I realized that this trip consists of three phases, and in some way or another, I have been referring to these components every now and then for the past few posts here.
The first phase was the legal aspect of things. I needed to renew my visa, and so during the first week, that was the thing that pre-occupied my schedule. I did finish that, and I got my passport back with a new sticker on it.
The second phase was self-improvement. I needed to do some shopping, in order to refurbish my wardrobe, as the last time I have done this was 3 years ago, when I went back here in 2007. Yes, I still buy my clothes here, as I find it cheap, and the quality is stellar. I just bring enough patience for the whole ordeal of shopping, and the customer service that comes with it. One example was when I had to exchange a couple of shirts I bought for a different size, and the procedure had to involve several people, taking so much time, it is so ludicrous.
The third phase is frolicking, and it officially started the other day. I went to old town Manila in Intramuros, and took pictures of structures that were here back in the days of the Spaniard conquest. It was fun, and I am glad that I finally was able to visit it (yeah, I have spent a total of 14 years here in the Philippines and yet I haven't frolicked at all). It reminds me of the tourist infrastructure that is in place in Ecuador and Peru: good enough for a developing country, yet still lagging ages behind those in Europe and the North America.
And tomorrow, the third phase will be in full swing: I will head up north and visit several mountain towns to gaze and gawk at one of out UNESCO World Heritage Sites: the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Oops, no. The Banaue Rice Terraces. Yeah, I think that's the one. I'll be trekking along the mountains of northern Luzon while admiring the works of the indigenous peoples. That means I will be out of the modern world (and with that, Internet) for about a week. Let's see how long I can last without itching to find an Internet cafe.
So yeah, my mountain adventure starts tomorrow. Let's just hope that the monsoon rains aren't too strong.