Heart & Seoul, Korea

Because the university where I teach has semester breaks every 11 weeks, I’ve been able to do a lot of travelling over the last 8 months. For April, I debated between Japan and Korea but decided that I really wanted to explore the country where so many of my students and coworkers, friends, and family have lived. A special bonus was that my time off would coincide with the cherry blossom season in Korea. First, I visited Seoul for 3 nights and 2 days, staying at G Guesthouse in Itaewon. When I arrived, I was very happy to learn that this is an extremely international neighbourhood. I had the chance to have Turkish, African, Indian, and Mexican food during my stay. I visited Dongdaemun traditional market and the very large DDP, Dongdaemun Design Park, with some space for a museum, art gallery, creation, and marketing. There was an interesting lighting and jewelry exhibit there.  In the evening, I went to Gangnam, to visit the brand new Apple Store and to replace my lost iPad.  It’s always interesting to me to watch the energy in an Apple Store.  A schoolboy who was about 12 was working at the Genius Bar on video-editing while I set up my new device.  Gangnam (famous for the song) is really a pretty classy neighbourhood with some interesting stores, including LUSH, one of my favourite stores for body products.  Taxis back and forth to the other side of the river were only about $5.

On my second full day, I visited another traditional market: Gwangjang/Kwangjang.  I’ve been collecting colourful cottons on all of my travels and this market had a huge selection of fabric.  However, the majority was silk and fabrics that are suitable for hanboks (the traditional Korean garment). Nevertheless, I was able to find a couple of uniquely Korean cotton patterns on my journey. Not only that, I discovered some terrific Kimbap (Korean-style “sushi) as well as a wonderful dumpling soup.  There were so many great food stalls at the market. In the evening, I enjoyed the rooftop with a group of people from the guesthouse.  The owners, staff, and guests were all very friendly and helpful at G Guesthouse. Laundry and fresh-brewed coffee were free.


When it was time to leave Seoul, I started out early for Gimpo Airport.  I expected to only take 2 trains but I probably got on 5-6 trains to get to my destination.  Instead of checking the map carefully, I got onto one train after another only to realize that I was going in the wrong direction.  Luckily, the trains run very frequently so I could easily get out and cross the tracks to the right train.  Finally, I took my time to examine the map carefully and I really focussed on what train I needed to take and what stop I needed to get out at.  There are lots of English signs but it’s easy to get mixed up if you don’t pay close attention. Because I left very early, I still had lots of time to relax at Gimpo before my flight to Jeju.  When I arrived at Jeju Island, luggage was available immediately and as soon as I stepped into the arrivals area, there was a tourist information booth straight ahead.  I told them what guesthouse I needed to go to and they wrote out excellent instructions, giving me a map and telling me how much money it would cost to take a bus.  Everywhere that I travelled, there were these wonderful tourist information booths where the staff spoke great English and where they worked very hard to help me. This was the best thing about travel in Korea and the transit was the second best thing.  I loved the country but this reduced so much stress for me.

I arrived at Jeju in the early evening.  I noticed that I didn’t pack my container of vitamins and medications.  In most Asian countries, it’s very cheap and easy to buy these things. I learned right away that this isn’t true in Korea.  One must have a prescription for many medications.  Supplements (Turmeric and Calcium-Magnesium) are extremely expensive.  As a result, I went to the nearby market where I was able to buy powdered turmeric to take.  My knee arthitis was pretty sore for the next few days.  The area near the guesthouse had lot of restaurants, bars, cafes, and small shops.  I was able to eat well on Jeju.  One thing that I really wanted to do in Korea was to visit a hot spring, since that’s a very popular activity for Koreans.  I learned that most of the interesting places on Jeju are not in the city.  However, the bus service is excellent. I tried using Google Maps to find my way to places like the bus terminal.  That didn’t work very well.  My friend in Korea suggested Kakao Maps, which gave much better information, but mainly in Korean.  At the bus terminal, they showed me the one bus that would take me almost directly to the hot spring.  It was about an hour bus ride.  All of the bus trips on the island cost just over a dollar if you have a T-Card, which you can buy and load at convenience stores. I have no photos of the hot spring because they aren’t permitted.  Once you’re inside, everyone everywhere is completely naked.  There are separate areas for men and women.  The water there has very high Bicarbonate levels.  In the unheated pool, it felt like sitting in a drink of soda.  It was a very pleasant and relaxing place to spend time.  Many of the older Korean women were curious about me, where I was from, and whether I was travelling alone.  Apparently, travelling alone is very admirable!

