I am back from my first out of Taiwan trip and you are naturally anxious to hear about it. Yes, I understand, but there so much that happened there, so I decided to divide the article in parts. This is just introduction for a longer series of Tomas’ Philippine Adventures ™.
The Philippines is a bit over 1000 km south from Taipei, flight takes just about 2 hours. It has 7,107 islands. I have visited exactly 4 of them, so I think I can say I am on good way to explore most of the Philippines.
I arrived a bit off season, but the weather was still very warm and humid. Even though the forecast promised storms, rain and cloudy weather, it was sunny all the time. If you can, try to arrive off high season. The high season starts in December because Europeans are cold and continues until June. So the end of October was really the best time to go there (not that I made research in advance or anything …). There is almost no tourists in the resorts and the few that are there are usually young people eager to meet new people (and get drunk).
Speaking of drinking, the Philippines is really a paradise. A bottle of rum costs around 80 ₱ ($1,75 !!). And I am speaking about full litre bottle of good quality rum. In a pub you can get rum and coke for 50 ₱ ($1) and the price actually can go down when you order double or triple shot of rum because the coke is more expensive than rum. Nice way of saving money if you ask me. The beer is sold mostly in bottles – speciality is a litre bottle of Red Horse. Extra strong beer (7.5 %) for about 80 ₱ ($1,5). My friend later changed it’s name to Dark Horse because everything goes dark after few bottles. You can imagine things got a little bit crazy in the first days (week).
The cost of living is also very low, the accommodation ranges from 300₱ – 500₱ ( $6,5 – $11) per night. For example this is what you can get for just 300 ₱.
The Filipino people are one of the most friendly and welcoming people I have ever met. English is very common there, every sign on the street is in English. And I don’t mean everything is translated. The english is the only language you will see written there. That’s mostly welcomed change after taiwan’s Chinese signs. The elementary school is taught in English in Philippines, so the level of English is really high and most of people speak the language really well. And I love their sense of humour, they can be really funny, sarcastic and they love to laugh. Also a thing I am missing in Taiwan.
The thing I had to get used to was the weird reversed racism. When you are white, you are something special. Different groups of people are trying to offer taxi rides, trips to touristic destinations, rental bikes etc … On the street, everybody is saying Hello to you including little children. Everybody calls you Sir or Ma’am and if I asked them to call me just Tomas they started to call me Sir Tomas. And I know, this is common in all Asia, but in big cities like Taipei it’s not that obvious.
I have never been in a country that is a whole lot cheaper than Czech Republic. Although people are always bitchin’ about it, compared to the most of Europe our country is still very cheap. So when I am travelling I am always aiming for the cheapest. But Philippines was quite unknown situation for me. This allows you to take shortcuts. You can either take a bus and wait half an hour for it or you can take faster taxi which is still relatively cheap. You either explore the island on your own, risking you get lost and you don’t get to see everything or you hire a guide who will drive you around. I think you should always aim for the cheapest, not only you will save money but you will also receive more sincere treatment. When you act like a tourist, you will get treated like a tourist and people will try to get advantage of you. I have to admit, I took more shortcuts than I would want to. Let it be lesson for the next time.
Well, that would be enough for today, stay tuned for the next article about my first days in Philippines.