I will not write and explain about the concept of Couchsurfing, especially since I have written many posts about it, instead I will write about Manila and my Couchsurfing experience at the meetup.
While Manila is the capital of the Philippines, it has long become immune to hardship with the disasters the city has lived through natural and man-made destruction, unbelievably this chaotic concrete jungle still stands as a true Asian megacity. Statistics come alive in Manila, the Greater Manila is home to over 20 million people, and it keeps rising by a quarter of a million every year. It’s a financially challenging city to live, space and privacy are with the wealthy elites. One third of the city’s people live by the bridges, graveyards, and around railway lines. These are normal people who get reasonably paid, but they can only afford to live in such conditions if they want to live and survive in Manila.
While I had the pleasure of being an attendee at TBEX Asia Pacific 2016 in Pasay, Manila from 13th to 16th this month, I also somehow managed to take part at the CS Thirstday Meetup in Makati even with the very limited time I had. I initially registered for the meetup 10 days before I arrived Manila, and did my research in terms of the distance having to travel at 10pm in the night from my Pasay based hotel to Makati. Mahesh Wanigasooriya, a Srilankan living in Makati, who is also the organizer of the CS Thirstday Meetup suggested it would be easy and safe to travel with Uber or Grab car. Ram, a Filipino who frequently attends CS meetups also helped me explain where the meetup takes place.
I left my hotel at about 1030pm on a Grab car and reached by 1045pm, the meetup was held at 121 bar, right outside the Goethe Institute on L.P Leviste St. corner Villar in Salcedo Village, Makati. It was a casual dining restaurant that offered popular Filipino fare, and pica-pica like fried banana hearts and talong chips. The event page also mentioned that there was no dress code, and to bring friends and like-minded people to meet others and socialize to have a great time. I went with two friends who were also locals, and met the rest who attended the meetup, there were people from Germany, Malaysia, Iraq, Iran, Egypt and of course Filipino’s.
With the clock about to strike midnight and showed up my new best friend Ram, who I made good friends with, he is also an avid traveler who recently returned from vacationing in Bali, Indonesia. We didn’t get a lot of time to chat, because he came late, but I am glad we are keeping in touch on social media. I did my introduction to everyone as a travel blogger from the Maldives attending TBEX Asia Pacific 2016 in Manila, we exchanged a lot of information, cracked several jokes, and learned a few words in Tagalog, the official language of Philippines. It was shame that I had to leave early, but then again I had no choice because I had sessions the next morning at the TBEX event and had to get up early to leave early.
If you are making plans to travel to Manila, and especially if you are a solo traveler, you will have a wonderful time participating in a Couchsurf meetup to mix with the locals and meet foreign travelers and expats during your stay in Manila. I am sure you will have great travel stories, tips, advice, and hilarious anecdotes to share and listen to. If you are lucky, you might even find an adventure with them before you leave. Search for events in Manila from the Couchsurfing website and register to attend the event. Below is the exact location of the 121 bar outside the Goethe Institute on L.P Leviste St. corner Villar, where the Couchsurfing meetup happens in Makati.