Wednesday September 8, 2004 8:59 AM
I have arrived after being very lucky and walking outside my door in Carmen and flagging a bus down and arrived here in record time. I am staying in some off beat hotel that is very safe, with a guard and a hasp on my door so I can use my padlock. Plus the room has CNN or Cable and is huge. The toilet is third world, but for 300 Peso or 6 Dollars U.S. you cannot complain. I went to the cheapie recommended in the Lonely Planet, it was inhospitable, more expensive, and I had to trust the management because they did not have a hasp on the door. This is also in a shaded are with a swimming pool that probably does not function.
They have both 220 and 110 in the room, but they have label the outlets wrong… I recognized the 200 as the round hole, and figured out why my light bulb was dim. I do not have anything that will not function on both.
I have a couple of people that want me to track down or say hello to people. This means I track down bars first… hehehe as that is where they hang. I do not drink so this place will be fun.
TOO EARLY TO BED - TOO EARLY TO RISE
1:57 AM Wednesday September 8, 2004
I have been going to bed at just after sunset because there is nothing to do or I was so tired from walking up and down mountains that I just dropped, plus an afternoon nap is not helping. So I am up reading my guidebook, scrimping on my last English book to read because when I finish it I have nothing more to read. I am hoping or assuming that Angeles city has some English books to buy.
I will catch the first bus out of Carmen for Dau, which seems more and more like what they call Angeles. I have gotten a few emails from people telling places to go and friends they want me to find when I arrive in Angeles.
WWII AND VIETNAM
I think I just fell into the middle of WWII in many ways, although the guidebook so far is fairly stupid on the matter, and just completely misses the boat, I am getting a big feeling that I need to study.
Gary my History advisor says
As your history advisor, some things you might want to see in the Philippines include:
1. Corregidor (the island where the US military held out the longest of the non-guerilla forces)
2. Baatan (the start of the Baatan Death march)
Homma, Masaharu (1888-1946), Japanese lieutenant general in World War II (1939-1945), who was responsible for the Bataan Death March. Thousands of American and Filipino prisoners of war were abused and killed during the 101-km (63-mi) forced march. Homma was born in Niigata Prefecture. He served as commander in chief of the Japanese invasion forces in the Philippines until August 1942. On April 9, 1942, soldiers under Homma’s command forced American and Filipino prisoners of war to walk from the Bataan Peninsula to the city of San Fernando. Many were mutilated, beaten, and bayoneted by their captors along the way. The prisoners were taken by railroad to Capas, and forced to walk to imprisonment at Camp O’Donnell. Of the 70,000 prisoners who began the journey, only 54,000 arrived at Camp O’Donnell. After Japan surrendered, Homma was found responsible for the Bataan Death March by a U.S. commission and executed by a firing squad in 1946.
WOW I AM SITTING ON THE MIDDLE
I am in the middle of big mess of war.
16 THOUSAND men were killed walking from the land mass just to the right of Manila to San Fernando just below Angeles where I am going. Subic bay is where there is or was maybe a submarine base for the U.S.
400 per mile killed.. As best I can calculate. This guy needed more than shot.
YAMASHITA SURRENDERED AT BAGUIO
The commander of the Japanese war movement in the Philippines signed surrender in Bagui, just next major stop north of Carmen and a big place for tourism.
They hung him in Manila! Whoopee
LIONS TIGERS SNAKES OH MY
Like the Wizard of OZ this place has more real interesting things to do per square foot than any place I have studied.
Gold Mines close to Baguio
Ferdinand Magellan was killed in the battle, April 27, 1521 in the Philippines, first man to sail or ship to sail around the world.
He has to be one of the greatest travelers of all time, like Darwin.
Angeles - Close to Mount Tinatubo Volcano
This Volcano exploded in 1991 killing 1000 people and blowing crap about 36 miles into the sky. Like a nuclear bomb.
CHRONIC DEPRESSION GUIDEBOOK WRITERS
I am getting really tired of the Westernized need for a clean shower and mopped floor attitude with a way to heavy overlay of Middle class guilt and extremely stupid lack of understand of the whole world by the guidebook writers.
They cannot write hardly one paragraph without missing the point.
… Example: I am was writing earlier about La Union and how it has Sex Tourism, and wondering why this girl went there, and after fully reading the Encyclopedia and the guidebook I finally discover. There is some type of world class surfing there. A reason for me to go, like a cheap version of Hawaii.
They comment on the US bringing sex tourism here, this is really really really stupid. I mean outrageously stupid. Asia has about zero respect for women, and in Thailand although it would seem that the tourist are using the prostitutes the Thailand men and the Thai women are everywhere, you cannot move anywhere in Thailand without finding this, and you will get to the small corner of Thailand there will be it. I just left Banaue and Manila and I saw very little, while I cannot talk to the waitress in the New Joe Hotel in Khao San Road without her trying to sell herself to me. Khao San is the least of the Sex tourism places in Thailand in many ways.
