10.05.2011 – BACK TO MANILA

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EARLY NEXT DAY, “AT DAYBREAK” AT 7.00 AM, WE WENT FOR BREAKFAST – PLAIN VANILLA. WE HAVE STARTED OUR LAST TRIP IN THE PHILIPPINES STILL IN THE RAIN, BEFORE 7.40 AM. DIRECTION MANILA. BECAUSE THE SHOWERS THE FIRST 50 km WENT RATHER SLOWLY, THEN THE WEATHER HAS BEEN GETTING BETTER.

ABOUT 8:10 AM WE STOPPED FOR 15 MIN. BY A ROADSIDE GROUP OF STALL SELLING A LARGE RANGE OF LOCALLY GROWN FRESH VEGETABLES – THIS IS A REGION FAMOUS IN THE PHILIPPINES FOR ITS HORTICULTURE. OUR DRIVER TOLD US THAT HE BUYS ALL HIS VEGETABLE SUPPLIES FOR HIS FAMILY – THERE AS IT WAS MUCH CHEAPER. AFTER A WHILE WE WERE BACK ON THE ROAD. DRIVING ALONG THE ROAD OF THE NORTH LUZON MADE ME UNDERSTAND WHY THE TRAFFIC IS, PUTTING IT POLITELY, SLUGGISH DESPITE THE FACT THAT THERE IS KIND OF  MOTORWAYS HERE.

WE DROVE FIRST ALONG KENNON ROAD THAN MAC ARTHUR HIGHWAY. THERE WAS NOT MUCH DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THOSE TWO, MAYBE MAC ARTHUR HIGHWAY WAS NOT AS WINDY. THE TRAFFIC WAS HEAVY. ESPECIALLY ON THE MAC ARTHUR HIGHWAY ONE MIGHT HAVE HAD AN IMPRESSION OF DRIVING THROUGH NEVER ENDING SUBURBS OF A BIG CITY.

I FELT SEVERAL TIMES AS IF I WAS IN BALI. BUILDINGS WE HAVE PASSED FROM TIME TO TIME WERE JUST LIKE MIRROR IMAGES OF THE INDONESIAN STRUCTURES … THE ROAD ALLOWS ONLY TO OVERTAKE ANOTHER VEHICLE REALLY FAST AND DECISIVE – THERE IS NOT MUCH ROOM FOR THOSE ACTIONS. AND IT GOES ON LIKE THIS FOR MILES …

WE HAVE STOPPED AGAIN BRIEFLY AT A MARKET AT ABOUT 10.00 AM IN PANGASINAN. IT TOOK US ABOUT 40 MINUTES TO DO SOME FOOD SHOPPING. WE WERE ESPECIALLY PLEASED WITH THE PURCHASE OF  A SMALL AND REALLY HOT CHILLI FOR ONLY  US$ 1.50 PER kg. ALSO DRAYED CALAMARIES, SHRIMPS AND FISH, AS WELL AS FISH SOUP CONCENTRATE AND OTHER CONDIMENTS.

FINALLY, WE HAVE ENTERED A REAL MOTORWAY AT ABOUT MIDDAY AND THE SPEED OF OUR TRAVEL HAS IMPROVED MARKEDLY. WE WERE APPROACHING MEXICO, WHICH WAS THE HOME CITY OF OUR DRIVER – BONG.

WE HAVE OF COURSE AGREED TO STOP BY HIS HOUSE SO HE COULD DROP OFF HIS SHOPPING AND SAY HELLO TO HIS WIFE AND KIDS. WE GOT THERE BEFORE 1.00 PM AND HIS WHOLE FAMILY (MAINLY WOMEN) WAS WAITING FOR US. WE WERE GREETED AND INVITED IN. THE HOUSE IS BRAND NEW BUT NOT QUITE FINISHED YET. IT LOOKED VERY GOOD, AT A GLANCE ONLY SOME TEXTURE AND POSSIBLY A FENCE WAS MISSING.

WE WERE SERVED SOME DRINKS, TOOK A FEW PHOTOS WITH THE FAMILY AND IT WAS TIME TO GO. OUR PLANE WAS NOT GOING TO WAIT FOR US…

WE HAVE CROSSED MEXICO AND WERE BACK ON THE MOTORWAY TO MANILA.

ABOUT 2:00 PM WE PASSED THE CAPITAL BOUNDARIES AND WERE HEADING TOWARDS THE AIRPORT IN A TRAFFIC JAM. THE JOURNEY WAS LABORIOUS AND SLOW.

OUR FLIGHT LEAVES ON 6.30 PM, WHICH MEANS THAT WE HAVE TO BE AT THE AIRPORT AT 4.00 PM TO  CHECK-IN. WE TRAVEL SLOWLY THROUGH A HEAVY TRAFFIC, PASSING HUGE AND REALLY BEAUTIFUL GOLF COURSES RIGHT IN THE MIDDLE OF TOWN. FROM TIME TO TIME THEY ARE GROWING OUT OF ASPHALT FIELD THE REMAINS OF THE SPANISH GLORY… THE TRAFFIC IS STILL HEAVY, BUT FINALLY, THERE WAS THE AIRPORT – IT WAS ALREADY 4:15 PM. AFTER SAYING GOODBYE TO OUR AMAZING DRIVER – BONG, WE ENTERING THE AIRPORT BUILDING. THE USUAL ROUTINE BEGAN … FIRST COMES THE LUGGAGE WEIGHTING – THIS WAS BEFORE THE CHECK-IN. WE HAVE COLLECTED THE BOARDING PASSES, WENT THROUGH THE PASSPORTS CONTROL AND THEN JOINED A HUGE QUEUE TO SECURITY CHECKS. NO IDEA HOW MANY WERE THERE, BUT IT WAS A GOOD FEW HUNDREDS. AN AIRLINE REPRESENTATIVES OF FLIGHTS WHICH WERE TO DEPART SOON CAME OVER FROM TIME TO TIME AND ASKED THE PASSENGERS TO FOLLOW THEM. ALL THAT TOOK 40 MINUTES AND FINALLY, ALL WAS DONE. UNFORTUNATELY, WE MISSED OUT ON SHOPPING, AS OUR NAMES WERE CALLED AND WE HAD TO RUN TO THE PLANE …  

NEVERMIND, WE WOULD DO OUR SHOPPING IN DOHA WHERE WE HAVE TWO HOURS WAIT …

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