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Published: September 20th 2006
Spanish influence prevails.
My goodness I needed a holiday. The working lark is tough going on the body and soul, I seriously needed some R and R. After toying with the idea of China and Japan I decided to return to SE Asia again, but this time to the Philippines.
Rather than take the bus like a normal person to the airport in Seoul (Incheon) I decided to take the metro as close as I could get then take a taxi. What a nightmare that turned out to be, I needed to flag down a taxi on the freeway, which then charged me almost $50 to the airport. In order to get back into Korea I needed a re-entry stamp from airport immigration, a process that I had read could take hours. I’m delighted to report that I was in and out in 5 minutes and it was free because I’m British.
Arriving in Manila late at night is intoxicating especially when your ‘hostel’ is impossible to find then turns out to be situated in badlands central. After my flight I needed a beer so the hostel owner drove me to the mini-mart which was naturally guarded by a security officer with
Skyscrapers and palm trees in Manila.
a machine gun; welcome to Manila. In the morning the taxi ride out of the suburbs was fascinating. It was strange seeing English everywhere in an obviously Asian environment. The architecture is crazy here. Tin huts stand next to decaying Spanish villas, contrasted with the skyscrapers of modern Manila. The transport of choice here is the jeepney; a garish tin contraption, overly decorated and named. It warmed my heart as a jeepney named “Kevin” passed me by. Somehow I got caught up with some other travelers at the guest house and ended up hitting the pulsating streets of Manila’s nightlife, and thus missed my flight to Palawan the next morning. Amazingly I was not recharged for a flight the next day, and only paid a one pound rebooking fee.
Puerto Princessa is a one road town with nothing much of interest to see. I was glad when I was on the jeepney to Sabang. Sabang is a small fishing village, made famous by the Underground River, but it also has stunning beaches and good jungle trekking. I pitched up in a beach hut and relaxed for a few days. The above mentioned underground river is a marvelous natural wonder;
The entrance to the old city of Intramuros.
an 8km river that runs through a mountain. The rock formations inside render this a brilliant trip. Although in the middle of monsoon season I was gifted with three days of sumptuous weather and a beach to myself. After 3 days on the beach I returned to Puerto Princessa before flying back to Manila for my last day.
The Philippines is a fascinating country and really deserves far more time that a week to explore all it has to offer; a week however was better than nothing. I’m sure I’ll be back.
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