Sunday, March 30, 2014
At least it's Davao
We made it back to the Philippines without incident, despite me making a cock-up when faking my mandatory onward flight ticket the previous night and forgetting to update one of the 2013s to 2014. None of the airline or immigration staff who scrutinised it noticed the error. I'm not proud of being a sneaky borderline-criminal (I am a bit), but until they just let me tick a box to say I'll be legitimately extending my visa through the proper channels before the month is out, I'm not going to waste money booking a flight for show.
I wasn't exactly thrilled at the prospect of coming back to this country, especially after transiting a couple of days in Kota Kinabalu first and getting my last chance to enjoy diverse food, law-abiding traffic and being able to walk around without getting shouted at or mobbed by begging children. Being able to walk around at all is still a novelty.
To put my mind at ease when Borneo slipped away and I headed towards a fresh exile of uncertain duration in a country whose name serves as a punchline to jokes about sleazy sex tourism, I tried to dwell on the positives. My girlfriend's family and church are there, so that's nice for her. It's relatively cheap, though not as good value as many other, nicer countries in the neighbourhood. They generally speak English good, so I don't got to bother talking foreign. And at least I'd be staying in Davao City, which is completely uninteresting but generally agreed to be one of the less terrible parts for living in. Sort of like getting dengue fever but being spared the skin rash.
Since I've been staying here, the city has only suffered several minor mall bombings, child kidnappings and trifling corruption scandals, and ongoing controversy over restricted press freedom, an insane, warmongering mayor and his approved vigilante death squads. Yet I still hardly see any other foreigners sharing this taste of smoggy, urban paradise except the old men with loose morals. I sometimes see other young white men in (presumably nice and genuine) relationships with their same-age local girlfriends, doing their bit to redress the imbalance and salvage our international reputation. But I've never seen a white woman come to Davao. Well, why would they?
At least it's not Manila.