Stumble Into Indonesia's Unseen Places
Submitted by viravira on 1 October 2013 • Abroad
“I brought you something from Manila,” said my friend Budi, while handing me something wrapped in paper.
“Oh my god, really? What’s this?” I asked excitingly.
“It’s compact tsokolate. Just dip it in water and it’ll become a tsokolate drink.”
Totally yayness! This absolutely throws me back to my Manila trip a few years ago, where I had my first tsokolate with ensaymada bread for the first time. And what was that again, you ask?
Tsokolate is basically hot chocolate as we know it, and ensaymada is a kind of sweet bread the Pinoys adopted from the Spanish. Thanks to my Filipino ex boss who lives in Manila, who introduced me to this heavenly combination at Mary Grace cafe. Both bread and chocolate taste subtle, a mix of sweet and savory.
Even without knowing that they had one of the best ensaymada in Manila, I was attracted to the shop for its homey country feel. The ones Boyo (my travel mate) and I dined at were at the Greenbelt 2 shopping mall in Makati and Serendra Complex, but they also have more branches in Manila. Totally recommended, especially if you’re into pastry!
But, wait a minute. Did I travel far from Jakarta just to eat bread and drink chocolate? Well, d’oh. Here comes the spectacular one…
“Wait, what? A city in a city?” I wondered out loud when I researched about the city I was going to go to.
Turns out, the city of Manila is an expansion from a fortified city called Intramuros, which in Latin translates to ‘within the walls’. The old city’s history goes way back to the 16th century when the Philippines were colonized by the Spanish. The walls and citadel within were built to protect the Spanish government from outside invasions. My gosh, can you imagine living within such walls?
We took a pedicab to go from one site to another in Intramuros. The green fields and our own excitement helped us forget that it was actually a very hot day, indeed. We walked around the expansive Fort Santiago, walked the footpath of José Rizal’s to his execution chamber, entered the classic church and museum of San Augustin.
Drained by the hot sun, we ended the tour by having lunch at Ristorante delle Mitre. Our dessert was Philippines’ very own halo halo. It’s not that circle above an angel’s head, it’s an iced beverage with diced jackfruit, nata de coco, sago, coconut and you name it, it’s there. Halo halo is sweet and colorful, reminds me much of es campur in Indonesia, and similarly delish.
There were actually more that we did and saw in our brief 2-day stay in Manila, but these points above were the 2 most memorable ones for me. Manila has been an underdog destination, since The Philippines, like Indonesia, is consisted of so many beautiful islands with attractive sea activities like diving and snorkeling.
But to me, Manila offers so many interesting things to see and do, and in this case, eat, that I wouldn’t recommend you to skip this capital city when you’re traveling South East Asia. There are flights from around the world to the Ninoy Aquino International Airport in Manila, as well as to other countries, such as Indonesia. There are direct flights to cities like Jakarta and Manado, or ones with transits to Makassar and Bandung.
So, where are you flying next?