This has got to be one of the lowest areas of this type of behavior in Southeast Asia. India is so full of dope smoking nuts that this place is heaven. There are so few tourists that you can relax and enjoy the world. Like the breath of fresh air of going into Laos after being surrounded by Vietnam or Thailand where you suffocate from stupidity tourism. Where GOLD PAINT on a Buddhist Temple is considered classy and the entire world ignores the Monks that appear like Lady Boys, extorting money and rice from their population.
The best thing about Thailand is their desire to shower and the fact they make you take your shoes off inside. The feeling of being clean can happen, but that does not mean they are really clean, just gold paint.
I was told, but I am not sure, oh, I cannot find statistics when I want them. The boy in Banaue told me that the Philippines are fourth poorest country on the planet. I told him he was nuts and all of South America and Central America is poorer and I think that probably all of Africa is also.
But MCDONALDS Factor.
A McDonalds is within throwing distance of me right now, plus a 7-11 and a Jobillee a big Philippino chain. It takes money to keep these places in business. I am in Carmen. It does not even have information in my guidebook or the Encyclopedia about the city and they have a McDonalds. There is no doubt that corruption is abound, but that is normal except in the US, Canada, England and Australia, all the rest are playing catch up. Germany has the toilet Mafia or I would include them… hehehe
Hard to say on Scandinavian countries. France is a basket case, and Russia is exporting corruption and mafia. (The run the Toilet Mafia I think in Germany.)
The Middle East is so corrupt they cannot even wage a war, and so they have to blow themselves up one at a time. Israel a country of 8 million holds off around 300 million.
80 percent of the tropical or Aquarium fish come from here. The chronic depression from the guidebook writer goes on to say about how they are destroying or poisoning or other stuff.
I AM SURE he is right. But… That means there is a LOT of beautiful fish in this area.
I got attacked one time by the IRS in the USA, my mother was upset, and the more I thought about it, the more I knew.
I had reached the big time; I was in the show and should celebrate. There are a lot of silver linings behind the sow’s ears.
They call Banaue Rice terraces the eighth wonder of the world, and India is 10 time more dirty than here.
The reason this place is not huge is because the STAtravel and Trailfinders Tickets from England and Australia do not have this on they path of Lager heads plane ticket sales. Like I said, there is a silver lining here, that is why I get to meet so many Danish Girls. I met two more the next day after Christine left. Seems like I got the classy group of travelers coming here, and lost the slappers.
Tuesday September 7, 2004
I am in Carmen, which is located more or less 4 hour north of Manila and maybe 2 hours north of Angeles. As best I can tell, it is a transfer place for buses to Dauo. However, I think Dauo is really Angeles, but I am in a Hotel and very safe, but it has been a hilarious entry to a city. If I had not had lots of experience with all sorts of cultures, this could have made me nervous, but instead I have had one of my best laughs in travels.
Left Banaue on the wrong bus, but also the correct bus at 6:30 AM. It was the wrong bus because the one I was on stopped at every person that looked at the bus while the other bus behind us was air con and more or less direct. Therefore, I got a very good chance to see the countryside, plus I really did not care, as I am here to see the Philippines and the best way possible is sitting up high in a bus, that stops everywhere, you get to see everything. I have realized that a bus that is non-air is probably the best possible vehicle for taking photos. Air conditioned buses have tinted glass and I cannot open the window. Small vans are sort of ok, but very low to the ground and you cannot see over the bushes, plus you they are cramped. So in reality, I was on the typical stop-for-everyone-that-looks-bus and this is perfect for photos and the hop-jump sequence I am making.
A Hop is a short trip and rest for the night and leaves the next day.
A Jump is a long trip between destinations like the overnight trip from Manila to Banaue.
I Hopped to Carmen, and will skip to Angeles tomorrow.
So I am on the bus trying to take enough good photos of the rice fields as we leave the upper mountains of Batad and Banaue and enter the smaller more widespread mountains of hills of flatland towards Angeles and Manila. They have large fields that are cultivated by machine, while the crops up on the rice terraces seem to be only by hand. This makes the production methods outdated and in danger of being obsolete, which they already are probably.
I think UNESCO should build machine ramps up the terrace and that would preserve them, instead of just a label.
So I am on the bus, a nice girl sits down next to me and life is good, she want to know if I am married, why not, and all sorts of things. I say maybe I will meet a Philippine girl and marry her, and she says,
“The lucky girl.”
This is a nice girl. I am pretty sure.
Nevertheless, she wants to know why I do not go to La Union to the beach? She is going to Bagui, which is just below La Union, so I decide to discover what she is talking about and take out my guidebook to read about La Union. Up to this point in my travels into the Philippines Christine, the Danish girl has been my guide, and I have barely looked at the guidebook and normally refrain from looking until I have a week or two of knowing the country without pre-conceived notions, but I am starting to look now.
