Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Really? That's all I have to show for my Philippines trip?

You might have noticed that I haven't blogged much about my extraordinary adventures in the Philippines. This is because I didn't really have any, save for a few nice days out.

I can't blame it all on the water. The Philippines just isn't the best country for solo backpacking in South East Asia, and as satisfying as it can be to hop between jeepneys and end up where you intended (about half the time), travelling longer distances can get a little stressful if you're determined to do it cheap and don't have anyone to split the cost with.

Still, I would have made more effort if it hadn't been pissing down all the time. I'm English by the way - can you tell?

It can't rain all the time
(unless you're in the Philippines in Sep-Oct 2011)

The typhoons were the major problem at first, making places like Pinatubo inaccessible. But even after the weather cleared up, the cost of making these trips by myself was usually too expensive, especially as there weren't many other tourists around during the rainy season, and any I did come across were usually here for the 'easy women.' Their words, not mine. Which also made them not exactly the kind of people I wanted to share a day trip with.

But even once I started to get the hang of Manila's cheaper jeepney routes myself, and the rain cleared up for a few hours, these combined disappointments had a tendency to feed a self-destructive cycle of fatigue and my tourism ambitions would fizzle out. Oh, plus I need to work most days too.

I would have been more disappointed if I came here on holiday, especially if I'd travelled all the way from the UK or something. But the main reasons I decided to come to the Philippines were:

a) it was nearby, and one of the few remaining countries in the South East Asian neighbourhood I hadn't been to yet

b) the flight from Singapore was cheap

c) well, what else was I going to do? Spend another month flitting between Singapore hostels? At least I would have been dry.

I tried my best

Barrio Barretto - the least relaxing resort town I've ever been to (and I've been to Morecambe)

Well alright, maybe I didn't try my best, but I made a decent effort. I moved between locations that offered the best access to geological features I'd noted down from books with titles like 501 Incredible Natural Wonders - See These or You're a Twat, but I never got to see most of them. Instead, I spent most of the time listening to the rain beat down on the roofs of various hotels and Jollibee restaurants around Luzon.

I've clearly been spoiled by the easy production-line day-trips of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia, where I could jump in a bus with some Europeans, Australians and Koreans and go down the road well-travelled, taking pictures of the same things everyone else does from the same angles. I only found one shuttle bus style day trip here - to see the sights of Bohol - and even this was hard to track down, with most places being intent on selling me a solo trip.

It also doesn't help to create a lasting impression of the Philippines when your final experience in this country is being charged a needlessly expensive 'terminal fee' for the pleasure of using the airport. I don't think I'll come back. At least they only let me stay 21 days in this spoiled paradise.

Now onto Borneo - it never rains in the rainforest, right?

Philippines route map and missed opportunities

A Angeles (where I didn't climb Mount Pinatubo and gaze into its crater with childlike awe)
B Subic (where I didn't explore the rainforest or go to the safari)
C Manila (where I did go to Taal volcano and Intramuros, but didn't see those waterfalls)
D Bohol (I actually did stuff here, and have the grey and misty photos to prove it)


  1. 'told you don't come to philippines you will never, i mean never enjoy this fugly island nation. it has nothing to offer and the people are no good. from now on try you baddest to hate HATE HATE its people. with this act I expect you to do it naturally - filipinos are too easy to be hated and never loved. do it and you will satisfied.

  2. Unfortunately, you told me a few months too late. And unfortunately you're a fucking idiot too.