Monday, January 21, 2019

Manila, Part 2--Sightseeing then Home

What I learned when we whirlwind experienced the Philippines:

The Philippines mixes so many cultures and languages that it's difficult to find indigenous Filipino food, clothes, or experiences. I loved how language seamlessly moved from English through Spanish to Tagalog or any of the other native languages. I loved Japanese ramen and American Krispy Kreme and Filipino "pig foot" (yes I did eat that--tastes like a pork roast with lots of little bones in it). I loved how accepting and genuinely kind the people were. I loved talking to the cab drivers and hearing their opinions on local and international politics. I especially loved how Filipinos (in the words of one cab driver) "don't hold grudges" against other countries who had invaded or colonized or destroyed their country--"that happened so long ago. That doesn't matter in the Philippines today." I wish Americans were more like this--quick to forgive the worst and quick to adopt the best from other countries.

We only had three days in Manila, and one day was spent at the temple for Nosheen's sealing. What to see in Manila if you only have two full days plus one evening?

Of course we visited the oldest church in Manila--St. Augustine's, begun in the late 16th century.

Brad found an artisan market around the corner from the cathedral that had the most incredible crafts. It took all my self-control not to bring home the huge wood bowls and handcrafted baskets.

We also visited Fort Santiago, but by the time we got there, we couldn't see much of it.
On Thursday, Nosheen and Rahat attended the temple while we ventured out in the city.

First stop, the US WWII memorial cemetery.

I wish the general population still appreciated the military losses our country sustained over the centuries to maintain our freedom.
 I've been to war memorials all over Europe, but this cemetery brought the US loss of life in the Pacific into perspective.
What a beautiful, calm, green space in the middle of the chaotic city.

The nagging obstacle to sightseeing in Manila is the traffic. One cab driver explained to us that the combined metropolitan population is almost 14 million people, and there is very little transportation infrastructure--no subway system, no public bus system, only one limited monorail line--and over four million vehicles. Sometimes it takes hours to travel a few kilometers, and you never know when traffic will rear its ugly head (it took Brad 45 minutes to go 2 km between two airport terminals--at 11 PM!). Despite the potential for traffic issues, we opted next to visit the Divisoria Market on the other side of town. After a long cab ride through the highest income neighborhood in the city (Embassy row) and many middle areas, the cab driver picked his way carefully through one of the roughest neighborhoods I've seen anywhere in the world. Reviews of the market said there were great deals and gave the site 4.1 out of 5 stars. However, the cab driver was a little hesitant to let us out, strongly warned us about pickpockets, and informed us no drivers would come into Divisoria, so we'd have to find a cab stand to make it back home.

This picture can't portray how crazy congested and noisy this place was, but Brad and I were both uncomfortable and questioned our decision to come.
After wandering through the stalls and buying a few small presents for home and sharing apples with two small boys, we opted to take a tricycle cab back to a safer, less congested part of town before calling a car cab.
I'm so glad we did. It was a great way to see that area of the city and made us feel more like locals than tourists.

Friday was our final day, and Brad booked an incredible tour of Lake Taal and Volcano Island.

After a sunrise drive from the busyness of Manila to the tangled jungle of the provinces, we boarded a boat to cross the beautiful volcanic lake.
The lake looks calm, but after pulling away from shore, our pilot, Ren, handed us a big sheet of plastic and told us it was to protect us from the spray. Brad and I questioned whether we should use it, but we covered ourselves with it anyway. Two minutes later, we were bathed in spray--and very grateful for that small sheet.
It was such a beautiful ride to the middle of the lake and the active volcano.

We arrived on the island early, and since we were only the second group of tourists so far that day, there were few people and little dust on the trail.  It was incredible.
Only 3 km from the beach and we were at the top.
Brad got some amazing drone footage of the lake and the islands, and then we headed back down where we ingested fresh coconut.
What was going on at home in our absence?

Heidi's family visited my parents. I love that my grandkids know their great-grandparents.
 Karli and Tucker held down our fort, and she occasionally sent us cute pictures like this:
One day, Karli took her kids and Cleo to the park for a picnic. I got a text in the middle of the night, saying that Cleo had gotten into a bag of raisins while they were there, and Karli was taking her to the vet.

Cleo is fine, but she did have to have blood work, an oral dose of charcoal, and a hump of fluid in her back.
She never threw up, blood work was normal, and her appetite returned quickly.

But she did hate that hump! Doesn't she look pitiful?
Poor girl!

Before we knew it, we were on our way home.

Looking fresh at the beginning of the trip . . .
 . . . an impromptu photo in Narita airport that led to a minor skirmish between spouses before our long trans-Pacific flight . . .
 . . . one of us sleeping almost the entire second leg . . .
. . . arriving back home 25 hours after leaving our Manila apartment. Brad was home one hour, then I drove him back to the airport for a quick flight to SLC for his nephew's mission farewell.

I shared souvenirs with kids and evaluated the fridge before taking Hyrum and Eve to the store for some quick groceries.

I need to conclude this post with this awesome shot of Hyrum. Four gallons of milk, four liters of soda, seven grocery bags (one with seven cans of tomatoes).
His faces portrays his mood perfectly--sheer panic that the bags would break or he would drop part of his load or that the bag handles would tear through his arms. Gotta love his tenacity.

I was gone nine solid days. I experienced the highest levels of academia and the lowest levels of poverty, the full range of the earth's climates and human emotions.

But in the end . . .

There's no place like home.

No comments:

Post a Comment