I just finished two weeks in Manila, the capital, for training. Manila is a city of extremes - it has terrible pollution and poverty, as well as some of the nicest, cleanest malls in the world.
Here's some shots from the Mall of Asia, with a parking lot so clean you could eat off of it, and even an ice skating rink!
Nevertheless, the usual street scene is choked with motorcycles, pedestrians, cars and tricycles. The air is noisy and dirty. The most common form of public transit is in elaborately decorated and personalized vehicles called jeepneys.
Although Manila has plenty of western malls and supermarkets, old fashioned street markets abound, filled with fish, meat, produce and lots of random oddities.
This is my training group, after a day at the beach. Since a very common means of transit among these 7,000 islands is leaky wooden boats, we had to go through water safety training.
And this is us with the American ambassador to the Philippines, Harry Thomas. I'm wearing a Barong, the traditional Filipino formal wear.
I just got to my site on Friday night, and have been enjoying a relaxing weekend after the chaos of Manila. I start work for the first time tomorrow. My housing here couldn't be more different from how it was in Mali - I have running water (hot AND cold), electricity, AC... actually I live at a wakeboarding resort! The provincial government here owns a wakeboarding resort with lots of space, and since I will be working for them and they are responsible for housing me, they decided to put me up here. So this is more Posh-Corps than Peace Corps I guess. In fact, here's the view from where I'm sitting now: