Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Deleted scenes: Year two

Another year's worth of photos, videos and blog self-flagellations that weren't good enough to be uploaded at the time, or just didn't fit in with whatever agenda I was trying to push.

Does not include South Korea, which has enough leftovers for a dedicated post.

Unseen Philippines

My first visit to the Philippines was mostly spoiled by typhoons. It's fair to say I suffered worse than anyone from the catastrophic weather when I couldn't take day trips to Pinatubo or the Subic Forest. This photo taken from the doorway of my hotel room isn't much to look at, but it sums up my disappointment

The rain let up for a few hours in Subic, so I headed down to the beach. Then I turned around and went back to my hotel immediately

There are many religious paradoxes in the Philippines, like this church established next to a male strip club. To add incense to blasphemy, they even misuse the possessive apostrophe. Those guy's are going to hell.

I also found another unused, drafted blog post from Manila where I analyse my thriftiness and generosity. It's quite foreboding in light of the vast sums I'd feel obliged to 'lend' to people very soon after:

Americans can be dicks too (October 2011)

Looking forward to several years of occasional hostile comments for this one. I said can be, buttmunch! God, some of you Americans are so dumb. I said some of, fartknocker!

I arrived at my hostel in an out-of-the-way suburb of Manila (but where isn't out-of-the-way in this vast and dispersed metropoplex? It's far too confusing to make any kind of tourist sense, so I'm just going to stay in and read my book of classic mysteries and chillers until I fly to Bohol).

I met an American guy (didn't check if he's from Michigan, but as those people are really nice he probably isn't), who immediately asked if I wanted to go with him to Taal volcano - the ironically named tiny volcano in a lake that looks fantastic.

Of course, he was just trying to make up the numbers to make his jaunt more affordable, which I totally understand - if only I'd been able to split the cost of a taxi to the Zoobic Safari earlier this week, I could have had a childish day out again again again again again again in the rain, instead of being dry and bored.

But then things got weird when he invited me to live in a hypothetical frat house he was trying to arrange in Cebu, where he planned to embrace the life of an exploitative expat slob by hiring a maid to clean up after him.

Apparently: 'You can hire one for 90 bucks a week, who lives in a little room and cleans and cooks for us twice a week. When you split the cost between three people, it's just hilarious.'

Maybe travelling has made me even more tediously 'left wing' (if that's the direction you face when you're being nice to people?), but living a care-free life in a near-third world country and paying insultingly low wages to a brown-skinned woman who literally lives in the basement seems a little... I don't know, colonial to me.

He then completely failed to wake up before afternoon on the planned volcano day, but that's beside the point. I gave up relying on people a long time ago.

Am I a dick?

This isn't really about Americans (who are still losing out to the English in the asshole stakes - or should that be 'arsehole?' Sounds suitably painful either way), it's about keeping check of myself. While I try to be a good person, and I'm always quick to point out other peoples' bad attitudes regardless of cultural background, I could probably be doing better in these poor countries I visit.

I noticed in May, when I kept track of all my spending, how little I gave in terms of charity and donations that month. I was mostly away from cities and didn't see any homeless people until I got back to the capital, but it still pushed me to give a lot more since then, and to help people out by lending them money I work hard for but don't really need right now. My past experience of loaning money has about a 50% success rate, but it's worth it when you see money arriving in your bank account that you'd forgotten you loaned to someone in 2008. Just to be reminded that maybe the human race doesn't deserve its certain apocalyptic fate.

But I still have pretty much the same values I did in the UK, meaning I still have the typical British consumer outrage when something is misleadingly advertised ('your official website said you have Wi-Fi!'). And travelling solo and having to look out for myself doesn't exactly help to erode selfishness or instil any kind of community spirit.

Am I a dick? I try to be good. But maybe I'll never truly escape the curse of being English.

Unseen Brunei

Beautiful Brunei sunset. I only got off the bus to enter and exit immigration twice on my journey from Malaysia to Malaysia. This part of that stretch of land was called Brunei.

Unseen Cambodia

I was committed to removing all traces of human activities from my photos of ancient Cambodian temples. This pull-back-and-reveal construction shot shows a different, less misleading side

Unseen Japan

Vast underground complexes are a major part of the travel experience in Japan and Singapore. As I have no interest in impulse shopping I normally speed through them to my next street-level destination, so they've gone undocumented until now. I sometimes sleep and go to the bathroom as well, just take these things as read, alright?

Mount Takao was for my enjoyment only, on the only day I ever forgot my camera.
So this isn't my photo, obviously (courtesy of The Selfish Years)

Further exploration of Japanese 'hobbies'.
I've got a couple more, but those are also for my enjoyment only

I was really confused by this snack I impulse-bought, which had cellophane wrapping between the seaweed and the rice, inside the food. Did I do something wrong? Do I need to learn how to eat all over again?

I paid the suggested donation to take a photo of a guy's street art and then never used the photos. About time I got my money's worth

A bridge and some water in Kyoto

Unseen Sri Lanka

The only picture I have from Bentota. I took the train there, couldn't find the turtle sanctuary advertised, got pissed off with unscrupulous taxi drivers, went back to my hotel

Dave exploiting an elephant some more.

View of some mountains from the top of Sigiriya, which consequently misses out Sigirya itself entirely. I got enough photos of that

This local shop had run out of plastic bags, so resorted to using their child's maths homework instead. I hope they committed Pythagoras to memory

Unseen China

Cable car bauble in Hong Kong

When complaining about my incompatibility with China, I neglected to mention how much of it is exactly the same as everywhere else

Fake Niagara Falls in Shenzhen

Macau's Senado Square is annoyingly bustling when photographed at any time later than 5.30am

Unseen Laos

The Mekong, feat. spoons. Why the hell not?


  1. I want to see unseen Brunei!

    I think the packaging in Japan and Sri Lanka is a bit excessive. Isn't whatever's in the kid's homework already wrapped? It's like when Asda (just balancing up the blatant advertising in your post) wraps bananas in cellophane. I'm also having fun imagining the kid trying to explain to his teacher the next day why he didn't do his homework.

    Also, while reading this post a puppy leapt onto my laptop and opened a new tab. Was he trying to say something about what I was reading?

    The spellchecker on my browser/your blog doesn't like the word 'leapt'.

    1. I updated with Brunei for you. It's between Philippines and Cambodia, on this page as well as geographically (sort of).

      I still refuse the unnecessary extra plastic bags sometimes, as well as the other superfluous plastic things they try to thrust on me like plastic-wrapped plastic straws for canned drinks, but the confusion this causes to staff generally puts me off.