What I Learned Traveling Off the Grid

“Travel is the only expense that makes you richer,” but at what point do we miss out on the richness of travel because of our mobile devices, our cameras, and a desire to share the our travels with the outside world? Between trying to take the perfect shot of the exotic plate of food in front of you and the urge to get wifi to check in at a far-flung destination, we often miss out on the true essence of travel: being out of our element in foreign lands.

As an avid traveler and photographer, I will admit that I, too, had fallen victim to this cycle of travel. I was constantly looking for wifi to stay in touch with people or trying to get the perfect photo of the back alleys in Burma, the cafe in Vientiane, or the mosaics in Macau instead of living in the moment. The worst part of this is that I did not even realize what I was doing. It had become second nature to me after traveling in Asia for several years. Unless I was writing in my travel journal and thinking about my trip, I was more worried about getting the perfect photo than stopping to smell the roses, so to speak.

All of that changed when I shared e-mail correspondence with a friend of mine who had just gotten back from a fourteen day trip to South Africa where he did not use his phone and did not take a camera with him.

He urged me to try traveling without a camera because, with Google Earth and Google Images, you can find any photo that will remind you of where you have been while you also retain the memory of actually being there in the first place. This e-mail came on the heels of me reading an article  about how taking photos of things harms your memory of those things. I wanted to see if there was any merit to this method of travel.

With this in mind, I went to Taipei with the intention living in the moment during my visit with old friends. Other than using wifi for directions and snapping a few photos with my phone (on airplane mode), I was going off the grid. Almost as soon as I arrived in Taiwan, I knew this was going to be a special trip.

The stairs leading to the peak of Elephant Mountain (像山) in Taipei

I even left my headphones at home and I immediately noticed things about Taiwan that I had never seen before once I got on the bus to Taipei from the airport. Posted signage banning live birds from being brought onto the bus and some of the Japanese-language signage near a shipping facility were two of the highlights of this ride, but more insight was yet to come.

With my friends for the next few days I was able to notice simple things that I had not noticed in the past because of my preoccupation with my camera and my desire to share my travel experiences with others in my photos.

The sounds of hustlers in the streets hawking their goods and the sizzling of saucepans at the night market I experienced last week would have certainly gone unnoticed had I been trying to get the perfect ISO or white balance setting for a photo. With my electronics tucked away, all of my senses were heightened and I was able to capture my trip using all of my senses.

As I stood next to a putrid tofu stand in the light rain, everything about the city seemed to come alive- shopkeepers scrambled to clean up their stands while bikers raced to the nearest overhang. All the while, Chinese-language neon signage glistened in the street gutter as the rain subsided a few minutes later. This kind of experience is what I had been missing while staying connected on my trips.

I had these kind of experiences during the entirety of my stay in Taiwan. I visited beautiful cliffs in Keelung and, instead of trying to get the best photo, I spoke with my friends about them and we took time to hike cliffside trails and breathe in and think about the fresh Pacific Ocean air.

While climbing Elephant Mountain, I noticed etched stairs which denoted the mountain’s name and the distance to various points on the mountain. They had certainly been there prior to that day, but I never noticed because I was too worried about getting the perfect photo of Taipei 101 from the stairs.

These were certainly good experiences, but nothing prepared me for what I saw during my last night in Taipei at the city’s oldest jazz club/bar.

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Elephant Mountain’s staircase. 

 

Ever since my last visit to Taipei in 2015, my friends had wanted to take me to this jazz club called Blue Note. Luckily for us, our schedules aligned and we made a reservation for the bar on a Saturday night to catch an incredible four piece band that would end up playing for two hours or so.

About halfway through the evening, I took my eyes off of the band and realized that, while the saxophone and piano players were in a deep musical conversation, half of the bar was either in deep conversation with another person or a game application on their cell phones.

Instead of living in the moment and feeling the joy of the music, all they were doing was living inside of their cell phones.

Once I arrived at the airport on Sunday night, I found it incredibly easy to write an in-depth journal entry about each day of my trip through Taiwan. That would not have been possible had I had my camera with me for the duration of the trip or had I been searching for wifi at every moment.

It might seem like blasphemy to even suggest, but try traveling without your camera and your wifi the next time you travel. You might get a more wholesome experience. It helped me live in the moment instead of being captured inside my devices.

