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.

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.

Packing for the Philippines

Packing for the Philippines is what I am doing now… I can easily use two big suitcases for a two week vacation, so ten weeks is a major challenge. I want to take a small suitcase, a small and a big backpack, because travelling is not always convinient there and I have to be able to carry everything everywhere. Packing for the Philippines

My wardrobe for this season will consist of

  • three pair of loose linen trousers
  • Two bathing suits
  • four wide blouses
  • four dresses – beach dress, one “for good”, two more. All can be folded very small
  • Underwear for two weeks
  • three pair of sandals
  • good sneakers to walk
  • one pair of jeans
  • Travelling outfit – jeans jacket, pullover, sweatpants
  • A little make up and basic things like shampoo etc.

Maybe it is even too much for ten weeks travelling and I will edit the list when I am packing.

Everything I am going to wear will be loose and comfortable. I can only speak for myself, but it is very humid and hot and I feel better if my body can breeze. Anyway, if you are slim, you won’t have a problem to buy clothes. I am not so slim and for me buying clothes in the Philippines is only depressing, so I leave it.

Soap, cream and bodylotion often contains whitening ingredience in the Philippines. You have to read the description to find out. If you don’t want that, it is better to take these things with you.

There are plenty opportunities to wash or let wash. And you will change your clothes every day because of sweating, so just rinse it in the evening and it stays clean for a while.

Other things I am packing for the Philippines

  • Painting and drawing material
  • Camera, Tablet

That’s my list. Everything else I will buy when I need it. Packing for the Philippines is not difficult, the weather is always the same, but you have to focus on the neccessary.

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