I ready about La Union and it says it an old military place and full of sex tourism and they had a problem with pedophiles. (Children Sex)
So I am reading this trying to look enthused about going to La Union to the beach and trying to gleam off the reason why she wants me to go to the beach there, but she has only spent one night there in her life she says for her birthday. Her English is like I say, HALF, not whole.
She is from Quinerro on the other side of the Island, but is studying to be a caregiver whatever that is, and I try to not make jokes. I think she will take care of children or maybe a nanny, or take care of old people, I never figure out what she meant.
But here I am reading about a Sex Tourism place, and trying to find if there is a normal beach close, so I decide I might as well read a little about what it says about Angeles. Ooops. It is the epi-center of sex-tourism for the Philippine the book says, so this is the Thailand Pataya of the Philippines. I have never been to Pataya, or Phuket, so obviously I these places are not high on my list.
I am sure many readers that read my last newsletter read a lot more into the letter than I wrote… hehehe. I suppose they got a kick.
I have regular reader and writer that tells me about Southeast Asia and he recommend I go visit a former Major, a black guy I guess that married a Philippino girl and lives in Angeles, and because this is directly on my route back to Manila, I thought why not, and I can try to suss out why Americans have maybe an expat center there. Go Go girls are not a minus to a place and not a plus, they are everywhere in the world, but just labeled different. I think Germany has more deviant forms of this stuff, or just the same but cost more. Sabina was telling me they are lined up around the border town of Switzerland and Germany. I am not sure, just lot of nefarious gossip.
Banaue is for sure not a sex-tourism destination so I have the gentlemen version of the Philippines so far, and now the story is changing a little.
Well, I am happy to talk with a nice girl and it seems as though FOR SURE you can meet a nice girl in the Philippines, this is not so in a lot of countries in Southeast Asia as the nice girls will not talk with foreigners.
THE FUN BEGINS
I get off the bus and say goodbye to very nice girls, the bimbet next to me and the bright-eyed intelligent one behind me that was helping the best to explain what I saw along the way.
(Along the rice paddies, they have signs, I though they was sign to the brands of rice seeds, similar to the signs we have along fields of corn that advertise the type of corn seed in Indiana. But they are not for the seed they are for the insecticide. There are lots of these signs.)
I get off. A taxi driver instantly pounces on me.
He speaks 5 percent or less of English.
There is another man speak 7 percent of English.
“I want to go to hotel.”
The 7 percent guy says something the 5 percent does not understand and he is the one driving the sidecar motorcycle taxi.
“He says short-time?”
Then I think, hmm wait a second… Maybe lodge is the word the use.
He does not understand lodge or lodging. Every country has the proper word for a hotel and it is not always a hotel, maybe Hostel in Peru or Room in Cambodia or Guesthouse in Thailand. I am still learning in the Philippines. I think the word is Lodge.
But the guy says,
“300 Short time no-air, 700 Air”
I do not like the words short time.
This means sex, and I want a hotel, not sex, and it is noon, and I just got off the bus, something is amiss, this is not the way you get off a bus. There is a McDonalds within throwing distance of the drop-off so I believe I am in a substantial size town, but not I have no reference materials to tell me, except a McDonalds.
I form my left hand into a hole with my index and thumb.
I use my right had with my index finger to push through the hole.
UNIVERSAL hands signs for sex.
“No sex hotel”
While pushing my finger through hole, plus shaking my index finger after to say no. Sometimes shaking your index finger means no but it is not universal.
They shake their heads.
Normal for them to take me to a four star hotel, and I want a 200 peso place. I hold up three fingers. They nod or agree and decide on a hotel to take me to.
I get into the taxi for 50 cents or 20 Pesos and we proceed down to Hotel about 500 meters down the road, I am wanting to keep the bus stop in sight and am happy, more or less.
A couple or ridden hard and put away wet women are behind the desk, They do not get up, delayed action, and finally the taxi driver convinces them to stand.
400 pesos for fan and 700 for air.
It was not that simple to learn, but I shortened the typing.
I went to look at the room, leaving the big bag down with what I hope is an honest taxi driver. I go up to look at the room; soon the taxi driver follows me up carrying the bag.
A man opened the door and points at the bed.
It has plastic sheets, or something plastic.
The room across the way is open and has the same sheets and beer bottles. I am thinking I am in a short-time hotel. This would be OK, in a way except for noise and the sheets. This place is bad, and 300 Pesos too much for the quality of room. I was looking at the 400 Peso room, and wondering… maybe this includes the girl, but I cannot see any girls around.
