Learning to motorcycle in a busy city in the Philippines

One of the cool things about traveling, especially in cheaper places such as South East Asia, is the ability to travel like a local.

Instead of taking constant cabs around town, or walking literally all day, why not be like the locals and rent a motorcycle for the day? We had done this many times before when we traveled, but I had always been on the back of the bike, telling my driver where to go and basically just enjoying the wind in my hair.

In Canada I had been dirt biking before so I figured in the Philippines why not try to ride my own motorcycle? It’s not like it had a clutch or gears I had to master like at home…

I didn’t even make it down the busy street before I walked my motorcycle back to the rental shop, got my money back, and hopped on as a passenger once again.

Asia has organized chaos to their streets. I don’t understand it and may even call it dangerous in my own head, but it is not to them… they understand it! Adding me into the mix of things was not good, I was still trying to get my grips with the bike itself let alot figuring out when to stop, when to go and why these people were passing me on all sides. It was all too much !

If you are in South East Asia and want to try out a bike, then do it ! It is a really fun and cheap way to get around. If you are confident then you will have no problem hopping on and driving around like a local. If you need some practice I would suggest testing the bike out in a less populated area and slowly working your way up. It would be a good idea to not have a passenger on the back of the bike as well if you are not the most confident driver, and of course, helmets! You never know what could happen in these busy streets so it is best to pop on a helmet if you are nervous !

 

I later came home and purchased my own motorcycle (Suzuki S40), and got my motorcycle license ! All in good time 🙂

Image result for learning to motorcycle meme

Traveling with a fear of heights & water

How I plan my trips .

Swimming with sharks

Paragliding

What the media does to us

I tattooed the bottom of my feet- Drunk Bamboo tattoo

Are we really travel savvy ?

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Rice Terraces – Philippines

You have to go !

Here is what I have noticed in my life… I doubt I am alone. Since we have constant entertainment at our fingertips now… youtube, facebook.. we can’t even sit in a doctors office for 5 minutes without checking our newsfeed, I find I am not impressed by much..

Think about it, you go to a street performer festival and these people are swallowing fire and swords, they are doing back flips while balanced on ladders, and you enjoy watching it but you leave impacted… like yah that was really cool.. but I probably won’t go around telling everyone what I saw. Why? Because you have seen the same thing, or something more insane on the internet.. it becomes not as interesting.

This is kind of what I have noticed while traveling. I know, BOOO me. I find I get to a place that I hear about all the time, like the Sistine Chapel in Italy, and I am like… cool…. a painted ceiling.. (I mean I WAS 15 at the time so I might enjoy it more now). What I don’t realize a lot of the time is THIS IS REAL LIFE! This beautiful view is not your computer screen saver… this is reality that your eyes are seeing, Fricking enjoy it GIRL!

Well, my crappy unimpressed attitude was completely changed when I was to the Rice Terraces in the Philippines !

This place is more beautiful and “cool” than any photos you can see. You might flip through pictures online and be like “yah I have seen better”, but when you see the Rice Terraces personally, it is amazing. I am not a fan of hiking and we ended up hiking all day around this world wonder. We went up high, we had to shuffle across tiny ledges, we had to walk down the steepest staircase I have ever seen with no hand railing and a cliff right beside us, we stopped for a rest at a waterfall, and we encountered unbelievable views.

So if you are anything like me, hard to impress, or you just want to see something that will leave you breathless (literally, the hike will), check out the Rice Terraces.

Take the picture or enjoy

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

Morning coffee with a view

How do you not move ?

Take the picture or enjoy

I always wonder if it is appropriate to take the picture.

I travel to explore, for an adventure. Sure taking pictures and uploading them to facebook is great, other people love to hear about your trips and sometimes the pictures help you remember all that you did. I love reminiscing on my trips when I am stuck at work or in a snowstorm and pictures are a great way to do that.

But..

Sometimes you see those people who hiked a huge mountain, or are watching fire works or a show and they insist on taking non stop pictures, and watching the view or performance through a screen. I wonder what those people have as motivation to even go? Can’t you just google a video or picture, do you really need to be there then? Maybe our generation is so enthralled with our phones or camera’s that we don’t even realize we are doing it… we see one thing that is cool and we automatically want to snapchat it.

