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A round the world trip in more than 80 days.

Why this blog ?

Our aim : travel and discover the world during 353 days and through some fifhteen countries. We are hoping that this blog will allow us to share the experience with our family and friends thanks to the posts and photos that we will be publishing and also thanks to their comments.

Currently ...

now. For the moment, we are gently readapting from nomadic to sedentary life.


Philippines : Luzon North and Manila

Since the beginning of our trip we have the feeling that time flies away. In the Philippines, this impression has become even stronger. We have spent 21 days in the country, enough to give us an overview, but there are plenty of areas that we have left unvisited. And to think that some people hinted, while we where getting ready for the journey, that a year is too long and after a while we would get bored ...

For the second half of our stay in the Philippines we focused on the northern part of the archipelago's main island, Luzon. We landed in the midst of a popular “fiesta”, saw a body-building competition, visited an old Spanish colonial town where buildings have miraculously survived 20th century misfortunes. We spent a few nice days with Barnabe (one of Karim's university buddies), Mathilde and their two daughters in Baguio, thanks to whom we learnt many things about day to day life in the Philippines.

We could not live the 'Cordillera' region without visiting the rice terraces, beautifully carved on the mountain slopes more than 2000 years ago and still in use. Having been quite isolated historically, some others ancient customs and believes have survived in these mountains, like the one consisting in hanging coffins on rock walls or disposing them at cave entrances. Truth to be told, this practice has become mostly obsolete in the last decades due to the influence of new churches investing the area : the village where we saw this original burial tradition has become the head of Anglican church in the Philippines in the last decades.

The last two days in the country were marathon-like. First of all, it took us 12 hours by bus to go through the 300 km separating us from Manila. That left us with only one day to fit in all that is worth visiting in this chaotic city. Supposedly a day should be more than enough to go through all the highlights, but we got sidetracked from our original plan. By the time we returned to our itinerary, walked around Chinatown's busy market and visited the neighbouring black Nazarene church, we had not a lot of time left before nightfall and had to rush through the remains of the Spanish colonial neighbourhood, after which we felt so beaten that we decided to retreat back to our hostel.

We had started our city tour by the Chinese cemetery, a curious place where mausoleums have built-in toilettes and even mail boxes and where the dead live in much more luxury that their living neighbours. Our guide, a very nice chatty man, told us about some cock-fight competition taking place nearby. Since cock-fighting is so popular in the Philippines we went to have a look. We were expecting a gloomy place where we would not be welcomed, but instead we were directed to the roosters owner's corner who installed us a very privileged spot, right next to the ring. A combat is won when a cock kills the other, which in general does not take more than a couple of minutes. It can be quite a bloody affair, but I must admit that being close to the action I found it less disgusting than bullfights. Anyway, for us the show was as much in the noisy crowd as in the ring, looking at the frenetic arm waving of the public signalling their bets and of 'casadores' (bet takers) taking them before each match, or in the money bundles flying from one floor to another afterwards.

Filipinos use the Latin alphabet, eat with spoon and fork rather than with chopsticks, have adopted quite a few Spanish words into their local languages, serve local culinary specialities with Spanish name, and Hispanic names abound both for people and for towns. Add to that a subtropical climate, a tanned-skin population and godly decorations and messages in transports. All this factors ringed a bell in our brain and explain somehow why, the first days after our arrival, we had the feeling to be back in South America, somewhere between Ecuador and Bolivia. We are pretty sure that in our next destinations, Hong Kong and Macao, we will not suffer from this kind mental slips.