I left the bag downstairs to show lack of commitment and to negotiate, I now have to grab my bag and walk downstairs. I am thinking I will offer 200 and be done, but on arriving downstairs, I said to myself…
“This is a hole!”
The taxi is cheap, and I can afford to drive around all day for that price, so I stuff my bag into the taxi drivers cart and say,
I am going to trade in the 5 percent driver for a 20 percent one if possible. I push the guy to pull over to a group of men or boys. Normally if you have 5-10 people in any group, one speaks enough English to help. I was correct, but the whole group is 2 percent and the one man is a five but has good listening skills.
I do the hand gestures for NO Sex Hotel and the one finally just points across the road. By golly, that is a hotel. He is very nice and walks me across the road …. For FREE.
This is why I say the Philippines people are nice; there is not a price on everything. In Thailand, if you are not paying they are not playing or talking.
I meet Alice through and iron barrier type door system that makes me feel safe and worried at the same time. She has a room that is 300 Peso and probably 100 more than normal because I am a foreigner. She speaks 25 percent English and tells me she has niece of son in laws in the USA, and I am very happy.
Fan, common toilet, double bed, pitcher of water, and one fitted sheet and it include a top sheet, oh yea a desk and plenty of traffic noise. It does have a plug inside the room and Banaue I had to string and extension cord outside the room because Banaue is only one generation away from no-lights and Carmen is two with a plug in the room.
I am in a city that is not in the guidebook, and as best I can tell has no ex-military base, so what is up with this short-time stuff. I am in the UGLY city I recommended in the last newsletter tip, but maybe I went too ugly. I do have on my camouflage military travel pants. But who in the world would go short time with a full backpack and a front pack? Plus where are the girls? Funny world we live in some days, and some days even hilarious.
Alice says I can take a bus for 20 minutes and go to an internet café. I think I will pass on the internet today, Angeles for sure has internet for the Go Go Boys.
PHOTO OF BANAUE OR BATAD RICE TERRACES
I sent my newsletter today from Banaue Philippines.
Monday September 6, 2004 8:43 AM
I was thinking to myself, this is really a Latino culture like Central or South America. I asked the woman at the Internet Café what time they opened in the morning and she said 8:00 AM, but upon trying to enter a few minutes ago, they are still closed. It appears that time has very little meaning, but the attention to time is a western culture behavior.
Where to go next, I am thinking I may go to Angeles because there is maybe a lot of American Expats, I have never been anywhere on the planet where I could say there are lots of American Expats, so this would be fun or interesting to learn why they are going to this city. I already know that a lot are here because they speak English and that was the city of the former Clark Air Force Base.
When I say they speak English, this country half speak English while in comparison you would say Thailand has a 1 percent English, but that is just a comparison. It is very simple to travel or ask questions here, but maybe confusing to get to the islands.
I am having an interesting time with my maps, the guidebook points at a lots of cities to go and visit, but my Encarta Computer Encyclopedia maps does not include the cities.
The woman that owns the Greenview Hotel I am staying in told me to go from Banaue to Baguio but get off early in a place called Carmen. I come back and look at my guidebook and the city is not on the map. I will look in the computer.
I now have found it on both maps. However, it is not really before Baguio like the woman said, but further south. That is not to say it is not possible the bus has to go way south and then again north to follow the road and get around the mountains in the center of the country. I will now or later ask her again with my guidebook in hand.
COCKROACH KILLING SERVICE
Monday September 6, 2004 1:53 AM
I was sitting in my room typing on my computer in the very early hours of morning because I could not sleep when suddenly a cockroach jumps on the door. It is about the size of the dipper part of a normal food spoon, so very large. I get that nervous shuttering feeling in my shoulders and arms, as I know I must kill this cockroach while I can still find the beast.
I move slowly and look around the room for something to swat or pound the mammoth insect into oblivion with, I soon locate the hard geothermal brochure that I really did not want, but was given anyway in the intramuros exhibit in Manila. It is perfect so I roll it up and slowly go to the left of the cockroach so I can use my right arm for better accuracy. There is my reading light attached to the back of the desk next to my bed and I realized it could make a shadow and scare the cockroach, so I adjust my stance as to not cast a shadow. The cockroach is being a willing victim.
I approach slowly as I think they can only feel or sense quick movements and then take a very hard swing. Wap, and the cockroach is on the floor. I proceed to bang it very hard three more times until I am can see it splitting in two, I have done this procedure a few time and after only one swat they are stunned and I have found that they disappeared later. Maybe they woke or maybe the ants carried them off, but I feel better when the juice if flowing.
I then scoot the cockroach out of the room and into a corner close to the showers but for sure out of any path where I would walk with or without shoes.
Think that is gory, then what would you feel if you found this huge cockroach the size of a spoon inside your undies or in under the sheets with you? Better, I explain.
