First Observations of Vagabonding (and The Philippines)

I’ve only been doing this for around a week now, but it feels as though I have been away for months. When I first boarded the plane and spent the first couple of nights adjusting in Manila, a lot of things went though my mind. Here are the first random observations, impressions and musings of life on the road.

You can take syringes, needles and nail clippers with a vile on board a plane as carry on items.

Flying 15.5 hours including layover is not so bad, but it is tiring.

China Southern only lets you carry on 5 kilos but no one pays the slightest attention as to what you really bring with you. My 8 kilos of ‘everything that I apparently need in life’ happily stayed with me throughout the entire flight + layover. I had some sleepless night over this, so you can imagine my relief.

I have a fascination with the Manila slums. I wish I could explore them. I didn’t get any farther than looking at them from a car window.

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Manila street view

Filipinos are way too nice. I asked a Filipino work friend if she had some suggestions regarding places to visit, and before I knew it, her sister and friend were holding my hand all the way through my first days in Manila.

I was pretty much the only white person in Manila.

Until we visited the wealthier areas and suddenly there were way too many white people.

You know when you go into a Chinese or Asian supermarket in Europe and you try out all those packaged sweets and biscuits because they look so tasty and after one bite you throw away the whole pack because it’s disgusting? Well, I found out all that stuff actually tastes really good when you get it from a real Chinese place like the Chinatown in Manila.

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Chinatown street food in Manila

Manila has a lot of people and traffic. I like how you can cross the street, and walk in the midst of the chaos of the cars and the tricycles and the motorbikes and it’s okay, cause everyone does it.

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Intense traffic in Manila

Travelling is stressful. Constantly moving, finding your way in a new place and finding and booking flights and hostels is very tiring and time consuming. Especially with poor (non-existent) wifi and mobile data.

I can walk in the sun with my backpack for a long time.

I’m a rock star in the Philippines. Everyone wants to say hello. Little kids high-five me when walking past.

Eight hour ferries are not fun. Avoid.

The miniature bottle of sunscreen I attempted to buy, was more expensive than a night in a dorm. I had that awkward moment of having to decline the purchase because I didn’t have the money.

I was wrong when I thought I could buy a sarong here.

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Where is my sarong?

Dorms suck. I understand why young people were telling me to stay in dorms – because it’s cheap and you meet people. But the problem is that I’m not young. I like to be in my room at night and be able to charge my phone without worrying about people stealing it. I don’t go out at night and use the dorm to cure my hangover. I’m boring, guys. I’m proud of it too.

I have the smallest backpack of everyone I’ve seen so far. On the ferry from El Nido to Coron there were a lot of big packs. Even 80l ones. I am probably a bit of an arsehole because I am also way too proud of my little pack.

Everyone travels in pairs or groups. Mostly the boyfriend-girlfriend variety, two friend or a small group of girls. Where are the solo travellers?

Booking flights in advance may be a good idea. I just spent a small fortune to get from Coron to Dumaguete.

Flip flops kill feet.

I underestimated the fact I haven been in the sun for years. I’m that typical white person that got burned in a beach destination.

Showers over toilets are not my ideal bathroom situation. Neither are cold showers.

My white Keds are no longer white. They first turned beige, after hiking to the Maquinet hot springs, they’re red.

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Trekking to the Maquinet Hot Springs, outside of Coron Proper

I haven’t seen one mosquito yet.

Finding food gets tedious. It’s not like you can open the fridge and find something there. Sometimes there’s just nothing I want to eat. And nothing I can recognise. I just want a Pret sandwich now and again. Instead I just skip meals and eat dried banana crisps instead.

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Typical grilled fish in El Nido

Snorkelling in the Philippines is not great. I went to Egypt and it was beautiful. I was expecting the Philippines to be at least as impressive as that. But it’s not. All these island hopping trips supposedly go to snorkelling destinations but just because the water is clear and there’s a few fish doesn’t mean it’s snorkelling worthy. Where are the real snorkelling spots?

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Island snorkelling trip from Coron. Clear water, but where is the reef?

My jaws hurt from smiling and greeting people so much. At first, it was just the kids who would come over excitedly, wanted to wave and say hello. Then I began to find myself in areas tourist don’t normally walk through (they may whizz through on tricycles) and they all went out of their way to say hello. I realised that Actually, I am a visitor of their country, their neighbourhood, and that should be great full for such a warm welcome. And that’s when I started going out of my way to smile and say hello. And to be honest, it’s kind of nice to see the smiles on people faces appear when you do so.

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Homes in Coron

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Rosanne Luciana

A Dutch-born London-based hiker who has swapped an East Asian backpacking experience for the opportunity to truly immerse herself into nature, by quite simple, walking.

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