Thursday, 22 March 2012

The Thriller In Manila

At 12:00 local (04:00 GMT) today we landed in Manila, capital of The Philippine Islands. Having not done a lot of research on this the 127th new country for me, I headed directly from Manila to the town of Baguio for no other reason than the community had obviously named the town after me, so surely I should pay a visit? For those following via a map, Baguio lies 250 miles north of Manila and slightly inland.

12 hours later however had the airport been within striking distance I would have been on the earliest flight out again.

First off I had to get from the terminal to the Victory Line Coach Depot at the north side of the city and very much appreciated the help getting there and the ride on a local bus. It reminded me of a cross between New Delhi and Istanbul, in both cases cities of too much traffic for their own good.

On the way I got my first look at the JEEPNEY a type of 'collectivo' taxi, which within a very few hours I would be using myself, but then came the 'rub'. An 8 hour coach ride wasn't going to phase me, and at just £7.00 nor was the price but what was going to start as initially annoying soon turned out to be darn right unbearable! It is sensible in my view when travelling the way I do to keep all your kit with you (one lost bag and it's all you possess) so first off I was miffed at having to pay (for the first time ever) a full fare to take my bag aboard.

In the event the whole journey took a little over 10 hours, in part down to this 'tree felling operation' but worst of all was the continuous run of Tomb Raider type of films played at maximum volume. Unfortunately an oversight on my part saw the ear plugs somewhere at the bottom of the back-pack and even a combination of Hendrix and Zeppelin via the i-Pod had little effect on the din. I did ask the driver, politely, to reduce the volume which he did but wanged it up again as he slotted in the next disc.

Then arriving at our destination to find that the seedy hotel, which at that time of night was Hobson's, was to charge me £54 for a room on top of which £8 for WiFi access just about saw me wrap my hand in. Where the hell do they think a 'fixed income pensioner' is going to find 62 quid at that time of night.

Anyroadup, I've dried my legs got my act together and after an average breakfast got started on what I like doing best. The response to my enquiries about birds amounted to little so I headed straight for the

where one of the local ladies was protecting the area complete with spear.

Plenty to see here, starting with the Buddhist Walkway,

but must say I was surprised to see that the local Police Force have their own garden.

Lots of them were busy putting in a new terrace but had time to give me a very warm welcome. Not knowing the names of many of the creatures and exhibits on show, it's probably best to let the pictures do the talking.

Lots of horses here to ride, but just didn't see myself on a 'pink painted, prancing pony'.

Best left to the experts me thinks.

Crested Mynas were here in good numbers,

and I think these fish are Greyling?

Where do they get all these Tree Sparrows from, once again there were dozens of them.

With very few birds, not a lot was expected but there were 3 'Lifers' to be had

First among these was MOUNTAIN LEAF WARBLER, followed by the even smaller LOWLAND WHITE-EYE and PLAIN MARTIN.

Finally, hailing a taxi and calling it an early day a few Large-billed Crows turned up, all I have to do now is find a suitable location for tomorrow.