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Sumida Park – Tokyo Sky Tree and Sakura

One of Japan’s most famous symbols around the world is the cherry blossom. Between the end of March and the beginning of April each year, many varieties of trees open up their blossoms and reach full bloom. These cherry blossom trees are popular all throughout Japan and Tokyo is no exception. With many famous gardens and parks boasting wide varieties of flowering plants, there is no better place to check out the yearly sakura blossoms.

Let’s take a walk together to see Sumida Park, a good site to see Tokyo’s cherry blossoms. Nestled up against the Sumida River, there are many scenic photographic opportunities.

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After waking up early on Saturday, I was off to Kuritsu Sumida Park in the heart of Tokyo, right across the river from the famed Sky Tree. At this park, some varieties of trees were in full bloom while others were just beginning to bloom. I was not alone as many tourists and Japanese alike came to the park to check out the blossoms on this warm late March morning.  Sky Tree and hoards of Japanese enjoying their annual hanami (cherry blossom viewing) parties made for an interesting start to the day.

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Above the walkway, many lanterns hung from wires and the trees. These pink and yellow lanterns sponsored by Asahi Beer were an interesting site and similar to the lanterns I observed last year in Nakameguro during night time cherry blossom viewing.

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Other lamps also were on the site, this one from Asakusa Station. DSC02058

As I continued down the walkway, many people gathered around (and under) a tree which was nearing full bloom.

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Albeit cloudy, there were ample opportunities to frame Sky Tree with the season’s blossoms.

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After walking for a few more minutes, I reached the north side of the park where a weeping cherry tree was already in full bloom. Surrounded at its base by some yellow flowers, this tree stood out from the rest in the park.

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After backtracking to the train station, the next stop along the way was Koishikawa Korakuen Gardens (小石川後楽園), right across the street from Tokyo Dome. Many beautiful sites were waiting for me. As I write the article, it is still hard for me to believe how this garden exists in the middle of Tokyo right next to such a huge sports complex.

The weeping cherry trees were already in full bloom compared to the trees at Sumida Park.

Sumida Park is one of many good places to see Tokyo’s cherry trees come to full bloom each March/April. More info coming on other places I visited in Tokyo last weekend.

A Special Singapore Sling

Simple travel moments often turn into extraordinary memories. Two years ago I went to Singapore as a part of my inaugural trip through Southeast Asia and I had a great time. Between the bustling city, the interesting nightlife in Clarke Quay, and the new friends I made along the way, it was a memorable and unique trip.

Over the past year, some of my travel memories have gone to the wayside only to be rediscovered at a later time. While I was reading about the passing of former Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew, my memory bank was tapped and I recalled one very special moment I had in Singapore. I made friends with complete strangers and would like to share this story with you.

As the typical budget traveler in Southeast Asia, many backpackers lambaste Singapore. They often say some things about Singapore that are meant to dissuade you from going.

“Oh, everything is so expensive,” they say.

“There really isn’t much culture there,” they say.

“Skip Singapore. It isn’t even worth it,” even more say.

As a big city lover who lives in one of the world’s most expensive countries, nothing could tarnish the allure which Singapore holds. For a history lover (tons of British colonial history) and an architecture lover (one of the world’s finest waterfront skylines), nothing would stop me from seeing Singapore and jotting down notes along the way.

As soon as I arrived, I was pleasantly surprised. Changi Airport was spectacular in every sense of the word. Transportation into the city was flawless. Aside from the strict rules and signs referring to the numerous prohibitions at every corner, Singapore was a nice place for me as a tourist. At least these signs made a great photo opportunity.

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Everyone spoke English and there were a lot of interesting things to do for someone there on a budget.

The highlight of wandering the streets was the chance to eat a real ice cream sandwich. Believe it or not, this version of the sandwich was more delicious than the typical version served up in every convenience store in the United States. Take a look for yourself!

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While Thailand was a budget traveler’s heaven, I did not like the lack of English and cleanliness.  After seeing the Merlion and taking in the skyline on my first night, one Singaporean staple catapulted to the top of my list. Glistening in the evening fog across the way was the Marina Bay Sands. After seeing it from the Merlion, I knew I needed to get to the  pool atop the ship-like casino.

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The pool is something about which you read in travel magazines, see on the Travel Channel, and about which you hear stories from your friends who had the money to stay there. The imagery from reading about it, seeing it on TV, and hearing stories turns the Marina Bay Sands infinity pool into a place that seems larger than life. Palm trees swaying in the subtropical wind while jazz music plays in the background make for an interesting atmosphere.

