Are Foreign Travelers Safe in the Philippines?

August 26th, 2010 § 1 comment § permalink

This started out as an answer to a friend’s question, but has expanded into something that merits its own blog post. Please share with as many people as you can.

“Are Foreign Travelers Safe in the Philippines?”

I always tell people that all the bad things that happen in the Philippines are all unrelated to each other. And it’s true. Sure, foreigners are being kidnapped in Mindanao, tourists are being hostaged by the busloads in Metro Manila, and people are leaving explosives in the toilets of UA&P. But at the same time these events are happening, daily life on an idyllic island somewhere in the Visayas or in a verdant valley in heart of the Cordillera continues, unmindful that our standing in the international community has just been irrevocably screwed. This is the double-edged irony of the Philippines’ 7,107 islands: Some events are just too far away from some people for them to be overly concerned or minutely care. This is the first thing people interested in coming to the Philippines must realize. The country is, in truth, 7,107 different and independent places (much more, even). They are related only by the fact that they belong to the same archipelago on this lonely, typhoon-battered edge of the Pacific. Most of the time, the country’s right hand doesn’t know or doesn’t care what its left foot is doing. And so, armed with accurate information and a quick eye for trouble, anyone can drop in any time they want AND expect to return home safely with gigabytes of memories of a truly awesome time. No matter what the headlines suggest, THE PHILIPPINES IS STILL A PARADISE. There will always be a few rotten eggs at the top of the basket (And they are there anywhere you go in the world; any experienced traveler will tell you that.), but there are nuggets of gold in that bushel as well. Those with the heart to dig deeper will always be rewarded.

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August 25th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

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Tonight’s Dinner is Brought to You by KFC

August 5th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

Ask any of my friends here in Saigon (especially my Vietnamese friends) and they will all tell you that I’ve assimilated to daily life in Uncle Ho’s city extremely well. I enjoy Pho Bo and Ca Phe Sua Da on the street just like any self-respecting local. I hoard Vinamilk Sua Chua every time I go to Co.opMart. And except on days when I’m traveling outside of HCMC, I never miss having a Banh Mi Tuoi or two with Tra Da or Ca Phe Sua Nong at MY Bready on the corner of Nguyen Van Thu and Mac Dinh Chi.

But there are times when I just want to remind myself that I’m a foreigner. A stranger in this wonderful land of moto madness. On those days, I usually troop over to Vincom Center to soak in the atmosphere. But nothing says Nguoi Nuoc Ngoai better than stuffing yourself at a fast food chain like KFC. The meal above is Com Ga KFC or KFC Chicken Rice. For only 40,000VND (about 2USD/94PHP), you get a bowl of chicken and vegetable soup (which is what makes the meal distinctly Vietnamese), rice, a large drink, and a piece of KFC’s finger-lickin’ best. Add 9,000VND and you get the egg tart (which is worth 12,000VND outside of the combo meal). Ngon!

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