PhilippinesTag Archive -

Smile! You’re in Manila!

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Arriving in Manila after a full day of exploring Dubai on a night flight where I managed to sleep exactly 0 hours. Hungry, thirsty and a severe case of jet lag, the mood could be better. Off to find a bathroom after a surprisingly fast baggage claim, I am greeted by a man excessively waving and smiling as enter the restrooms. Inside I’m greeted with a hearty ”Good morning, Sir” ”Welcome to Manila, Sir” delivered with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen. The day just got a little bit better.

Minutes later we’re rushing trough traffic on a cab-ride that make you’re stomach feel like you’re on a rollercoaster ride the night after a serious binge. The brightly colored  jeepney’s, tricycles, busses, pedestrians, all try to make it way trough a steaming rush-hour Manila. The driver speaks rapidly about tips on the city like it’s the last day on earth. I try to scribble some tips down on but it’s hard to keep up with the pace of the driver non-stop talking and constant banging on the horn, all while trying to navigate the dense traffic. For an hour we go on and on about traveltips, Tagalog-for-dummies, veganism, while trying my best to keeping my ”hindu-vegan-airplane-breakfast” from coming back up again.

We arrive at the hostel after an hour of driving, all limbs intact. The thick, moist, air of metro Manila hits us like wall. A mixed scent of greenhouses, soil and pollution is ever present. Crossing the street after we get out of the cab seems to be quite an accomplishment in itself. The traffic scene in Manila is far from great, crossing the street is more of the ”keep-your-fingers-crossed” kind since proper road-crossings and traffic light are pretty much non existing.

The hostel in Quezon City was far from glamourous. Located in one of the poorer regions of Manila. With a construction site and rooster farm as our closest neighbors we we’re in for quite an experience. We had booked a room with private bathroom, but I’m not sure if it constitutes as a bathroom. Lacking basics as sink, toiletseat, toiletpaper (not a single sheet available throughout the hostel) but complete with bucket, faucet and a large plastic spoon, it was pretty hardcore.

For obvious reasons we ended up leaving early next morning for Makati, where we found an excellent accommodation for a decent price. Makati felt like paradise compared to the previous hostel.

After been spending a week in a slightly more upscale hostel, the Quezon stay had proven to be an important experience in exposing us to the local differences that makes up Manila. Just when you think you got the city figured out it throws you off guard and you’re back where you started. You may be walking down the streets of downtown Makati with upscale hotels, luxurious malls, fashionable restaurants then turn down a side street and be met by people living on the streets, stray dogs and rooster and street stalls.

Enough writing

Time to get lost in the streets again…

Manila Street Photography

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The start of a new journey

Taking off

The sun is shedding it’s first rays reflecting like a kaleidoscope on the glass buildings that seems to go on forever into the sky. Loud chants from the nearby minarets is echoing trough a maze of futuristic buildings, picture perfect gardens and traditional mosques. It’s 6 am in Dubai, and I’ve never felt longer from home.

How I got here started about 5 years ago on a trip around the U.S. We we’re soaring at 10 000 ft. over Los Angeles, heading for New York when it bit me. The travel-bug had sunken it’s fangs. I knew that I had to make time for some extensive traveling and see what the world had to offer. As always, life got in the way. For the next couple of years I did 2-3 weeks of travel a year, meaning some 49 weeks where spent working. Doesn’t sound like the long time travel dreams I was looking for, does it?

In early summer of 2010, on a similar trip, going from Stockholm to New York on a one week vacation to visit my girlfriend Lina, who was studying there at the time, it hit me. If we don’t travel now, it will never happen. We just had to figure out how to transform our thoughts into action.

The rough plan was to spend at least 3 months abroad starting around New Years 2010/2011.

Having a full-time job, which I was enjoying, and Lina being occupied with her second year of social studies at the university with 1,5 years left to graduation, we knew it wouldn’t be easy.

On top of this, some hard earned cash had to be saved up for a trip like this. Blessed with a partner living on a student budget, I was off to a good start. Though it didn’t take me long to realize that this couldn’t be achieved by just crunching numbers and skipping the occasional dining out, or splurging on the next hot gadget. The change had to run deeper then just saving up on little things, my whole perspective on consumerism had to be changed. The constant race to buy myself happier had to stop, or at least be severely slowed down. Suffering from a bad case of Apple- fandom and being an overall tech-junky, it would become quite a challenge.

Having gone vegan, cold turkey, 8 month earlier, I knew that dramatic changes isn’t that hard if you just go for it. Trying to apply the same mindset I used when I turned in a bloody steak for a plate of vegetables, I knew I had to focus on the essential.

What is it that makes me get out of bed in the morning? Is it the material objects I’ve been hoarding over the years, or is it the people I’ve met? The things I’ve done? The experiences I’ve had?

The answer was simple. I had to focus on Doing things rather then Buying things. Seems pretty obvious, but in our modern society stepping outside the box, trying to find a more aware, minimalistic approach to living was for me a major game-changer.

With the support of a great boss and co-workers I was granted 5 months off work and Lina put her studies on a 6 month hiatus. We got the ball rolling…

One thing led to another and in the beginning of february we took off for Dubai to begin our round the world trip.

To end this lengthy post (sorry for the jabbering) I think a proper introduction is in order. My name is Olov and I’m from a small town in northern Sweden. My expectations is to keep this blog updated as often as possible on my quest to live more, travel more, learn more.

Sitting on the porch of our hotel in Manila right now and slowly adjusting to life abroad.

Hope to bring you along for the ride!