alphabetical list places i visited this time in philippines with general comments
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the philippines: an alphabetical summary of the places i went this time (my fifth trip to this country)
a mixed bag i think ive worn out my welcome here. wont tell you where to stay (see bantayan below) but dont stay on the beach; walk a bit, or just stand by the road and wait for the first kid on a motor bike (everyone here owns a motor bike) to take you down the road--buy at rona's corner where you wont have to pay "foreigner prices" as you will on the beach; restaurants are mixed bag i always end up eating at trudis just because i know what to expect. dumualan beach down the way is a beautiful borocay quality beach without any people but that's because you have to stay at the resorts there or pay to use the beach; best approach, enter thru dumulan resort and pay 100p only entry fee and walk all the beach including bohol beach club beach without problems. the spiked coconut bar (alona beach) only exists on the beach next to trudis after 9 pm but has an excellent guitarist in the band
beautiful but hard to get to, not worth the trouble if alone; i wont tell you the one perfect place to stay here (or in the whole philippines because i want to be able to get there myself without competition)--hang out at nancy's (tristans); several good restaurants, pay the kids to take you around in pedicabs, no cars no jeepneys good air, beautiful beach and sea. if you can, time it to take the less frequent but slightly more desirable shuttle ferry vs. island shipping
for me a disaster --enormous costs; flights very expensive, i encountered lots of problems and had to pay double for everything; place is a mess, a circus, after 7 am; beautiful beach for first hour of sunlite before garish activities and hordes of people take over; save your money and go elsewhere, i was right to have never gone here before, wrong to have gone now
much more manageable transit center than manila but nothing else, if not fully booked stay at sdr near airport; if fully booked (which it usually is)--stay at marriot for the big bucks one day to recover from getting to cebu and shift to somewhat unclean and smelly but cheaper regal business park (both near ayala, the only place in cebu other than transit centers you need to be)
luzon north of manila
someone said the people get nicer as you head north; which for me would mean terrorists and bandits in mindanao, scammers and petty thieves in the visiayas and (north of and well out of manila only, manila forget it)--the provincial people do seem pretty good, not gawking at foreigners even tho there are few there and genuinely sweet at best (as philiippine people at best can be)--with less hustling and grasping at the "walking atm machines" that foreigners normally are considered as here by well most Philippine people i have ever encountered, including my friends!!! cautions here are basically difficulty of transport, bus accidents are more common than ferry accidents in the philippines and there really isn't a lot here from my perspective, no beaches to speak of--at least none ive found; perhaps la union where i am maybe headed yet before leaving, but this is trekker country and im not a mountain person and again beware of typhoons which have wiped out many of my friends lives (homes at least and their friends and relatives lives). and land transport is difficult dangerous confusing and problematic and there are basically no flight or boats going anywhere north of manila in luzon.
what hell must look like. traffic is unbelievable unless experienced; doesn't move for hours it seems--don't ever leave the airport, don't ever take a taxi--if you could even get a taxi; in many places at many times of nite no one will take you for any price, and forget anyone actually turning on a meter unless yer with a local and even then problematic; even the yellow pricier metered airport taxis wont turn on the meter unless you push them and have a local with you to do it; best to pay to use eurocar van service if you have to leave the airport. best never to leave the airport. its probably safe to take a yellow taxi (if you can find them they are at the far end of terminal 3) to the pasay bus terminals to head north out of manila, but a foreigner alone will not get a meter they will just charge you whatever they think they can get even tho there are all kinds of signs at the airport saying "metered taxi"; never go to the cubao terminal. i paid 1000p just to get back to the airport when someone sent me there on the wrong bus. areas on the way into manila from the airport look like eastern europe after one of the wars of the 1990's. as near as i can tell there is nowhere safe to be (some areas of makati or cavite allegedly) but more importantly there is no reason to be here at all, except to use the airport; why all the risk and waste unless you live here (can't imagine it)--or know someone who lives here you cant arrange to meet somewhere else
san Juan (san fernando la union)
an alleged surf beach on luzon coast; not worth the long bus ride. not much here; san fernando is a mess, like a mini manila, go on up to san juan the only place i had a phone number for someone would answer me was sunset german beach resort which is a dump, rundown place, rundown owner, dubious guests: nowhere at the far end of san juan. better go back to the main surf point and the most well known "surf resort" which actually has some decent beach and some decent rooms with some activity. why "lonely planet" lists the german surf i dont know, there are two nicer places near it but no reason to be there, stick with the south san juan beaches--but there are really no beaches in luzon worth the trouble of getting to that i know of; if someone knows of one please tell me.
in general this quote from an expat writer remains basically sound:
"The reasons for expats departing after moving to "paradise" are varied, but the most common I've experienced are: Inability to adapt to Philippine culture, to include inability to accept corruption as society's "norm," pervasive dishonesty, constantly being overcharged for goods and services, constant attempted scams, and expats often being viewed as a "walking ATM machine;" heat / humidity / typhoons; massive poverty;"
the three most common phrases in the philippines are: "not available"
"no change" and "low bat"
everything here is always "not available", "no change" and "low bat".
these factors alone are enough to defeat most of one's purposes in being here.
all the things that seem desirable; cheap living, beautiful beaches, sweet women, warm weather, enlgish speaking people (to the english speaking me desirable), in reality are fantasies that will usually leave you stranded and broker than you were.
the legendary robert on bantayan (absent this trip but apparently building a new resort and reopening white sands soon) tells a much more "built up" version of this story: how do you leave the philippines with a million? come with ten million.
the phillipines should be taken in small doses and infrequently, each time i come for me things get worse and i never solve one problem from experience without a new one emerging.
for young backpackers with no worries who are willing to go with the flow it might be ok (tho i have known very young people both american and European who were really pissed about the normal everyday
challenges here, much more so than i who just expect them.)
for me i think its just another hope abandoned. as amiel accurately described our lives.