December 2016: Manila, the Philippines

Manila is an interesting city. Busy and crazy, but also fascinating and in some ways familiar. We stayed out in Makati district, the fancier business district. We went into the main part of town once, to do a food tour with a friend from the MrMoneyMustache forums (who went with us despite having worked all night. Gretchen, you were a champ!).

At a park in Manila, some student photographers(?) decided these strange tourists and their fat baby would be perfect subjects.

The Food

Food was a big part of our visit to Manila. We went on a food tour, where we wandered through the Asian parts of old town and munched on an array of yummy foods. I don’t remember the names of anything we ate, but there was the burrito thing, the dumpling things, and the custard egg stuff. Also, ube, which is a purple yam that they use in desserts over there.

Speaking of dessert: people in the Philippines apparently got confused about what should and what should not be in desserts. For example, they have a weird infatuation with cheddar cheese. We had a sweet roll thing topped with cheese, and even (back by popular demand, according to the sign!) cheese ice cream (made with real cheddar!, again, according to the signs that proudly proclaimed it). That’s weird, guys. Luckily they also like chocolate, so we were good.

If you think our visit to Manila couldn’t get more exciting than cheddar cheese ice cream, though, you’d be wrong. We also did some cool stuff that didn’t involve food!

Meeting Santa

First of all, let’s try to explain how excited Ali was when we got off the plane and she remembered that the Philippines is a Catholic country. Usually something like that wouldn’t matter, but we were going to be there from the end of November to the middle of December, which meant CHRISTMAS EVERYWHERE! If you know Ali, you know she loves Christmas, so getting an unexpected dose of yuletide cheer made her so happy.

Beautiful color-changing Christmas lights display

Giant Christmas tree in Makati

We even got to go meet Santa! It went something like this:

Ali: Annabelle’s going to LOVE Santa!
Joe: She’s going to cry.
Ali: But it’s Santa! Santa’s the best. I’m sure she won’t cry.
Joe: She’s going to cry.
Ali: She might not smile or anything, but she won’t cry.
Joe: She’s going to cry.

Annabelle meets Santa!

The Escape Room

If you don’t know what an Escape Room is, Google them. There’s probably one in your area. We’ve been to several, in Las Vegas, Seattle, Ali’s mom’s house (her mom’s awesome), and we went to one in Manila.

When Ali found out there was one nearby that was Harry Potter themed/knocked off (I’m sure without paying any licensing fees), you couldn’t keep her away. We dragged along poor Gretchen yet again, and we all got to wear robes and search for a time-turner before time ran out and the evil wizard used it to change everything! We needed to make potions, find a magic wand and wave it while saying the magical spell words (which made Ali so happy) we had to solve for first, and discover the secret code to get ourselves out of the room.

It was an EXCELLENT escape room, and we’re not saying that just because Ali’s a huge Harry Potter fan. Well, maybe a little. They did a great job of making it stick to a coherent theme, and the puzzles were tricky without being impossible.

Ali really wanted to keep the time turner as a necklace to prove that she defeated the dark wizard, but they needed that. We got a couple pens, though. Worth every penny.

Foiled the evil wizard in this awesome Harry Potter escape room!

Overall our brief trip to Manila was very pleasant. We wish we had more time in the Philippines, but this was just a short stopover between Chiang Mai and Bali. Someday we’ll get back there and explore more of the Philippines.

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