When I heard even more stories about the heated towels and the special drinks they serve at the top, getting there without paying the expensive price for the room became my number one Singaporean travel goal.

To make a long story short, I made it to the pool atop the Sands. Here is the the unconventional way in which it happened.

Before I left Japan, I developed a scheme to get to the pool. I would wear a nice set of clothes and just walk by the guards like I was staying there. Simple enough, I thought, as the typical tourist would not be wearing a button-down shirt. The average tourist would be wearing shorts and a t-shirt. They would have a camera draped around their neck and they would gawk at the skyline, right? Wrong.

Much to my chagrin, almost all of the tourists with whom I rode the elevator dressed nicely. They were all wearing button-down shirts and slacks. Even though we had tickets to the lowly “visitors space” atop the Marina Bay Sands, I came to the realization that  I would make it to the top and get some good photos of the harbor without making it to the pool.

I walked around and took in the atmosphere to plan my next move. I took photos of the boats docked outside the Sands.

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Then I took a photo of the golf course island and the ferris wheel which seemed so close to this mammoth structure.

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As I positioned my ¥100 tripod for my next shot of the harbor and the city, I felt a quick jolt and my camera was knocked to the ground.

“Oh, I’m so sorry, young man,” said the kind woman.

Her husband quickly apologized, as well. They had bumped into me while they were posing for a photo with the ferris wheel, mere inches away from my right arm. Fortunately my camera was still working and I was in a good mood because my luck that evening was about to take a change for the better.

The three of us got to talking about traveling in Asia, living and working abroad, and the exciting nature of being young. They were fascinated by my tales of living in Japan and traveling the world alone at such a young age. I was equally struck by their stories of working on Australian mining and oil operations while having also worked with the Australian equivalent of the Foreign Service. While slightly older than my parents, we were able to converse like old friends.

In passing they asked where I was staying and when I revealed that I was staying at a budget hostel, they presented the nicest offer to me:

“Why don’t you be our son for the night? We would like to talk to you more and share some drinks poolside with you,” said the gentleman.

With their kind invitation to join them poolside, our scheme was set in motion. I was to walk in with them like I knew them and there would be no questions asked, they said. They added that the guards would not stop anyone who looked like they belonged for fear of offending a wealthy or important guest.

Within a few minutes, they gave me their extra room key to prove I was staying with them. We quickly lined up to pass to the “hotel guests only” region on the roof. After a cursory checkpoint, I was through and at last!!

As my excitement swelled, they quickly ushered me over to a reserved table with their name on it! Drinks and food quickly came our way as they insisted to treat me for the evening. Their kind hospitality and welcoming nature is something I will never forget. As we peered off into the night, the lights came on in far off Indonesian islands and boats passed through narrow channels to their docks for the evening. Tiger Beer and intermittent appetizers made the evening pass effortlessly into the night.

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What was once a young evening had become old, and with the passing time, my gracious hosts had to return to their room for the evening, but not before they gave me one parting surprise.

“Behind us is the infinity pool. We have ordered a Singapore Sling for you and hope you enjoy the rest of your evening on the lounge chairs and in the heated pool. You made our night. Have a fine evening, young man,” the woman said as we embraced and parted ways.

As I settled into my lounge chair after a quick dip in the pool, I marveled at the palm trees and the poolside atmosphere.

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Looking past the lifeguards, frolicking children, and waiters, I saw a group of women at the edge of the infinity pool, overlooking the Singapore skyline.

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At that moment, I was tapped on the shoulder by an energetic waiter. In his right hand he held a heated towel. In his left, he carried the world-famous Singapore Sling. He also brought a message from my new friends.

“Share an experience like this with a young man someday,” they said.

All seemed right in the world at that moment. As the Rolling Stones played, I toasted to my new friends. I hope we meet again someday so I can share the impact this moment had on me and my subsequent travels.

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With Singapore in the background, I enjoyed this drink to the last drop. Sometimes the most human moments during our travels are the most memorable ones. This was a special Singapore Sling.

A Glimpse at the World’s Finest Colonial Architecture

As soon as I stepped off of the plane in this far-flung former capital city, a Coca Cola ad which said “Welcome to Myanmar” was waiting for me.

