Back in the Philippines

I arrived here 10 days ago from the UK. First time in the country since November 2019 due to covid.

I had a few business meetings in Manila. Evenings were free so drifted into the Greenbelt area which is where I like to hang out and watch the world go by. Surprisingly there are many new restaurants which were quite busy but the number of foreigners is down as you would expect. The heart of Greenbelt 3 was always Café Havana, a salsa venue with extensive seating outside the main bar which many expats and foreigners were drawn to. This place has now closed - a victim of the pandemic.

There is now no regular venue in Makati that I'm aware of that one can meet fellow expats/foreigners which is a damming indictment of the (non hooker) bar scene. ( Yes there were a lot of hookers in CH but they on the whole did not bug you.)

There is a place opposite on the other side called Thai kitchen which has a sit up stool bar outside which I frequent for a quiet beer. Service is good as is the food. Problem is the place closes at 10pm.

One evening I headed for one of my favourite restaurants in Burgos, the Filling Station, but there was a big festival on, the street was packed out and it was a pleasant diversion. A mass of colour with live bands and some excellent gothic costumes.

I ended up eating at the Encima restaurant at the top of City Garden hotel (not City GardenGrand Hotel opposite). A regular haunt of mine with probably the best nighttime views of Makati Avenue all the way down to Ayala. Unfortunately the restaurant has changed hands and the pork chops which were to die for were sadly missing from the menu.

Another big disappointment was the G Point bar on Padre Faura in Malate. Sadly this Swedish owned eatery had been going down hill even before the pandemic - it has now hit rock bottom. I guess I was one of maybe 3 or 4 foreigners with a few hookers. That said they still do the best Tacos (in my humble opinion) in town which ameliorated my disappointment.

I am writing this at the Coco Beach Resort on Siquijor island - the place is stunning. I would say its in the top 5 hotel resorts I have stayed in anywhere in the world. Mark Thornton an American blogger based in Dumaguete (90 minute ferry ride away) was here a few weeks back. A delightful island which I toured by motorbike this morning: the views from the highway that cuts through the central part of the island are stunning.

I usually stay at the Atlantis Dive Resort about 10 miles south of Dumaguete but have always wanted to visit Siquijor - the island of witches ;) Stayed at this hotels sister hotel the Coco Grande Hotel for one night in Dumaguete and checked out the Boulevard and the the two popular coffee shops where friend Paul Mcgill (the vlogger) conducts many of his excellent interviews namely Ground Zero & Tom Toms. Last Monday my ferry did not leave for Siquijor until 2pm so dropped by GZ for coffee and there were a bunch of regular expats gathered around a large table - I guess its a weekly meeting.

The night before I ate at a charming restaurant about half way along the Boulevard (sorry forgot the name!) and then had a couple of beers at a live band venue where there were a few expats in conversation with girlfriends (ex hookers).

So mixed experiences so far. Am meeting up with another vlogger in Dumaguete this coming Monday, A Russian guy called Alex Kosh. I am treating him to a restaurant meal as I have found his vlogs informative and dead pan - no humour but this guy interests me. If you get the chance check out one of his vlogs where he is seated on the Boulevard interviewing his Filipina girlfriend (type in Russia versus Philippines) about the lifestyle differences between Russia & the Philippines. I'm not at liberty to tell you how he met her but I've been coming to Philippines since 2001 and you know what? - she is priceless: well educated, attractive without make up, a natural and dressed in that understated stylish Filipina attire.

Lotus Eater. . . . One evening I headed for one of my favourite restaurants in Burgos, the Filling Station,


Welcome back.

One of my favorite restaurants . . .

Thank you for this, Lotus Eater

Entertaining and informative prose

written with flair and sophistication


Lotus Eater - Funny you should mention staying at the City Garden Hotel and not the City Garden Grand Hotel. Before I met my G/F, like 2 days before, I had been chatting to another woman and arranged to meet her at the City Garden Hotel, where I was staying for one night. She was from Olongapo I think and said she would get the bus down to meet me. When I arrived she was not there so I messaged her. Turns out she had gone to the City Garden Grand Hotel instead of the City Garden Hotel. To her credit she did get the bus back early the next day and we had a few hours together.


So this is where the lack of 'lateral thinking' in the Filipino psyche becomes apparent. How many foreigners grab a cab from Ninoy Aquino International and end up checking into the wrong hotel?  I suspect both hotels are owned by the same outfit.They are both on Makati Avenue, both near Burgos. You have a 50% chance of getting it right but sods law dictates that after a jet lagged flight the cab driver will choose the wrong one.

(Quick side bar - in most cities the taxi drivers are a font of knowledge - driving up Makati Avenue we passed the new Mandarin Oriental and I was sure the opening had been delayed until the back end of '23 but the taxi driver was adamant it had opened - yeah right!)

The City Garden Grand I believe is a four star and the better of the two hotels, completed about 7 years ago. It also has a rooftop restaurant. The ongoing joke with the City Garden is the lift (elevator to our American friends) wait.

@Lotus Eater, thanks for that detailed information. I was in Manila this March to make a new austrian passport.

And i was disappointed about almost everything.

Breakfast in hotel 🙄

Taxi from airport to hotel 😒

I wanted to buy an apple laptop, almost no model available, pay and "balikbalik". 😬

Traffic from and to airport only horror.

Manila will see me next time in 10 years for next passport, if i don't do it in Austria.

I am happy to be back in Ormoc city, clean city, friendly people, less traffic. It's best City i ever visited.

Glad you're back and having fun Lotus.. you might have eaten at Casablanca, along the Boulevard - their food is excellent, ambience not bad. Can't beat the cappuccinos at GZ. Wish I was there, I'd buy you one, haha.

Appreciate the offer pnw. It may well have been. There is an elevated outdoor dining deck where you can people watch but it was full so went inside the restaurant. Seemed quite busy for an early weekday evening. Yes copy on the cappuccinos at GZ. The coffee machine around the corner at Tom Toms was broken so ended up having a Frappuccino which the Filipinos excel at making.