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Pacific Ocean – Big

Man, the Pacific is big.

I tend to forget this. Most of my travel the past decade has been across the Atlantic, usually from a US city to Amsterdam, and from there to destinations in Africa and Eastern Europe. Yesterday, I left Albany, flew to Detroit, to Tokyo and now to Manila, arriving after about 24 hours in transit, two days later on the calendar.

Years ago, Rachel and I went for a long summer drive – from the Atlantic to the Pacific, across America – and I remember driving west across North Dakota and Montana. It seemed that if we drove fast enough, we’d be able to keep the sun from setting. This actually works in an airplane. It may well be Wednesday morning when I wake in Manila tomorrow, but I never saw Monday’s sun set, and despite years and years of global travel, I still find that exciting and strange.

I’m enroute to a conference titled “Free Expression in Asian Cyberspace”. As the organizers have pointed out, it’s a good time for the conference – Singapore has recently warned bloggers that they should steer away from electoral politics in their writing, and the speech situation in China and Vietnam continues to be extremely restrictive. I’m looking forward to meeting some of the terrific Asian bloggers I follow through Global Voices and trying to get a sense for the political role of blogs in this part of the world. In Africa, it’s often fairly easy to speak and hard to change reality with your speech – is that as true in Southeast Asia, or is the landscape different?

Nart Villeneuve and I are giving an updated version of the workshop we gave in Tunis… the one so well attended by Tunisian security forces. I’m planning on taking notes the whole time Nart talks – I’d like to be able to give the sort of soup-to-nuts workshop we’ll give together by myself at some point in the future. In the meantime, it’s another chance to learn from the master.

We’ve agreed to release a massive slide deck from the workshop, which I hope to start working into a series of articles for bloggers around the world – how to evade filtering, how to keep your email secure, how to protect files on your hard drive, how to blog anonymously. Despite a productive flight from Detroit to Tokyo, I’ll still be finishing slides for the next two days, before we take all day Friday to present.

If anyone’s got any good suggestions for what to do with a sweaty, rainy Saturday in Manila, please post ’em! All I know about the city is what I’ve read in Cryptonomicon… and my Filipino friends in the US and Canada aren’t much help, as they seem to spend their time in Manila hanging out with family and I, unfortunately, lack a Filipino family at present. I’m in Makati during the conference and near Intramuros Friday night and Saturday. Joey, tell me what to do with my Saturday in Manila…

6 thoughts on “Pacific Ocean – Big”

  1. I was in the same position a few years ago in Manila. I logged onto the Thorn Tree message board from Lonely Planet (thorntree.lonelyplanet.com) and received some great suggestions. I ended up taking a bus and a ferry to Mindoro for a couple of days and hanging out in a cheap and wonderful beach bungalow. Anyways, have a great trip!

  2. Thanks, Joel – I may well do that. Or I may wander the streets at random – I’m already having a blast here and am very much looking forward to exploring…

  3. That sensation of really experiencing the size of a place — whether it’s a continent or an ocean — is why our friends E and D will be making an ocean crossing soon, I think. She’s excited to discover the size of the Atlantic from aboard ship, instead of aboard plane…


  4. Don’t wander randomly, though. Wander the right streets: first, wander in Manila proper, not Quezon City or Makati. Manila is more walkable because it’s smaller and the original core

    — the Bohemian/honkytonk areas of Ermita, Malate and Remedios Circle.

    — Chinatown & Escolta for old architecture.

    — San Miguel & the area around Malacanang Palace

    — the CCP complex for Marcos-era architecture

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