Katja and Arne's travel stories

Manila Wednesday

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Katja is slowly getting better but there is still a bug or two to beat down. Today we go for yoga for the first time in Manila.

We took the walk down to the yoga studio in the morning traffic. Holy cow, there’s a lot of cars in Manila. There is a blatant disregard for any pedestrians moving around. The fact that you get a green man for your crossing don’t mean squat if someone turn their car in and over that crossing. In Indonesia we had a lot of honking, but it was friendly and informative. Here the honking is aggressive and intimidating.

As we walk around in the city we carry with us our Kali sticks. There are more than one local who gives us long looks because of it, especially some of the armed security guards.
For the guards are everywhere, and they are all armed. Mostly with a gun at the hip, but for more stationary guards it’s also common with a shotgun. They are not just guard either, in some stores they open the door for you and we have also seen them help people choose products in the store. Guess they have a pretty long or open work description.
Next door to the yoga place is a boxing and Muy Thai training. We popped in there to check their schedule, but a more weak explanation on structure I haven’t heard in a long time. Maybe we’ll try them out, maybe not.
The yoga was good. A gentle Vinyasa flow class in a rather warm class room. I guess it must have been around 28 degrees in there. Me sweat a lot in 28 degrees. Luckily there’s a guy who works here that lay out the mats before class and clean out the room afterwards. Today he earned his pay.
Before we left we talked to Camille, the instructor about healthy places to eat. We got a list of 5 restaurants that we’ll try to visit.


French cafe, mark the French looking smug face for the occasion

French cafe, mark the French looking smug face for the occasion

We stopped by the French cafe and got lunch on our way back. Nice salads and sandwiches are served there. We looked at the map while sitting there and found that one of the cafés we got recommended was “just around the corner”. We walked down there after lunch and looked at the menu. It’s a reward winning vegetarian restaurant, and their menu looked really good. We’ll go there for dinner tonight if Gerald is not joining us, or for lunch to morrow if he is.
Then we walked through a gated community back to the hotel. These small secluded areas are really nice and there are some really good looking houses here. And then you turn the corner and enter the Manila you have seen on pictures and on tv. So close to each other, but light years apart.
We cooled down in the hotel room for an hour before heading out to meet Gerald for a couple of hours of private training.
Getting to the park and meeting up with Gerald was hassle free. The taxi driver took us through a part of town called San Andres, which we have not seen yet. It was worn to the ground and with all the signs of poverty and desperation. “Depressed area”, was how the driver explained it. I can relate to that from what I saw. It’s not a place for us to venture around on foot. After we met up with Gerald we walked over from the statue of Lapu Lapu (don’t worry, the story will come) and to the Chinese garden. This little park-in-the-park has a statue of Confucius and a “Walk of wisdom” where a lot of his sayings are displayed. A nice little place. We found a place in the shadows and got to training.

The backs of two giants - Humongen and Lapu Lapu

The backs of two giants – Humongen and Lapu Lapu

Waiting in the park

Waiting in the park

Gerald took us through some double stick drills that translated into single stick and furthermore to knife work. We spent close to 2,5 hours in the heat and humidity with people stopping to see what we were doing. I’m tall enough to get looks around here. When I keep beating on a girl with sticks on top of it people find it entertaining. Even more so when Katja put me into a lock or two and the tall guy stumble and staggers with no balance. We enjoyed the training very much and will have more sessions with Gerald before we leave Manila.

Towards the end of our training came Steve. A good friend and student of Gerald who we instantly liked. An open and nice gentleman who came with us for dinner. At least we ate while he and Gerald took their coffee.

When it was time to return home we went into the street and tried to jail a cab. Holy smoke, what a project. Since rush hour here in Manila lasts until about 21:00 the taxi drivers at Luneta park (ca. 30 minutes ride from our hotel) did not want to go to our part of town. We spent most part of an hour trying to find a taxi to take us back. Steve and Gerald was helping us with this. Their local knowledge is invaluable in such a situation. Finally we got one over who accepted the trip and we got back safe and sound. Now I’m just out of the shower, which gives a feeling like nothing else. After a day outside in a polluted town like Manila you feel the grit, dust and outright dirt whenever you touch your own skin.
The music is plays outside again and the singer today is even more off tune than the girl yesterday. Oh well, between the yoga, walking, heat, humidity, kali training, buzzing of the aircon I’m gonna pass right out when I turn off the light.

Author: arnber

Humongen! The big guy! The man, the myth, the legend! And then theres' me. The nice guy in the house. The man without cooking skills, but with five stars on the Playstation. Boss at work, relaxed at home. What you see is what you get. Life is good. I choose it to be.

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