I should have eaten some oranges on Jeju because they grow everywhere and they looked very fresh and delicious.  However, they were usually set up to sell to tourists in large, expensive boxes. The flowers all over the island were really lovely, including the cherry blossoms. On my last morning in Jeju, I visited a traditional market, which was quite easy to find by bus.

My guesthouse there was in a great neighbourhood but it wasn’t a great place to stay.  It seemed like it was just a private residence for the “staff” who rarely seemed to work.  They took over the “community room” eating and drinking noisily until late at night, as well as taking up all of the kitchen space in the morning when the guests were trying to cook and eat.


I realized that I really planned too much travel, going to 3 different Korean cities in 1 week, but they were all places that I wanted to see.  After Jeju, I flew to Busan, in southeast Korea, and located right on the shore. I stayed in the northeast part of the city, at Song Jeong Beach.  Again, the tourist information booth at the airport gave me a map and wrote detailed instructions to travel to the area by train, as well as to give to a taxi driver at the train station.  It was great to check in and realize that I was only about 50 metres from the seashore!  There were surf shops everywhere, as well as food trucks selling toast (?!).  The area around the guesthouse was very peaceful and there were some really lovely restaurants and cafes nearby. I ate a hamburger in a “bao” bun (steamed bun), which was really delicious.  Although the guesthouse was lovely, it was nearly empty. I had one roommate and there may have been one other guest staying there the first night. I chatted a fair amount with my roommate, a Taiwanese travel expert who had studied in Scotland. The second night, she and I explored the area for food, and she had already researched the best eating options. We enjoyed Korean fried chicken, which was very tasty. During the day, I visited my former classmate from the CELTA program.  He has a young family now and lives near another beach (Gwangam).  Although his area is very nice, it’s much more built up so it was less relaxing to be there.  We had some fantastic, fresh-roasted Ethiopian coffee from a barista school in the neighbourhood.   In Busan, I was able to really see the cherry trees in full bloom, all along the boulevards.


My final day was mainly spent on travel.  I took a taxi to the Busan train station, which was $20 and only took 1/2 hour in the very early morning.  I was kind of sad to be at the train station so early because it was really uncomfortably cold there.  However, it was a beautiful building and the train ride to Seoul was very comfortable. It was easy for me to take the train back to G Guesthouse to pick up the vitamin case I had left there.  They let me keep my bags there while I went for lunch and toured the area one last time. Then, I took the train back to Incheon Airport and relaxed until flight time. It was very easy to check my bag and to get my tax refund from the iPad I purchased.

All in all, I would say that Korea is a very good place to visit if you just take a little extra time to read signs wherever you go.  People are very helpful if you have any trouble.  My accommodation and transportation were quite reasonable. Meals were about $20/day. The hot spring was the only place that I visited that cost money ($12) and there was plenty to see and do, everywhere that I went. Coffee and beer were both expensive: $5+ for coffee everywhere I went.  It was always good-quality coffee. Beer was often $8/bottle, about $3-4 from a convenience store.  If you have the time and money to visit Korea, I highly recommend it!

Tết Travels 2018

One of the good things and bad things about teaching ESL is that you get all of the breaks that your students get.  Nobody goes to work or school during the Lunar New Year in Việt Nam so it’s a great time of year for me to travel.  Flights and accommodations can be hard to get, so I started booking my trip back in November!  Luckily, I had almost all of my accommodation and transportation reservations made before I travelled and I had already paid for them.

I was very worried that the Saturday before Tết would be the busiest day of the year on the roads and on the airport.  Because of that, I left home 6 hours before my flight. Luckily, the roads were not very busy and the airport was not busy at all!  I was able to check in for my flight 3 hours before takeoff, go through immigration and security in about 15 minutes, and then, I could just relax.  I like wandering around airports and I also had a meal and something to drink.  First, I flew to Bangkok. I looked for an ATM and a SIM card in the airport there.  I withdrew baht from the ATM but I didn’t find anywhere selling SIMs. Fortunately, Air Asia sold 8-day SIM cards on my flight and they also had the little device for changing your SIM.  I was really happy to land in Chiang Mai around 11 pm.  It wasn’t hard to get a taxi for a set rate to my guesthouse.

