If a thing’s worth doing…

it’s worth doing by bike.

On my second day in Manila I decided, as is my wont, to take a guided tour of one of the main sites: Intramuros, the remains of the Spanish colonial Philippines (or Felipines, after Spanish King Felipe II, anglicised to Philip during the American colonial era) and the heart of modern Manila.

An abandoned Japanese cannon from WW2

An abandoned Japanese cannon from WW2

The old customs house - vast fortunes mined from the American colonies passed through here.

The old customs house – vast fortunes mined from the American colonies passed through here.

Monument to national hero, renaissance man Jose Rizal.

Monument to national hero, renaissance man Jose Rizal.

As a poor backpacker, I have previously avoided tours unless they were either free, very cheap, or really essential for any understanding of what I was looking at. I also hate the idea of being on a prescribed schedule and being shown stuff other people have decided is interesting. However, in recent (and more affluent) years, I have relaxed into the joy of discovering small stories I would never have known about without the expert knowledge of a local guide, and so on each big holiday I’ll generally look something up for an area of interest to me.

This was my second bicycle tour this year, and so I’m going to focus today not particularly on what I learned about the Intramuros area of Manila, but on what I learned about booking tours – particularly on bikes. More

Getting drunk – Lima life

This is so clever, and so vital, that I couldn’t help but share it with all of you.

Magic Billboard (BBC News)

I think I’ve mentioned that I live in one of the nicest parts of the city. I am surrounded by grass verges on the main avenues, an impeccably manicured stretch of malecón with park after park at the top of the cliffs, shady plazas of trees, flowerbeds and benches. From where I sit, you wouldn’t know this is one of the driest cities on earth. But further away from the financial centre and the shiny apartment blocks of the expanding middle class, the dust creeps back to the edges of the roads.

The city already consumes more water than it can source from the rivers which run down from the Andes. Rivers which only started to fill in late December and are already receding again. Innovations like this billboard are brilliant and essential.

Feathered friends

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