At first I thought it was the renowned Binondo Walking Tour. Well, it was a walking tour,fasc but it turned out that the Downtown Express Tour by Carlos is actually the halo-halo (mix) type tour starting from Binondo upto Escolta in Quiapo.
Albeit growing in a Chinese household who frequent Binondo and Chinatown, the activity still posed a great excitement for me because finally, I will be able to experience one of the most talked about Binondo Tours. Moreover, we were told that we could test-use during the tour one of Samsung’s newest cellphone camera – the Samsung Pixon 12.
I was the first participant to arrive at the venue and met Carlos who was punctual with the time. The rest of the group eventually arrived and each of us were lent the Samsung Pixon 12.
Binondo Church and Plaza Ruiz
First stop was the Binondo Church and Plaza Ruiz. Carlos shared its history and significance in relation to Binondo. Getting ready to shoot my first photo with the Samsung Pixon 12, it then dawned on me that I was not yet familiar with the phone and found myself trying to figure my way around it. I was glad to find out that aside from being a touch screen phone, it has a dedicated camera power key for a one-touch camera access. Thank goodness! This was helpful as I was walking along with the group tour and crossing the streets while working my way around the gadget. I was also enthusiastic knowing that it is a 12 megapixel camera phone. Imagine that, a 12MP cam in a phone. My 7MP point-and-shoot digital camera just hid inside my bag in shame. 🙂
Next stop was the HSBC building which was symbolic to the area as one of the oldest buildings around. We breezed through some ube-colored firetrucks, Ongpin street, and more. Carlos also carried along a black & white printed photo book of how the building facades looked like decades ago and showed us how it looks differently now.
We looked like cam-whore students on a field trip following our line leader (which was cute), only in civilian clothes, armed with DSLRs and the Samsung camphones.
Click, click! The pictures were so vivid and, well, big! It turns out that the 3.1″ full touch screen has wide angle lens too, hence the awesomely clear and wide screen pictures. Not to mention the ‘Smart Auto’ feature which helped a lot.
As we treaded the streets of Chinatown, Carlos stopped from time to time to introduce us to some local delicacies like the famous ube hopia of Eng Bee Tin, traditional Chinese pastry shops, and good treats from his trusted side street vendors. By this time, I’m already trying out the video capabilities of the phone which has a decent 720×480 D1-level resolution.
After all those walking, finally, the horse-drawn carriage ride! Each carriage can accommodate two passengers and the kalesa (carriage) driver. It has been some time now since I last rode one. Aside from the leg rest, it was an opportunity for more photo shoot as well.
Although it was kind of hard to see from within the kalesa, Carlos mentioned that we were passing through Manila streets lined with mid-20th century architecture – only if the kalesa had a sun roof. 🙂
Our kalesa convoy halted near Jones Bridge along the Pasig River. We then walked along Escolta street which still had the pre-war Art Deco architecture.
Before reaching the final pit stop, we had a brief seminar along Evangelista street about local herbal medicines which claim to have some special enchantment or powers.
Ironically nearby is the final destination of our tour – Quiapo Church. Catholic devotees touch the Nazarene’s feet in hope of continued blessings.
And what is more befitting than to end the tour with a final shot – that of Quiapo Church. With the features mentioned above, it is easy to fall in love with the world’s first 12 megapixel camera phone. Pixon 12’s size comes in handy just like similar phones of the same level and at only 119g. Too bad we had to part ways as the tour ended as well.
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