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Published: April 27th 2013
Angeles Walking Street aka Fields Avenue
Yes you could be forgiven for thinking it resembles the one at Pattaya. Waitaminute, or maybe you shouldn't, for knowing what the Pattaya one actually looks like!
After the high of swimming with the butanding, I was unceremoniously brought back to earth by the looming necessity of another extended bus ride back to Manila. This time it would prove to take some 14h, in a budget, non-AC bus, "cooled" by the dusty air from without. From the southeastern tip of Luzon back to the capital, this definitely was the longest bus ride that I'd taken in a while. Though duration-wise it still pales in comparison to the 20h+ one I took in Vietnam from Danang to Dalat, a large part of that one was in a relatively luxurious sleeper bus, so I approached this ride with some trepidation, with memories of the rather painful non-AC train ride in Myanmar last year from Mandalay to Katha still fresh in my mind
But alas, I survived, and having a few extra days to spare in the country, I decided on just another quick overnighter in Manila, before heading for the short ride back northwards to Angeles City, a formerly important US military base.
Today though, the city is more famous for its raunchy nightlife, which I presume was originally started
Move aside Jakarta, two can play the same income inequality game...
to cater to the foreign troops. It seems some of those U S veterans might have decided not to leave even after the country's withdrawal, seduced as they are by the Filipino women. Walking the streets, middle-aged to elderly-looking foreign pensioners arm-in-arm with their local partners was very much the norm here. Angeles certainly has a similar reputation to the likes of Pattaya in Thailand in terms of seediness, and it shows, though it's a much smaller, and perhaps somewhat more relaxed version. What I can say though is the sustained influx of Westerners has at least brought about the emergence of several excellent yet reasonably-priced Western food/coffee shops (Bretto's!) that I was able to enjoy, after weeks of tocino, longganisa, tapa, bangus, silog, sisig, pancit etc.
After Angeles, it was back again to the capital for a final night before my flight out of the country. I took the opportunity also to briefly check out the business district of Makati that I'd missed during my first days here. With its gleaming, towering skyscrapers and wide, tree-lined roads juxtaposed against the worn and sometimes decrepit buildings of the other regions, Makati reminded me very much of the CBD in
Yes Alfonso Yuchengco is the Chairman of the Yuchengco Group of Companies that owns this museum, as well as the adjacent bank (RCBC)!
Jakarta, and the stark contrast between the rich and poor in both countries.
And with that, I bade farewell to the Philippines. It's funny how I remember arriving with some fear, having heard about the real concerns with safety and firearms in the country. The guns were certainly very true, but the fact is, ironically, apart from perhaps some more run-down parts of Manila, the country never really felt that dangerous to me, even though there's an armed guard outside practically every building or store! And as I sat in the airport waiting for my flight out, I contemplated how I would miss the country, having gotten used to its polite and (believe it or not!) generally honest people, as well as, of course some of its wondrous sights. Having seen only the largest island of Luzon, I hope to return soon to also spend some time in the Visayan central and other outlying islands.
For now, it's onward to my next destination, Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia in Borneo.
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