At the hotel we actually slept in a bit. We were trying to get our sleep patterns back into some semblance of a working order before we ventured out from the hotel to visit Manila for the third time of asking. After breakfast we spoke to the hotel manager who told us that the Mall of Asia was only a short walk away from his hotel or (much better) an even quicker jeepney bus ride. It took us all of five minutes of strolling out on the hot, dusty and busy streets before we decided the bus option to be the much more civilised way forward. We flagged a jeepney which seemed to be going in our general direction and five minutes later we were there.
The mall is a huge place and it seemed to have every shop imaginable within it – even a good number of the major English brands. We could not really afford to start shopping and anyhow we had no room in our backpacks for frivolous purchases so we settled with going back to the food mall to grab one of the many different kinds of cuisine on offer. Though there were many queues getting the food actually turned out to be the easy part though as finding a seat proved much, much more difficult. In the end we had to impose on people who were going to some kind of spiritual thing in the mall to budge up and let us on their table before they started eating, we appealed to their good natures citing the fact that we had done a bit of volunteer work in their country, which always puts you in good favour – believe me, it was the only way we were going to get a seat. Although the streets around our hotel seemed full of people who were definitely at the poorer end of the scale, here in the mall it was as if those people did not exist. We were two of the thinner people at the food court and some of the very few carrying no shopping bags whatsoever as it seems loads of Filipinos seem to be caught up in the addiction that is consumerism.
We left the mall and got a returning jeepney which dropped us off back near our hotel so we walked the rest of the way. Tomorrow we would be off to the airport and leaving bustling Manila and the Philippines the land that had given us so much. One of the best natural experiences so far on the whale shark encounter at Donsol and the other, the truly pleasurable and humbling experience of pitching in with a group just trying to help a few Filipino lives just that little bit better at All Hands in Tacloban.
We had used up a good part of the day with our tour to the mega-mall but we now needed some sleep to replace that lost during the trip down from Banaue. We had a good couple of hours and then went for a simple meal in the hotel’s restaurant. We were feeling some quite mixed emotions the sadness at leaving a country we had grown very fond of and the thrill that we were soon to be on our way again to somewhere new and wonderful – Vietnam.