Baan Heart Thai was a fantastic place to stay for 4 nights. The young women who ran the place were very friendly and helpful. They served breakfast every morning in the lovely common area and the guests all really liked to make conversation. My first night, I talked for about an hour with a young guy from China who hardly spoke English.  We had a great 2-way conversation talking to Google Translate and then passing our phones to each other to listen and read our responses.  What a 21st-century experience!  Another Chinese guy joined us who spoke a lot of English and then we had a more traditional bilingual conversation.  Every day, travellers suggested great ideas and compared notes about their adventures. I was interested in a cooking class and an elephant visit but I decided to save my elephant money for another trip.  I knew right away that Chiang Mai is a place that I’m likely to visit again.  The inner city is very walkable and is full of wonderful sights and flavours.

Highlights included:

  • Finding French sporting goods store Decathlon with bargain swimsuits and sports/travel gear
  • Taking an awesome cooking class, with a market visit and a colour cookbook to refer back to
  • Strolling through the huge Sunday Market which jammed a half-dozen blocks
  • Finding an enormous selection of fabric and craft supplies at and near Wararot Market
  • Travelling to Wat Phra That Doi Suthep with a Slovenian traveller at the guesthouse.  We took a red bus, which is a lower cost way to tour out of the main city.  There was a huge selection of golden buddhas and bells on the mountaintop.

Next, it was time for me to start my night-train journey from Northwest Thailand to the South.  I love sleeping on trains and I think it’s excellent to pay one small amount for both transportation and accommodation!  The trains were very popular with French travellers because they say there is nothing similar in Europe. One of my Chinese friends from the guesthouse was also on my first train and we stayed up late chatting with an Australian traveller.  This was the newest train I took and I got the worst sleep because the overhead light was really bright. Nevertheless, I arrived in Bangkok feeling pretty fresh. I dropped my bags at the Left Luggage Room in Hua Lamphong Train Station and went off to explore.  First, I took the MRT to the other end of the line and back. Next, I took a Grab Bike (motorbike taxi like Uber) to Wat Pho (Wat Po).  This is a really lovely temple and I spent quite a bit of time exploring the grounds.  Next, I walked to the Chinatown area of Bangkok.  Because it was Lunar New Year’s Eve, there was lots of activity.  There was so much to see in this really busy, colourful area. I walked the rest of the way back to the train station, got a good meal, picked up my bags, and boarded another night train, this time to Surat Thani, in the south.

My second night train ride was quite comfortable, and I arrived in Surat Thani well-rested. Before I left Bangkok, I was able to purchase mini-bus tickets from 12Go Asia so I just had to grab breakfast and wait. Next, it was a 2-hour bus trip to a town just outside Khao Sok National Park. I had my own bungalow here, with a lovely view of the limestone cliffs. I considered trekking into the park but the weather was hot.  Instead, I splurged on a day trip to the large lake in the park.  What a gorgeous location!  We travelled by longtail boat to a series of bungalows on rafts with a central dining area.  There were plenty of kayaks to paddle and the water was so refreshing for swimming!  After lunch, we took another longtail boat and trekked into the jungle to a cave with an underground stream.  I spent most of the day with a 3-generation Israeli family. After our trek, we had to wait quite a long time for our transportation back to the town (boat and bus again). Finally, we were back and freshly showered.  Luckily, there was a really great bistro nearby with excellent pizza, pasta, and Thai food.

The next day was my longest and hardest on the trip. Checkout was at 11 am but my train from Surat Thani didn’t leave until 2 am the next morning. I spent a few hours at the bistro again, took another mini-van back to Surat Thani and then I had hours to spend in a town that is not very interesting. I joined a Thai woman to explore the market for a low-cost supper and I spent a lot of time reading at the train station. Of course, the train was late!  Finally, I was settled in for another comfortable night of sleeping on a train.  Luckily, a man was exchanging money when we got near the Thai border. I exchanged $20 USD for 76 Malaysian ringgits.  It turned out that there were no ATMs for hours after my arrival in Malaysia and that $20 covered my train ticket to Penang, breakfast, a SIM card in Penang, my ferry trip, and my taxi ride.  Finally, I arrived at my guesthouse in Penang about 3 pm.