The Tropics - Home of large cockroaches. All hotels have cockroaches, but if you are worried seal off the room and spray before entering. However, you will also have to seal off any cracks, holes, or crevices big enough for a cockroach to enter, including the drains in the bathroom. Makes you want to live in a grass hut… hehehe
Sunday September 5, 2004 11:28 AM
Went to the internet café, but it was closed in this small city of Banaue on a Sunday morning. Probably makes sense as most of the Philippines is catholic or some form of Christian religions and it is like any country the there is a heavy overlay on everything of the local religion. I suppose the Christian idea of not working on Sunday one of the strongest, and strangely in most countries they if they take a day off from work it is normally Sunday whatever the local religions is.
I am hoping the internet café will open up in the afternoon, as I need to write some emails, take my photos off my 3.5 disk, and put photos onto my computer. The new computer I have does not have a 3.5 floppy drive. I think this is silly, but that is the way they are making them. The internet cafes do NOT have CD Rom players enough for me to say they are normal. What is normal or becoming most common is a USB port, but that does not mean they will let you use it, so in the end it luck and the right combination that wins. The USB is becoming common because all the travelers have digital cameras; the internet cafes also have card readers.
I would say the thumb drive now is better to carry than 3.5 floppies, but you NEED to know how do download the drivers from the internet.
Map of the Philippines
I am presently in the middle upper north of the main Island. Below Agarri and to the right and above Bagui.
BANAUE OR BATAD FILIPINES
Sunday, September 5, 2004 7:00 AM
I am in Banawe or Banaue, Philippines according to how you describe the place. It is about 10 hour by bus straight north of Manila, and I believe the normal buses are night buses that leave at 10 PM and arrive at sunrise. I did not check the times, but more or less you see nothing between Manila and Banaue but the inside a FROZEN bus and arrive from the huge city of Manila to a small mountain city. A great change of channel.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS ABOUT PHILIPPINES
I am confused because there is no backpacker framework in the country so far, or at least I have not found it. No groups of people from which to learn the gossip quick and fast on where and what to do is available. However, this is September and not the high season so there are very few tourists. I would guess after sleeping four nights in the Philippines I have met or seen walking around 20 tourists. This is an astounding low number of tourists for any country especially since I flew into Manila and stay in the Maleta area for the day. The Maleta area is maybe the center of the backpacker universe for Manila, but is probably shared with the expats, but really, I have no clear assessment because there are so few foreigners.
I have not been to this place and may or may not go, but I would guess by reading the Lonely Planet that it will have the most travelers of anywhere because the Lonely Planet has a section on how to buy Hash or Marijuana in the area, so the Lonely Planet is giving the travelers the hint that if you want to sit around and get high or get drugs to go to this area. This usually makes an area high on the list of travelers. Pai in Thailand in the north is a sit around get stoned city, that does not mean it is not beautiful also, but there could be debates as to the reasons the traveler end up in the areas. It is not ever only the tourist attractions; it is a combination of party, women, drugs, weirdness, cost and what there is to do when you are not looking at the tourist attractions.
WHAT PEOPLE DO IN THE PHILIPPINES?
1. Girls or buy girls.
3. Scuba dive.
5. Beach Resorts
Those would be my five first impressions as to why people come to the Philippines. I am sure that many Americans come here if they, as I am not sure, because I have not seen any other Americans, but if they do, it is because the people of Philippines speak English half the time and the language is no problem here for us English-speaking people.
MY IMPRESSION VERSUS TRAVELERS OR GUIDEBOOKS
I pay attention to danger or ask myself,
“Will I get robbed or cheated?”
The guidebook seems to have an undercurrent that the Philippine is dangerous or full of petty crime. I have not felt or seen any, I would say it is a lot safer than Costa Rica and for sure, the people tell you the truth ten times more than Thailand. The taxi drivers are gougers here in Philippines but if you are going to judge, a country on taxi drivers then that is silly as Taxi drivers are third on my list of trustworthy people on the planet.
Worst to better.
1. Car Salesman
3. Taxi Drivers
So never trust a taxi driver, but the solution is easy in most countries. Do not use the meter. Go to the reception desk or a couple of people and ask how much a taxi should cost? For sure the reception desk will lie and tell you double the cost, but you know that the price is about half of what the reception desk says, go find a taxi and OFFER do not ask and you go taxi. So say I will pay X amount to go here. Find one of them clusters of taxi grouped around as taxi drivers do and say your price you will pay. If you decide on a number you will have a for sure price that is acceptable in your budget, while a meter can cost 10 times what you should pay and no way to control. Better to pay a little more and know the total cost in advance. Meters can be crooked or honest, but no way to know for sure, plus they can go around in circles and run up the cost.
Philippines people speak English, are very honest and helpful. This is going to be an easy country to walk around in and enjoy. It is complicated though to make a decision as to what to do?
