Author Topic: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close  (Read 2253495 times)

Offline codefreeze

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4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« on: February 18, 2018, 11:48:00 AM »
My 4 week trip to Philippines is just drawing to a close, fly back Tuesday. It will probably take me another month or more to process everything that has happened - good and bad! All I can say right now is it has been a hell of a trip which has included dodging a tropical cyclone (Basyang), being scammed once and avoiding it twice, snorkelling incredible coral reefs, visiting some amazing and not so amazing places, and eating some really bad and really good food! Having a severe respiratory infection and a fever, and receiving the best dental care I've experienced. I have met one or two friendly expats and some that look like they have just eaten glass. I have been from Manila to Camiguin, and quite a few places in between, and back again! Wow, what a ride.

So, will I retire here? I have been surprised by many of the things I've seen, and this has not been my first trip to Philippines, and I have spent a lot of time in South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia). This has been an education though...

Offline UNGGOY

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2018, 11:55:06 AM »
Sounds like you have done more in 4 weeks than I have in a decade!

I would not recommend just anyone to retire in the RP.

Life can be hard.

You really have to want it. The good and the bad.

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Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2018, 12:06:38 PM »
Sounds like you have done more in 4 weeks than I have in a decade!

I would not recommend just anyone to retire in the RP.

Life can be hard.

You really have to want it. The good and the bad.

I agree. This trip has certainly given me a new appreciation for some of the things I took for granted in my home country.


Offline UNGGOY

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2018, 12:18:55 PM »
I agree. This trip has certainly given me a new appreciation for some of the things I took for granted in my home country.

Like toilet papers.

Have you learned to take of business with only a cup of water yet?  ;D

I actually prefer it. I would do it in the States, but the CR floor is made of wood!
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Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2018, 12:43:50 PM »
Like toilet papers.

Have you learned to take of business with only a cup of water yet?  ;D

I actually prefer it. I would do it in the States, but the CR floor is made of wood!

Oh yep, I am a pretty comfortable using the tabo. :)

Offline Bisaya gyud

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #5 on: February 19, 2018, 06:14:37 AM »
No tabo for me.  ;)

When I'm out and about in the Philippines, I always have a drawstring bag on my back with various necessities - toilet paper, sun hat, poncho, hand cleanser, insect repellent, several over-the-counter meds, etcetera.
Visayas * Cebu * Leyte

Offline Lee2

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2018, 07:41:04 AM »
No tabo for me either, just because we live in the Philippines (part time) does not mean we have to live like the locals do, that is one of my big beefs, since I worked my whole life and often two and three jobs, or a lot of overtime, I feel that I am entitled to enjoy living just as we live in the U.S. and if we lived in Makati, BGC, Angeles or other very modern area, then it could and would be even more like back home.
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline chimellie

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #7 on: March 01, 2018, 04:23:17 AM »
I've been travelling to the Philippines almost a dozen times and every time I go there I learn something new or meet more relative of my wife's, big families there. Like you said, there's good and bad and I agreed with you on that. But I really enjoy it when I go there, I'm happy to see my wife spending time with her family, giving chocolate to the poor kids in the neighborhood, it's priceless to see them chowing down the chocolate fast so they can get more from me. I feel good when I can spare a dollar or 2 to the poor people working in the market or on the street. 
We also travel to many places when we 're there, places like Palawan, Camotes, Bohol, Davao in Mindanao, many waterfalls and nice beaches on these islands.
We built a retirement home in Cebu a few years ago in my wife's family neighborhood, but sometimes I wish I hadn't done that, it's too close to her family, living too close to family could be a big problem. If I have a chance to do it all over again I would buy a condo near the beach or a house in a gated community.

Offline Lee2

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #8 on: March 01, 2018, 04:32:48 AM »
My 4 week trip to Philippines is just drawing to a close, fly back Tuesday. It will probably take me another month or more to process everything that has happened - good and bad! All I can say right now is it has been a hell of a trip which has included dodging a tropical cyclone (Basyang), being scammed once and avoiding it twice, snorkelling incredible coral reefs, visiting some amazing and not so amazing places, and eating some really bad and really good food! Having a severe respiratory infection and a fever, and receiving the best dental care I've experienced. I have met one or two friendly expats and some that look like they have just eaten glass. I have been from Manila to Camiguin, and quite a few places in between, and back again! Wow, what a ride.

