Sunday, November 21, 2010

[MANILA] Of Walls and Balls

Intramuros is a must-see if you are longing for a dose of culture and history. This walled city served as the stronghold of the government during the Spanish colonial period. It was not just any other city. It was Manila itself.

To get there, take the LRT up to Central station. This will cost you 15 pesos max. In front of the Park and Ride bus terminal is an underpass that brings you to the other side of Padre Burgos Street. Getting lost in the underpass is not really an issue since every exit is marked with the location to where that specific exit leads.

Getting out of the underpass, you'll immediately see Intramuros to your left. The nearest point of entry is full of sidewalk vendors and stalls but has no archway. This makes you think that it leads somewhere else, but the path actually leads to the Revellín del Parian, one of the parks inside the district. The other entrance can be reached by walking a bit farther. Seeing the Guardia Civil means you have reached your destination. Ignore him or take a souvenir photo, and then cross the archway that says Intramuros. You will find yourself in Muralla Street, as indicated by what seems like giant Scrabble tiles on the wall. This is one of the many little details that add to the unique charm of the place.

Walking is the best option but better check first if your calves could handle it. Otherwise, expect them to hate on you in the next few days. Getting around by bike or car takes the fun out of the experience. Climbing the walls is a must if you want to see not just the canons but also the surroundings both outside and in. Besides, need you not a good vantage point for the pictures you are going to take? A tour by kalesa (horse-drawn carriage) is an enjoyable experience, albeit costlier. The price depends on your haggling skills and the driver’s desperate need for daily income. One asked me if I wanted to take a city tour on his kalesa for 1,200 pesos. I asked him if he was on drugs.

One immediately sees the Colegio San Juan de Letran from the Muralla entrance. To the left is a walkway that leads to the top of the wall and straight to Baluarte de San Gabriel. Here you have a choice whether to go left or turn right. I went right. This is the beginning of a long walk on the wall parallel to Padre Burgos Street. The walk is not what makes the journey long but rather the stops you make to take pictures or just sit down and admire the beauty of the scenery. Look right halfway through the wall and you'll see the Lyceum of the Philippines. You have the option of going down the steps. If you do, make sure to check out the Revellín del Parian which houses the ASEAN Garden.

Walking farther ahead, still on the wall, you'll then see the Mapua Institute of Technology to your right. It occupies the spot where the Chapel of the Franciscan Venerable Order once stood. To your left is Baluarte de San Francisco de Dilao. Here you'll see not just one, but several canons. You can climb the outer wall at your own risk. If you fall and die, the sight of green grass and golfers will be your last memory.

The Spaniards were not contented which just a wall. They actually surrounded the perimeter with a moat. Feeling castle? They should have hired a dragon too. The said moat has since been converted into a golf course. If Spanish colonial era Juan de la Cruz flirted with death by dodging cannonballs, his modern day counterpart should still be wary. Although significantly smaller in size this time around, those balls could still cause a severe headache if they hit.

1 creature(s) gave a damn:

Anonymous said... you have tips or guides on how to survive the jungles of manila?like how to go to moa,ocean park, divisoria, etc? thank you. i really love your blogs,its fun to read them - ms. worried traveler

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