The wonderful people and places of the Philippines

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[This is Steve’s post about his experiences in the Philippines]

My third trip to the Philippines during the past 12 years has inspired me to think about all the good times I’ve enjoyed during my visits, while also reflecting on what I’ve learned about the good people there.  I’ve also found that I get somewhat depressed about the hardships that folks have to deal with in their day-to-day lives on the many beautiful islands (7,107 to be exact).

Philippine Map

We spent 8 nights with Mona Liza’s family in Moalboal on the southwest end of Cebu, then several nights on gorgeous Palawan – the island to the left in the image.

I want to stress that this post is a very general comparison of life in the Philippines, in contrast to living in the good old USA.  Like any place in the world, there are many exceptions to the following characterizations, but I thought it might be worthwhile to offer my insights into what I observed while there.

Jeepney

Just another day heading into the office or school

Pasil, Cebu

Squatter’s shacks along the water – the worst of life in the Philippines

My recent trip reminded me how upbeat, tough, resilient and flexible the Filipino people are.  These folks generally work hard for extremely low wages, and there are no pensions, retirement plans or medical benefits in sight.  There’s no “attitude” here as there is with many young people in the USA, and these are non-violent people.  Their biggest joys are spending time with family and chatting comfortably with complete strangers.  They are friendly, helpful and respectful with anyone they meet.  Life is much more leisurely, and it’s almost as if time is not a factor when trying to get their jobs done (ie. a very low-stress lifestyle).

Tri-sikad

Mona Liza’s sister Thelma returns home from the market – this is the way to get around town, and I totally enjoyed the ride several times!

Wanna talk about tough?  Many people in the U.S. choose between living in areas that experience either brutal weather or earthquakes.  In the Philippines you get both!  We arrived in the midst of a “signal-1” typhoon, which caused some damage but never made the news.  Several typhoons cross the islands each year, but only the “super typhoons” make the news.  Fortunately, the recent huge typhoon Hagupit headed north of our stops and spared us and ML’s family.

Kawasan Falls

The typhoon we endured while on the island of Cebu caused quite a bit of damage at the popular waterfalls

No matter how terrible things get with regard to weather or their job situation, Filipinos rarely fail to show up at church on Sunday to thank God for what they have.  Amazing!

Farmers Market in Moalboal

A typical market that we enjoyed on a daily basis

Although I love the beautiful islands and warm Filipino people, I have to admit that I’m probably just too spoiled to live there full time.  I would never drive there; although the drivers appear to be insane as they negotiate the roads with no attention to any kind of traffic laws, they somehow make it work and defy my certainty that accidents must occur every few seconds.  On my first trip in 2002 I was terrified as we weaved through traffic at high speeds.  This time I just sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Sabang, Palawan

You think you’ve seen crazy drivers?  How many violations can you spot here?

Sabang, Palawan

Hauling coconuts to a stand for sale. We loved drinking the milk and eating the meat of these yummy delights!

Saavedra, Moalboal

Life can be difficult here, but they always get the job done

Despite the fact that I don’t speak the language or even fit in very well, I always look forward to my next adventure in the Philippines.  So many beautiful islands to explore and friendly people to hang out with.  You simply must make a trip there one of the items on your “travel bucket list” – you won’t be disappointed!



 Next up:  More about our exciting visit to the Philippines

Island Girls meet on Prince Edward Island – fun, fun, fun!

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Great Heron

Prince Edward Island was such a fitting place for the “island girls” to meet.  But before I reveal who they are, allow me to first share more sights and scenes around PEI.  Being a small island, its waters are teeming with all things seafood – including lobsters, mussels, oysters, quahogs and bar clams, among others.  We can proudly boast that we have dined on the freshest and best PEI mussels in existence.  Steve got adventurous and ordered two new shellfish in his food vocabulary, Quahogs and Bar Clams.  That was a great decision – yum!

Our new friend Brenda tipped us off about French River, which was just a few miles from our campground.  It is one of PEI’s most famously picturesque fishing villages, and what a view it is!

