Life is But a Dream
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard
I’ll be honest — when I first heard that we were headed to Manila, I turned straight to Google. I had no idea where in the world we were actually headed or what to expect upon arrival.
Now, after spending a short (but sweet) four days there, I am embarrassed for not knowing more about such a fascinating Filipino city. Sure, the world may seem small at times but DANG there is so much out there. So much to see, to do, to learn; I don’t think I will ever even begin to scratch the surface of it all. Not in this lifetime, anyway. I’m blessed to have been given the opportunity to spend time in such a unique place, and to have met friends who took us under their wings and showed us a real, RAW version of the city that they call home. Salamat po, dear friends, for your hospitality! We adore you.
If I could write a book about my life, this trip would surely take up at least two chapters of it. Most of my Manila memories will be tucked away in my heart rather than shared on this blog, but I do want to highlight some special moments.
On our first night in Manila, we were fortunate enough to meet some new friends outside of our hotel. After only an hour of chatting (and discovering a whole WORLD of common interests), they made it their personal mission to show us their hometown in all its glory.
The next day, our new friends brought us to this wonderful fresh fish market called DAMPA. (They came bearing gifts — and thank goodness! The humidity out there is no joke. My hair will vouch for that.)
The market at DAMPA was fascinating. First, you peruse the aisles and pick out your own seafood (while getting attacked by the vendors trying to make a sale). They have every kind of meat/fish/crustacean you could ever possibly imagine.
They also had some dead alley cats, but we’re just going to go ahead and forget about that. (Don’t worry. The cat pictured below is 100% alive. I’m not that cruel.)
After you’ve purchased the “meat” of your meal, you pick a restaurant at the market to dine at. The chefs will then take your selections and prepare them for you in whatever way your heart desires.
It should come as no surprise that we used this as an opportunity to feast, even though we had a full evening of work ahead of us. When in Manila, right?
Totally worth it. Thank you, Hong Kong Master Cook!
The good food didn’t end there. On our last night, we dined at a family-owned restaurant called Milky Way. In a stroke of luck, we actually met the owner (Malou) earlier in the day and she invited us to come share a meal with her. It was such a kind gesture and an incredible example of the strong, tight-knit communities in the Philippines.
Malou is the reason I gained 5 pounds in 3 days. “Just drink some hot water,” she advised. “It will help you make more room in there!”
Malou fed us decadent Filipino dishes; each one better than the last. Perhaps the most interesting thing we tried that evening was a dessert called “Halo Halo” or, in English, “Mix Mix!” It is made from a combination of shaved ice, evaporated milk, boiled sweet beans, and fruity jello — all served in a tall glass.
(I know that may sound scary but, I promise, it was phenomenal. Even Anthony Bourdain agrees.)
We got home around midnight that evening and, in anticipation of our 3:00am car pick-up, we decided to forego sleep; a decision I may be regretting today.
Again, totally worth it.
I hope I never lose my desire to learn more about the world or the opportunity to get out there and explore. I always feel more grounded and peaceful after experiences like this. Perspective is a beautiful thing.
Where have you traveled recently? What trip or place has been the most meaningful to you?