Then you get to the places like war museums, Auschwitz, Pompeii, places where really horrible things have happened to people like genocide, or being sold as slaves, and you see people taking photos. I understand to a degree, you may want to go home and show people you know will never go what it looks like in Auschwitz. I myself have a photo of my friends and I in Pompeii where they sold the slaves.. I don’t think we planned it at the time “cool, they bought and sold people here.. let’s selfie” I think it was more like “finally we don’t have a crowd around us, let’s take a picture”. But looking back, was that really appropriate?

There was a man who wrote an article and attached photos he found online of young people posing, or taking “profile pictures” in these types of places. He then photo-shopped in the background pictures from history where the Jews were starving to death, skin and bones, with this girl in the front doing a yoga pose. It really surprised people I think. The overall reaction was “how could these kids take those kinds of pictures in a place like that”, but unless he put the historic pictures in the background would you have ever though twice before?

The tourists that pay money to the locals that have a monkey or a snake on their shoulders to hold that animal, take a quick photo then give it back drive me insane. A huge snake, a monkey, all these animals do not want to be held. They are not our photo props, they are wild animals. How do you think they are treated when they are used soley as a pay cheque? They are stolen from the wild, drugged, and forced to be passed around like stuffed animals so that tourists can have a profile picture of them holding a monkey. It’s not right. Again, most people would not even think these things, they would see an opportunity and take it.

Off topic: I am an animal lover, completely. I grew up with dogs and I want to cuddle and hold literally anything that has fur. The biggest lesson I learnt when it came to animals was when I bought a pet rabbit. Rabbits are prey animals that hate being cuddled and held. I had to learn that my rabbit shows me affection way differently than my dog does.. she just wants to be in the same room as me, maybe sit on my lap for a head pet, and that was good enough. We can’t just assume all animals are the same as our household pets. 

I have a love hate relationship with electronic devices and I am not sure where I stand all the time on it, I flip and I flop.. But I try to remind myself when I reach for my camera or phone… is this really necessary and appropriate?

Do we travel to take profile pictures ?

These views

Ping Pong shows – Travel mistake

Pets on holidays

Are we really travel savvy ?

Can you believe this beach

That time we just dug a huge hole

Backpacking is funny… the things we do while traveling abroad may seem absolutely ridiculous to those back home.

We traveled to the Philippines with a group, expecting to relax and get to know everyone, have a great time.. Nothing surprised me more than one of our “activities” being to “dig a hole” in the sand… Uhm, is this for real !? Manual labour on my HOLIDAY!?

We had a blast..

We had 2 shovels, and at first everyone was like… is this for real? We just wanted to dig this hole and get it over with so we could go back to enjoying ourselves. After a while of taking turns digging (mostly the guys took this over), and getting the drinks flowing, we started to realize this was ALOT of fun!

There were the few that liked to sit in the shade.. throwing shade at those digging. The ones that just wanted to hit the beer bong and that was it. Then the ones that really carried the group and dug the entire hole for us to enjoy. By the end of the activity we were all friends, we had inside jokes, we had broken the drunk barrier, and we had spent the rest of the afternoon sitting in this giant hole on the beach laughing together.

Never write off any experience… it could be the time of your life. 

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

Is it more fun in the Philippines ?

My completely honest review of the Philippines, based on my personal experience and not meant to offend anyone or deter anyone from drawing their own conclusions.

I was so excited to travel to the Philippines in May 2014.. The only other country I had been to in South East Asia was Thailand and it was absolutely beautiful and amazing. Imagine my surprise when the Philippines was not the same, probably the opposite.

We arrived in Manila to a quite large group of people late at night. Our first night was so much fun, just talking, getting to know each other, and of course cheap booze on our hostel patio. Waking up the next morning was a different story.