Penang is another favourite destination that I hope to visit again.  Staying in Georgetown, I was surrounded by so much history and culture.  The area is a heritage district and it’s full of street art and street food. There are so many different cultures close together and it’s easy to find some of the best features of the many countries, especially food.  Visiting the Botanical Gardens is free and Grab cars are reasonably priced and easy to catch.  I would have enjoyed several more days in Penang so that I could get to the top of Penang Hill and visit the National Park or a beach or two.  Regardless, I was really happy to have time there and I hope to return.

I had hoped to take another train between Penang and Kuala Lumpur for the last leg of my journey.  However, all of the transportation was busy due to the Lunar New Year and the train was sold out. I purchased a bus ticket through 12Go Asia and arrived early at the identified starting point.  It turns out that we were to take a mini-bus from there right away to get to a bigger bus station across town. There, we had to wait a fair while for a bigger bus.  That bus was very brightly coloured and extremely air-conditioned.  I shivered with all of my layers on but the bus trip was generally comfortable, just very long (about 7 hours). A Grab car took me to my guesthouse. I was staying in a very interesting district of Kuala Lumpur, close to the Central Market, many temples, mosques, and pagodas, as well as some really great food.  I planned KL as my last stop so that I could shop for things that are hard to buy in Việt Nam. There was a free bus that took me over to Bukit Bintang and Pavilion, a central shopping district.  I found that I really didn’t enjoy the experience of mall shopping after all of my interesting cultural experiences. My last day of my trip, I had another later departure with a midnight flight. I wasn’t looking forward to checking out.  Lucky for me, it turned out that I had booked my room for one more night, so I could just relax.  I was no longer in the mood for sightseeing, especially because Kuala Lumpur is really dominated by speeding cars. I took another Grab car to the airport, which is ridiculously far from the city.  The airport was really quite a comfortable place to browse around, eat comfort food (grilled chicken and mashed potatoes) and just relax until my departure. When I got back to my room at 2 am, I was really happy to be home again, with so many fresh memories to enjoy!

By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

English pronunciation for Vietnamese speakers

100_2180Many English teaching experts say that Vietnamese English students will have more pronunciation problems than speakers of almost any other language.  When I visit medical offices, I know that the staff have studied English for a very long time.  Nevertheless, the nurse at FV Hospital asked me several times if I had a pen or a horse.  I had no idea why she would be asking for such strange items!  Finally, she pointed at the word “pain”.  She wanted to know if I had any pain, or if I hurt.  Many students understand a large vocabulary but have difficulty saying simple words so that they can be understood.  Let’s look at some things that you can do, if you’re in this situation.

One of the biggest problems that many language learners have is final sounds.  Vietnamese words are only one syllable long and they rarely have a distinct final sound.  Tones of each short word convey meaning.  In order to be clearly understood, you MUST focus on the final sounds and practice them, especially the final “s” sound in plurals and third-person singular present tense verbs. Not only do we make these sounds in English, but we often link the final consonant sound with the beginning of the next word, especially when it begins with a vowel.

Another difficulty can be consonant blends (not common in Vietnamese), especially when they contain the letter “p”.  In Vietnamese, p is almost always used in “ph” to make an “f” sound.  It’s very confusing for English speakers to hear someone ask for “helf”.  If you notice that your listener seems confused about what you say, ask for feedback about what they didn’t understand.  Find out more about how to pronounce those sounds.  Until you have clear pronunciation, your excellent English skills cannot be recognized and appreciated.

Common English Pronunciation Mistakes of Vietnamese speakers

Here is a Vietnamese speaker who explains pronunciation in detail.

Students’ questions and summaries about a trip Simple Past

Every day, someone from somewhere in the world looks at my post about questions and answers about a vacation (simple past).  That helps me to understand that this is a very important and interesting subject for many people.  One of the teachers at my university helped my students with this task.  They watched her videos from her trip and prepared questions.  She came to class and told us more about her 3-week trip to Indonesia.  The students asked their excellent questions.  After she talked to us, they wrote what they remembered from her stories about the trip.  Great work!!




Student questions:

How was your trip?

What was your best bit?

Did you like walking in the mountains?

Who did you travel with?

How many days did you travel?

Did you buy souvenirs?

Could your baby swim?

Did you have any trouble with your…

Did your husband enjoy the trip?

