|Sunday we decided to go to Intramuros and Rizal Park. While having breakfast Oliver came by. He said he was driving that way and would drop us off. Yes--we could walk back. Traffic was light with it being Sunday morning.
Once there we followed Oliver into Fort Santiago --the original Spanish fort built in the middle 1500's. It was built as protection against Chinese pirates. From here we went further into the Intrmuros stopping to see the Manila Cathedral. As Catholic churches go, this is a very plain church. .As a service was in progress we did not spend a lot of time there. We said goodbye to Oliver here.
We went on down the wide street to see St. Augustine's Church. It has rested on this spot since 1563. Here a service was also in progress. We went instead into the San Augustin Monastery and museum. Here we followed the history of the St. Augustine monks. First they arrived in Cebu and attempted to convert the natives in the 1540's. It was not until the 1560's that they returned and were successful. This is the only complex of buildings that survived the Manila wars. It burned twice before it was constructed of stone. We could see snippets of the cathedral. It is opulent in comparison to other cathedrals in Manila. It is also the oldest.
We went across the street to the Casa Manila. This is fashioned after a Spanish colonial house with a small courtyard in the center. One section has been redone as the White Knight Hotel. There is a neat little restaurant in another area. Upstairs a buffet and traditional dance show is offered. Wrought-iron staircases lead up. Bouganvilleas, trees flowers and the occasional bird adorn the courtyard. We had lunch here.
After lunch we walked through the San Diego Gardens and climbed to the wall of Baluarte de San Diego. This is the site of a tower built about the time of Fort Santiago. It was built to warn people of approaching pirates. It was on unstable ground and fell down. It has not been restored.
The Intramuros area is walled, has wide streets and lots of trees and flowers. From here we went to Rizal Park.
Crossing the city streets is a nightmare. In modern Manila the main streets are wide with medians down the center. The lights are timed--some 100 seconds, others 70 and some crosswalks are 30. With patience we managed the six lanes.
Once in Rizal Park we bought water and found a tree to sit under. This is a huge park that honours the national hero, Rizal. (60 hectares). Fountains abound. All are turned off during the hottest part of the day. Statues of Rizal and others can be seen. Philippine Thomas the Train gives people a ride around the park. There is a Senior Garden with flowers lots of green grass and trees. People are enjoying life, picnicking, walking or sitting in the shade. There are kiosks selling food and drinks. Huskers fly paper airplanes for sale or try to sell hats. Tricycles and horse and carriages are noticeably absent. We walked through the park.
Once out on Palacio Street, we walk back to the hostel. We take our lives in our hands to dodge through cars, tricycles, taxis and horse and carriages to cross side streets with no lights. Traffic seems to somehow knit together. No one gets hit. There are no accidents. Sidewalks are for piles of dirt and sand, kiosks selling things, parking for tricycles, homeless waifs and anything but walking. We walk on the street with the cars. We pass around cars idling with aircon on and no one in them. Soon we spot the Asian Pan Pacific Hotel. We are almost to our street. Soon we see the two block park at the bottom of our street. The fountain is shut off. It is time to turn inland. We stop for spring rolls and a cool drink. We go on to Chill Out. We have been walking for an hour.
At 5p we walk back to the beach, cross the busy streets and watch the sun set. We are earlier as are others. We talk to a group of photographers. They all live and work in Manila. One is a doctor working in public health. Another is a occupational therapist. Two others are photographers only....one from Europe, the other from California. Nice people. The sun sets without a display. We are disappointed.
We turn to go back and the fountains have been turned on. We are treated to a light show as they change color and dance. The highlight of the evening. Many watch and take pictures.
As we walk back more lights turn on -- brightly colored LCD's in neat designs. We look for a restaurant and return to the Adriatica. We take a short walk around Remote Circle. Soon its restoration will be complete.
Monday we sleep late. We go back to Robinson Square for lunch. We pack and take it easy. Tomorrow we fly to Seoil and on to Canada. We leave at 12.30p and arrive at YVR at 12.20p all on Tuesday the 15th Inshallah. We have another short layover at Incheon.
See you soon.