I’m back in Beijing, fresh from a week long training in Manila. It was an excellent training, and well worth the week. There was not, unfortunately, much time to go out and explore the city as I had hoped. One evening, after a long day in a conference room, I sat on the rooftop patio and watched the sun go down. Part of me wanted to go out and roam the city with the last bit of the day, but I was just as content to sit and watch from a distance.
Writing this blog has taught me a few things about the nature of travel, in particular the way in which you approach travel if you expect to be writing about your experiences. There are times when I catch myself trying to hard to understand the place that I am visiting. Sitting on the roof and on the steps in front of the hotel did not get me much view of the city, but it was relaxing and I had a great time. I should probably take time to relax more often.
Everyone told me that the Philippines was incredibly dangerous and that I was going to be abducted and similar such stories. In reality, I had no sense that that Manila was any more dangerous than parts of Brooklyn. Sure, if you go around with a fancy camera and point it at the wrong people, it may very well get you into a sticky spot, but this is universal. Everyone that I encountered was friendly, and I saw far more smiling faces here than I typically do in Beijing. I am sure that I will return some day. I suspect that Manila and I were made for one another. Warm weather, great food, slight sense of danger, and the greatest disparity between rich and poor that I have ever seen. It is a writers dreamland, though it seems that pulling out a pen and paper falls in the category of things you probably shouldn’t do. I stayed in a first rate hotel, was served day a night, and on the ground right behind the hotel was one of the filthiest slums that I have ever seen, sitting direct on a river of garbage. A land of volcanoes, tropical flora and fauna, and corruption like you would not believe. Some day, I will return.