Do I go to surf beach, go to Baracay, which is the number one, recommended and I think probably a waste of energy, except for people on the 100-200 dollars a day budget and do not want to talk to Philippines or anyone…. There is probably a sex thing going on there though, but the only word I ever here about Baracay is
I hate when I hear that word. It means to me the worst possible place in the world to go… UNLESS I have a date, and lots of money, then I can go to the resort and study my date, mostly a resort is about going to a country and saying you was there, but never meeting or seeing the country.
I just came off the mountain of Batad or the Rice fields of Banaue and have said goodbye to Christine and the two French people that have been my companions for the last couple of days. Christine was fun but has a large agenda that is different than mine so was time to move with my own agenda. But mostly I want to slow down and meet the Philippines people that so far are wonderful. I have only met the ones that I needed to meet so far like the Hotel owners and the bus or taxi people and not anyone that does not want to talk with me.
Cost of rooms in Manila went from 5 dollars up to here in Banaue I am paying 3 dollars and in Batat I paid 1 dollar, but there is way too much opportunity to pay a lot and I am sure too many people think or accept they need to pay 400 Pesos or 8 dollars and up for a room, but I think I am targeting 4 dollars or 200 Peso as my number to pay per night for a good room.
RICE TERRACES OF BATAD
This is an area that has been designated by UNESCO to be preserved or saved. The bad part is that designation is for sure going to kill this area.
There is a wonder and they like to call it the eighth wonder of the world here in Banaue or who knows where the epicenter of this wonder is, but I would say the area is the center as Banawe has the same rice terraces, but Batad is for sure worth the time or the walk to the place if you are in very good shape or younger than 30, after thirty you be ready for work as the walk is like walking up and down in the steps of a skyscrapers. If you have no problem, walking up a 100-story skyscraper than Batad is great and the water falls of Tappia is special. But you should spend 3 days in Batad and not the 1 night as I stupidly did.
UNESCO means United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and is part or is the United Nations way of trying to preserve what they call significant places in the world. It is an excellent way of choosing a destination and I am using their choices more and more. I came here because the place had this designation; I am not sure why Christine wanted to come. I think she wanted to Trek, but really, she wants to go to a resort and scuba dive, so this was her effort to say you went to solitude, but for me I do not want or care about solitude, I wanted to see what UNESCO thought was important. I do like quiet and this has quiet, and this is great after Manila a city of between 8 million and 20 million. I do not have a clear answer yet. Banaue is a Village and small, but rambles along the river so is bigger than it looks. Batad is empty or has about 20 houses or huts, and half are Hotels.
So I will stay here for a couple of more nights, use the internet, catch up on my nothings, (Doing nothing.) and regroup from walking up and down a few 100 story skyscrapers. Great exercise but we have been moving around at an obnoxious speed and kept busy the whole time with not a moment where I would have had time to read my books. I feel rushed when do not have time to read my books, and I do not call a guidebook reading.
The rice terraces are an engineering feat of wonder. They are maybe between 50-150 terraces from bottom to top according to the locations of the terraces and how you count them. But this means you can look at terraces where there are 100 steps or levels of rice.
The water comes off the mountain and flows down from one terrace to the next lower terrace by an extremely complex series of drops, tubes, or now steel tubes, but probably was bamboo before they had metals. I have taken a lot of photos of this so you can see lots of them soon. I am not in the best country for Internet, and is probably one of the worst I have encountered.
I just realized if there are not internet cafes there are not travelers, there is a direct correlation between the number of internet cafes and the numbers of travelers. I only saw three places in Manila to use the Internet and there seems to be one place here in Banaue, so there are not a lot of travelers here in the Philippines or there would be more.
Sex tourist and normal tourist do not use the internet much, but they are beginning to use it more, for a traveler it is considered a necessity.
I will write or try to explain the rice terraces more with pictures.
If you are interested in UNESCO sites, go to my destinations page and I think the links are there. IF anyone gets energetic, submit some links to information on the page to the wonders of the world. Ancient, natural, manmade etc, so the readers can find this information.
I will not go to the internet and hope that I can use my thumb drive in the computer there.
Thursday September 2, 2004 6:26 or 7:26 AM
I am in the Filippines or I have seen it spelled different so no I am in insecure on how to spell the name, but nonetheless I am here and living in a room three notches down the star pole. Shower does not work, water is funny colored and I can hear the roar of traffic. I have no idea really where I am, but for sure I am not in the middle of some center of the backpacker universe or the center of a Backpacker Ghetto, I am on the third floor of a concrete building that seem wet from humidity.
I guess that was the bad, but the great or wonderful was my meeting a Denmark girl at the Airport. Standing waiting at the baggage carousel looking around at people and standing back away from the carousel waiting. Up pops a white blond blue eyed, maybe greenish eyed girl with a glow about her. A happy glow, I try not to look or pay attention, but she is full of energy and I can feel it.
