It was a long long day. The bus from Manila took a good 6 and a half hours to reach this beautiful hill station of Baguio I am writing these lines from; and made quite a few stops along roads that were certainly not the highways; but I got to see three cities and numerous villages and small towns I would have missed had I taken a direct bus.

The day was a stark reminder of how I felt after leaving Bangkok to see the rest of Thailand. It is a different country once you step out of the infamous capital. Philippines, too, begins after Manila. And boy, what a beginning it has been today. It’s one surprise after another.

Philippines is a pretty neat country. Everything—from the entrances of the villages to the countless churches to the local markets—is so tidy. The landscape, on top of that, is beautiful, very beautiful.

I am already feeling for the large number of Filipinos working in the service industry throughout the world. You have no idea what they have to leave to provide for their families.