Saturday, August 1, 2015

The first time in the Philippines

We're in Manilla but here are some pics from the week. Tomorrow we make the 6-hr drive to Baguio.

Thursday, July 30
To the top of Gunung Batu (Stone Mountain). Rock climbers get up the face. We walked up the path.

the spectacular view from the hilltop
Orange orchards behind us
Evening study at Bamboo Shack: Ruth 1
David and Paul S arrive at 9 from Jakarta. They're moving in upstairs. They're not sure how long they'll stay or what they want to do, beyond language school - probably that's enough! They start school in a week, 4 blocks from the house.

W and I pack between breakfast and lunch with the S's at Miss Bee. The trip to the airport is stop-and-go. It has W in knots due to the "Jakarta syndrome" (weekend holiday in Bandung for Jakartans). We have to check in 45 minutes before the flight.

We are out of time: we hop out of the car a block or two from the airport and drag our luggage up the street and into check-in. W leaves the passport photocopy at the desk and goes back from security to retrieve it. But soon we're settled. I'm always breathless and a little fuzzy from the stress.

When we get to the tarmac to walk to our plane, the guard puts up his hand to stop us from crossing. A jet screams by, driving toward the runway. Really?! Everyone waits. I plug my ears until it passes.
Man, that's loud! (and close)

The trip is uneventful though the food is not good (Asian Rice-ish with little chicken saté sticks). In Kuala Lumpur, we grab a snack and settle in. The plane is late coming in and so we're 1 1/2 hours late in boarding.
A display of lights in the KL Airport, left over from Ramadan
We leave after 10pm. When the boarding announcement is made, W and I jump up; for whatever reason, we're always in a hurry to get in line. 

The inflatable pillow that makes long flights bearable falls behind the lounge seat. I find out the minute I sit down on the plane. I go to the front and ask to get the attendants to get it for me. The door tech calls the lounge, but no they "haven't seen it." Can they look for it please? "We can't find it." 

I leave the plane to ask the gate attendant to get it for me but the attendants tell me to come back. "We are boarding and ready to leave." Sure. Sure. We sit at the gate for another 20 minutes but no one looks for the pillow. How irritating. I can see it in the corner of my memory, dropping behind the seat as we hastily stood up. Next time, I'll let W dive into line; I'll check around me before joining him. (The rush is only imagined anyway.)

After the flight, I hand the chief attendant a note with my email and a request that they "notify me where we can pick up the pillow next week, left at Gate Q5" ... since they wouldn't let me get it myself. Probably, we'll have to order another.
W sleeps most of the last flight but I drift off, wake again, and look at my watch. Only 10 minutes have passed. I try again and give up. Yay for Kindle reader. And my back is sore.
It's 3am when the flight discharges us in Manila. The driver is holding a piece of paper with our names on it. We apologize for the awfulness of the hour.
"Don't worry. We are often late here," he says. And brings us to the door of the guest house along winding roads and construction zones. Lilian has to wake up and get towels ready. "Oh, it is August! I wasn't expecting you today." But here we are. We are in bed by 4am.

W is up for breakfast at 9. He wakes me as he gets dressed but I doze for another half hour. The oatmeal and toast hit the spot. (Thanks, Lilian!) We have a bit of class prep and clearing emails before we walk a few blocks to find lunch. 

We spot a Chili's restaurant, just like in the States. We at there only a few times in Seattle, but it sounds good today. We have a salad and pork belly. Tasty but not energy producing. 

"If you don't have much time, go only one place, the Green Hills complex," we've been told. We hail a taxi, which gets stuck in traffic. The interconnected buildings contain small specialty stalls, department stores, chain brands, theaters, food courts, a museum - and even a chapel. We've seen more churches in a day than we've seen in a year in Indonesia.

The beautiful indoor-outdoor chapel at the mall
We stay for a few hours, walking about 3 miles. We come away with a jar of horseradish (score! for W who's been craving it in Indonesia) and a few odds and ends for travel. There is so much American stuff - brands, smooth sidewalks, and people driving in their lanes.

A couple of girls dancing to karaoke films in the mall
The lady before W in the checkout line divides her purchases
 in 3 and uses 3 separate gift cards 
We decide to walk home because it will take just as long to sit in traffic in a car. "It's not far," W says. "Maybe 2 miles." That sounds good (but I should know better by now. Haha.)

Darkness falls along the way; there are few people walking in the 88oF (31oC) smog. Lanes and lanes of cars stand and creep along. The same ones pass us again and again even though we go into a few bike shops and see some nice dining chairs in the furniture stores lining the streets. We put 16,100 steps on our soles before we reach our door, hot and sticky.

Read more:
*It is God who executes judgment, putting down one and lifting up another. Psalm 75:7 ESV

*You are my hiding place and my shield; I hope in your word. Psalm 119:114 ESV

*Yes, O Lord God, the Almighty, your judgments are true and just! Revelation 16:7 ESV

Moravian Prayer: Oh Lord, you are God almighty. You alone are judge of our hearts and souls. May we be set free from our habit of fulfilling our own wills. May we thirst, instead, for your counsel. Amen.

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