French River

My panoramic shot cannot capture it’s unique features, the contrasting yet complimentary combination of water view and farmland in ONE  single vista.

French River

And so here is my attempt to take section shots.  They were taken on a perfectly clear day from left to right on the pano shot. Just imagine yourself sitting on top of a hill overlooking this vista. Simply beautiful.

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French River

French River

We spent a while here just admiring gorgeous views we haven’t seen anywhere else!

Now, back to the “island girls” meeting.  When I learned that Island Girl was in the Canadian Maritimes the same time we were, my desire to meet a fellow blogger kicked in.  We had been following each other, and a rendezvous was in order at the right place on the island.  As you know, I hail from one of the thousands of islands in the Philippines – Cebu – while Brenda is from another beautiful island – Puerto Rico.  They appropriately named their coach Island Girl!  So, we had our own little summit on PEI.  Brenda, Hector and the very sweet 4-legged doggie Angel were perfect hosts at their campground right on the sea.

Island Girl

What a view they had – I’m almost standing in the water to get this shot!

Hector who comes from Cuba showed us his shucking skills, offering the “boutique” oysters from the area – Malpeques and Raspberry points.  Both are delicious!  We shared travel ideas and tips, and enjoyed each other’s company so much that we forgot about the time.

Check them out, as they have covered a lot of ground while here in the Maritimes.  Not to mention, Hector’s photography is outstanding!

Island Girl

Brenda and Mona Liza at the official Island Girls site!

Also, they happened to be at an awesome spot for a gorgeous sunset.

New Annan, Sunset

Sunset at New Annan

 

Next up:  Betsy goes to the hospital – Halifax, NS

 

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You never know who you’ll meet at the Laundromat! -Powdersville, SC

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Lt Col K.C. Thompson

A few days before my departure to the Philippines, I had to do several loads of laundry which had been piling up for a while.  Since Ivy Acres RV Park does not have laundry facilities, we ran over to nearby Powdersville, SC to do it.  While I was folding, an elderly man who was waiting for his wash cycle started a conversation with me.  The usual question I get asked is if I am from the Philippines and that sort of thing.  I was initially busy folding so I just replied briefly to his queries, not paying much attention.  When I completed my folding  I sat down next to him and we continued with our conversation while waiting for Steve to pick me up.

And then he said, “I was stationed in Arizona in the Air Force”.

After telling him about all of the things we did while in Arizona, including a visit to the Titan Missile Museum in Tucson, his eyes perked up and I discovered that I was talking with none other than retired USAF Lt. Colonel Kermit C. Thompson, commander of the missile silo all those many years ago.  Steve arrived soon after, and we were enthralled by Mr. Thompson’s stories about life in the missile silo.  He was excited to meet folks who had actually toured the silo, which he fondly called “his baby.”

He and Steve also talked about their time at the Pentagon, which is where Steve was stationed while in the Air Force.  Mr. Thompson went on to become a school principal for seventeen years in Hawaii, and he has written several books which are available at Amazon under K. Cardell Thompson.  We had a very interesting conversation, and before you know it his wash cycle was completed!  Who knew that doing laundry could be so interesting?

Lt Col K.C. Thompson

Talking with Lt. Col. Kermit C Thompson


Leaving on a jet plane…

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Baggages

Some of you who have been following our travels may have noticed we ‘ve been putting on the miles since we left Arizona and headed east in late January.  One of the reasons is that I’ll be visiting family in the Philippines for a month and for various reasons we had planned my departure from Charlotte, NC.  In fact, by the time this is published I’ll be soaring high over the Pacific Ocean.

While I’m bonding with family, Steve will be attending a Freightliner chassis class in Gaffney, South Carolina.  He also has a long “Betsy list” of maintenance items to take care of, with the slide/leak issue at the very top.  By the time I get back Betsy should be in tip-top shape and Steve will have upgraded his knowledge of our complicated land yacht.

