Finding Nemo

Monday, May 16, 2011

Philippine Final Verdict

Philippines is a mixed bag.  Once you get out of Manila to the smaller islands it can be very beautiful.  The diving is great, lots of cool big animals like whale sharks and mantas.  The beaches are white, and El Nido sounds like a place that I think I have to come back to see.  The kiteboarding on Boracay is amazing.

But there are a lot of things that will make me think twice about returning.  I've already written about the worst things like the aggressive lady-boys, masseuses, the street urchins, and other kids selling shells that should be playing or in school.  It seems a bit too touristy at all the spots, especially Boracay.  There don't seem to be those backpacker-only getaways you can find so easily in Thailand or Indo or Malaysia.  Perhaps El Nido is that place.  But also, there is a strange malaise about the country.  Everyone in the service industry works 7 days a week, every week.  As a result, they always seem to be half asleep all day, tired, lounging.  You don't have the friendly welcoming face you get in Japan or Thailand.

Now I'm used to waiting in Asia or anywhere in the 3rd world.  But Philippines is a special place.  One day Damon from California and another person both ordered the same dish at the same time at Frendz in Boracay.  The other person's food came.  Damon waited patiently, after all this was the land of "bahala na", it goes as it goes.  An hour went by.  Finally Damon asked about his food.  The guy said sure, wrote the order down. Would he like a drink?

"No, you don't understand, I just ordered the same dish as him an hour ago!  Is it ready?"

"Ohhhh.  Let me check."  A few moments, then... "Sorry, the chef is asleep."

In other words, the chef had been given two identical orders, made the first, and then took a nap.

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