Now that I’ve been in Germany for almost a month now, I figured I’d take a bit of time to reflect on my previous destinations on this trip – mainly The Philippines. There’s definitely a big difference between Canadian, Filipino and now German culture, so there was a bit of culture shock arriving in The Philippines from Canada, and then from there to Germany. Although as you find out from travelling, each country has their perks and their quirks. So here’s my perks and quirks list of The Philippines!
Even though I’m not a fan of humidity, the perpetual sunshine was quite a treat. Also, it rarely rains for an entire day there, mainly just a huge downpour for 15min, 30min, an hour, and then voila – sunshine! After many cool and cloudy days here in Germany, I definitely miss it.
One thing about The Philippines (and apparently a lot of South East Asia) is that the traffic is INSANE! It’s not so much the bumper to bumper, but the fact that rules don’t apply. Lanes? What are these? You got to the intersection first? My nose is out further – I go first! Definitely threw me for a loop at first, but luckily Robin was used to the Filipino driving so I only hid for the first 5-10 trips in the car.
Perk: Natural Wonders
The Philippines is so lucky to have an abundance of unique landscapes, formations, and natural areas of beauty. With over 7000 islands, there’s a variety of sights to see, including (but not limited to) volcanoes like Mt Pinatubo, beautiful beaches like those in Boracay, mysteries of nature like the Chocolate Hills in Bohol, and exotic wildlife like the whale sharks in Cebu. There’s so much to do across the islands that it’s hard to stay in one… as I’m sure you could tell from my previous posts about The Philippines!
Quirk: The Staring
It’s interesting to see how people react when ‘one of these things is not like the others.’ As I’m blonde (currently – it changes a lot), pale, and blue-eyed, many of the Filipino locals would blatantly stare. Not like the ‘oh that’s interesting I’ll quickly peek and try to be sneaky about it’ stare, but the I’m going to watch you walk right by me without blinking or breaking eye contact and I don’t even realize it makes you feel uncomfortable stare. It’s something that’s a little hard to explain just how awkward it feels, almost as if you constantly have food on your face but people won’t tell you it’s there (I actually checked to a few times, not kidding). I’ve definitely been guilty of staring at someone if they look different, but it’s happened a lot less since leaving The Philippines. Sometimes things just need to be put into perspective before you realize what it feels like, and let’s just say I fully understand now!
Perk: The Food
Anyone who has spent any amount of time with me knows how much I love my seafood, and in The Philippines it’s just to die for! Their sushi is so fresh and they have many varieties of delicious fish, like Lapu Lapu! My mouth is already watering just thinking about sinking my teeth into some fresh salmon sashimi. Many local dishes are also delicious like Bulalo, Kare Kare, and Pancit Canton (my favourites). They also have tons of delicious desserts and snacks which I’m now craving. If you ever visit, you must try Halo Halo, Puto, and Taho. As long as you have a bit of a sweet tooth, you will not be disappointed! Also, you cannot forget to try the variety of fruits the country has to offer. I’m surprised I didn’t start turning orange from the amount of mangoes I ate – guess I counter-balanced it with enough other Filipino delicacies!
Quirk: The Bathrooms
What goes in must come out, but in The Philippines that experience is sometimes a little subpar. More often than not there is no toilet paper to be found in the public bathrooms, or when there is some it’s located near the sink and you need to grab it before you go in. In summary, always carry around tissues or something of the sort so you’re not caught needed to drip dry… or worse! Also, they often don’t through the toilet paper into the toilet itself but into a garbage can beside it. I’m not 100% sure on the reasoning for it, but my guess would be that they’re trying to keep waste out of the water as much as possible. Oh, and don’t be surprised if there’s no toilet seat, they’re just trying to help you work your glutes.
Perk: Treat Yo’self
As I’m lucky enough to come from a position where I have some extra income, and that Canada’s dollar is fairly strong in The Philippines, it means I can spoil myself a decent amount. The country has wonderful shopping complexes that not only have an array of stores, they’re also beautiful to wander around and spend the day at. I also have the opportunity to go to wonderful roof top bars to enjoy amazing views of Manila with a drink or two, as well as enjoy the sunset from some of the most beautiful beaches I’ve ever seen. It also means I can spoil myself with a $10 massage after a few days of strenuous walking and climbing to help me relax and recoup before my next adventure (I really should have done this more often). I was most definitely spoiled in The Philippines, but I definitely didn’t take it for granted.
Quirk: Terminal Fees
When booking flights or ferries, it’s fairly easy to find cheap tickets for a variety of destinations. However, you need to consider that at practically every airport or ferry terminal there will be an added fee upon your departure. The price can vary, but the most we had to pay was about 200PHP (or ~$6CDN). It doesn’t seem like much, but it can add up if you do a lot of jumping around like we did. I have no idea what these fees are for, but for some of the terminals… I hope it goes towards some upgrades!
Perk: The Atmosphere
Despite the fact that the driving is insane, for the most part the country is extremely laid back and content. Didn’t finish something today? Let’s try tomorrow. It can be frustrating at times if you need to get something done quickly, but while on vacation it’s definitely a good feeling. Plus my personality is one that I want to do all the things all at once, and I need some help slowing down. Robin is fairly good at this (although he does enable me quite a bit), but when an entire country is of this mentality, it’s hard not to put your feet up and push some things back a day or two.
So now that I’m cuddled up in a hoodie and blanket to keep warm during what I hear is the typical German summer… can I have some palm trees and a mango juice? Pretty please?!