Philippines Day 1: Dance

Today was our first real day in Manila. We didn’t have a ton planned and wanted it to be relaxing and a bit of a recovery day. Flying a non-redeye out of LA towards Asia was tough, I think I prefer a redeye because you get to sleep right off the bat. We took our time to get rolling, breakfast at 10 then off to Intramuros, the part of town I picked out based on the description of the areas by Lonely Planet. Not known for its night life, Intramuros is quiet and cobbled with an ancient wall around the neighborhood. Many of the tourist attractions are here. Manila is light on tourist attractions. The hotel we picked looked nice though, and we heard the area was upscale but not horribly expensive.

While we lay in bed, Jenn remarked about how we didn’t fight or snap at each other despite all the stress of travel, and how crazy Manila airport was. Absolutely exhausted and we were as good together as ever. It’s a good sign for the trip and for us.

We wanted to take a taxi from our first hotel, but not many were around, and being so close to the hotel no one wants to stop when they could be getting a much much jucier fare right down the road. Someone who worked for the hotel was headed towards a place where taxis congregate and offered to take us down there free of charge where we could find a taxi easier. We were happy to accept, and he worked so much harder on our behalf than we expected, waving down a couple of taxis until he found one willing to go on the meter. Once he had one we gave him the smaller bills we had and waved goodbye. Our new taxi worried me enough to take down his medallion number just in case he sped off with our bags in the back, but that wasn’t needed apparently. He got us where we were going, and on the meter it was exceedingly cheap. It took quite a while though with traffic pretty thick, our driver weaving between cars. It cost us 205p to go like 30 minutes, while last night 440p to go just 4 miles.

In our taxi the radio was on, and every commercial without fail had a mix of tagolog and English. I found it the oddest thing picking out random words or phrases like “Christmas Party!” amongst the foreign language.

Our new hotel, the White Knight was very nice, decked out in Christmas decorations in an old Spanish colonial building that had been recently renovated. Service was top notch and our room very clean and comfortable. We had to leave the bags and come back in a couple hours after they had cleaned the rooms. Jenn and I set out around the dirty congested and busy streets of Manila with our bags left with the hotel. We found ourselves on the walls that surround Intramuros overlooking a golf course that seemed out of place. The course was immaculately groomed, and follows the outer walls, passing by battlements once occupied by Gen. McArthur before the war. I could see my dad playing on these greens with Al Cote, a family friend married to a Filipina who had been like aunt and uncle to me as a kid. We walked along the walls for a while, watching the school kids have their lunches.

Tired and hot we returned to our hotel a couple of hours later and had lunch before checking in ready for a shower and a nap. Jenn was first into the bathroom for her shower when I heard a scream. She claims it wasn’t a scream, but if you ask me a high pitched noise coming from surprise and or disgust is a scream. We were 2 for 2 on cockroaches with our hotels; this one was a giant too, upside down in the shower. I don’t know why it was there, the place was so clean, or why it was upside down, but when I went to go squash it, it was most definitely still alive running into the shower wall. I got it though and flushed it down the toilet. Maybe the only negative points the hotel garnered though. After our showers we passed out cold on the bed. I set an alarm for an hour wanting to not sleep too much so we could sleep that night, but before I knew it 2 hours had passed and then another half before I realized if I didn’t get up and turn on the lights I wouldn’t stay awake. I got up but Jenn slept some more, nearly another hour before we got going with it being nearly time for dinner. We had made arrangements are Barbara’s in the same complex having found they were one of two places you could reliably see a culture show, and Jenn really wanted to see Filipino dance after having learned some from her roommate Oly in college.

Dinner was nice though definitely not the best food, and the show was fun. It reminded me of a any number of cultural shows, and like getting grabbed to do the hula, I was picked by one of the dancers to try Tinikling, a dance with bamboo sticks just inches off the ground being slapped against each other to a rhythm between which a dancer steps in time to not get hit. I somehow managed to muster up enough coordination to not get wacked.

A wedding was going on in the other Barbara’s space which we spied on a bit, and live music on our hotel’s patio. We took time to enjoy the music while a cat wandered around suspicious of everything but unafraid of humans.

Then it was to bed for us, a pretty solid day, our bed luxurious and comfortable.

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