandemic happened, I realized that we shouldn't really deprive ourselves from taking a break from the same daily routine. That we should take some adventures once in a while if time and your budget permit. Good thing that in this day and age, a ton of online booking platforms is now available for our convenience. Like RedDoorz, that offers affordable accomodation anywhere in Southeast Asia. Now you have the power to plan your next travel destination after this pandemic right at your fingertips!
Remembering my first day tour in Manila is like being in your lover’s arm, where you drown with warmth and memories. That captivating beauty of Intramuros and pulsating food experience in Binondo left so much happiness in my heart.
I don’t know if this story of mine will serve any purpose to anyone, seeing no one in their right mind will dare to travel for leisure any time soon. But it’s good to be reminded that there was a time we could do that - and there will be a time again when we can. I hope I was able to take you with me in Manila whilst reading this.
And while we wait and long for those days, may your home coffee (brewed, delivered, or instant) keep you alive, aware, and fighting through these rough times.
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