caffeineguy (caffeineguy) wrote,
caffeineguy
caffeineguy

Manila Pics.



From the outside, Jeepneys are easily the coolest form of public transportation in the world. Each is unique and has its name (usually something religious) painted above the windshield. Shiny, colorful and flamboyant, if there were a Jeepney Transformer, it'd be a feisty drag queen robot named Yolanda Q.



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Inside the Jeepneys is another story. It feels like you're being shipped off to a concentration camp. You sit inside a dark, cramped space while choking on thick exhaust fumes. But for 15 cents a ride, one must be willing to give up certain luxuries, like being able to sit fully upright or not having a large woman mingling her arm sweat with yours.



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As I was advised that Manila streets were extremely unsafe, I unfortunately saw much of city life through the windows of our van as we were shuttled from hotel to restaurant to bar to underground martial arts tournament where combatants fight to the death to etc.

I'm pretty bummed about my Manila pics. My not being able to really roam the city plus the frequently crappy weather really made it difficult to find anything photo-worthy during the four days I was there. I couldn't even get a decent shot of Manila's famous sunsets. Most disappointing of all, I couldn't find a single fricking balut.



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I liked how this kid was just chillin' Tom Sawyer-like on a tree during a lazy Sunday afternoon. Of course the tree just happened to be planted on a street median next to a busy intersection.



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I was in Intramuros, which is the oldest part of Manila and is still surrounded by thick fortress walls in case the bloodthirsty Spaniards come back. The day was cloudy as usual, although the sun was shining fairly strongly. Then there was lightning, followed by more lightning. All of a sudden everybody, everywhere started sprinting. "These people are all fucking crazy," I thought. But then I figured maybe there was a giant monster that local legends say would be awakened from its slumber by lightning, so I followed them. Seconds later, the rain came gushing down as if the sky was gutted wide open.



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While it was pouring buckets and everyone was seeking shelter inside buildings and anything else with a roof, these kids took their shirts off and started frolicking in some of the filthiest puddles I've ever seen. It flooded really quick, and I found myself trapped inside the city hall by a brown moat. I was wearing flip-flops, so I thought about wading across the cholera puddle, but I didn't want my feet to dissolve. Finally these two random street guys slapped together a mini-bridge using flimsy wooden boards and concrete blocks that they'd found lying around. In order to use the bridge, you had to pay them a "toll." Opportunistic entrenpeneurship at its finest.



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Cockfighting is legal in the Philippines. I'd already seen a couple in Bangkok, but they were in these makeshift cardboard rings behind Chatuchak Weekend Market. In Manila, they have arenas where people buy tickets to watch angry poultry kill each other. Never got to check one out, but at least the fights were televised. Unlike in Bangkok, where the cocks fought long, vicious, blood-soaked battles, the Philippine combats of the cock mercifully only lasted seconds.



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They really love their malls in Manila. Not surprising given how hot and humid this place is year-round. I think every other Filipino asked me if I'd visited Mall of Asia which - they reminded me - is the biggest mall in the Philippines. Instead, we ended up in Manila's nicest mall - Greenbelt - where I discovered that Filipinos actually do grow on trees inside these pods. They really are a magical people. No wonder they're the best-dancing Asians.



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The one brief moment when Manila weather was pretty. Of course it happened while I was packing in my hotel room before heading to Seoul. Maybe next time, Philippines.



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