This ad awaits beyond customs at Rangoon's international airport.
This ad awaits beyond customs at Rangoon’s international airport.

Next, a blast of humidity hit my face. Finally, new and  unfamiliar smells attacked my nose. At that moment, I knew I was about to embark on a memorable and unpredictable journey in one of the world’s final travel frontiers: Burma.

Of all the tourists I met during my time in Rangoon (and in Burma, as a whole), I never met anyone who went there for the same reason I came to Burma. I came to see the final vestiges of the crumbling British colonial architecture and get insight into hat may have inspired George Orwell’s writings.

Sure, many people came to see architecture and buildings in Burma, but no one I met came to get lost in the city and see the fabulous early-20th Century colonial architecture. For them, Rangoon was an afterthought. They wanted to get out of dodge and head to more famous, Buddhist-inspired, places like Bago, Bagan, and Mandalay as quickly as possible. But, really, who could blame them? To the untrained and uninterested mind, Rangoon’s cracking streets, gritty buildings, littered sidewalks, congested roads, and filthy markets make the city just like any other place in Southeast Asia.

How sadly mistaken those folks were. How could you pass up walking through a time capsule like this and imaging what it was like in the pre-WWII days? With trees growing through century-old masonry, grime caked on facades, and tobacco vendors criss crossing every which way, each street has its own character.

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They missed experiencing and getting lost in the city with the world’s finest colonial architecture: Rangoon, Burma.

During my time living in Japan, I have been searching for travel destinations in Asia and Oceania where my American friends have never been, specifically those with a zest of colonial history and also rich native culture. Once I read my first article about the street life in Rangoon and saw photos of the British colonial buildings, I KNEW it would be my next destination in the region. The more and more I read, it became apparent that the British buildings were falling into disrepair with time and were either being demolished or allowed to crumble to meet an untimely demise. This winter, I trekked to Burma to ensure I could see these buildings before they met their ultimate fate.  Either by neglect or by attrition because of the rapid growth in Rangoon, they could be gone very soon.

Here is my photographic essay on Rangoon. To date, I have not found such an extensive photo collection as this one dealing with colonial architecture. Please enjoy and provide comments and feedback. Due to upload restrictions, I cannot share even half of the photos I took.

I arrived at my hostel on 30th Street, in the heart of the city, past midnight and quickly went to sleep after seeing a glowing Sule Pagoda in the distant night. I awoke with dawn, anticipating scenes of a bygone era. The early morning sunlight did not disappoint. After making a quick right turn out of my hostel, I was bombarded with a unique scene: some restored colonial villas stood alongside other crumbling buildings while cranes raced to erect new, modern buildings.

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Catty-corner from me, even more colonial relics beckoned. A former residency and trading building loomed large on the main road leading to the pagoda. Worn with years of grime and coated with new, turquoise and yellow paint, I wondered if the Burmese had started to preserve some of these treasures before it was too late.

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After this short stroll, I returned to my hostel and met up with my guide, James, to embark on a food tour of the city (more on that coming up in a later post). On this tour, we encountered even more fantastic colonial relics. Ranging from former public schools, markets, and residencies, to streets filled with former hotels and bars, the British influence and architecture cast a large shadow as we walked through Rangoon’s maze of streets.

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Aren’t some of these images breathtaking? The ornate craftsmanship which creates the colonial version of the cornerstone juxtaposed against chipped paint is a sight to see. Other buildings with  beautiful window panes and a moss-covered hospital are harbingers for what the past was in this teeming, lively city.

Once my tour finished and I parted ways with my guide, I discovered some of the most remarkable buildings Rangoon had to offer: former government offices. These were the kinds of buildings which you could see in a movie and not believe they truly exist. Bracketed by rusted fences and barbed wire and surrounded by palm trees, these British-built behemoths boast broken clocks, shattered windows and ornate craftsmanship. While the facades may be dirty, the omnipresent sound of hammers and nail guns indicate the beginning of restoration work.  My biggest hope is that I can return here in twenty years and see how the buildings were beautifully preserved for future generations to enjoy.

First up on the list of these buildings was the Minister’s Office, a.k.a. The Secretariat. The photos will describe what is very difficult to do with words.

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Down the Street

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In the same vicinity, I encountered some other colonial buildings: an old Anglican Church transformed into a Salvation Army location.

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A government printing office, and DSC08427

some other buildings that had to be involved with heavy industry in their heyday.

