Chinatown in my Eyes

My ever so sprightly BFF Chris decided to take me to Binondo for a day to soak in the sights and sounds of all things found in Chinatown! First to greet me was the largest and brand spanking new Chinatown arch in the world! It’s now the largest in the world at 3.8-feet taller than the one found in Washington, DC. The foundations of the arch are 30 meters deep to prevent collapse in case of earthquakes. It was said that the creation of the said arch was funded by the city of Guangzhou. DSC_0358

The driver kinda looked at us funny and chuckled just as were about to get off the taxi. We told him prior that we were going to Estero and he wondered why of all places would we want to go there. Hmm that makes it all the more a curiosity for me.

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Found this at the base of another welcome arch. Are you a lion or a dog?

DSC_0368 Binondo is a district in Manila and is referred to as the city’s Chinatown and is the world’s oldest Chinatown. Its influence extends beyond to the places of Quiapo, Santa Cruz, San Nicolas. It is the oldest Chinatown in the world, established in the 1594 by the Spaniards as a settlement near Intramuros but across the Pasig River for Catholic Chinese, it was positioned so that colonial rulers could keep a close eye on their migrant subjects. It was already a hub of Chinese commerce even before the Spanish colonial period. Binondo is the center of commerce and trade of Manila, where all types of business run by Filipino-Chinese thrive.DSC_0367

What an excellent day to go out for a stroll…. make that brisk walking. It wasn’t that warm and the wind was alright.  Busy busy streets and this one was a holiday! Hello Ongpin Street. DSC_0369

Sugar cane like it’s nobody’s business by the street. I used to nibble on these when I was a kid while watching TV. The first of many nice things to see and hopefully try out?

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This particular shop at Ongpin St. caught my attention so I definitely had to go in!

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To which I did not ever regret! Check out this post for more photos and a whole lot of stuff to see and what exactly happened while we were in the premises. DSC_0414

We wandered around for a bit looking for the spot that served frog legs. Looks like we already passed by it since it was nestled by the side of the bridge. This place is popularly known as the “Estero Fastfood”DSC_0401

Situated right beside an “Estero” – a spanish word for Creek, which held an array of meats and seafood! The one to the far right piqued my interest.DSC_0405

Hi Chris! Looking pretty spiffy today dearie. I wonder what’s in store for us after this.

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This was what they call Bamboo clams, some call them Razor clams. This one was cooked Adobo style and it was my first to try them out. The texture was that of the usual rubbery chewy soft clams you use for soup. It’s taste though was slightly stronger and had an almost fishy essence to it.

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Frog legs! I haven’t tried them before but I daresay there’s always a first! It wasn’t so bad once you get over the image of what used to be a kicking live frog. There was a millisecond though where I thought of marshy areas and croaking. Tastes absolutely like fried chicken! The meat was less oily too. It was best paired with the soy sauce and calamansi combo!  Lunchtime.

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We got to do some more strolling and Chris definitely knew I was up for a bit of fruit shopping!

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This my friends is a Longan. A close relative of the Lychee and far chewier than it. They were so easy to peel and yes I had to buy some of these. DSC_0417

Lychees! It’s the real deal you taste from juices and jellies! They kind of looked like naked Rambutans. Very juicy.

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*inserts Fruit Ninja related humor* Dragon fruit!

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There were a lot of roads to choose from and we were headed to Lucky Chinatown mall, this here is Benavidez St. Too bad I didn’t get to check Wai Ying. As you can see the area had a lot of fruit and vegetable stands.

While waiting for Chris to finish his little chitchats I was silently observing this group of people in a table and I find out they were doing free portraits!

One of them obliged me to take a seat and yes I will show you what the finished piece looks like at the end of this post.

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Chris was next. I can’t believe how they totally got his features!

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Ending our visit with grilled oysters yum. It has been generously sprinkled with garlic and loads of butter. Delicious. They’re selling  these like hotcakes!

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….and here is the art piece you’ve been waiting to see! TADA! This will serve as a reminder as to how I will look like after 50 years or so. But hey, it’s free!

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