So, will I retire here? I have been surprised by many of the things I've seen, and this has not been my first trip to Philippines, and I have spent a lot of time in South East Asia (Thailand, Malaysia). This has been an education though...
When you have time, I, and I am sure others, would like to hear more about your trip and if you will retire to the Philippines or not, and why?
:) Happily married since 1994 & live part of the year in Cebu and the rest in S. Florida.

Offline piozam13

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #9 on: March 02, 2018, 12:57:31 AM »
no doubt you've seen a lot.  but there may be other things you have not observed yet, both  positive and negative. i hope you'll come back again and again and stay?

Offline UNGGOY

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #10 on: March 02, 2018, 05:40:43 AM »
No tabo for me.  ;)

When I'm out and about in the Philippines, I always have a drawstring bag on my back with various necessities - toilet paper, sun hat, poncho, hand cleanser, insect repellent, several over-the-counter meds, etcetera.

I bring TP when I go out. I refuse to do a water bottle at SM :P
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Offline UNGGOY

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #11 on: March 02, 2018, 05:45:50 AM »
No tabo for me either, just because we live in the Philippines (part time) does not mean we have to live like the locals do, that is one of my big beefs, since I worked my whole life and often two and three jobs, or a lot of overtime, I feel that I am entitled to enjoy living just as we live in the U.S. and if we lived in Makati, BGC, Angeles or other very modern area, then it could and would be even more like back home.

I don't use tabo. I use my shower head. Kind of like a Pinoy bidet. Or an empty cup, when the water is out. I use paper to help dry.

Interesting topic really.

Easier than using the 3 shells...
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Offline M.C.A.

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #12 on: March 02, 2018, 08:15:21 PM »
The Dental office we use is the finest spot I've ever seen, my wife and kids have been there several times and I've never seen dental chairs with TV's playing movies before.  The waiting room is marbeled floors, huge exported furniture, two desk top computers with internet access, massage chair like in the malls only free, free drinks, cookies, snacks and cable TV.

The Dental work is also amazing the cost is very low.
My views would be from someone who lives out in the province close to in-laws on a pension.  Norwegian and French heritage.

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2018, 12:19:21 AM »
When you have time, I, and I am sure others, would like to hear more about your trip and if you will retire to the Philippines or not, and why?

I thought this thread was devolving into a discussion of Tabo so I didn't check back. :) Yes this was my original intention. I have made extensive notes and I kept a daily log while I was there. I have written up some summary thoughts long hand - I just need to get around to typing those up - hopefully in the next few days or so. I will post them here.

Offline codefreeze

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Re: 4 weeks in the Phils coming to a close
« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2018, 03:02:51 AM »
Part 1 - General thoughts

1) Air BnB - game changer, 25 a night for a great apartment. Hotels are now very expensive. Legend Villas for example used to be 25 a night - it's now double that at least - if it's not booked out.

2) Pollution in Manila is bad. Really bad. Within days both partner and I developed sore throats, and later chest infections. We carried these through the 4 weeks we were there, and partner still had a cough. Even out on the islands pollution is an issue. The main culprit on Camiguin for example, which is an otherwise tranquil place are the trikes. On any trip you are likely to be breathing in a lot of diesel and petrol fumes.

3) Dogs. A right pain wherever you go. I was frequently barked at or even lunged at by random dogs. In the end I stopped going for a walk because I got fed up dealing with the dogs.

4) Minor medical ops and especially dental work were superb and cheap. I had a dental cleaning session at Dentista in Shang Plaza and it was the only time, ever, that I've had a painless cleaning. The dentist was wonderful. Full check up too and a total bill of PHP1,200. I pay a lot more for a poor quality cleaning in the UK.

5) Body Tune in Mega Mall - I had a Balinese massage for around PHP800 and it was one of the best things I've ever done. I literally felt ten years younger after it. I was buzzing. We also had a pedicure there which was really relaxing and well done. Very cheap too compared to what you'd pay for these services in UK. Philippines is great for providing these sorts of service at low prices.

6) Traffic in Manila - what to say - it's horrible. There is one saving grace - Grab car is a really, really good service. If you've not come across it it is a ride hailing app similar to Uber. Traditional taxis are cheaper, but we found we tended towards the safety and convenience of Grab. We also used Uber and found it reasonable too. The Grab and Uber drivers were always pleasant and had very nice cars.

7) Flights are cheap and very good. We used Cebu Pacific and they were cheap, clean and an effective way of getting about. One minor issue - booking online with a debit card doesn't work - you need a credit card.

