Sunday, June 05, 2016

A Fort in the Philippines

Lydia wrote this post and my hilarious yet informative quips will appear in [brackets].

After an early morning flight out of Japan, we landed in Manila, Philippines. We were happy to find the airport had Wifi, so we ordered an Uber and headed towards the hotel. According to Google maps, our hotel was pretty much across the street from the airport, but it didn’t offer any walking directions and it said the drive would be 30 minutes.  Confusing.

[I couldn't resist a few last pictures of ridiculous signs in Tokyo's Narita Airport. This sign says that you're only allowed to bring one lighter with you on the plane. Which is concerning. I assume this is a picture of a woman with two or more lighters who's like legit regretting her choices.]

[The next hilarious sign the lady whipped out at the Philippines Airlines ticket counter, and then asked Lydia if she was pregnant. Both I and the ticket lady held our breath for what seemed like an hour until Lydia said no. Phew. Also the little circle reads "Have a nice baby" and "Baby in me". This excellent stroke of genius has also apparently been copyrighted by... the BABY in ME company. Ok.]

We destroyed some food and drinks at the American Airlines Admirals Club.

[Robots just took bartender's jobs.]

Well it turns out the traffic in Manila is pretty horrendous. Definitely the worst I’ve ever seen. Outside of the airport it was pretty much bumper to bumper on every road in every direction. The driving is also pretty crazy; there aren’t lines painted on the road and the cars just sort of cut each other off over and over again. I decided to let the Uber man take care of the driving, and just focus on looking out the window.

In addition to cars, there were a lot of cycle-rickshaws zooming around. We saw one that seemed to be pieced together holding at least 8 passengers!

We also passed a man selling bags of goldfish, but we weren’t able to snap a picture fast enough.

When we arrived at the hotel, the car was searched, and we had to pass through a metal detector. I’m never quite sure how to feel about this. I’m glad they’re keeping us safe, but I’m also a little bit fearful of whatever they’re keeping us safe from.  Once we got inside, the hotel itself was super nice. The shower was so big, it had its own mechanical curtain.

After dropping our bags, we grabbed another Uber and headed towards Rizal Park.  Rizal Park is named after Jose Rizal a hero of the Philippine Revolution whose remains are enshrined at the park. We were lucky to be there on a Sunday and were able to see many Filipino families enjoying picnics and free music.

[The traffic police had these cool gloves on with a green side and a red side so they could just flip their hand around to get people to stop. Science!]

We also checked out the Chinese Gardens within the park grounds. John was happy when a couple of girls asked to take their picture with him. He’s pretty cute, I guess. [Jelly much?]

Our next visit was to Intramuros, the walled city. During Spanish rule, this area was the seat of the government. We wandered passed some colonial-looking buildings and the San Agustin church. We spent most of our time at the Tsinoy Heritage Museum. Tsinoy is the name given to Chinese Filipinos. The museum had some interesting exhibits outlining the history of Chinese people in the Philippines from their arrival in the 9th century to their role in today’s Filipino society.

[Apparently the Spanish didn't trust the Chinese, and made them live in a ghetto. They did want them to convert though, so the Chinese who converted to Catholicism were allowed to live in a different less crappy ghetto. Cause that's what Jesus would do.]

We also paid a visit to Fort Santiago built during Spanish colonial times. A fun fact was that during the American colonial period, the moats were drained and the area was turned into a golf course for the US army. During WWII the Japanese captured the fort and used it to hold hundreds of prisoners.

It was getting close to sunset, and our guidebook suggested that we not stay out after dark, so we went on a quest to find wifi. Our first try was KFC, they didn’t have Wifi, but they did have some yummy chicken. Interesting fact: KFC didn’t have mashed potatoes, but they did have rice.

We eventually found wifi at a Starbucks down the road. The café was closed, but there was a security guard who happily gave us the wifi password, and we Ubered it back to the hotel.

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