I enjoyed my time on the Philippines and I`m pretty sure I will come back one day. Actually, I already have a list of things I want to do and places I want to visit when I come back 😉. 4 weeks are just not enough for more than 7000 islands and all this beauty!
Take the time to watch the movie I created of my pictures and my videos- this will give you a good impression. It starts with the big city life of Cebu City, showing a big local market, the extreme differences between poor street life and shiny shopping malls and continues with breathtaking beaches, a little canyoning adventure, more breathtaking beaches and the fascinating under water world of the Philippines….. ENJOY!
Visiting the Philippines was a spontaneous decision, but a very good one. I wasn`t prepared at all, did not read any guide nor did I know which places to visit. Therefore, I was a little overwhelmed at the beginning. I guess that`s the German in me. So, I first concentrated on the “main things”, of course. Things I read online or found out while talking to other travelers. A lot of information you can’t find online and if so, don’t rely on it’s up to date. Better ask around. Travel blogs provided the best and most accurate information. I don’t even know if it would’ve been different if I would have shown up here more prepared.
It´s not like other tourist destinations: You land at the airport and find flyers and offers already. Not in the Philippines.
But once you are at one of the “main” destinations you will find all the info you need and more. Because there, people know how to earn money with the tourists pretty well. But I highly recommend exploring with a scooter and just turn from the main road as there are still a lot of hidden gems. Yes, these places exist here! A lot. I feel there are only a hand full of famous places (for example El Nido). These places are packed and almost like any other tourist place around the world.
Figuring this out, I tried to avoid these places. The rest of the Philippines is not like really wild and undiscovered but still very remote, I feel. I loved spending time at the country side and living the local way. So, for my next trip I have some more of these hidden gems on my list.
I tried to avoid big cities as well. Arriving in Cebu City and spending 2 days there taught me that I don’t like it. It’s interesting though. It´s dirty, the air is bad and polluted, a lot of traffic and 2 worlds coexisting right next to each other: very, very poor areas with women sitting on the dirty floor and doing their laundry in the river, local markets with all the street food, clothes and whatever you might need for cheap. And then right next door the new shiny shopping malls with Starbucks, TGI Fridays, H&M and any other international brands you could think of with almost western prices. It feels weird. It doesn`t fit together.
THE ONLY DOWN SiDE
Talking about food: There is a looooot of meat on the menu for the Filippinos and it`s a bit difficult for vegetarians. Most of the times I earned a confused look, when I was asking for something without meat. And I kind of understand why: They rarely use any spices and the meat obviously brings the taste to the food. No meat, insipid flavor. After a while, I got a bit tired of it to be honest, but mixing it up with some fresh seafood from time to time, it was very ok. Plus, I could eat the fresh fruit and coconuts all day long! The sweetest bananas and mangos ever! The mangos are just to peel with the hands and sooo yummy! Each day a fresh fruit juice.
But about the coffee we need to talk! They mostly have instant coffee- and guess what: Nescafé! Really? This brand that stands for abusing the 3rd world concerning water and other things!!! This needs to change!
As mentioned in another blog, people in the Philippines are awesome! Friendly, caring and polite. And not just the adults are very happy, also the kids seem to be always in a good mood. I saw only one kid crying during my whole trip. Fair enough, because it fell. But for example, there have been some kids on the long bus ride I took. I was prepared for a lot of action and noise and crying… But: NOTHING! They didn`t even need to be entertained. No phones, no games. They´ve been just sitting and smiling and taking in all the impressions… WOW! THIS WAS IMPRESSIVE!
By the way, almost EVERYBODY speaks at least basic English. It´s part of the school system and makes contact to the locals, communication and travelling in general very easy!
What can I say? I fell in love with the Philippines and I totally understand all the Europeans I met who stranded there. I will be back for sure and now knowing the life there better and understanding how to get around and where to go, I`m sure I will love it even more the next time! But I guess I better hurry up, before more and more people will travel there and all the hidden gems are not hidden anymore!