Leaving home has never been easy. I said goodbye and watched my family slowly fade. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion and it was good to have a 26 hour flight to work things out before heading into the madness of Manila. Exiting the airplane I was quickly engulfed with the heat and humidity of what is known as Asia’s biggest sauna the Manila international airport. The air conditioner had broken down years ago and still hadn’t been fixed, I am sure by now most the employees are used to it. I watched the luggage conveyor belt spit out all sorts of odd luggage the most common being large card board boxes covered with inches of tape and rolls of string. Each box was not complete without the words Mania Philippines written in bold black ink with a Sharpe.
Putting together Gaby created quite a sensation and I was quickly surrounded by a group of Filippino security guards. They were extremely curious and felt right at home inspecting my bike and gear. Gaby has definitely gained a few pounds since leaving Japan, and now In addition to carrying a Traveler Guitar she also has a beautiful but large saddle bag.
I didn’t quite feel the shock of being in the Philippines until the airport road merged with main street (Roxas Blvd). The road was so suddenly packed with trucks, motor bikes and jeepneys (the independent bus), that I wondered how I would be able to make it across the country. It didn’t take me long to realize that I was a lone cyclist in a jungle of motorized transportation. Pedaling into downtown I passed a hospital and went inside to see if I could get a J. Encephalitis vaccine. The hospital was full of pregnant women waiting for the operators of the ultrasound to return from lunch. I was in luck the doctor who gave vaccines was working that day I just needed to wait till she also returned from lunch. I then took the opportunity to visit the hospital canteen and experience some local food.
In my two days of being here I have not found the food too interesting or especially tasty. Most meals consist of vegetable or meat stews with lots of white rice and deep-fried pork hinds to add a bit of spice. If you are lucky the food vendor will have a cooked papaya and coconut dish to go with the rice but this is usually a rarity.
The streets are packed all day and only seem to quiet down a few hours before dawn. Prostitutes, street vendors, rickshaws, kids and wild dogs seem to be waiting around every corner. Where are you from I am constantly asked ” USA” I respond…”Me too” (often the response) “I am from the United Squatters Association, we all live in this abandoned building down the road”.
This is definitely going to be an adventure getting Gaby and all my excess luggage to Bali. Tomorrow I head south planning on making my way across the islands before hoping a ferry to Malaysia. Touch base again as soon as I can.