I wait pretty much at the back of the group because I feel sort of stupid pushing around in a group trying to get my one back when all I have to do is wait and it finally will come, and I say excuse me and go grab it and bring it outside the mess.
But here I am doing the normal airport shuffle when the girl says,
“Do you want to share a taxi to the city?”
“Sure, I have a reservation in a 6 dollar hotel already.”
“Where is it?”
“I don’t know.”
I opened my guidebook and showed her the map and she seem to be very happy, being that I had no idea where it was really and did not care, I was happy she was happy.
Some days in life you are sure there are good angels looking after you and other days you are sure you are at the back of the line. I was thinking to myself and wondering why this drop dead, gorgeous girl is talking to me, and why she is so full of energy, but I am sure that I am happy that she feels safe enough to ask me to travel to the center, and I still look like a backpacker although the backpack part is still on the plane and I am waiting.
Whether she is beautiful or not really did not matter to me, but I slowly learned she was full of great energy, and nothing in life makes life better than good energy. We went through customs and both of us had the same suspicions about taxis drivers, and both needed to extract money from the ATM machine.
I think the exchange rate is 55 peso to the US dollar.
She being extremely gregarious nabs two Israel guys that look like they lifted waits yesterday and make me feel old. So we now have a group of four for the taxi. We negotiate a little, not much, but enough to make all of happy, and everyone wants to know where we are going. I thought for sure they would all just decide that the was going to the Meleta area or some area designated as the place to be for backpackers, but they all seem to think that is where we are going. I show them the map in the Lonely Planet, but I truthfully do not know and do not care where the hotel is located, just the price was important to me and the fact that at 6-7 PM in the rain, getting darker by the moment and rain pouring down or trying rain… It was wet, damp and miserable, like a big city trying to eat us with traffic, and dark trying to scare us into going inside. I knew 80 percent that I had a room and would be dry and ok soon.
We got to the townhouse and hoped that we was there, the place did not look friendly and was for sure not the feel of Khao San Road we just had left. I got out of the 4 wheel drive five dollar taxi and went in to check to be sure. Yep I am in the right hotel, but I am thinking this will be ok for a night, but for sure the other are going to ditch me.
I find that even in the rain, miserable, and full of lot of question in a city of maybe a few million, people can be very picky. Just for safety reason this did not seem to be a good idea, but the two Israel guys decided to go down the road. Israel people are probably some of the fussiest people on the planet and hard to keep happy. That is bad and then they will negotiate the price till you want to slap them. These guys were not negotiators but the did look like a couple of boys that worked out too much in the gym while their parents supplied money. The stereotypical Jewish boys from New York with spiked like black hair and clothes a little sharp for backpackers although they both had backpacks.
I was playing my guessing game with all the foreigners on the plane…
Hmm.. Where is that person from? Which country? Why?
The Denmark girl was in my estimation either Swedish, Norwegian or Dutch, I had not really concluded where before she told me so I cannot say I guessed correctly.
OK, back at the hotel, I am thinking Christine would follow the two Israeli boys and go to the Maleta, but instead she decided to come in the Townhouse hotel, even after she looked inside. It is a concrete room hotel, feels like concrete and warm and cozy does not apply.
I was happy, because I would have a person to discuss our basic questions of where are we, and why are we here that is normal on the first day of a country?
The place has dorm room so she could get a room or dorm bed cheap, but I decided to offer to share a room as it seem to be the decent or thrifty backpack way of doing things, and she seem 100 percent safe, not 99, but 100 percent safe so why not, better to have a person to talk to the first night.
We looked at the room and she said nay to the room, and we both went through the options, 180 for dorm bed, with shower outside, 500 for room, and I had already reserved a 300 Peso room, so felt an obligation to rent that room although the staff seem oblivious to the meanings of why and what not on concepts of reservations. She could have gotten a 20 peso cheaper dorm bed but in the end opted to share a room with me, I think she was a little nervous about the Philippines still.
I do not blame her, this place has a dodgy feeling so far, and no one has relieved us of that feeling.
Christine told me her life story, and she has been to a lot of places. She is a dive instructor and had just spent 6 months in Koh Tao teaching or taking people on dive trips. She is very adventurous, she has went to Gambia and I had to look inside my computer at the maps to find out where Gambia was in Africa.
We compared notes and life was good.
I HAVE A TRAVEL BLOG
Wednesday September 1, 2004 11:50 AM
A travelogue… hehehe.
I am sitting here in the Airport waiting for my plane to leave Bangkok, Thailand and go to the Philippines. It is not often I carry my computer with me, but I always have with me in the airport with extra time while I wait for plane. I suppose many people spend money to entertain themselves and an airport is the worst place in the world for this type of activity and the duty free is the worst.
