View from my hotel 1
The day has
finally come when my holiday starts. Five weeks in the Philippines. My
very first trip to this part of the world so I am kind of exited about the
prospect of the trip. It all starts out pretty early - I have to be in the
airport way before I really want to be there. It will turn out that this day is
setting the norm for my holiday - up too early almost everyday.
Well I have
to fly to London first to catch my plane to Hong
Kong and then Manila.
Flying to Heathrow is not really one thing I look forward to. Because I have to
go to terminal five.
Which got almost instant fame as the place which would
surely loose your luggage. And when the Brits wanted someone to fix it all who
did they call upon to sort it out? The Germans, the Swiss or the Dutch, Danes,
Swedes or even the French. No they decided if they already had made a mess then
it was up to the Italians to sort it all out. This would most likely change the
status of the luggage from temporarily lost to permanently lost.
View from my hotel 2
Well I went
by Heathrow and got to Manila
where I waited for my luggage. Well it seemed like they have sorted out the
problems in Heathrow - my luggage arrived without any problems.
day is a bit boring - because I need to take care of several administrative
matters which I did not have the possibility and foresight to take care of from
First I need a plane ticket to a plane the next morning. For some reason
it seems virtually impossible to purchase plane ticket in the Philippines if
you live abroad but at least I made a reservation and were told I only had to
be at a ticket office before 3pm to get it. Fortunately there was not much of a
View from my hotel 3
Next I have
to go to the immigration authorities. For some reason you only get a 21 day visa
when you enter the Philippines
so I have to get a visa extension within the first 3 weeks and I don't know
when I again will be in a place where they will extent my visa. So I take the
train - the only part of the Manila transit
system which seems to work reasonably well.
I get off and try to find a place where I can
get a visa extension.
It takes a while but find an office which can get it all
done in one hour. I kinda decide not to leave the office because it is raining
outside. The boss is a man - off course what else could it be in the Philippines
- and in the front office are a couple of girls who clearly have not got very
much to do. One of them is trying to fall a sleep at her desk.
The lobby area
One hour pass along and my passport reappears
with an extension on my visa to the Philippines I can know legally stay for 59
days instead of the 21 I got on arrival.
After the formalities are taken care of I will
go out and do some sightseeing in Manila.
I am right next to the old town so why not go out and have a look around. I
have just come from Denmark
where was pretty cold and here in the old town of Manila it is hot and humid like hell. So it
is not the most pleasant walking tour I have ever done but I guess I have to
get used to this climate if I am gonna survive the coming weeks.
I get down to a small church or more precisely
I get to the other side of the street of it when the rain starts. And it is not
the slow peaceful rain I am used to from home. No no it a massive shower which
mean I will get socked if I try to cross the street to go in and see the
museum. Hence I decide to wait until the rain slows down somewhat. And being a
foreigner the cabdrivers and petty cab drivers don't really understand the
concept of foreigners waiting until the rains stops.
They all assume you want a
ride immediately. Hence there is a steady stream of cabdrivers who use the horn
to make me aware of their presents. After a while the rains dies down a bit and
I venture across the street to have a look inside. Not the most interesting of
museums but given the alternative of being outside getting wet it is quite
The rain has stopped when I get out of the
museum and I want to walk back to my hotel seeing a bit of the city. I want to
go and have a look at the big Rizal
Park in town and the
coast line. The park is a nice spot in the centre of the city. There is a lake
area in the middle and for some reason the people in charge of the park has
decided people will probably like to hear some sort of pop music if they sit
down around the lake area - hence music is blasting out of the speakers around
Just when you thought you may have found a peaceful spot in the
general Manila madness you are let down again.
The war destryed theis place
The rest of the town is basically one big
traffic jam with an extreme number of jeppneys going down every road in some
sort of order - which is impossible to understand for outsiders. Next to the
traffic you will get constant reminders that this city is in a poor country
homeless people is scattered across the city on most streets and small kids
will come up and beg for money. Sure you can give the kids some cash but I
don't know if they will actually use it for food or something else. And in any
case it will be a very short term solution to a long term problem which may
just be even worse if you start handing out cash to some of the kids. My first
impression of Manila
is not that positive and it immediately makes it to the second place on my list
of least favoured cities in the world - it is still far behind LA I doubt there
is any place in the world less pleasant than that hell hole.
My later visits to
Manila did not
really change my first impression of the city - it is not a place you should go
unless you really have to.
Old church which had survived the bombing during the battle of Manila
Walking from the park you have to go by the USA embassy.
And whereas most embassies are sort of small this is clearly not the case for
embassy. It takes up about the same space at the shoreline like a few city
blocks and it is generally not that pleasant looking. But it is a constant
reminder of the close ties between the USA and its former colony.
And then it is time to go to the hotel and just
put my feet up for a few minutes. Sure only a few minutes - after the flight I
fall asleep and realize I do not have the energy to go out and search for a
place to eat when I finally wakes up after a while - so the first diner in the
Philippines got to be at the hotels restaurant.