We're safe in the Philippines. You know you were worried. (Kidding!)
We're very very tired jetlagged pups. After 3 hours on the plane to San Francisco, a day on the town, a 14 hour flight to Hong Kong, and a 1.5 hour flight to Manila, we decided to walk all over the capital city. We're in pain, but it's a good kind of pain... the kind where you know you're going to sleep well.
Manila is about 14 hours ahead of Colorado, so here we are wrapping up our Wednesday evening when in Colorado Wednesday has just begun. (We never did have a Tuesday due to the International Date Line.)
First impressions: Manila reminds me a lot more of India and Vietnam than I expected. I expected the friendly people (of which there are many) but I wasn't expecting to see here the begging children in the streets that I've seen so many other places. I don't know why I didn't expect it, you would think I would... but I didn't. So there's that. There are also many more people living in rusted corrugated tin shelters than I expected. The traffic is just as absurd as both places. However, we had a great time and met a few very nice people in the process today.
Benjamin, for example, reminded me of a few of the reasons that I became a teacher. He put me to shame today with his knowledge of world history. You see, Benjamin works on a cruise ship that visits the United States, but regardless he was having a great time informing us of the history of the Philippines as well as the United States and everything related inbetween. Don't get me wrong, it's very important to learn U.S. history, but I feel that as a U.S. citizen I learned very little history other than that of my own country and state until college. We need to fix that. (And we are...) It's just sad that I knew very little about the Philippines until college when I took a course on Southeast Asia, and yet I still learned quite a bit from the “history” chapter in my Lonely Planet book.
Jim and I have decided that we like to slow down a bit. We did nothing but walk the city today until our feet hurt so badly we had to surrender. We discovered so much that we would have just passed by otherwise... my favorite was watching the families flying kites in the park, but stumbling upon the heavily guarded U.S. Embassy was a highlight as well. A police officer helped a child string his kite... that's just not something I really see at home. We walked through Rizal Park full of monuments and gardens, then quite the opposite as we played Frogger in the Jeepney traffic and strolled by shanty after shanty in the alleyway.
Our hotel, the Malate Pensionne, is quite modest. We are on a very tight budget (teacher's salary, you know). However, I'm rather enjoying it here for now. We only have one night booked so far but I have the impression that we can extend the stay if we wish. We have to do a bit of research now and figure out what we want to do. We have 5 nights in the Philippines (this is night 1) so we might go to see Lake Taal and its volcano or perhaps to a beach... we really have no idea. No matter what though, we will be fine... if all else fails, we'll just stay here.