Wednesday, October 15, 2008

We see start to get familiar with Manila

Metro Manila is somewhere around the 10th most populated city in the world. First is Tokyo, where we spent three hours on the ground at the International Terminal of Narita Airport, which services it. In a way it's like being in any other international terminal, you see a mix of nationalities and the signs are in Japanese, Chinese, and English, much like Detroit. We're hoping to experience the real Japan someday.

Even though we've been to Manila a half dozen times before, we never believe the traffic. Cars weave in and out with buses, trucks, bicycles, and pedestrians in such a way that would kill Americans left and right. Lane lines are only suggestions, and the first one to an open spot wins. No one gets mad. Horns are constant. But you get there, eventually.

Tuesday we started our application for the extended visa program, which is a retirement in the Philippines thing. We had to go all over the place to fulfill various requirements, including getting health exams. Friday we hope to finalize this. Once we are covered we can stay for up to a year at a time without the hassles and expense of getting visas renewed all the time. We spent our time in Makati, the business district of Manila. There are two or more banks on every block, often the same type, especially BDO (Banco de Oro.) There are Chinese, Korean, you name it types of banks in Makati. It's like a different country from where we are staying in Manila proper.

Today we bought a vehicle for Corregidor, a Nissan diesel Jeep-type. It has no doors, so to speak, and the windows are flaps like a tent. Great for getting around, though. Cost: 155,000 Philippine pesos. At 47 pesos to the dollar, you can figure it out if you wish. Tonight we had dinner at Robinson's Mall, a four-story shopping center that is beyond description, but we may attempt it in another email. We also got our cell phone.

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