8) Food was very, very variable and often disappointing. One of the best places I found to eat was the Vietnamese noodle shop in Shang Mall. The buffet at Dad's in MegaMall is also incredible. There's a Japanese restaurant up near Viking's that also served really good food. Out of Manila the food was mostly horrible (and cold). Even Tatoy's in Ilo Ilo was, I thought, pretty shoddy stuff.

9) Getting about in the provinces. I got absolutely sick of taking those damn trikes everywhere. If I go back to Philippines I am learning how to ride a motorbike because I'm convinced it's the best way to get around on the islands.

10) Diving and snorkeling in the Philippines continues to be, for me, one of the best reasons to go there. Did not go diving this trip, but snorkeled quite a bit. Highlights snorkeling around Camiguin island and especially the Sunken Cemetery - incredible!

11) Typhoons in Feb. When we got down to Romblon island things were looking very dicey. Bear in Mind this was Feb and the typhoon season is supposed to end in November. We were on Camiguin when typhoon Basyang hit and while not major it was enough to keep us trapped on the island for a couple of days, and, but for a break in the weather, potentially much longer. Weather wise - expect the unexpected. By the way when we arrived in Manila late January it was raining - a lot!

12) The Malls in Manila tend to be something of a refuge. The interesting thing is I hardly ever buy anything other than coffee or perhaps some food at the supermarket or a restaurant. However, they are incredibly clean, cool, secure, and well maintained places on the whole. The selection of merchandise is far, far greater than what you will find in UK. For example the range of trail running shoes alone blew my mind! I have also never seen such an enormous display of different G-Shock watches. In the UK you are lucky to find half a dozen watches - I saw hundreds of different G-Shocks in the malls. Shang Mall, Mega Mall, and the mall out at BGC were all superb. Some items you may want to consider buying in Manila if you are coming from UK: watches (incredible selection available), running shoes, other footwear, clothes. I also have to give a shout out to Habagat - awesome quality outdoor clothing/equipment shop.

13) Did I mention that Manila is really really polluted? To be fair there are nice areas. The Greenfields area is pretty nice. The Capital Commons area is also really clean and nice and you can walk around. I would be quite happy to rent one of the fancy new condos there long term. I also enjoyed hanging out at the Buffalo Wings sports bar joint there. Twin Oaks area, and Shang Mall/St. Francis were all quite liveable. I do realize these are fairly pricey areas to live compared to being out in the boondocks though.

14) Cebu was quite a place! I had not been expecting such a massive city. It also seemed to have a significant Chinese/Japanese/Korean presence. I was not there long though. It is a city that never sleeps. I cruised through the city at three and four in the morning (to/from the airport) and the McDs, Jollibees, and even Dunkin Donuts were full of people. Ayala Terraces is quite a nice place to walk around and eat at - watch out for the GROs on the prowl there for a foreign b/f though!

15) I found expats to be a funny lot. They often would not acknowledge my nod, smile, or greeting. To the African American US serviceman (I am guessing the last bit) I met at the supermarket in Odiongan on Tablas I'm sorry I did not chat for longer - I was so taken aback by an expat who actually said good morning!

16) On Tablas island I want to make a recommendation. Avoid San Augustin like the plague. You are much better off going to Odiongan and getting the ferry from there. Yes, I know it's a longer ferry trip if you are heading to Romblon, but it's worth it. One of the few bad experiences we had on the trip (I think the only one) was in San Augustin.

17) After the bad experience in San Augustin we headed to Romblon by ferry where Swiss national Ivon, the owner of Marble Beach resort and long term resident in Romblon, restored our faith in human nature with coffee and lovely homemade banana cake, which we consumed with relish! Meeting Ivon and his lovely wife Mary Grace was one of the highlights of the trip and we only wish we had made the decision to stay with him longer. In our defence we were still in a state of shock after the shenanigans at San Augustin.

18) I want to shout out to San Pedro Beach resort next to Marble Beach resort too. The owner was really lovely and helpful and they whip up a decent dinner in the restaurant too. Sorry we could not have stayed there too!

19) Impressions of Ilo Ilo were very favourable. I got the impression of a clean, well laid-out city. Everything had a new feel. We stayed at Diversion 21 which was a really great hotel to stay in after some of the places we slept! The hotels in Ilo Ilo can fill up at an alarming rate when there's a conference in town so check your bookings and double check your bookings. We had problems with some hotels (in Ilo Ilo) where you made a booking via Booking.com only to find the hotel was actually full! This is really bad news for multiple reasons!

