Saturday, July 14, 2007

Manila (a combination of modernization and backwardness) 1

Story by TJ
This was Hanson's second time to visit Manila, the first time being 2 years and 7 months ago (in winter). To his surprise, it was cooler in Manila than in Tokyo in summer. Due to the serious delay of his flight, it was past dinner time when he arrived at Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Many travel books say it's dangerous to take other means of transportation except taxis so he hailed one at the airport counter and bargained for a 550-peso taxi ride. Although he knew that was a rip-off and that the driver would go in circles, all he had in mind was to get to New Solanie Hotel quickly and safely for the first night.
The next morning (Sunday) around 6:30 Hanson was awoken by incessant jeepney honks 4 floors below. This shows how people there like to honk:

To say that you can hear honks of this magnitude on any main road in Manila is by no means an exaggeration.
Like many foreigners, Hanson soon got used to this uninviting morning call.
Before this trip, Hanson had contacted his friend, Kenny, who has just stayed in Manila for about a month. He was scheduled to meet Kenny on Sunday morning. It so happened that Kenny's friend, Lily, who is a Chinese teacher at a local kindergarten, wanted to show him around in the city so Hanson was also invited for a free ride. While they were waiting for Lily, Kenny bought a grande cup of Halo Halo for Hanson.

Finally, there came Lily's van. When the door was swung open, Hanson was surprised to see a long lost friend, Justin, in the car. "Hey Justin, what a coincidence!" said Hanson. He was then introduced to Lily and her niece, Shelly. As everyone was thinking where to go for lunch, Lily suggested to go to Mall of Asia, the largest mall in the Philippines.

After lunch, they headed off to an area with Spanish remains called Intramuros. (In Spanish, "muro" means "wall".) That was a gorgeous place with churches (iglesias) and houses (casas) in Spanish architecture. Even the names of roads are of Spanish origin. In fact, even outside this historic site, many road names such as "Adriatico" (which is derived from "Adriatic Sea") in Manila are Spanish.
To be continued...

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