Last installment: exploring Manila and getting home

So here is the last part of my trip diary for the Philippines. Since I slept well last night I feel like a human being again today. Was a little bit next to myself yesterday so I didn’t write anything.

Initially I had booked a city tour for sunday morning but since I was the only one to book it they didn’t do it. Therefore I went to explore the city by myself which was not really a problem since the major ‚tourist‘-sites were close to my hotel anyway and I could walk over. First of all I want to make a general remark: colleagues of mine had warned me about Manila and told me about having been hassled and not being able to shove people away even by shouting at them. This never even once happened to me. Quite the opposite: people were very gentle, I was kindly greeted a couple of times by people I have never seen in my life and one guy approached me to ask where I come from and it turned out he had a friend in Düsseldorf (which is not so far away from here). And he advised me to go to the Chinese Cemetery (which was on my to-do list anyway). After a 3 or 4 minute-conversation he went on with the girls he was with. I am a little bit on the sceptical side and when someone approaches me I am usually expecting them to try to sell me something but this did not happen here. So all I can say about the philippinos is that I have been amazed at how friendly they were.

But let’s start with pics… when I came to Manila on the way to Dumaguete I had seen on sunday morning that everybody was looking at the beach so I was curious what was going on there so my first way was over there to the beach. On my out of the hotel first one I met was Mister Ramos (whoever that might have been…. 😉 ). He looked different than other statues I’ve seen so far (but I haven’t been in Asia a lot so far).

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Then I went on to the beach and was surprised. There wasn’t much of a beach but the small area where was sand was full of people. Children were either naked or in underwear and adults were in underwear or bathing costumes. This was obviously sunday morning fun for them. It was interesting…

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Some stands were selling food or drinks. This guy was a little bit tired and I am not sure exactly WHAT he was selling (food though).

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Then I turned around and walked in the other direction. Since there are lots of buildings on the Philippines which do look degenerated (but they only LOOK degenerated since they are built in brown wood) I was suprised to see a modern site of Manila as well which was gleaming in the morning sun….

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Then I had to pass the american embassy again and was whistled at by one of the security guards because I was taking pictures of a tree. There were lots of very old trees in front of the embassy and the roots were impressing. But the guy shouted ’no pics, no pics‘. Geeez, calm down, I was not even LOOKING in the direction of the embassy – and was not interested in the embassy either. He calmed down though when I told him that I had only taken a pic of the tree and nothing else.

Then I went on and came to a big green park which is mostly in memory of Jose Rizal who is a national hero of the Philippines. Here is the monument which contains his mortal remains.

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In the area there is a chinese garden and a japanese garden and a Rizal-memorial area and this lake (I think it must be nice to see it illuminated in the evening).

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And then right next to this ground is something very unusual for being in the middle of a town: a golf course… 😀

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Then I went into the ‚Intramuros‘ area where I had a funny encounter with a gay japanese. He choose me to ask for the way to the fort inside Intramuros (yeah, I do look like a Philippina, do I? 😀 ) and later he asked me to take pics of himself in front of a nice building. Not sure it is allowed to be gay in Japan – don’t think so – but I am more than sure that he was gay. Inside I was grinning all the time… In the Intramuros area which formerly was a closed military district there were a couple of nicely renovated buildings like this one.

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Then I came across a church and went inside. Outside some children were selling palm-leaves made up as not sure how to call it and it was only later on that I saw in a newspaper that people had been celebrating Palm-sunday. I noticed it was a special sunday but just didn’t remember that next weekend is Easter weekend. This is the inside of that cathedral where holy mass was going on so I just stayed in the back in order to not disturb it.

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Shortly after I came across the cathedral of Manila. Same thing there: people selling palm leaves outside and holy mass going on.

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Then I continued on my way to the fort. This is mostly a memorial site for Jose Rizal again since he was held prisoner there before he was executed.

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There they were selling paintings which were really beautiful and somehow show the spirit of the Philippines (you will recognize the Chocolate Hills on one of them).

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Do you see what the statue to the left has on her shoulder? 😀

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Then I had a view on the river…

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At the other side there were slums.

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And this soldat was watching the scene… 😉

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Since it was getting rather hot I went back to the entrance and had something to drink there while I rested a little bit in the shadow. I went out then and on the way to finding a taxi to go back to the hotel I saw this very typical food stand:

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Taxi back to the hotel cost me 45 Pesos which is about 80 Cents (or 1.2 USD). Back in the hotel I rested a little bit and then I went down to ask for the hotel driver to bring me to a place I still wanted to see (was not couragious enough to try going there by Jeepney… 😀 ). On the way to this place I saw something which left a big impression on me although it was only a short glance I had on it: we had to cross a railway tracks and I looked to the right while crossing and what I saw just left me sort of speechless: very close to the rails there were lots of houses (slums obviously) which were facing the rails. And on the rails lots of children were playing. I didn’t have my camera ready to take a pic. This really left me very impressed since the ‚houses‘ were way too close to the rails and I am quite sure that a lot of accidents must happen there.

Then we came to the place which I wanted to see and if I hadn’t known where I was I would never have guessed it. How does that look to you? Looks like a nice two-story house does it?

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Would you believe me when I tell you that this was on the chinese cemetery and this ‚house‘ is a tomb? I was glad I went to the chinese cemetery since it was really impressing. A lot of people must have had a lot of money since there were lots of these ‚houses‘. At first the cemetery looked like a residential are to me and in spite of the fact that we had paid an entrance fee it took a few moments for me to realize that we were already inside the cemetery. This here is not a church but a tomb as well:

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There are areas for poor people as well but I didn’t go there. It was getting very hot with no shadow and since the cemetery was rather huge I tried not to get lost since the driver was waiting for me and I had not thought about getting a map.

After that it was getting back to the hotel, getting ready for the flight and then it was time to go home. I had to change planes again in Bangkok and the schedule said I had an hour and 20 minutes for the connecting flight. But then the flight from Manila was over one hour late. 🙁 I was sitting in the first row of econony class and on the way out I asked one of the flight attendants whether there was the slightest chance that I would make my connection. She brought me to a woman from ground staff and she told me to contact the people outside (we had to go to the terminal by bus instead of docking directly at the terminal which was another ‚oh thanks, just what I needed‘-criteria). So I went down the ladder but the womand down had just closed the exit to make the busses with the business people go first. She didn’t want to let me pass but I think she heard the desperation in my voice when I told here that my flight would be gone if she didn’t. So she let me jump on the bus. On the terminal building we were greeted by about 5 more people shouting ‚Frankfurt‘, ‚Vienna‘, ‚Amsterdam‘ and I went to one of the ‚Frankfurt’s. She put me on one of those airport cars and for the first time in my life I was driven around an airport… 😀 I was rather glad I didn’t had to run to the terminal with all my heavy carry-on stuff (laptop, camera bag etc.). then again we had to wait at security where I met other germans who came from Saigon whose plane had been late. We did make it to our flight but shortly behind me they closed the doors and we were off. I don’t think that the people who sat at the back of the plane from Manila made the connection. Surprisingly my suitcases made it to Frankfurt with me as well which I didn’t really expect.

And now I am back home….

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