Manila is my least favorite place I have ever been, here are my reasons:

  1. I found the city to be extremely dirty, more so than any other city I had ever seen. The smell of sewer was everywhere, the streets flooded every time it rained, and the layout was not ideal.
  2. I did not feel safe. I refused to go anywhere alone like I would in other cities such as Bangkok. The first day I was in Manila myself and a male were in a tuc tuc getting a ride from our hostel to the mall. We had slowed down for a stop light and I looked over at the very busy street to have my eyes met by a local.. I looked at his face for a bit before realizing he was staring at me and touching his fully exposed genitals on the main street. Trying to get into the mall from the tuc tuc we were bombarded by people who had no sense of personal space, they would walk basically on top of you while you were walking away trying to sell you a single pill that they would claim was Viagra, or something else.
  3. When we arrived back in Manila before flying out of the Philippines we were all headed to dinner a few blocks away. It was raining quite heavily and like I said before the streets tended to flood and be filled with garbage and sewer. We were walking down a road that had no one else on it when suddenly a taxi van pulled up beside us, the driver jumped out of the front seat and into the back seat and pulled out a passenger that looked like they had passed out. We thought at first OK maybe it was a drunk local who was causing problems, are puking in the taxi… nope it was a local who was having a seizure in the taxi and instead of helping this man the driver pulled him out and left him in the middle of the road seizing in sewage water.

Aside from Manila the Philippines was not that bad. I had a great time surfing at Cloud 9 in Siargao, we went to multiple beautiful beaches and had a lot of fun experiences.  Overall I found that any beach attached to land where it was maybe a “hot” spot, or a city, was very dirty, so much garbage, compared to say a tourist beach in Thailand. If you traveled out of the main areas to secluded beaches they were absolutely gorgeous… just like all the pictures I had seen and was drawn to check the Country out because of.

I made a mistake in the Philippines as well

which was checking out “cock fights” or “chicken fighting”. I won’t go into detail, but it scarred me forever and I highly suggest not going to this brutal “entertainment”.

The rice terraces in the Philippines were phenomenal and looked just like, if not better than, the photos.

The underground River, which is also considered one of the world wonders, was not so wonderful, very over rated, but a cool experience none the less.

We also discovered that in Philippine tradition they set their deceased out for days for people to see and visit. Which caught me completely by surprise when I was walking down the street one morning for breakfast and there was an open casket with a see through glass dome over top in the middle of the street… I wish someone would have warned me of this sooner, but still an understandable and respectable tradition.

The food was nothing at all to write home about..

I was expecting traditional Philippine food, which I had no idea what that was, but I found fried chicken, and more fried chicken. There was not one thing I had there that I would try to find back home.

But the Karaoke… is something else. THEY LOVE THEIR KARAOKE. so you might as well just join in and enjoy yourself.. make a fool of yourself. They don’t know you anyways. 🙂

My review of the Philippines is that it is beautiful… there are definite reasons to go there and travel around, by no means am I encouraging people to stay away. That being said I have explored it and am content not going back. It differs in my mind from Thailand in major ways and here are my conclusions: Thailand is way more tourist built whereas the Philippines have not got there yet which causes Thailand to maybe have cleaner beaches to attract more people, the locals value the tourists more and seem more friendly because their income is largely based on tourists, one might feel more safe in Thailand because they rely so much on good press and good standing with the backpacking community.

I by no means expect a country to bend to my rules and expectations of them, I enjoy the adventure and going to different places is what life is all about. Although I am happy I had my experiences in the Philippines I feel that it is less my travel “style” than say Turkey (circa 2013), Greece, Nicaragua or Thailand.

That time we just dug a huge hole

I slept with a Rat

 

Can animals smile ?

I often wonder how animals can go their entire lives without laughing.  The greatest moments of life are those can’t stop belly laughs we experience.

I love all animals, especially dogs. In my travels I will pet, and talk to every dog I come across. I go out of my way to pet dogs, standing awkwardly staring at someone’s dog until it either comes over to me or the owner asks if I want to pet them.

But look at this picture, this dog I met and fell in love with in the Philippines… he looks just about as happy to meet me as I was to meet him. That face looks exactly like a smile… does this face show excitement or happiness from dogs? I thought wagging tails and jumping around was a display of happiness.

What do you think ?

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Pets on holidays

The most beautiful beach

I suggest anyone to go to “naked Island” in the Philippines. I mean you can get naked there if you waaaannnnntt, but the name is because the beach is just  sandbar in the middle of the water with no trees or anything on it.

 

Probably the most beautiful beach I have ever been to. Just off Siargao.

Go. Check. It. Out.

bring an umbrella