Manila, the capital of the Philippines, is often said to be the “New York of Asia”. Modern skyscrapers stand alongside with historical colonial churches. Busy shopping malls are juxtaposed with green gardens. Many take Manila as a stop in their longer journeys, but there are actually lots to explore. Particularly, the nightlife is colourful and splendid.
The efficiency, convenience and diversity in cities have improved our lives. However, it could be stressful sometimes and make one miss the nature and relaxation. The luxurious Lujetta’s Hanging Gardens Spa is 30 km to the east of Manila and is the chilling place for many celebrities.
The spa is built on the ridge of Antipolo. From there, both natural scenery and Manila’s high rises can be seen. One could enjoy the tranquil sunset in the forest, read over tea, or chat away with friends against the magnificent
background of the countryside.
The buildings at the spa blend into the natural environment of ancient trees, pools and exuberant plants. Even the Jacuzzi does not look out of place. It is almost like being inside the Garden of Eden.
The infinity pool at the mountainside is my favourite facility. The view of the forests soothes my mind. In the garden, there is a fish therapy tank. These fish can withstand a higher temperature, the most relaxation of feet in warm water while the fish bite callouses away. Therapists at the spa are all professionally trained. My recommendation is hot stone massage. Hot stones are placed on your body while the therapist gives you an oil massage. The combination of skills and stones bring great pleasure.
There are 7,000 islands in the Philippines, and the country’s marine resources are abundant. Even if you do not dive or swim, you can still explore marine lives in the Philippines by visiting the Manila Ocean Park. Spanning an area of 8,000 sq. m., it houses sea animals from around the world and those unique to the Philippines. Some of them are rare. The park is also the first in the country to host Humboldt penguins in its Trails to Antarctica. These penguins often stand beside the pond with a blank expression. They are just too cute!
The Oceanarium is undoubtedly the most popular attraction in the park. Before walking into it, I thought everything would be blue. But it actually starts with a rainforest area, where freshwater fish can be seen. Later on, the indoor area features marine lives typical in Palawan— the southernmost part of the Philippines. Clownfish, garden eel and starfish are some of the animals that can be found. The 25 m tunnel, where visitors enjoy a 220° view, is the most exciting part. Humphead wrasse of as long as 1 m, huge stingrays and all kinds of fish travel across right above the visitors. I felt like I was the Little Mermaid!
You could follow me to join the Mermaid Swim Experience at the park. Mermaid swim is now a popular activity around the world. It helps tone the body and there are even mermaid schools in some countries. At Manila Ocean Park, visitors do not have to worry about swimming skills as one-to-one coaching is available. A perfect shot of you in mermaid suit traversing the pool will be snapped by a professional photographer. This is not a lady-only activity. Many guys like it, too!
馬尼拉灣的日落被譽為世界八大美景之一，每天的日落時間，不少人都會到日落大道，一同感受那夕陽西沈的夢幻時光。日落大道的日落美雖然艷麗，但作為菲國人的我，卻偏愛到馬卡蒂市 Lepanto大廈的天台餐廳——The Penthouse 8747，靜靜欣賞那片燈紅色的霞光。
坐在餐廳的戶外用餐區中，對外景色是一片大自然翠綠的阿雅拉三角花園廣場，吹著午後清涼的微風，悠閒地欣賞落日餘暉，整個空間彷佛充斥著濃濃的羅曼蒂克氣氛。The Penthouse 8747還備有各種各樣的飲料，從香檳、雞尾酒、伏特加到威士忌等應有盡有，單是飲品的種類已有100多種，最著名的是以香檳和葡萄酒混合而成的「Jealous Lover 」雞尾酒，每杯杯底更會有一顆以葡萄酒浸泡而成的果凍，口感有趣，容易入口，酒量尚淺的我也可喝上數杯！餐廳的食物同樣值得嘗試，開胃菜、意大利面、手工奶酪和冷盤拼盤應有盡有，假日時更會有DJ現場打碟，讓人流年忘返。
The sunset at Manila Bay is said to be one of the eight most beautiful scenes in the world. Every day at sunset time, people flock to promenade to see the view. However, I prefer going up to the rooftop restaurant – The Penthouse 8747 – in the Lepanto building in Makati to see the red and orange shades.