Shortly thereafter, I returned to City Hall to rendezvous with some people to take part in Free Yangon Walks, which is a fantastic walking tour of downtown. This tour group takes you to many significant historical buildings. I recommend them for anyone who is in Rangoon (Yangon) and wants to learn more about this history-rich city. Here is a link to their website: http://www.freeyangonwalks.com

I thought I had seen the best of the city’s colonial architecture, but I had not seen anything yet. Standing in front of City Hall, I quickly realized that the High Court building would become my favorite piece of colonial architecture in the whole world. This 1911-built  structure has towering red and yellow-brick construction. The famous British royal lions wait in various locations across the roof line, as well. The imposing clock tower and facade show that this was the seat of British power in colonial Burma.

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As one walks away from the High Court building, there are many layers of barbed wire.  This provides a unique scene which is representative of Burma pulling itself out from under decades of military rule.

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As the tour continued, we encountered other spectacular colonial structures: The Sofarer’s Building, which was home of the finest cafe in the East, Vienna Cafe, at the height of British rule.

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The former headquarters for the Irrawaddy Trading Company has an elegant interior which reminds me of some ritzy hotels in Manhattan. Its staircase would not be out of place at somewhere like the Waldorf-Astoria.

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We continued on our tour towards Pansodan Road and encountered even more colonial buildings.

The Accountant General’s Office and Currency Department was first. Inside, prisoners are sentenced, fined, and then hauled off to jail was my favorite building on this section of the tour.

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We stopped to see the General Post Office, which boasted a beautiful colonial interior.

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As the sun started to set, we walked past the Strand Hotel towards the Custom House and other various buildings. DSC08614 DSC08616 DSC08622

The tour concluded back at City Hall, where the former Rowe & Co Building has been turned into a bank which overlooks the Burmese independence plaza.

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Two days later I returned to Rangoon following a day trip to Bago and continued to explore the city and see what other colonial buildings I could find. I was not disappointed. Walking through the streets, I encountered several more dilapidated colonial structures and others which were under construction for massive renovation and restoration. Of course, there were also some beautiful churches to be seen.

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As nightfall came and I had a drink at 50th St. Bar, which is a renovated colonial townhouse.

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50 St. Bar

As night fell and so did my eyelids, I stopped to see City Hall one more time. The exterior was lit up in green and red to commemorate Christmas Eve.

Rangoon Traffic

As you have seen by these photos, Rangoon is the most beautiful city “Somewhere East of Suez” in terms of the rich colonial architecture and history it possesses. Over half a century of neglect has left many of these colonial and historical structures in or very near disrepair, but there is hope. New influxes of cash from the Japanese and Indian government could help revitalize Rangoon and save some of these buildings before they are lost forever.

It is very interesting to venture into a city this large while lacking McDonald’s, KFC, and even Seven Eleven. If there is one place you should go in Asia as soon as possible, Rangoon is the place. Get there before these buildings are claimed by time, skyscrapers, or neglect. You will not regret it.

The smells, sounds, and energy of this city point toward a bright future. Hopefully the past is not forgotten or destroyed in this time of development and growth. Go to Burma and experience the best colonial architecture in the world before it is claimed by Father Time.

Star Wars Light Show at the Sapporo Snow Festival

This was my favorite snow sculpture at the 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival. Darth Vader and company stood over 30 feet high and were truly remarkable works of art. Each evening at regular intervals, they came alive with light and sound, making a very interesting and memorable light show. Enjoy!

Japanese Temple Projection Mapping Show

Take a journey through one of Japan’s most famous temples courtesy of this spectacular projection mapping light show at the 2015 Sapporo Snow Festival in Sapporo, Japan. Taken with a GoPro Hero 3.

Of Rosaries and Intramuros – Manila (Part 1)

You can often tell a lot about a country by the first thing you notice once you step out of the air side of an airport and into the nearest taxi, train, bus, or transit vehicle. For me, I instantly noticed something that would set the tone for the rest of my trip last weekend in Manila: a rosary hanging on the rearview mirror inside the vehicle I took from the airport to my hotel.

After meeting my friend and tour guide at the airport, we were quickly on our way to check in at my hotel to change and head off to Intramuros, the historical walled city within the metropolis that is urban Manila. As soon as we stepped into this car, I realized that we were in Asia, but the Philippines were going to be a completely different experience. The rosary would be a mere precursor for how much Catholicism and the Spanish influenced this island nation during its growth and colonial period.

