Philippine Island Times Adventures of an American expat in the Philippines

August 26, 2008

On the Hoof

Filed under: Manila — Donald @ 7:05 pm

Manila sidewalk trap

Manila sidewalk swamp

The streets of Manila can be treacherous; oddly-placed poles and their support wires, bizarre concrete outcroppings, the occasional unmarked pit that seems to descend straight to hell, vendors and café tables occupying many of the decent spots, and unpredictable traffic when you make the inevitable decision to walk in the street. My favorite sidewalk feature is the Kano trap; a deep hole that has been covered by some concerned soul with thin plywood. After a few weeks in the rain the wood is barely strong enough to support the natives; a guy like me is bound to be first to fall through. You quickly learn to watch where you walk.

I have been walking a lot lately trying to get to know my new neighborhoods, Ermita and Malate, and looking for the best deal on a hotel. The Victoria was intriguing; they are a short-time place but I negotiated a good daily rate. Maybe it is low season even on love.

Hotel Victoria Manila

In the end, the blocks between there and my hangouts looked excessively risky even to my poor judgment, so I gave it a pass. Searching all day led me to conclude that the deal I’m getting at the Cherry Blossoms is about as good as any.

My last couple of weeks in the US were a little stressful. There were great visits with friends and family, but most of the time I was prepping the move, which took about three times as long as expected. Boarding the plane was supposed to be my moment of great relief, but of course it wasn’t. The racks were full and my only piece of luggage would have to be checked at the gate. With a hasty connection coming up in Detroit, that looked very bad. It was. Security in Nagoya became alarmed when they discovered my luggage tag blowing around the cargo hold with no bag attached. Fortunately the bag contained nothing important, just three months worth of prescription meds, contact lenses, personal checks, and all of my clothing. Even more fortunately, Nagoya has one of the best-run airports in the world, and with characteristic efficiency the staff found my lost bag, brought it to the gate for me to identify, apologized for the inconvenience, and let me carry it on the plane. Welcome to Japan.

Since I was seated toward the front of the 747 and now had no checked luggage I was able to beat the rush to immigration and customs as planned. I cleared both in a total of about five minutes, putting me on the street to begin the celebratory carousing shortly after midnight. The next day I slept for 14 hours straight; a record for me and a good sign, I think. My lucky streak continued that night at the poker table where a crew of partying Aussies kindly funded a few days of my stay. Manila’s dark streets look even darker with a few extra pesos in your pocket, so I flagged a cab home. It took only three reminders to get him to turn on the meter.


  1. Looking forward to reading about your adventure in the Philippines. Something more exciting than tape.
    Uncle Roy

    Comment by Roy — August 28, 2008 @ 6:36 am

  2. “More exciting than tape” should be the tag line of my site. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Comment by Donald — August 28, 2008 @ 11:31 am

  3. I am glad you have arrived safe if not totally sane. I suggest you put eyes to classified ads and find some permanement digs. No one likes a shifty-eyed foreigner who cannot seeem to stay in one place.

    Comment by scott — August 28, 2008 @ 12:52 pm

  4. I am glad to see you made it home and found gainful employment.

    Comment by Paul — August 29, 2008 @ 1:05 am

  5. Manila is fun but hard on the nervous system. My mind works like a pinball machine and too much external stimulation puts me on tilt. No permanent digs for me here; I’ll be moving on to someplace a little more peaceful soon.

    Comment by Donald — August 31, 2008 @ 10:08 am

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