Manila: Commune Café

Commune Café

 is tucked between sky-rise apartment and office buildings, on the corner of a street in Makati. It looks a little out of place, but acts as a welcome haven for a coffee, breakfast or as a stop to wile away a few hours. We tried our first Filipino breakfast here - pork torcino with rice and a fried egg, which was surprisingly delicious. For someone who is used to cereal and fruit in the morning it sounded a little too much like dinner for my liking, but more fool me for not having tried it earlier. The coffee was also good, as was the cookie cupcake with salted caramel ice-cream. Now if someone can just tell me where I can get my hands on those green coffee mugs and saucers that would be great. Anyone? 

Commune Cafe

Liberty Plaza,

102 H.V. Dela Costa Street,

Salcedo Village, Makati City

Manila

I'm finally getting the rest of my Philippines posts up, so expect to see a flurry in the following weeks. Next up is Manila. The Philippines' capital is one of the most exciting cities I've visited in a long time - it's hot, tropical, noisy, colourful and sprawling. It's also a city in flux, expansion and growth, and is currently undergoing a lot of construction. But it's so filled with life and energy that I almost didn't want to leave. The contrast can at times be a little shocking and eye-opening, with colourful, makeshift shanty town homes positioned next to skyscrapers, or just across the road. One of my favourite things were the jeepneys - the elongated jeeps, used as public transport, which are each more colourful than the next, and unique to the city. Parts of the city admittedly felt very American, especially the area of Makati, where we stayed, and there are malls everywhere. The main cluster of hotels are in Makati so it is a little more touristy, but it's a great place to base yourself when exploring the city. Below were a few of my favourite places:

Address book: 

Wildflour cafe + Bakery

 - great for brunch/lunch

CO/OP

 - concept design store and cafe, great for lunch and dinner 

Commune

 - great for coffee and breakfast (post coming soon) 

Yardstick Coffee

 - great for coffee

Your Local

- restaurant, great for dinner 

Intramuros - Manila's old town 

Banaue to Batad

After touching down in Manila we gave ourselves one night to recover from jet-lag, before taking a 10hour overnight bus ride (for our sins) that took us to Banaue. We arrived at 7am the next morning tired and freezing cold - bumpy bus rides are no more conducive to sleeping than trying to fall asleep standing up, and the air con on buses in the Philippines is so strong that no amount of layers keeps the cold air from creeping in. Luckily our driver was there on arrival to greet us and take us in a 

tricycle

 to

Sanafe Lodge

, where we slept for a few hours before setting out to explore the rice terraces in Banaue. After a ride on the roof of a jeepney (by far one of the best ways to travel in my opinion), racing around the tiny mountain roads, hanging on for dear life, we reached the rice terraces of Hungduan, which provide a lovely afternoon trekking around the terraces with a break to bathe in a hot spring, followed by a refreshing

(read freezing) river in between.

Batad was another experience altogether. After the 45minute trek down to the Hillside Inn, where we stopped to refuel with a tea, we then began the walk to Tappiya falls, which involved a steep climb down, a walk along the rice terraces walls, another steep climb, followed by a tough downhill trek that played havoc on my knees. Finally we were rewarded with the waterfall - a 70m drop that thundered into a large pool below. The water was ice cold, so all I could do was dip my toes in while the others jumped right in. But it was a good break before hiking the steep steps back up the terraces and down again. This is not a trek for the faint hearted, we finished sweating and panting, but happy to have fulfilled the exercise quota for the week!