What was the weather like?

What did you like eating?

What does the food taste like?

What did you discover on the trip?

What did you drink?

What was the difference between this place and other places that you’ve visited?

Where was the most beautiful scenery?

Did you have a nice view from your room?

Did you like the weather in Indonesia?

Did you like your trip?

How did you feel about the Indonesian people?
Trip Summaries:

After the class, students wrote summaries about what the teacher said about her trip.  These are some of their many comments:

On her trip, I like the beautiful scenery on the mountain with the lake.  I really like eating seafood and noodles, like in Indonesia.

I want to take a trip like this because I love travelling to new countries, eating delicious food, and buying some souvenirs. If I take a trip overseas, I will discover something new but I’m very tired when I travel by plane.  I hope I will get used to it.

She visited Indonesia for 3 weeks with her family.  I think it’s an interesting trip because she had a lot of time to enjoy it.  She visited two islands.  She went swimming with her daughter.  She says the people there were very friendly. She loves the hot weather because in England, it’s very cold.

She had a great trip.  She went with her husband and her daughter.  She went to the beach and the mountains.  She walked on a mountain. There, she can take lots of photos.

Her trip is good because she had an amazing trip.  She went to Gili Island with her husband and her baby.  She went on the trip for 15 days.  She walked on the beach and she walked on the volcano.  Her baby is so heavy that she gave her to another person to take care of.  Her favourite food is mostly seafood.

I think her trip is very interesting.  She went to Indonesia with her husband and her daughter and 5 other people.  I like her trip to the sea.  The beach she came to is very beautiful and the seafood is very good.  Her family was very happy for 15 days.  I also want to go to that beach.

I think it was a very good trip. It would help me to experience new things. It would get me knowledge about abroad.  I’d like to climb the mountain.  I hope I will go travelling with my family in the future.

It was a long trip and fun.  Through that, I draw a lot of experience. Travelling on long trips needs preparation.

I see that her baby is so cute.  I really like the baby. I think her beach trip is the most fun because I also like going to the beach. I really like her trip.

She travelled in Indonesia.  She went with her husband and daughter along with five other people.  She had a long trip.  She went to the beach and went to the mountains.  She took a lot of photos.  I like her trip because it’s very interesting.  I think her daughter was happy to go to the beach.  

I think her trip is very interesting.  I’d like to swim in the middle of the lake.  I like taking photos of a nice view.  I’d like to go to Indonesia. I love travelling.  I like climbing mountains and staring at the sunrise. I’d like to go there to travel and experience things, the same as her.

I’m very interested in her trip.  She was swimming with her husband and her baby on the beach in Indonesia.  There, she was eating seafood, going canoeing, climbing the mountain, and sightseeing. I like her trip because she could discover many new things.


By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

Reduce your anxiety if you’re taking the TOEFL test

Over the last 9 years, I’ve spent a lot of time helping people to prepare for important language proficiency tests.  Many of those people have taken the same test, again and again, hoping to achieve a different result.  However, they keep finding that their score isn’t high enough, in at least one area.  One reason for this can be because they have not had an expert help them out with their test preparation.  Another common reason is that of anxiety.

One resource that I recommend for people who have really struggled is Glenn Harrold’s hypnosis MP3. You can purchase it and download it very quickly to begin working on reducing your stress.


For others, who are feeling that stress is reducing their score, I recommend taking the time to focus on breathing. Even in the middle of a high-stakes test, it’s relatively easy to take 3 slow, deep breaths before each speaking session.  This will reduce anxiety, slow breathing and pulse, regulate the voice, and clear the mind.  Don’t wait until test day to do this.  Incorporate the practice into every practice session, so that it will come naturally on test day.

All the best on your big exam, and if you want personalized help to improve your score and reduce your anxiety, you can book lessons with me here: https://toeflspeakingteacher.com/ellen-toefl-instructor/




I was so sorry to hear your news: Expressing sympathy

It’s so useful to have some words and phrases for those times when someone shares sad news with us!

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

xuanhuongho/iStock/Getty Images Plus/Getty

by Liz Walter

It can often be difficult to know what to say to someone we know who has experienced loss, illness or another painful event, and even harder if we have to do it in another language. Today’s post looks at phrases we use to express sympathy in a sincere and empathetic way.

