It’s been almost a week now since I left the Philippines. I was thinking that it might be a place I would like to stay longer, but in some ways I was glad to leave.
Philippine food has the worst reputation in Asia, and sadly I confirm that it is true. I can spend months in Thailand eating at cheap restaurants, food vendors and hotels and I have rarely had a bad meal. Sometimes the western dishes might be a little strange, but you can’t complain really with any of the local food, and if you stay anywhere near the coast you will experience the best seafood ever.
Everything in the Philippines seemed to be sugary, salty or fatty. Most of the restaurants were either American or local chains. Jolibee is local version of McDonalds and in the bigger cities, you find them on almost every corner. Also the smell of fast food restaurants seemed to linger everywhere in the streets and even in the malls.
I have read reports of foreigners getting mugged in Bangkok, but I always felt safe there. In the Philippines though, especially in Manila and Cebu I just didn’t feel safe at all walking around at night. I don’t know if I was just being paranoid, but you don’t see any other foreigners walking around. I caught taxis everywhere, which fortunately are cheap and the drivers were pretty good, always switching on the meters.
One thing which was hard was all of the street kids begging for money at night. The Philippines is not only country in Asia which is bad for this, but there just seemed to be so many, like in Cebu city. The kids were dirty and ran around with no shoes. They slept outside on the concrete paths – it was really sad.
I stopped off in a smaller town called Iroiro, which was a six hour bus ride from Boracay. It seemed like a more pleasant place than Cebu and Manila. Boracay was nice, but crowded when I went. The islands around Palawan are supposed to be the best for beaches and for diving. I should have gone there first, but I was interested to see what Cebu was like, as I know a lot of foreigners choose to retire there. Why is this? Well, I will let you guess.