Stranded in the Philippines

Because of the Corona pandemie I am now stranded in Tagudin. It is nothing to worry about, I am doing good as far as that is possible. But unfortunately I can’t continue with my travelblog, because WIFI is very bad. I hope this one post goes through.

However, I will try to recollect all my memories once I am home. I can say this is a very interesting experience I am having and I am not regretting I made the decision to stay in the country instead of fleeing home.

Please stay safe and in good spirit!

Trip to Twin Lakes, Sibulan

The Twin Lakes are a famous place to visit in the area of Dumaguete. It is very beautiful and cool, because it is in the mountains. Sometimes the landscape looks almost european, if it wasn’t for the palm trees. Here is a description how to get there, I couldn’t do this better.

Because we were four people plus a puppy, we hired a personal guide who drove us in a van. We paid for everything 2500 Pesos, around 50 Euros. For this price he was available as long as we wanted. On the way back my friend took advantage of the arrangement to buy and load a big plastic box in the car. Anything goes in the Philippines :-).

It was a nice and peaceful day as you can see here.

Lessons learned, part 1

The reason I got so silent, I became sick and still suffering from Travelling Diarrhea and now there is a lack of WIFI at my family’s house. But I found a little haven in Las Pinas, Mystic Brew, where I will spend plenty of my time in the next few days because I can’t be too far from a decent toilet and it’s too hot to stay outside or even walk far in my condition. However, I’m on a good way.

It made me think I can start with a Lessons Learned list, in no particular order.

Health

I’m not a very cautious person, to be honest, and that is why I ended up with my worst flu ever, I think. But it can be many reasons. However, it started the first time, after I ate pork sisig and rounded it up with two scoops of ice-cream. I wasn’t aware what I was eating and the sauce was not bad, but the “meat” is disgusting, at least for my European taste-buds. After that it’s up and down. So do not do that to your stomach. And only drink bottled water.

To stop the diarrhea, you can get Imodium in the pharmacy. It helped immediately to stop the flow. But it’s not over yet. Stay out of the sun, drink lots of water and when possible get a massage. I had a very tense back and it hurts. Now I had a small relapse and because I am in a safe place I decided I just let my body do the work without medication.

Anyway, next time I will buy Imodium in advance. The diarrhea knocked me out so bad the first day, that I could not go out at all and also wasn’t thinking straight as in asking my host for help.

Money

This was another problem arising. For some unknown reason I’m not able to use my Visa or my bank card on any ATM machine in Las Pinas since I arrived here. Staying at my family’s place I have a roof over my head and food, but if not, I would have to go downtown Manila or the airport just in good faith. Possibly on public transportation and that is a true nightmare. So, after already accepting my fate of being sick and broke, someone on the internet suggested to get a Western Union account.

I set it up this morning, transferred money from my credit card and 30 minutes it was ready to be picked up at the next station. The fee is not higher than the bank fee for withdrawing money.

Communication with filipinos

We are all humans and in general people are easy going and very friendly. But a few things are different than in our culture.

  • Filipinos don’t say no to you. If you have a request or a question or you just want to know how someone feels about something, you will never get a decline or negative answer. This requires some sensitivity on our part. Let’s say you have a request but you only want the person to follow up when they really want to, you will never find out. You have to consider this before you ask. If you think, it’s probably something the person would only do for your favour, don’t ask.
  • In case you need to ask for a price, be it a trycicle driver or requesting a tour from a private person or anything else, many times they reply with “you tell me”. I am not playing that game. I explain that I am a foreigner,that I want to know what things cost and that their is no shame for me in discussing money.
  • Filipinos avoid conflicts on any cost. I am practicing my manners and patience and as long as I can, I try to stay calm and polite. But sometimes there are situations where I fail miserably (Banks…) Just do your best. An outburst is tolerable for me, I am no angel. Arrogance, racism and demeaning people never. In any case, once you give away your frustration and anger, you lost your face and you will not achieve anything. They just keep smiling and all you can do is walk away.
  • Patience, patience, patience with everything.

So, these are the lessons I learned so far. Of course there is so much more, but later.

Psychology of a solo traveller

Before I give my travel report of Bacong, I want to write about something more personal, something I don’t find in travel reports. But I think it’s important to consider, especially for us solo female travellers.

