Friday 13th January 2017

I woke up with a view over the crazy pollution of Manila.
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To the right.
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I walked from Pearl of the Orient to Fort Santiago to go see this old Spanish fortress located in the Intramuros area, the oldest district and historic core of Manila.
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On my way to Fort Santiago, I passed an empty basketball court, saw the entrance of the Rizal Park, some people sleeping at the bottom of trees, street sellers, horse-drawn carriages, municipality workers cleaning the park and streets, trike drivers, golf players, Joseph Rizal statue, Philippines flag, cables, jeepneys, motorcycle drivers with helmets.

I arrived at the entrance of Fort Santiago and got an entrance ticket and went to see it. Fort Santiago was built by the Spaniards in 1571 when they established Manila as the capital of the newly colonised islands. They rules for 200 years until the British occupied Manila and used the Fort as a base of operations for the Royal Navy. In 1896, it was where Joseph Rizal was imprisoned and condemned, accused of having led a rebellion before he was executed. Some steps are printed on the floor showing the last steps he did before he got shot here. In 1898 it became the headquarters for the US Army which started ruling the country.
During the second World War, Japanese used the fort to imprison and kill hundreds of civilians. It was totally destroyed during the war and rebuilt afterwards. Here are a few photos taking while walking around it.

I spent some time at the Rizal shrine learning about Joseph Rizal, the national hero and icon of the Philippines. He was executed when he was 35 in 1896. During his short life, he learnt to speak fluently 8 languages, was a doctor, a botanist, a poet, a writer a business man and was fighting for social rights.

After this visit, I went to check out Manila Cathedral which was also built originally in 1571 but got destroyed several times. It was located near a gigantic building called El Palacio del Gobernador. Then I went for a local lunch and started walking my way back, saw some jeepneys, horse-drawn carriages in particular the one of Cinderella and a family chilling out in their hammock.

It was early afternoon and the temperature was really hot and humid so I decided to go check out Manila Ocean Park. There I saw a very strange fish which I had never seen in my life and which only lives in Amazonia, called Arapaima.
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There were a few other strange fishes, like the hybrid parrot fish, or one which looked a bit like a shark, and otherwise some giant trevallies and some sea horses.

In one of the section shortly after were fishes from Palawan, most of them I had seen undewater. I noticed that they only put one of each specie in the aquarium, which I found sad as a lot of them usually go around in pairs. There was only one cleaner wrasse when the cleaner wrasse is a very important fish as it cleans up the parasites from fishes skin. I wonder if the fishes develop as much parasit in an aquarium as they would in the open ocean though. It was strange to see clown fishes (Nemo) in an aquarium with fake anemones. Although the fishes had a bit of space, they were definitely condemned to being just exhibited to people who couldn’t afford to see them in the ocean but there was still a long way to treating them in a way which would respect the normal way they live under the sea.

My favourite part was the underwater tunnel. I had seen one like this at the Kuala Lumpur Ocean World and really enjoyed it. There were a sawfish, a guitarfish, some Manta rays and some sharks.

They gave a show with sea lions also in this huge theatre but sitting under the scorching sun was not the best part of it.
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The sea lion and a volunteer.
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It was also possible to visit the backstage of the Ocean World, where there were huge containers and explanation on how the water was filtered before to make it to the fish tanks.
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There was a section about jellyfish with signs about three in particular: the immortal jellyfish (I didn’t even know this existed), the sea wasp alias box jellyfish and the irukandji.

After the Ocean World, I walked back to the airbnb place and saw guys playing basketball barefeet on the court which I had seen empty in the morning.
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View of the traffic still as crazy as before.
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Sunset colours kicking off.
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Golden light.
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Last sunset over the sea for me, as it can’t be seen on the East Coast of Australia.
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Later I took a taxi and headed to the airport.

Holidays over! Time to go back to Sydney!

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