This post picks up with me leaving the beautiful country of Thailand in search of more adventure. Originally, this whole 10 day excursion was meant to be done solo. However, I spoke with a friend from college (who is also an expatriate) living in China. Fortunately, he runs his own company as well and he could take some much needed vacation time to hang with his friend. We met in the Hong Kong International Airport and discussed plans over beers and pizza.
Now, I can't say that I didn't expect this conversation to turn out the way it did. My friend is affectionately nicknamed "Danimal" so it was no surprise that he had a detour in mind. Flights were posted to the Philippines for around $100 round trip and he was adamant that we book. My passport had plenty of pages for visa stamps and I'm not one to argue, so that's exactly what we did. So as you can see from the slide show below, I only have pics of the Hong Kong Airport (sorry to disappoint).
The Philippines, officially known as the Republic of the Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia in the Western Pacific. With an estimated population of about 94 million people, the Philippines is the world's 12th most populous country, and it felt like it. Its location on the "Pacific Ring of Fire" and its tropical climate make the Philippines prone to earthquakes and typhoons. Around 20 earthquakes are registered daily, though most are too weak to be felt. (Fortunately (for me), they were hit with a Typhoon just days after I left). These natural disasters have endowed the country with natural resources and made it one of the richest areas of biodiversity in the world. There are many active volcanoes such as the Mayon Volcano, Mount Pinatubo, and Taal Volcano. Due to the volcanic nature of the islands, mineral deposits are abundant. The country is estimated to have the second-largest gold deposits after South Africa and one of the largest copper deposits in the world. It is also rich in nickel, chromite, and zinc. Despite this, poor management, high population density, and environmental consciousness have resulted in these mineral resources remaining largely untapped. The Philippines is the world's second-biggest geothermal producer behind the United States, with 18% of the country's electricity needs being met by geothermal power. There are 3,200 unique plant species to the island and the Apo Reef is the country's largest contiguous coral reef system and the second-largest in the world next to the Great Barrier Reef (which I had the opportunity to see in Australia). The country is one of the few nations that is, in its entirety, both a hotspot and a megadiversity country, placing it among the top priority hotspots for global conservation.
Philippine culture is a combination of Eastern and Western cultures. You immediately notice aspects found in other Asian countries, yet its culture also displays a significant amount of Spanish and American influences. It seemed like most of the people I met had names with Spanish influence and the names of many streets, towns, and provinces were also in Spanish. Most spoke english and I was constantly serenaded by Shakira, Beyonce, and Lady Gaga. The food had traces of Hispanic, Asian, and American influences but for the most part the food was adapted to local ingredients for a true Filipino flair. Dishes range from the very simple, like a meal of fried salted fish and rice, to the elaborate, such as paellas. The food was definitely not as spicy as in Thailand but it would still come across as spicy to those who are not accustomed to this type of cuisine.
Now to the fun part....
We checked into what was definitely the nicest hotel in the area. It had a restaurant and two gigantic pools with swim-up bars. The view from my balcony was breathtaking. I wasn't trying to "ball out of control" but it was so inexpensive that we couldn't resist! Thank God for Steve Jobs (RIP) and the iPad because I was on point with my currency conversion app. I rented a scooter to get around with no more than a signature and promise that I would return it in one piece. It had it for 24 hours and it cost me $10. I was spent from Thailand, the drinks, and the plane ride but Danimal kept calling me a "pansy" so I had to rally. The next 4 days consisted of early morning Bloody Mary's, pool parties, Filipino beer, Cuban cigars, and very little food.
Synopsis: The Filipino people are full of love and know how to party. The island is absolutely stunning and everything was so inexpensive. Who wouldn't love that?
However, this is not where I parked my car...
Check out this Slideshow of the Hong Kong Airport and the Philippines below.
Next Up: Dubai