Choosing appropriate words will of course depend on how well we know the person concerned, and also the type of event and how upset we think that person is likely to be.

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By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

Ride Recap: Critical Lass Rides to Peddler Anniversary Party

Not too long before I was planning to come to Seattle, I sent a tweet to Madi Carlson, a very enthusiastic Seattle cyclist, to ask if we could plan a ride together. She didn’t just plan to meet me for a ride, but she organized a complete women’s ride, that worked for my sister and I as well as 6 other women, to ride around and see some sights in Seattle!

I checked out choices for bicycle rental and contacted Pedal Anywhere. The owner delivered our bicycles with a cargo bike and also gave us a cycling map for Seattle. He returned to pick up our bikes at the end of the day and accepted our payment at that time.

In the middle, we had a great adventure! I would have been quite nervous about taking the city streets without a local guide. There are many bike lanes in Seattle, but it’s not very clear where and how we should turn to stay on them. We passed Google and Amazon on our ride and we saw a lot of waterfront.

Seattle Critical Lass

We had a terrific Critical Lass Ride to the Peddler Anniversary Party.
See all the photos here:
Flickr album: Critical Lass Rides to Peddler Anniversary Party – March 25, 2017 – 57 photos.

The weather was gorgeous for our group of eight. Starting at Pike Place Market was fun, but it’s more congested than our usual meeting spots.

I made a couple adjustments to the planned route…here’s our 10.4-mile almost loop. The construction on 4th is worse than the construction on 6th currently, so we sadly skipped biking by the oversized Popsicles on 6th, but got a great look at the Amazon biospheres on 4th.

Using 6th also makes for an easy right turn onto the one-block-long protected bike lane of Blanchard. It’s not really worth taking if coming from farther west. Also, it makes for an awkward Copenhagen Left (also called a two-stage left turn)…

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By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

Reading is wonderful!

I’m working with my students to just read for enjoyment because there is so much that you learn about language when it is just you and words that all go together.  Here is a wonderful story about how a homeless teenager became a world-famous author because he wandered into a library and began to read.richard-wagamesebig

Richard Wagamese has had a successful career as a journalist and author, and his books, including Indian Horse and Medicine Walk, have earned him accolades across Canada.

But Richard may never have become a writer, were it not for the kindness of a group of librarians in St. Catharines, Ontario, where he stumbled into the public library at the age of 16, seeking shelter and refuge from a life on the streets.

Richard talks to Candy about books that shaped him as a reader and a writer and gives an update on an upcoming movie based on one of his books.

How a Library Helped Richard Wagamese Become a Writer

By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

Tips on selecting effective authentic reading materials

I’m working with some of my high beginner students to practice reading for enjoyment so I’ve been reading a lot about reading! Here’s one of the blogs about teaching reading with “authentic texts”: real reading material, not material that is written just for ESL learners.


Many teachers like to use authentic materials in class, and they can obviously be a wonderful source of language. Over the next few weeks, I’d like to offer some thoughts and tips on how you might go about selecting and exploiting these materials, to maximise their benefit to students.

Nunan (1988) defines authentic materials as those ‘which have been produced for purposes other than to teach language’, so that might mean emails, blogs, statistics, timetables, advertisements, instructions, labels, menus etc as well as articles from newspapers and magazines.

Relevance and interest

Have you ever done any research into the literacy practices  of your students? In other words, what they actually read (and write) in their daily lives, in their first language as well as in English. Ask students to keep a note of everything they read, including cereal packets etc, for a couple of days. You may be surprised, and…

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By elleninsaigon Posted in esl

Two nights in Manila

If you can visit another country, you should do it! I had the chance for a very short visit to Manila in the Philippines and it was really interesting. My friend and I visited Guam Island for a week and we transferred planes in Manila so it didn’t cost any more money to stay there for 2 nights.  We stayed at a hostel near the airport and we arrived pretty late in the evening. The next day, we spent the whole day looking around Intramuros, an old Spanish walled city, the museum and main park, as well as Mall of Asia (a lot like West Edmonton Mall)!  We travelled by jeepney, which was very cheap, to get around the city. We saw very poor areas and we also took a train to visit a big mall with very expensive stores. There was a lot of history in the city and there were also many American businesses. I was very surprised to see so many guns because every business and building had guards with guns. For a short trip, I saw a lot!