Nevertheless, I have time so I catch up on my girl watching and people observing hobbies, and then spend time trying to anticipate the future. Being in the no-mans land of between countries is sort of nowhere, so I have not mentally left Thailand and I am not in Thailand. I am in the airport and all airports look the same, except maybe for India and then it is dirty, but most are almost exactly the same big and small.
OVERSTAYED MY VISA
8 years of travel and this is the first, I have over-stayed my visa and with great trepidation came to the airport an extra hour early to deal with this in the event of snafu…
I had a choice, make a run for the border and pay 1500 Baht for transportation and border stamp into Laos and almost the same for Cambodia, Burma is the cheapest at five Dollars, but in the end, it is another day and about 1000 Baht.
Second choice was to pay the 200 Baht per day over-stay fee, since Thailand sells anything you want, I decided that to pay for the over-stay was safe at the airport, I do not think I would do this at a land border. If you are dealing in a place where they can separate you from the group and extort, extract, coerce money from you, then you can be in deep doo doo, but the airport is not one of these typical areas and there are so many high end travelers here in Thailand paying for sex that I am sure they stay over all the time. So I chanced it and it worked, I paid 800 Baht or 20 Dollars U.S. for the 4 day overstay. I am on the other side of the extortion barrier.
When a person over-stays their Visa they are an illegal alien, and can be treated in many ways or in anyway the country deem fit, as you have no rights, so to me this is not what I do.
Border love overstays because this is cash in their pockets, nothing do with honesty and everything to do with corruption. Thailand is a very corrupt nation, but they do not let corruption disrupt the tourist trade so we normally do not have to pay bribes.
I received two emails from the Hotel or Hostel I booked at 6.50 U.S. per night for a private room. This made me feel good that the actual hotel considered that I had a reservation and wrote me.
I do not trust the small hotel reservations as far as I can throw the hotel, but it is worth the risk because of the need for a hotel to state when or if the airline loses my bag. (The USA seems to be the worst on this type of activity.)
THE HOTEL WROTE
RESERVATION POLICY: Due to MANY email, tel or fax reservations not showing up and consequently refusing other guests who wanted the room we MUST maintain a " FIRST COME FIRST SERVE" reservation policy. We can confirm your reservation as soon as you let us know your arrival time but we usually require advance payment for reservations. If you arrive before 4 PM we almost always have the type of rooms you prefer available. Sometimes, if you arrive late past 8PM during our busy months of Dec. to May, it's difficult for us to save the room you prefer but 80% of our guests arrive without paying in advance. We TRY OUR BEST to save you the room with the
rate you requested and if you'll be staying longer since half of our guests check out everyday you can be assured the type of room you prefer the following day by 12 Noon at the latest, often by 9AM as soon as our staff has finished cleaning it.
This is why I do not trust small reservations are because of something that is basically first come first serve.
How a budget hotel works?
Normally a person living in a budget hotel can stay until they check out; they do not have to say how long or when they leave. I have only been told that I only had a room for a few days a couple of times.
So the Hotel takes the reservation.
Hopes that a room come free for the new reservation.
But if the hotel does not have anyone leave, there will be no room.
I really do not care about that, I do wish they would guarantee that they will allow me to sleep or they will allow me to stay and help me find another room, this is what I want from a budget hotel, not so much the room guarantee, but more the guarantee that they will help me to stay somewhere for the same price. To me a Hostel should have an overflow room where there a lot of hammock or cots they can set up for this type of problem.
I think the name of the Hotel I am staying is the Townhouse:
NOTE: The hotel turned out not so good.
That is probably a free page so the link will break sometime in the future.
I needed a guidebook and because you can buy a used guidebook off of Khao San Road for most anywhere in Southeast Asia I went for tour of the used book shops. There was only one Philippines guidebook I found in about 15 different locations where they sell used books and it cost me 400 Baht or about 10 Dollars U.S. so I am ready with a guidebook. The fact that I could only find one used book says a lot about backpackers and the Philippines, there should or could be hundreds of these book like Vietnam or Burma or any other country in the Southeast Asia, but the Philippines does not seem to be high on the list of places to visit. I will soon learn why or why it should be on the list.
Went and bought a bag also of Nescafe instant coffee, I would not want to have withdrawal from Caffeine.
I really am downsizing on my bag, because of the new discount airlines that have a 15 kilo limit, so anything that is disposable or easy to purchase anywhere I ditch or try to use up before I leave.
There is suppose to be surfing in the Philippines, plus I have learned there is Surfing in Sra Lanka. Surf beaches and me seem to be on the same channel, although I do my best to not talk surf slang, but the surfers are better than the drug travelers, so un upgrade in culture for me.
RSS FEED OF BLOG
My blog is free to RSS or put on your web site if you wish, here is a page explaining a little, but not a lot, because I have never done it, but is free and you can do it, especially if you are smarter than me.