Returning on a jet plane

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe last three mornings I’ve asked for boiled eggs and each time adjusted my order slightly hoping that they would manage it. No more luck this time, and I simply smiled and thanked this morning like the others. We checked out and got ourselves a a taxi running with meter and headed towards the airport.

It’s a interesting thing about Manila taxi drivers and their meters, some get thoroughly offended when asked if they can go by the meter while others considers it to be the default. Usually the meter price is around half of their fixed price and since we last night found out that the terminal fee (required to be paid before departure) of Manilla International airport was about 25€ for us both (which is about the price for one domestic flight including all fees) we needed all the pesos we could get.

We had cleverly checked in on KLMs homepage yesterday to get some decent seats and got ourselves all good and comfy as the plane had left the ground. Apparently something was broken with our entertainment screens though, they were pitch black and could not be fixed. We kindly took the offer to be re-seated to slightly worse position but with working screens. 14 hours daytime is a long flight without any entertainment.

There was something not right with the entertainment system, after a spontaneous reboot (with roughly 10 minutes left of the movie) and later a crew-initiated one it seemed to work decent at least. As we hit the ground we were both in zombie-mode and didn’t think to look under the seats we’d originally had for my nice hat. That struck me as we were relaxing in the lying chairs at Schiphol.

After some hassle I managed to get it back though, not sure that I’d needed the extra hour that KLM kindly given us in connection time though. While waiting to board the final leg of the trip one could spot that the lot of the travelers now were from Sweden, the main clue being the amount of tax-free alcohol carried.

We of course got three very happy males from Sweden behind us. As my iPod saved me from most of their drunken blather I sat back and thought about the average impression I’ve gotten from middle-aged white men from northern Europe during the trip. There are exceptions but they are way too few, the general picture was not looking good. But who knows, perhaps things are different in India, Chile?, or perhaps Bolivia? There are plenty more places to go, people to meet and fun things to do before the final judgement is passed on this world of ours.IMG_0599Oh, and by the way – guess if it was cold when we got back? What you see in the background is actually snow. The cab costed about 40€, it feels great to be back home 😉

Paco Park and Mall of Asia

IMG_0592Today was the last full day in Manila, and although we done some shopping we’d saved the largest mall of them all for the last day, Mall of Asia. But we realized that we’d lived next to Paco Park during our entire stay in Manilla but not seen it. This of course had to be remedied.

Paco park is actually more a cemetery than a park, and it was also here that their local hero had been buried secretly by the Spanish after his execution. He was at a later point dug up and placed in the shrine we’d visited yesterday. After enjoying the cemetery and it’s flowers we hit off for our planned destination.

Mall of Asia is big, really big. Apart from some 600 shops they have an Imax theatre (and six regular ones), an ice skating rink and a few things along those lines. For the elderly/lazy/rich there are cars very much like those in airports driving shoppers around. It was rather organized though, at least outside their department stores which was amazingly bad planned. No maps, but plenty of clerks, however if their english is limited to “Yes sir/madam” their numbers help little.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAIn general Mall of Asia seems a little more posh than e.g. Robinsons but not in the range of Greenbelt. One could probably eat from the floors though, but as for the actual shops there were mostly famous brands, not some many local varieties and not at all any local stalls for unlocking cell/phones. If you’re looking for bargain bags (copies) or enjoy haggling this is not the place. Surprisingly bad range of cameras, I think I saw three DSLRs or something like that. I was hoping to be able to play around with a Canon 5D Mk II but that was apparently in vain. The daily massage was a foot and back combination, I’m starting to get used to an hour of massage a day, that habit could get pretty expensive back in Sweden.

As for food I guess one could eat more or less anything there, possibly somewhat cheaper restaurants than in Greenbelt though. I missed my cameras but I’ll be darned if I couldn’t get my hands on a Baconator. Said and done, it tasted really nice – even Mirsada thought it was good. How can it not be on the other hand? Two large burgers, six strips of bacon all dressed with a healthy dose of fat. Weight watchers beware!

After checking the movie schedules we thought we’d skip the Imax theatre and instead go for The Spirit in a regular 450 seat theatre. It was really cheap, less than 3€ (or two balls of Italian ice cream) and yet the theatre was more or less empty. Given their poor broadband and relative to their average income expensive home cinemas I don’t get why not more people go there. The movie was quite okay, not Sin City standard by any means but not that bad either.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAfter saying our goodbyes to the mall we headed back to the hotel, where we watched “The Condemned” on the laptop. Not bad movie either, after packing our stuff and setting alarms we went to sleep for the last time in Manila, at least for this trip.

A good pair of Viktor can get you laid

IMG_0579After some shopping we though it was time to get a dose of culture and took a taxi to Manila’s older parts, Intramuros, which translates roughly to “inside the walls” in spanish. We visited some fort and a shrine of their local hero José Rizal (which seems to have the largest street in every town named after him). To be honest it was not that impressive, and the guys texts, which reeks of nationalism, was although elegant wasted words on yours truly. We also visited a catholic cathedral in the vicinity but mostly enjoyed just walking the streets. Which weren’t that pleasant, traffic and garbage giving the whole area an particular odor and add the continuous flow of locals that keep asking if we wanted a ride, buy a hat or something else. We decided that we would head to Harrison, another mall.

Harrison was an old school gloomy mall, no natural lights and barely any artificial either, it reminded me mostly of dawn of the dead – the 1978 version, but with shopping drones rather than zombies. After browsing for an hour or so we decided to try our luck elsewhere but not after treating ourselves some massage at some visually impaired massage center though. It was nice although if the blind see with their hands, my masseur has seen me more naked than most people.

After the massage we headed off towards another mall, this time Greenbelt, which target audience is more the upper middle consumer. The taxi on the way there didn’t play the usual radio but instead the driver played his cassette tape. Enjoying classics such as Safety Dance and 99 Luftballongs from weathered car speakers while driving through the dirty streets and intense traffic of Manila was slightly surreal.

IMG_0580Greenbelt was posh, we quickly realized that this was not the place for bargains. Italian glass costed us more than a regular dinner and the coffee shops had iMacs for using internet. It was a good looking mall though, not like Harrison at all. We strolled their parks, shops and ate at thai-place which served an amazingly well tasting soup. It’s a shame that the best tasting meal in the Philippines was a thai dish but it was really nice.

Todays best sign was the one below. I’m not sure you need a pair but perhaps better safe than sorry. I was tempted to buy something just for their particularly well chosen name but didn’t get anything in end anyways. After a long day of strolling and eating we had another early night back at our hotel.IMG_0581