Mittwoch, 28. November 2007

The Philippines – Friday/Saturday (English)

From last Friday until Tuesday me and my host family spent five days in Manila the capital of the Philippines. We booked our AirAsia ticket earlier this year to get the promotional tickets for free. The taxes add up to about 50 USD per person for the return flight.

We landed on the former US Air Base Cark Field in view of the jaw-dropping Pinatubo volcano north of Manila and took a bus to the capital. On the way I got the impression of a dirty and poor Manila, but the bustling streets also attracted my attention and interest.

Our hotel was right in the busy tourist district of Manila. After having rested for a while in our comfortable suite in the 18th floor the kids rushed me to the hotel’s swimming pool, where we played together.

In the evening we walked to the only HALAL restaurant in walking distance of our hotel and afterwards we strolled around in the stunning Megamall Robinsons.

On the following day we woke up late. I suggested to walk to the former spanish fortress Intramuros. On the way to the historic district we walked across a park which is named after the philipino hero Rizal. Afterwards we headed for the gate to go into Intramuros. Apparently Manila is not very visitor friendly as Intramuros was as dirty as the other parts of the city. We only met very few other tourists inside Intramuros. There were some churches, many historic buildings and a fort in the neighborhood, but all of them were in bad conditions. We quickly discovered that Philipinos are very helpful and friendly people.

We took a taxi to Quiapo a squatter-like part of Manila, where we hoped to find a restaurant that serves muslim HALAL food. First we went to the so called Golden Mosque so that Sarodin and Danial could pray. The mosque isn’t golden anymore because the dome’s golden paint coating has flaked off long ago. It was the Lybian head of state, who fund the building of the mosque in advance of his visit to the Philippines, which never happened. The mosque was very big and there were many people going into and out of the religious complex. It was interesting to see many different clothings of muslim men. Probably they came from all over the world. Some wore turbans like the arabs, others wore a Kufiya like Yassir Arafat used to wear, but most wore the small white cover just like the men in Malaysia do. Most of the women wore Malay-style scarfs and some were dressed in burkas. The Malay-Indonesian influence on the Philippino Islam was obvious. Once the Islam was brought there from the Malay archipelago.

We had our lunch in one of the nearby, small HALAL cafes. The cafe served good roast chicken and fluffy arabic flatbread.

After that we discovered a colourful market. The fragrance of corn cobs and fresh fruits saturated the afternoon air and the crackling exhaust pipes of the jeepneys and the motorised tricycles contributed to the noisy atmosphere. All kinds of vegetables and fruits as well as other foods and miscellaneous were offered in rattan baskets and dirty plastic boxes. I had fear to be robbed in the extremely crowded market area. Finally we reached a major road junction with a fly-over. This was the place to buy souvenirs but I was disappointed by the cheesy items and the small variety. Most of the objects were copied from other southeastasian countries or even africa and didn’t stand for philippine arts at all. That’s why I didn’t bought much.

Back in the hotel I went swimming with Danial and the others. In the evening we went shopping in a huge shopping complex.

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