Voyage around the world on the Amsterdam

Trip Start Jan 04, 2013
Trip End May 01, 2013

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Flag of Philippines  , Metro Manila,
Monday, March 11, 2013

Our next stop is the Philippine Island of Palawan where we'll dock at Puerto Princesa on the Sulu Sea South of Honda Bay. It was the site of a penal colony during the Spanish regime, but now is the center of a large fishing operation, and has scattered sawmills. It is a beautiful island with mountains caves and enchanting beaches for swimming and snorkeling, and was once connected by a land bridge to Borneo so the flora and fauna are closer to Borneo than to the other Philippine islands. The most famous landmark of Palawan is the Puerto Princesa Subterranean River National Park or simply the Underground River, named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature.

This evening we heard that a few WW2 vets want to go to Corregidor from Manila the stop after this. A very important battle occurred here, only the time schedule for the ferry is causing difficulty for them coming and going. Captain Jonathan Mercer of the Amsterdam is trying to make some kind of arrangement for these vets so we’ll probably leave the dock and wait in the harbor and have them tendered to the ship when they return that evening. We just heard that they are having a fireworks display that evening being given by the Dutch and the Italians, should be interesting.

On arrival we left the ship and negotiated with a tuk tuk driver for a city tour, the Thorntons were with us and they took another tuk tuk since they can only hold 2 passengers, we visited a WW2 museum, run by a Mr. Mendoza who had a lot of interesting memorabilia and gave us a personal tour. Next stop was The Immaculate Conception Church a presence established by early Spanish settlers. Bakers Hill saw us visiting the Governors Palace and posing for photos. They wanted to take us to a place we could zip line across the tree tops, but we declined so we went to a place they weaved fibers into place mats bags and other products. Both Mary Ann and I tried our hand at weaving, then we tried to buy a few things, but we had no Philippine money and our credit card would not go through. We later visited a shop that would accept our card and bought another hat for me because the hat I was wearing from Peru blew off my head on one of the tender rides, and was lost to the sea. Back on the ship we had a light lunch and headed back out to try and publish the blog. This was done after visiting 3 places, the first said their Wi Fi was down, then we went to an internet café, but they wouldn’t let me plug my laptop into their system, against the rules they said. Finally a coffee shop had Wi Fi and after a number of tries we succeeded and returned to the ship to hear about our friend. John and Kathy went on a boat trip around Honda Bay to 4 different islands, each with different names like Starfish Islands where they dove over a sea of starfish and saw many snakes on Snake Island. The entertainer that night was very good playing a mandolin, he asked where this instrument originated and many knew the answer was Italy. He also played the flute and did a number of lasso tricks with a rope like a cowboy. I was thinking what a tough way to make a living to go from ship to ship trying to make a living, but I guess he must love what he does or wouldn’t do it.

We arrive in Manila at 7AM and have an old city tour that we purchased through Holland American Lines that had a proviso saying that we could be dissatisfied with this tour but HAL has no responsibility, so go at your own risk. While the tour bus wasn’t bad and the guide Antoinette had a good command of English, the traffic was horrendous so movement was almost non existent. The traffic was all motorized and pollution is a problem, finally we reached the Cathedral of The Immaculate Conception where we got out and found that it was closed for renovations. Antoinette didn’t seem to know that it was closed, but I talked to a man selling papers and he said it has been closed for over a year. We took pictures and got back on the bus to Luna Park the site of the execution of Dr. Jose Rizal who was killed by the British for fomenting revolutionary thoughts. Across the boulevard  was a stadium where Pope John Paul II visited Manila to the Guinness Book of Records of five million people at any event in the world. The next stop was Intramuros ( within the walls)  where the Chinese made the first walls many centuries before the Spanish, here in this place of security from the pirates. Unfortunately many good people were imprisoned here and many atrocities were committed, like the drowning of many Philippines in the Second World War by the Japanese. There are brass simulations of Dr. Rizal’s feet walking the 2 kilometers all the way to Luna Park where he was executed.

We then went to St. Augustin Church where there is a wonderful museum with so many religious artifacts and then to the Casa Manila a restored home from the Spanish period where we were treated to the first side by side toilet in their bathroom. It was said that they sometime played checkers or chess when using the toilet; I say they must have had bad hemorrhoids.

The bus took us on a ride around the town crossing the Pasig River and circling back to the ship where we had lunch and went back out to buy some things we needed at a large ultra modern mall. All the stores were familiar and we quickly were back on board to enjoy the rest of the day. That night there was an international fireworks competition between Italy and the Netherlands and we had to leave our dock, and then anchored in the harbor for the fireworks demonstration and the return of the people who went to Corregidor. This is the island that McArthur left saying "I Shall Return “. Well the fireworks were bright and long on both sides with even Heart shapes appearing in the sky.
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Mary Hunt on

Very interesting facts. Pictures are exceptional.

Opal on

Wonderful photos. Like the new hat ! Terrific facts of history.

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