I arrived safely in the Philippines after a very long journey via UAE Dubai. I didn’t much enjoy the layover in Manila, the airport terminal 1 is outdated and inefficient. It is also confusing and difficult to fight through the sellers, the touts selling hotel stays and transport for a commission. Who knows where a traveller might end up or how much they may end up paying. The authorities need to get to grips with it because I am sure it’s not a helpful first impression for visitors to the country.
Meeting Jo was awesome, I picked him out instantly in the large crowd.
I wouldn’t recommended Agoda, the hotel had no record of my reservation. Of course, it could be an issue with the hotel but, I contacted Agoda and they have not got back to me more than a week later.
The Tierra Montana hotel in General Santos (Gensan) is fine. Not High class at all and could do quite a lot to improve. It’s what? £25 a night … not really enough to justify being critical.
First week and I got the shits so bad I needed to go hospital for treatment. The treatment was efficient and cheap. Sadly, it didn’t work and it wasn’t until I bought some immodium that I rapidly improved.
Despite my unfortunate condition me and Jo still managed to go places and meet people. This is when I was introduced to the Philippines custom of, send the bill to the white guy! It’s presumed here that every white guy is loaded. They seem to consider it rude if this part of their culture is challenged. Not once my entire time here has anyone apart from Jo paid for our attempted to pay for anything. In the West we may consider this the height of rudeness, here it is accepted as the right way to be. Thankfully prices are cheap here. Paying for everyone is not much different than the cost of one in the UK.
They are generally a lovely people though. It is a huge culture shock. They don’t have much but seem contented with that. They are a proud people and just about every difference of opinion will be strongly defended even when clearly understood and perhaps agreed with. It’s very frustrating but worth persisting. Main issue is, if they don’t understand they will act like they do and then change the subject. Noticing body language is key.
The weather is extra hot, it is only 460 miles north of the equator.
Transport in Gensan is mainly using tricycles. Converted motorbikes which, to my amazement I have seen 9 passengers in. I am short and even I have hit my head a few times.
Shopping malls are plentiful yet, I cannot see how they make money. Wages here are stupidly low. The goods are cheap by UK standards but, not here. But, they must make enough to keep going, many big names are here. M&S, Top Shop, DC, Vans to name but a few.
There is extreme poverty here, naked kids on the streets, plentiful beggars, its so difficult to see. For those of us in England, it brings home just how good we have it.
More another time …