Manila, the capital city of the Phillipines, has a population almost the size of Australia’s. My last visit to that major Asian city involved me in a taxi having a minor accident with another vehicle on a busy roundabout. When my cab was side-swiped my immediate thought was selfish: “Great… now I’ll have to find another ride…. it’ll take them ages to exchange insurance details!”
My taxi-driver must have sensed my Western inexperience with Filipino ways. He put his hand on my shoulder (I was riding in the front seat like all Australian males should in taxis) and reassured me: “Stay here. This will only take two minutes.” He was wrong. It took a minute before he was back in the cab with a fold of cash he had negotiated from the at-fault driver in the other car.
They do things a little differently in the Manila of the Phillipines.
The Manilla of Australia is where the Rileys spent yesterday afternoon. With a population ten thousand times smaller than its Asian namesake, the Manilla of the Northern Tablelands is better known for rich wheat harvests, and cute lambs playing in paddocks (and apparently my vegetarian kids didn’t really want to know about the fate of those cute little lambs…).
It has the far-too-wide main street that proudly shouts: “We have plenty of space here!”, and also the Art Deco architecture that reminds me of my grandparents.
Despite this small town becoming world-famous for paragliding, the thriller in this Manilla was to drive our car across the long, narrow bridge high above the Namoi River. Each of the Rileys instinctively breathed in to reduce the width of our Toyota Landcruiser as we edged passed a car coming in the opposite direction. It was such a buzz that at the end of the bridge we did an immediate u-turn and drove straight back over and returned into town.
Afternoon tea in Manilla needed to be had with an elderly great-aunt that Joanne hadn’t seen in three decades. Chocky bickies and lemon lolly-water to hype the kids up, and chats about recent meetings of the local arts and crafts association. Country towns in Australia are all the same, and they’re each uniquely different.
Oh, and I’m sure the town of Manilla in the Northern Tablelands of New South Wales does have a taxi somewhere, we just didn’t see it today.
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About this blog: Pastor David Riley is a minister of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, and is taking a sabbatical year to drag his family around Australia in a caravan. This article is from his “Reverential Ramblings” series that meanders around a series of subjects pondered and stuff seen. You can subscribe to this blog by clicking “follow”.