Binondo Chinatown: A Photo Diary

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I had free time in my hands so I grabbed Chace the camera and did a little stroll in downtown Manila. I haven’t set foot in the capital for quite a while after I graduated from college. Manila City for me is a chaotic place but it has its charms – and most of it lies in the old nooks. The charm of this urban hyperreality is when it transports you back to its heydays.

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DSC_0006Most of the streets have crisscrosses of electric wires. 

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DSC_0009Life as they know it

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DSC_0011I think I have overdosed on old Hong Kong films. Thanks, VSCO hehe.

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Binondo is the oldest Chinatown outside the mainland. In this little cramped neighborhood, your senses will be entertained by the sights, smells, and sounds of a bustling neighborhood. Business looks good and every street features a distinct feel of being in another place aside from Manila as we have known it. Honestly, though it could use a more precise urban planning. In the same time, the chaos here seems part of the daily life. Everyone looks so used to it.

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DSC_0016I’m amazed they do their coffee in siphons!

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What is a trip to Chinatown without dimsum! Everytime I think of Chinatown, all I could ever think is dimsum and tea, dimsum and tea, and repeat! I’ve had a bad case of craving for dimsum for a month now so this is a much-needed part of my trip. I just wished Wai Ying had beancurd rolls then, because in my book it’s the best dimsum!

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IMG_4906*burp!*

IMG_4907The narrower streets harbor the best food in town!

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IMG_4908I needed to do a little more walking, but first – I had to buy hopia for my friends!

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DSC_0030That TXTFIRE firetruck! 

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DSC_0035One of the oldest church in Quiapo district

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I spent a rather short time in the area and I walked back to the train station to go back to Makati. I’d love to spend more time in Chinatown though y’know and maybe explore more of Manila. The old city has so much to offer if you let her.

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Quick note: to get to Binondo, one can simply ride LRT-1 to Carriedo station. Head towards the direction of the old BPI building and you can see Escolta. Walk straight through and turn right at Yuchengco/Nueva street. When you see Ying Ying teahouse – it’s definitely time to slow down for some tea and dimsum… and many more will ensue if you’ll walk some more! From there, you can get to Divisoria, U-belt, or Ermita (for the National Museum and Intramuros!) I have yet to walk some more, though.

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Jeez how much longer til the weekend, eh?

I made some art prints you can order from Society6. Let me know what you think!

Matchbox Concept Hostel

What to do on an impulsive trip, with a 20 grand budget minus music festival ticket and airfare? If we’re on the same page, then read up.

First things first. Don’t. Deprive. Yourself.

One of my concerns when I was in Singapore for the Laneway Festival was an affordable place to stay. And I didn’t just go to the cheapest hotel I found in Agoda, no matter how I wanted to. While this hostel might not be the cheapest place there is, I booked impulsively, just as before the beds ran out, because it’s beautiful. And I have to admit, they had me at unlimited cereals and milk!

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Matchbox has been recognized in the hostel industry as one of the most creatively thought of places, not only in Singapore, but also in the world. And not to my surprise, it did match my expectations – from the reviews I read and from friends’ recommendation. I really liked that the beds are in pod style. Apart from the aesthetics and the space saving, I’d just really really like to sleep in a pod. My favorite place was the loft though – where I spent my first night.


Pecs and the City

They really don’t offer the loft for sleeping. It was more for lounging around when you feel like just staying in the hostel. But do let me allow myself a little digression.

In the spirit of maximizing my budget, I booked a flight that arrived in Changi Airport by 1am. While there is nothing wrong about that – the city is still much alive even if you land by 4, I entirely forgot to book an earlier day just to save my bed share. (Personally, I think my system in tipid, thirift in English, mode made a subconscious decision to just leave that one out.) So I arrive in the hotel, bed-less and no sleep from the flight, they let me sleep in the beautiful designer loft upstairs. I just had my first impromptu couchsurfing experience in a hostel. I’m really thankful that they did not throw my out and instead let me sleep in the couch. These little things add to the overall feel of the hostel for me. And I love staying in that couch, may I just say!


Tripadvisor

Anyway. Enough of that. It was fun to reminisce though.

Amenities-wise, You just gotta love everything in the hostel. The toilet and shower room is clean, complete with toiletries so you wouldn’t need to bring your own. Just bring your own toothbrush and toothpase, or buy at their store. Aside from that, everything’s provided. You can even do your own laundry for a small fee there!

I think I cannot emphasize more that breakfast cereals and milk are unlimited and available throughout the day. When you lose your money there and go practically broke, you can live out the rest of your days with cereals – I’m pretty fine with that scenario (but. not. hoping. for. that.)

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Matchbox is in the middle of a quaint, artsy street in Chinatown, so explore a bit when you’re around the area. Ann Siang Road is pack full of similarly quirky restaurants and bars, and is quite accessible to hawker center (Maxwell), museums (Red Dot Museum) and the train (Tanjong Pagar station).

When booking a bed with them, you may go directly to their website and watch out for last-minute beds ’cause they go on a sale! I got mine for S$75 instead of S$90 for two days (and yes, that free night on the loft). This is my first time to stay in a hostel, and I’m really happy to stay in a dorm-type room instead of having my own. I got to meet other people and even met a couple of Filipinos who are there for Laneway as well! But if you’re iffy to share a room with a couple of strangers, then you may book for their solo rooms – which are of course available for a higher price.

God, making this post makes me wanna go back. AND OH! They give you 10% discount if you’re a returning customer! If it’s your first time to stay in a hostel like me, then I highly suggest you try Matchbox. Or if you’re the veteran hostel-staying backpacker, give yourself a treat once in a while, won’t you?

Say hi to Shah for me if you’re there!

Matchbox Concept Hostel
39 Ann Siang Road
+65 6423 0237
[email protected]

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