The outdoor seating area overlooks the landscaped Ayala Triangle Garden. The evening breeze adds a hint of romance to the sunset. The Penthouse 8747 serves over 100 types of drinks, from champagne and cocktails to vodka, whiskey and others. Its signature Jealous Lover blends champagne and wine. A wine jelly sits at the bottom. It is easy to drink even for light drinkers like me. It offers a range of food, from appetiser and pasta to cheese and cold cuts. On holidays, there is even live DJ performance.
In 1571, the Spanish built a walled city within Manila to consolidate its power. All buildings inside were constructed in European style. Nowadays, it is a place to explore the blending of the eastern and western cultures. The legacy of the wall and 17th century buildings are full of colonial history and bring people back in time.
In the whole walled city, I like the Casa Manila Museum the most. The building itself is an exhibit and it recreates the life in Manila in the colonial era. The three-storey mansion is decorated with exquisite furniture common among the elites of the Philippines in the olden days. It is so lavish that it looks like a palace.
As a shopaholic, SM Mall of Asia is a must-go and known as “the biggest shopping mall in Asia”, which owns 41 hectares of land. To avoid customers getting lost, golf carts are arranged in the mall for transportation. There are over 600 shops in the mall with different types, including dining, international brands and exhibition centres. I like spending my weekends and holidays and shopping with friends here, as one can find the native handicrafts and snacks, men and women clothing, accessories, shoes, make-up and skincare products, home and living goods, entertainment and so on, which are more stylish and cheaper than other countries.
After shopping, it’s time to go back to Okada Manila and enjoy some food! But I suggest having a walk before dinner, as Okada Manila is spread out over 44 hectares of seafront land. It’s the newest and most iconic resort in the city, and one of the biggest in the country. The hotel has the most spacious and technologically-advanced accommodations in the country, offering a wide variety of rooms with impeccable design and stand out interiors.
In addition, Okada Manila’s staff are attentive and courteous. Apart from explaining different experiences you may enjoy during the stay, they introduce the highlights of the entire hotel, like the schedule of The Fountain shows, different cuisines of each restaurant, and other special offers. They’re also helpful and recommend the must-see places in Manila.
最上盛牛肉 —— 高麗韓國料理
Korean food and culture has gained popularity all over the world in recent years, including The Philippines. Many Korean restaurants have popped up in Manila, but Goryeo in Okada Manila surely serves the best food and has the best ambiance. It mainly offers Korean barbecue but other dishes such as kimchi pot, bibimbap, and seafood pancake are also available. My favorite dish is assorted beef, which includes ribs, chuck and other parts. The meat is best paired with sea salt or Korean chili sauce.
最時令食材 —— 日本割烹今村料理
People who like Japanese cuisine must have heard of “omakase”. It is the practice where the chef decides what to cook for you with the best seasonal ingredients. This privileged way of dining is offered at Japanese Kappou Imamura at Okada Manila. At 3 a.m., Michelin-starred Chef Hirofumi makes the purchase of the day from the Tsukiji Fish Market in Japan via video conference. The ingredients are flown to Manila straight away. The sashimi is tender and fresh and it melts in the mouth.
世界級娛樂體驗 —— Cove Manila
Drop by Cove Manila after dinner, which has just opened last December and already been the hottest party scene in Manila. With an indoor beach club and nightclub, it features the most advanced sound and light equipment. It also houses the country’s first six-ring kinetic chandelier capable of about 10,000 visual and kinetic effects. It is really a world-class experience to dance! My friends and I also enjoy cocktails and watching the sunset here.
全球最大音樂噴泉 —— The Fountain
Costing an estimated USD 30 million (HKD 235 million) to build, The Fountain at Okada Manila covers an area equivalent to 50 Olympic-sized swimming pools, making it the world’s largest multicolor dancing fountain. The amazing hourly show, with choreographed water, lights, and music performances, is on every night. Music fills the space and the water shoots up to the sky as soon as the performance starts. It is made even better by the colorful lights. The Fountain shoots water up even higher than the hotel buildings. The changing tempo of the music combined with the style of the water makes an unforgettable sight.
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