If you travel like me, staying in small places away from tourist spots, you will be physically alone a lot of the time. And this has an impact on your mind and soul.

I have never travelled alone for ten weeks, so I don’t know what is coming. But I discovered I have a pattern. The first week I’m usually excited and my head is busy to process all the new impressions. The second week I fall in a little hole. I feel alienated, homesick and suddenly insecure. I get very sensitive, think nobody likes me and so on. Until the third week this is passing and I finally get in a good place, where I feel happy again and connected with my surroundings. The fourth week I usually went home and wondered how fast the time was flying. I am curious what is happening the fifth week.

When you are alone in a different environment, all your friends and family far away, you will experience that a lot of your issues are raising their heads. You always lacked some self confidence? You had abandonment issues? Whatever it is, it will hit you in some way, because you can’t run away from it. I think this is the reason why a lot of people can’t even imagine travelling alone for a week because you are forced to take a good look at yourself and it’s not always pretty.

The healing process

I learned through meditation and buddhist philosophy that nothing is permanent and emotions come and go as long as you don’t attach yourself to them. I acknowledge my feelings. This morning I was feeling a little blue. I sat on the beach by myself, watching the waves and feeling them splashing on my legs. In this moment I felt the power of nature, something much greater than me and I surrendered myself to it. Knowing that all these emotions are just transitional, they have nothing to do with everyone else, but everything with me and when I face my fears, they will go away because they have no power over me anymore.

And what happened? After my little session suddenly good things started to happen, I met good people and had a great day. You can call it karma or whatever you want, but you reap what you sow.

Being by yourself for such a long time in a very strange culture means you have to stay strong and aware. No one is going to wipe your tears, no one to run to. If you want to have a good time, you must be honest to yourself and deal with your shit. Then the good things will come to you.

Streetphotography in Dumaguete

I already moved on to Bacong, but before I talk about that, here are some impressions of Dumaguete. It’s not always pretty, but that’s streetphotography. Which means I just walk the streets and take pictures in automatic mode. Everyone can do pretty, right?

It is only a selection. I also always update my pictures page with all pictures. Editing WordPress on the tablet is a drag, I can’t do it as nice as I like, but try my best. Click on the first picture and you can see the title and move to the next.

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What to eat in Dumaguete and the Philippines

I love food, Filipino food and everything else. So here are my experiences in the past four days. 

My best experience was the Jamrock Cafe, they serve Jamaican food. I had soup, goat curry and cornbread plus a mango shake for around 12 € all in all. Very delicious. I try to stick with the Filipino food (except Jamaican, because I love it and there are no Jamaican restaurants at home). You get pizza, pasta and other western food of course.

A really nice dish is spaghetti vongole, the Filipino version. Chicken, pork and rice is standard, fresh seafood and fish available, but not everywhere. If you want to cook, then of course you have the full choice at the public market.

Of course I can’t go out for dinner like this every day. There are plenty of eateries where you get a simple meal for two or three Euros. It’s not great, but it serves the purpose. Continue reading “What to eat in Dumaguete and the Philippines”

Finally arrived in Dumaguete

After a long trip I finally arrived yesterday late and moved in Carlo’s Place. My room is pretty big with a kitchenette and a huge aircon. I only turn it on for a few minutes sometimes to cool off and that’s enough. 

The place is not pretty as such. It’s in a compound and right now I’m looking at a wall on the opposite side when I sit on my porch. If you want it idyllic, don’t go here.  But it’s alright for me, and I pay only 16 € per night. I get a good vibe from the place and the people and it’s quiet besides an annoying dog and roosters in the neighborhood.

Took my first walk to do some shopping and walked along the streets and the Sea side to adjust myself to the energy of this place. Everything is so different. Loud, chaotic, but at the same time relaxed and you actually smell the air. Gasoline, the ocean, food, fire, always something. I didn’t know that I missed all this.

Of course everything here is new. Although I have friends here, I’m still alone which is the point of my trip. There are moments of insecurity, like will I be able to make new friends or does everyone think, I’m a weird older lady and stays away from me? But I’m trying not to think like that.

Anyhow, this is one of the reasons for my trip. To find my center and not worry about such things because I am good enough for myself. If I’m happy and open, everything will fall in place.

