I would lie if I told you it has been an easy week, but at least I can say it has been interesting…
Dinner in Dusit Thani
Manila is known for many things, and bad rush traffic is one of them. Hence, on Tuesday I decided to take the train back to the hotel rather than being stuck in a traffic jam. One of the guys I am working with was going in the same direction, and he warned me about the crowd on the train during peak hours, but I thought that it couldn’t be that bad. After all, I am often taking the MRT in Singapore during peak hours, which can be quite crowded, and I have survived so far. However, I must admit I underestimated the meaning of crowded, because the trains in Manila are really packed during rush hours, and the MRT in Singapore can’t even compare. The worst part was that people were pushing to get in first when the train arrived at the station, and they wouldn’t even let people off the train before trying to get in. At every station there is a sign saying “No pushing”, which I found very amusing at first (frankly, it is something I would expect in kindergarten and not in the adult world), but I soon realized why the sign was necessary.
The interesting thing in Manila is that they have train carriages just for women. A lot of women have found it very unpleasant to be squeezed between a bunch of guys on the train, and after a number of complaints the first carriage on every train has been dedicated to women only. However, I haven’t really experienced any issues in the normal carriages, and I don’t think anyone would try to assault me since I am taller than most of the guys here, and I probably look at bit scary in my masculine business outfits with my hair tucked back in a knob.
The train is very, very cheap in Manila. It costs you only 12 Philippine pesos from one end to another, which is about 25 US cents, and shorter distances are even cheaper. No wonder why so many people prefer the train when they travel to work in the morning. It is quite convenient, and usually a lot faster than trying to get through the traffic jams in the morning, so as long as I have a chance to travel outside the worst peak I am more than happy to use the train.
Anyway, what I was really planning to write about today was my dinner last night. Just down the road from Intercontinental Hotel there is a Dusit Thani hotel with a fantastic dinner buffet. I am pretty sure it is the best seafood buffet in all of Manila, and I go there sometimes when I get bored with the food in my hotel. I decided to pay a visit last night, but what I didn’t know was that the hotel was hosting the Peruvian Food Festival. I have never had Peruvian food before, and it sounded interesting so I decided to try it out. Due to the Spanish influences, Filipino and Peruvian cuisine and culture share a lot of similarities. However, the food they offered in Dusit Thani, prepared by the Peruvian Chef Martin Velasco Trojan, had a very distinguished taste, and it was quite different from the Filipino food I have tried earlier. It had a lot of chili taste in it, but still not very spicy, and I believe it is due to the type of chili they use and the way it is processed.
It was an interesting culinary experience, but I must admit that I prefer the normal buffet in Dusit Thani, which is the reason I keep coming back there although they more or less always are having problems with their credit card machines. It annoys me a little bit that they never can make these systems work properly, because after all it is a relatively large and recognized hotel. But still, the food is in fact so nice that I keep coming back. It is a place I would highly recommend if you are looking for something to eat in Manila.
By the way, I am cutting back in sugar at the moment, and I promise you that it has been a true test in self discipline to avoid tasting some of the fantastic desserts they make here. The Filipinos love sweets, and they make tasty cakes, puddings and other yummy desserts out of my favorite ingredients, mango and chocolate. I am very proud of the fact that I have managed to stay away from the sweets this week, but maaaaan, it has not been easy!
Tonight I am heading back to Singapore. I have had some technical difficulties on customer site this week, so I am glad to get a break, but I think I will miss Manila. The temperatures here at the moment are very nice, not too hot and not very humid, and I love the feeling of the cool wind towards my face in the evening. For my fellow Norwegians it would probably not be considered cool, considering that they have experienced temperatures down to minus 25 degrees Celsius (!) in Oslo lately, but for a Singaporean resident like me it is a nice change from the hot and humid climate I usually live in.