I'm not an everyday blogger... If I have something to say...this is where I will say it. You will also find links to my specialized blogs.

Live your life in such a way that when your feet hit the floor in the morning, Satan shudders and says... 'Oh shit....she's awake!!'

""Life should NOT be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in an attractive and well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, chocolate in one hand, martini in the other, body thoroughly used up, totally worn out and screaming "WOO HOO what a ride!""
— Unknown

Sunday, August 13, 2006

A Little Sightseeing

Sightseeing...I took 3 hours off, hired a driver and did some quick sightseeing. The Philippines is 95% Catholic...so it is hard to do any sight seeing that doesn't involve churches.

Everyone told me I should visit the beaches. Well, I didn't have time for much more than a quick drive by....
Each evening along this stretch, they set up bars and tables.

This is one of the National parks which includes the burial of a National military hero (I don't remember which one).

I believe that this is the MINOR BASILICA OF SAN LORENZO RUIZ
(Our Lady of the Most Holy Rosary Parish),
Plaza Lorenzo Ruiz, Binondo, Manila. This church was originally established in 1587 and has been rebuilt 6 times.

The Intramuros is the old walled city built by the Spanish rule occupation 500 years ago. Intramusros actually means "Within the walls." At the time, you could only get inside if you were Spanish. If I get a chance, I would like to go back and spend more time in this section of the city.

Immaculate Conception Parish (San Agustin Church). It also contains a museum. In order to be married here, you must apply. While I was there, a couple was putting together a portfolio of photos to include with their application.

Inside St. Augustin's

The music book is set in the choir loft so that the choir could see the entire book.

The gardens and grounds where couples hold their reception following the ceremony at St. Augustin.

The Coconut Palace was a $10M project of Amelda Marcos. 70% of the construction materials are derived from coconut. According to my guide, the house was built for St. John Paul II although he didn't stay there because it was too much. Instead, several of Imelda's jet-set friends stayed here at one time or another, among them Van Cliburn and Brooke Shields. Also, according to my guide, much of the furniture was built by 8-10 year old children (although I can't confirm that). I was unable to get closer to this because it was closed on Friday afternoon. (NOTE: Friday afternoons are bad days for sightseeing because everything closes so people can get to mass.)

The Philippines Cultural Center is a legacy of the Marcos'. It is supposed to have fountains in the front but they were not working when I was there.

This isn't a very good picture of the US Embassy. It has a great view overlooking the water.

Getting to Work

Fortunately, SPi provided a driver to get us to and from the office. To me, the issue with driving in Manila is not the amount of traffic and its not the fact that no one seems to drive in a specific lane. It is that people walk in the middle of traffic. It is that jitney's stop in the middle of traffic and people get off and cross traffic.

Here is the SPi billboard!!

Here are some photos from the drive to and from the office.

There are many of these little shops along the streets leading to the office.

Jitney's Own the Road

Jitney's are the main transportation for most of the working population in Manila. Most do not have air conditioning so they are open with no windows. You frequently see people hanging off the back of them. Air pollution is so bad...people frequently cover their mouths, noses, and faces as they travel.

This Jitney driver wanted his picture taken!

More about The Pen

The Peninsula Hotel Manila is amazing! It is a grand old hotel. The staff attends to your every need. You can't walk through the hotel without each person greeting you or asking how you are doing. When I found out that I wasn't allowed to take toothpaste on the return flight...they provided me with Baking Soda so that I could at least brush my teeth.

The Spa is amazing as well. And of course the exchange rate helps! I was able to have 3 massages at the Spa while I was there. The cost of a 1-hour massage is equivalent to $24. How can anyone, especially a massage addict like me, pass that up?

The hotel also have several GREAT restaurants. I ate at the Lobby restaurant a couple of times. Each night they had live music.

Old Manila features European cuisine that is fabulous. I had a wonderful Wild Mushroom Soup followed by Sea Bass. The setting is formal but inviting. The staff was impeccable! It seemed to be the place for the well off in Manila to celebrate special occasions!

Spices was probably my favorite restaurant featuring cuisine from different Asian countries including The Philipines, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia. For dinner, I started with Roti Canai (Malaysian bread served with a curry sauce) followed by a Lentil dish from India. I want to have an Indonesian cake for dessert but I ate too much of the rest of the meal and was too full for anything else. As soon as you enter Spices, you are overwhelmed with a fabulous aroma of spices!

My Trip to Manila, The Philippines (August 2006)

Whew! What a week it has been!

I left Dayton on Friday, August 4 and arrived in Manila on Saturday, August 5...barely! We were supposed to arrive at 10pm but instead arrived about midnight. We were late leaving Hong Kong because of weather delays. And, of course, while I arrived safely...my luggage was NOT so lucky.

I stayed in a fabulous hotel...The Peninsula Manila. The conceirge there was fabulous and incredibly helpful!! The room was very nice and the bath was to die for!

Speaking of the concierge! They immediately began helping me try to locate my bag. Unfortunately, no one at Cathay Pacific was answering the phone. By the time they reached someone at Cathay Pacific on Monday, they were told that they didn't have a bag that looked like mine. Hello! It's a black roller bag...how can you NOT have one that looks like mine!

After leaving work on Monday, I asked the driver to take me by the airport. I was pretty sure that people were as tired of me wearing the same clothes as I was of wearing and washing them each night. And blowing them dry with the hair dryer in the morning. After some wandering around the airport, I was directed to a building called Orbit Warehouse. And that is exactly what it is. It is a GIANT warehouse for all unclaimed baggage from all airlines flying into Manila. It didn't take me too long though to find my bag. Hello!! It had not 1 but 2 luggage tags with my name, address, and phone number on it! I'm convinced if I had left The Philippines without coming to look for my luggage myself, I would have never gotten it back!