Not in Kansas, but…


The Philippines is super westernized. Although people speak to one another in other languages, everyone speaks English (some very well), and all the signs are in English. There are still a few things to remind me that this ain’t home, though.

The first, and my favorite, are the jeepneys. Although most of the cars are just like what you’d see at home (including a handful of really big vehicles like Toyota and Ford SUVs, and even a few Suburbans), there are also some pretty unique vehicles that you don’t see in the US. The jeepneys are a cross between a jeep and some sort of work transport vehicle. Jeep looking front ends, with spare tires strapped to the sides, and in the back there are long benches extending back on either side. They’re covered and have open windows, but no door in the back, so people just hop in and out. They’re often brightly colored and shiny. Based on their unique paint jobs, I get the impression they’re individually operated, but they act as a form of mass transit. I’d like to ride in one, but apparently in Manila they’re a good place to get robbed (or pickpocketed) so I’ll hold off.

Also on the streets are “tricycles” — motorcycles with sidecars, and “pedi cabs” — bicycles with sidecars, both offering cab services. Yesterday, though, despite all the interesting vehicles, we mostly just walked. Through Makati, south for a bit, then west and back north toward Ermita. When we got to Taft avenue, we hopped on the LRT lightrail and for about 30 cents rode on up to the Central Terminal stop just next to Intramuros.

I’m sort of regretting not having signed up for the walking tour of Intramuros that a coworker’s sister had recommended, because walking around there on our own, I really wasn’t sure what I was looking at. The old wall of the city was obvious, but I’m afraid we missed a lot of interesting bits. We could’ve taken a pedicab tour with one of the many men offering (each waving around a card showing the different sites they’d show us), but we didn’t.

We were tired from walking for hours, so when I noticed a hotel roof deck and suggested we go up there for a drink and a view, A wasn’t a hard sell. The view was great, and although the beer was certainly marked up significantly from what we saw in the stores, it was still just $3/bottle. For that, we got a fantastic view, comfy seats, air conditioning, and a password to the hotel wifi.

After that break, we walked along the wall for a bit before grabbing a cab back to the hotel. The cab ride probably took 20 minutes or more with traffic, but worked out to be about $5 (the driver used the meter).

Not much of interest in the way of food just yet. Breakfast at the hotel (including pork adobo and noodles, which were pretty good), a quick fast food snack when we needed a dose of a/c in the afternoon, and a mediocre Chinese dinner near the hotel. We were about to go to a much more interesting Filipino restaurant (with a menu full of stuff I didn’t recognize), but noticed that they had a guy playing guitar going around and playing AT the tables, and we knew that if we went in, he’d be all over our table. No thanks, not up for that. Maybe another time.

After dinner, beer, snacks, and tv back at the hotel, and I fell asleep by 8:30pm.

Pictures include toilet bowl planters, a parking for costume purveyors only, grocery store checkout, jeepneys on a big street, and hotel roof deck.


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