Aside from the rosary, the radio stations were broadcast in English, but with a heavy American accent. It was very nice and actually made me feel like I was back at home for the hour or so ride to the hotel. Given that the Philippines were American territory from the conclusion of the Spanish-American War until 1946, I expected to see a lot of American influence on the islands, especially by means of the English language, but there were more subtle influences waiting around every corner. Streets named Taft (after President Taft, who was once Governor-General of the Philippines), fast food chains, clothing brands, snacks and candies in the convenience store, and even television channels (imagine having Lifetime, Fox News, and HBO in your room) all added American flavor to a city with hundreds of years of Spanish colonial rule.

Light Morning Traffic in Manila

Our first stop of the day was the famed Intramuros section of Manila. Everything online about this historical neighborhood in the city said it was a sight to behold and the most important thing to see in the city. After stopping by the neighborhood for a few hours, I conclude that all reviews and assessments were completely accurate.

As I have continued to travel in Asia, I’ve noticed that my interests and the things for which I look on my trips continues to evolve and change. Ever since I visited Macau in November 2013, my eyes in all new destinations have turned towards architecture. For architectural features and uniqueness alone, Intramuros is worth your visit. The sites therein hold so much history and the moss-covered walls surrounding these sites surely have countless stories to tell of Spanish and American rule and of bombing and warfare to retake Manila from the Imperial Japanese in World War II.

In the plaza portion of Intramuros, many military relics remain as a reminder of the history and military roots within this walled city. Here is an anchor and cannon which are predominately displayed.

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As I turned to the right before we passed through the famed Santa Lucia Gate, I marveled at the pure beauty of the palm trees and plants surrounding two ornate fountains. These images and gardens are unlike anything else I had seen in Asia, except for Macau, which was Portuguese-controlled for several centuries. The Spanish style and influence certainly made Intramuros very special for me from a cultural trace and architectural perspective.

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Behind this fountain, the Catholic influence and tout in Manila reared its head again in the most interesting of ways with this statue on the law of Intramuros.

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As the sweat continued to roll down my face and soak through my shirt, we pressed onward to Santa Lucia Gate and Fort Santiago. As we passed horse-drawn carriages in the street, I took a second to rest and chat with General MacArthur’s statue in the shade before pressing onward.

In the distance, you can see the spectacular Santa Lucai Gate. As soon as I lain eyes on this gate, my mind tried to imagine what types of people and objects had based through it over the past few centuries. From iconic images like American tanks during the Battle of Manila to regular merchants, what kind of stories could these walls share? The walls and gate show their character and age as they are in the process of erosion and destruction, certainly sped up by Japanese assault on the city in the 1940s.  Take a look at the ornate gate and craftsmanship within the stone structure.

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They say, “dead men tell no tales,” but for some reason, I think these disheveled walls have many stories to tell.

After passing through the two-tiered walls into Fort Santiago, more history was upon us in this part of historic Manila. As you can see below, gravestones and monuments overlooked a more desolate part of the sprawling and polluted city. DSC07413 DSC07418 DSC07420

Inside Intramuros near Fort Santiago helps anyone gain a perspective on Manila’s rich history and also helps the traveler realize how war torn the city has been in the past, as well. Inside of this part of the city the sites and sounds are great, but even more elegance, beauty, and history  awaits in other parts of Intramuros, namely in the Catholic churches and sites which are extremely prevalent in this part of the city.

To make it to the Catholic sites, one can take a cab or walk the streets. We decided to walk and had the chance to see many historic and Western-style buildings like nowhere else I have seen in Asia outside of Macau and perhaps Malaysia.

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Bright colors, ornate woodwork, black fencing, and stuccoed exteriors are all indicative of something you would see in Spain or other European settlements in Asia. I even felt like I was in New Orleans as I walked through some of the narrow alleyways atop cobblestone streets.

Architecturally and culturally speaking, Manila is a place like nowhere else I have visited to date. American and Spanish influence looms large in many ways of life, but inside Intramuros, Spanish architecture is King (Philip). After speaking with some locals and seeing photos, I only wish I could have seen Manila before the Battle of Manila in 1945. The colonial buildings would be a world treasure if they still existed and were not bombed out during the war.

I will devote my next post almost entirely to some of the cathedrals I saw in metro Manila last Friday.