Back in Manila

Back to Manila after a year. It feels strange and familiar at the same time, but I am happy I don’t have to deal with the city, just in and out the hotel basically.

Trying to get to the Philippines from Frankfurt

I had to cancel my flight with Cathay Pacific because Hongkong ist closed. and booked a new one with Kuwait Airlines. At least now I had a travel mate, my friend Edwin who recently moved with his family to the Philippines, was on the same flight.

The flight was uneventful and on time. We had a long stopover at the airport in Kuwait and I ate an overpriced, but delicious Szechuan Chickenburger, whatever this is, it was spicy!

Shake shack

After another flight nine hours later we finally arrived here in Manila. Right now it is surprisingly cool in Manila, only 28 degrees Celsius.

Staying in the Savoy Hotel

The Savoy hotel was a good decision. Hotel is pricy for here,around 60 €. But free airport shuttle, nice big room, hot shower and a cool bar at the swimming pool! I am planning on living modest and I don’t need much. But after a long trip like this it is nice to spoil yourself with a little extravaganza.

I went out and the area here is not bad at all. That is where you can see the impact of the growing middle class, or let’s call it gentrification. Nice restaurants, clean streets, no beggars. Of course, probably walk 15 minutes and the world looks different. It’s not the reality.

I went to a simple chinese noodle restaurant and had seafood noodle soup. Now, this kind of soup is very simple and good. Basically seafood, noodles and some greens in hot water, no extra spices, I really like it. It cost around six Euro, but this is because of the fancy area and next to the expensive hotels.

Noodlesoup

So, it was tiring, but a good trip and I am looking forward to finally arrive in Dumaguete this afternoon.

 

 

Dumaguete – the city of friendly people

Dumaguete has the reputation to be the city of friendly people and will be my first adress for at least five days.

I have four more days before I leave and I am thinking of the first time I visited Dumaguete. It is a friendly little town and the surrounding area is beautiful. I searched YouTube, there aren’t many videos about it, but I found a nice one. It shows how pretty it is.

Besides the beautiful nature and culture, Dumaguete has some nice bars and restaurants along the boardwalk where I would go any time by myself without concern. Being an older white woman alone there is like being a Unicorn, it’s rare, but I had only positive attention. The place felt very safe and it is lively until late.

More about it, when I am there.

Up

How to be happy with yourself travelling alone.

How to be happy with yourself travelling alone is the big question for many women. I have been asked so many times if I don’t get lonely traveling alone. How to be happyityourself travelling alon

Although I’m someone who really likes to talk – a lot -, I can easily go for days without talking to anyone while I think a lot, daydream or watch people.

Especially women feel awkward to dine alone or go in a bar for a drink. But I don’t find this a problem in the Philippines because most bars have an open space and people are friendly. Sometimes the waiter or even a stranger on a bus asks you personal questions, like why you travel alone. This is a little disturbing for our cultural upbringing, but it’s their way to show interest and be nice.

When it doesn’t go so well

Of course there will be times when I’m in a bad mood or feeling alienated because that is part of the travel experience. Getting sick is the worst when you have no one to support you and it happened to me.

In Banaue I caught a bad bronchitis and lost my voice. It was cold and rainy and I was looking forward to a trip through the mountains with various vans and busses with a non existent schedule. Even if I would have called my family, it would have taken a day before they would catch up with me.

The best thing to do is trying not to panic, because you know you are alone and the only person you can rely on is you. Panic will only make it worse. Never be shy to ask for help if you find, you can’t manage anymore on your own. I just tried to take it hour by hour, van by van, and whenever I had a chance to rest my body.

At some point I managed to get some antibiotica from a pharmacy, but I had to be very insistent. In a crisis you must stand up for yourself, always because no one else is going to do it. So talk to people, ask for help if necessary, this is so important. You can’t be too shy.

Having said this, travelling alone is great, but there will be times where it is also difficult. Nothing comes without a price. The reward of all this is that you will feel empowered by knowing you can manage a crisis all by yourself. That makes your trip so valuable and will have an impact on your self-confidence.

Happy end

And yes, there was a Happy End! After two days I arrived at the Tagudan Beach Resort. I found my voice back and spent some wonderful days mostly watching the ocean and the spectacular sundowns.

A great place and lovely people.