Even though The Lowes Adventures is taking some time out from traveling, we have a few unpublished (and hopefully interesting) stories lined up.  Steve will be publishing them periodically while I’m gone, so you won’t miss me too much 🙂

Betsy and Steve will be hanging out at Kings Mountain State Park in South Carolina until I return.  Then, onward to the great northeastern states!

Kings Mountain State Park

Betsy will be at Kings Mountain State Park for a whole month, that’s our longest stop ever!

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Drugs and Dentists – Mexico!

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Algodones, Mexico

We arrived in Yuma thinking we could get away from a lingering cold snap in the area.  Yet, when we arrived here a freeze warning remained in effect for several days.  Yuma is in the far southwest corner of Arizona, sharing its border with Mexico and California.  And get this: according to Guinness World Records, Yuma is the sunniest city on earth – receiving sunshine an average of 91% of all possible daylight hours.  But wow, it can still get chilly here!  All that sun is the reason Yuma’s main industry is Agriculture .

Yuma

Fields of Dreams- farming is Yuma’s number one industry.

Fall and winter months are when Yuma’s population doubles with the arrival of sun-seeking snowbirds.  Almost all of the private RV parks are brimming with RVers, and driving around town we noticed an assortment of license plates from the northeast and northwest states, and Canada.  There are plenty of things to do here, but the current wind and cold are limiting our usual outdoor activities a bit.

However, we did socialize!  We drove out into the boonies where Paul and Nina of Wheeling It are enjoying the vast desert with a few other hardy souls.  You see, we have been following their blog since well before we began fulltiming.  From their stories we gained lots of useful RV tips and boondocking site locations that we had never heard of.  While talking with them over a glass of wine we traded tales of the road and got some recommendations about places to see as we head east.  They are enjoying the RV lifestyle to the max, and hanging out with them was a pleasure.  And oh, the best part is they have visited my hometown, Moalboal, in the Philippines for scuba diving.  Isn’t that something?  It’s a small world after all.

Wheeling It

Hanging out with Paul and Nina, the masters of RV Living.

But wait – we also came here to take a trip to the dentist – woohoo!  Say what ?  We had heard that tens of thousands of Arizona and California visitors cross south of the U.S. border for great bargains.  Bargains on eyeglasses, dental procedures and prescription drugs!  So off we went one early, very cold morning and headed down to Los Algodones, Baja California, only about 15 miles west and south of Yuma.

We parked our car on the USA side and nonchalantly walked across the border, along with hordes of other  tourists, into Mexico.  Don’t forget your passport if you want to come back home!

Immediately upon arrival in Los Algodones, dozens of street peddlers descend upon the tourists and prod them with offers to see a dentist or to get eyeglass or cheap drugs.  This town is said to have the heaviest concentration of physicians, pharmacies, dentists and opticians of any four block area on planet earth – and we believe it!  And they were absolutely right, they’re everywhere.  In heavy competition, the peddlers are here to get folks into whichever office is paying them, of course.  Sample bargains: $135 for a porcelain crown; $699 for a dental implant; 20% off any other dental treatment.  Steve was wishing he had more dental problems!  Alas, we only needed our teeth cleaned and paid a little on the high side at $35 each.  But, no wait and no appointment needed!

We initially went to the dentist recommended by the RV park but there was a wait there, so we walked a few feet to the next office and picked them because they had nice decorations on their window.  The $35 we paid for cleaning was 70% off the normal price of our regular dental hygienist.  After that visit we went from one pharmacy to another to get the rock-bottom best deal on Steve’s prescription.  We learned that prices do vary from one corner to the next.  This is competitive business at its finest.

Coming back into the US of A was fairly quick and easy, despite a long line and having to stand outside in the cold wind for a bit.  All purchased items must be declared and shown to the customs officers, but we owed no duty on any of our items.  Beware that all liquor is taxed, although we don’t know the rate since we didn’t buy any.

Drugs and Dentists can be had for a bargain south of the border!

Bright Smile

Here I am with my bright clean smile.  Oh, bring $5.00 to pay for parking in this lot at the border – someone is making big bucks here!