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Published: March 19th 2014
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino
Oldest in the country (?), housing a particularly sacred statue of the Holy Child.
Leaving the heart of Isaan in Udon Thani, it was an extended 10h traffic-jammed bus ride back to the capital, for a quick couple of nights in transit, before I left the Land of Smiles. Yes, it was finally time to say goodbye to my second home country for a fourth time, and say hello to my destination that is the Philippines.
I'd already been there last year of course, in the northern region of Luzon, with some fond memories of the spectacular rice terraces of the Cordilleras, and swimming with the whale sharks. This time, I'll be exploring the central Visayas islands, with the country's second largest city of Cebu being my first port-of-call.
And after an inconveniently timed red-eye flight, with a 3h layover in Manila, I'd finally arrived. LP said that Cebu is a less crazy welcome to the country compared to Manila, and to some extent that's true, with its sun-kissed beaches and more relaxed island feel. But the traffic is still crazy, with the ubiquitous colourful jeepneys spewing forth petroleum fumes. And the poverty is still striking. It's not everywhere, but still quite plainly in sight despite the obvious prosperity of the city in
Another particularly important symbol and site.
certain areas. And the guns, let's not forget the Philippine obsession with all things American in this respect. Metal detectors at the entrances of the shopping malls, and revolver-toting security guard even at the 7-eleven.
And so I spent the first few days re-orienting myself back to this country that I'd last step foot on last year, taking in some of the local sights, and remembering some of the things I'd liked from my previous trip (cheap Jollibee's!). I also remember feeling a tinge of regret and nostalgia as I sat in the Manila airport waiting for my flight out of the country last year, because of the very pleasant time I'd had in Luzon. Hopefully the Visayas won't let me down either.
Stayed at Shamrock Hotel.
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