20) As a foreigner you are always something of a target, either for scams or even as a subject of curiosity. We got scammed once (cost PHP 1000), but managed to avoid two considerably larger (but more obvious) scams. The worst thing about our scam was, we knew we were being scammed, but were in a vulnerable situation, so had to play along. It was the right decision but left us with a very sour taste. Also, some of the stories we heard would make your hair curl, so watch out, and remember that not all scammers in Philippines are filipino!

21) Smart Mobile and Smart Mobile Broadband which we purchased in MegaMall Manila were worth their weight in gold. We had a pretty effective internet connection through Smart Mobile Broadband (SIM plugged into the mobile broadband router we brought with us) wherever we went (including remote places Romblon and Camiguin) as well as voice. I was quite impressed with Smart. The prices were quite cheap too. We bought 10GB broadband as well as the local pay as you go SIM for voice. Nice one!

22) Van drivers are completely nuts. We took a six hour van drive down from Caticlan to Ilo Ilo and nearly died about six times. We ended up feeling sorry for the driver though despite him nearly killing us, as one of the passengers, a middle aged woman, who he'd gone out of his way to help, stole his smartphone while he was getting her bag out of the back of the van. Keep an eye on your fellow travellers when taking a van! Having eyes in the back of your head can be considered very useful!

23) We met so many nice and helpful people. The trip we took, which involved a lot of island hopping and seat-of-the-pants travel decisions, would not have been possible without the sheer generosity, helpfulness and kindness of both many filipinos and several resident expats.

24) One of the best decisions we made was to travel light. I used an Osprey Transporter 65 and Ana used an Osprey Transporter 40. The Ospreys performed superbly - incredibly tough and well made. If I was doing this again I would probably use a smaller bag, either the Transporter 40 or a slightly bigger rucksack of maybe 55L. My Osprey 38L would not have been big enough. I had no problem taking my Osprey Transporter 65 on Cebu Pacific as cabin baggage. I was always under the 7 kg limit, although the only time they checked was when the weather was iffy. A couple of other things I found useful. I picked up some shoe bags really cheap at a mall near Montebello Villa hotel in Cebu (really cheap stuff in that mall). I used one shoe bag for shoes and the other for clothes and that worked really well. Headlamp - didn't think I'd need it but turned out to be very useful.

25) Philippines, even out on the islands, can be very noisy. Even in what should have been a tranquil spot way out of town on Camiguin, we found the noise incessant. Motorbikes, scooters, trikes and so on create noise and pollution. Loud music was played at some houses from 6.00am to gone midnight - and I mean REALLY loud music. There was also the usual cacophony of cockerels crowing and dogs barking.

26) Visa extension. We tried to extend our visas on arrival at Ninoy Aquino airport. We asked several "officers" at the aiport where to do it and got several different answers ranging from it can't be done to Mall of Asia! In the end we gave up and decided to sort it later.

27) I was REALLY shocked and disappointed by Singapore Airlines and, frankly, I will never use them again. We flew out (LHR to Changi) via an ageing A380 and it was a trip from hell. There was zero leg room and when the people in front of me pushed their seats right back, my seat became unusable. We had a much smaller plane for the return flight from Changi to LHR (13 hours) and the same problem again. Luckily we were able to find two seats elsewhere  that were usable and made the best of it. Generally the service on Singapore Air was poor. It gives me no pleasure to say this as I have been singing SA's praises for years, but things seem to have gone very much downhill since my last experience of them in 2011. We decided we would not go this route again. I believe we will opt for Emirates and stop over in Dubai for a couple of days. This reduces flight time to a more manageable 6 hours. We also came back a few days early due to the sudden death of a good friend and so needed to change our flights. That little change cost us GBP460 (230 per ticket)! Especially grating as the flight back was not full as the SA service staff had told us! Almost tempted to file this under "biggest scam of the trip". Thanks for your help in our hour of need SA. FU Singapore Air - never again!

In summary: An amazing trip with heady highs and some gut wrenching lows. I've deliberately *not* given a blow-by-blow account of the trip, rather just highlighting some points of note/general thoughts. We saw a lot of the Visayas, but you need a lot more time than 4 weeks to do it justice. I would like to go back and see more of Ilo Ilo and also see Davao. I hear very good things about Davao but we just ran out of time on this trip. The natural beauty of Philippines continues to blow my mind. The filipinos we met were incredible people too.

I will follow this up with a Part 2 containing my thoughts on retiring to Philippines (something we have been considering for a while now).

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« Last Edit: March 09, 2018, 03:10:23 AM by codefreeze »

 


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