Here I am...
12th Jan 2012 - 15th Jan 2012
Here I am... with before and afterthoughts
We were watching TV to pass the time on the morning of our flight out of the Philippines and I remember not writing about the kind of things they watch here. Firstly, the news is filled with all bad stuff and it’s all happening in Manila, I’m not surprised Micci wanted to get out of the capital when we first arrived there over a month ago. Somehow all the muggings and killings and vandalism are recorded and broadcasted. I couldn’t believe my eyes when they told the story of a boy that had been kicked to death and actually showed it happening. I said at the time that this would never be allowed to air in UK because not only would the public not want to see it but it would be too traumatising for the family. Micci explained that the families here want the footage to be shown so they get more sympathy.
All the rest of the channels seem to be taken up with Filipino versions of western shows like Big Brother, Survivor and so on and variety shows with semi-celebrities and guest singers and dancers. Now the thing about these shows is that the people that have made it in the Philippines and appear on TV, are dead rich and I don’t know why because the singers can’t sing, the dancers can’t dance, I mean you’ll see them looking at each other for the next move and the presenters can’t present, every now and then, they have a chat between themselves and somehow forget that they’re on television. It’s all face as Micci puts it, if you’re fairly attractive, scouts will randomly pick out of a hat what talent they’re going to say you have and you pretend to be good at it.
The reality shows are a different ball game all together, I watched a bit of that Big Brother and it’s so over the top, even more so than the British one. Everyone is crying all the time, sometimes just at the idea that one of them may go out, and please don’t assume that it’s girls crying, it could be anyone. This guy was roaring his head off for a good hour because he had to tell one of the girls she was leaving, he’d only known her for 2 weeks and if he carries on the way he his, he’ll probably be out next week and they’ll be able to hang out again anyway (if she decides that she wants a man like that as a mate). She wasn’t even bothered to be leaving anyway. I wondered how he would react if an actually tragedy occurred.
The Philippines has also been the worst country so far for unnecessary fees. In Vietnam, people illegally rip you off and don’t give you change, in the Philippines they do it officially. If there’s a chance to fee it, they will. Various fees at airports for nothing specific, tolls at every road in a new town, processing fees, waiting fees, everything had extra fees on top of the actual price of the product.
While I’m talking about stuff I don’t understand, I think I’ll bring up one of my ever annoying pet peeves. Due to the fact that I am relatively tall (especially in the Philippines), I find myself walking relatively fast and therefore inevitably trapped behind slow people. It would be an easy fix to create lanes on pathways, supermarkets and shopping centres so that the fast people can go fast with no one in the way and the old people, small people, children, people with children, who all seem to coincidentally be the most clumsy or absent minded when it comes to walking in areas that would otherwise be enough for one to walk and one to overtake, can stay in the slow lane. And, as per motorways, if there’s no one in front get in the slow lane. Now granted, I dare say I may be in the minority here as most people walk slower than me, but they will always be the people to complain when I crash into them following their abrupt halt to wonder why they were going in that direction in the first place. With the new system, they would no longer have a reason for suffering a consequence to their oblivious nature met with my walking with purpose. While we’re here, don’t stand in door ways, don’t stand still on stairs. Why aren’t these unwritten rules written?
Anyway…… (sips a cold drink slowly to change the tone) I promised you a surprise. We have a new recruit, a Miss Jenny Clarke has joined the brigade in an effort to see a bit of the world and have a bit of an adventure. Jenny’s an old school friend of mine and we’ve known each other for nearly all our lives and Malaysia be the place to collide again. We met in Kuala Lumpur airport and the 3 of us went off to look for a place to stay and bond for our first nights travelling in the new year. It had been the best part of 2 days for all of us getting to Umpa Lumpur so we were all in a strange state of extreme tiredness and extreme excitement all at the same time. The best way to describe it is when you’ve just finished the marathon but it’s Christmas Eve so you can’t sleep.
We were only in Kuala Lumpur for a couple of days before going to Thailand but the relaxed sightseeing weekend served as a perfect zone for acclimatization for Jenny both mentally and physically. It was some of the milder days we’d had on the trip but Jenny was very hot at the beginning, it didn’t take long for her to ease into it. I think it was other things that took a bit longer like brushing teeth with no sink, showering with a bucket of water and a cup, street food. I knew she’d be the perfect candidate for this because she tried everything with a smile and as you can expect, settled right into it.
Malaysian food is awesome. Due to the strong Indian influence, it’s a lot like that, but a lot of fresh mixed vegetables without the strong spices so that added into the rich curries and meat dishes and it’s Malaysian food, really tasty and lots to try. You can imagine there’s not much to explore in Kuala Lumpur because it’s a city and it’s true, the city is relatively small, the only touristy things to see are the PETRONAS Twin Towers and a small section of the oldest rainforest in the world that they‘ve left in the centre of the city but no animals in there. The city is definitely walkable, 30 minutes from end to end (of the parts worth seeing) however a 20 minutes train ride out (which costs 40p) takes you to the Batu caves. Now these were a real treat, the caves themselves are pretty basic and not much in themselves, in fact if the surroundings didn’t save it, I would say they’re not worth seeing, but there’s a massive gold statue at the entrance, an impressive flight of stairs up to them and wild monkeys running around, fighting and playing the entire way up. On the way down, I was trying to take a picture of one of the baby monkeys and someone tapped me on the shoulder, I ignored coz I was trying to get a good shot. Then they pulled my shirt, Micci said ‘Davey!’ which made me think it was her tugging me. I looked round and it was one of the adult monkeys, it turned out Micci had been warning me that it was next to me. I looked at it, and it opened it’s mouth so wide to get me to go away. It worked, it’s teeth were bigger than mine so I backed off but constantly trying to edge my camera in between my chest and the monkey’s open jaws to get a good picture. Unfortunately I didn’t have time because before I knew it, it was after Micci which I did get a good picture of.
So like I said, Umpa Lumpur has been an acclimatisation zone for all of us before we regin our journey (that‘s right, I‘ve created a new word meaning ‘begin again’ coming from the idea to re-begin - regin). I think it’s going to be really interesting to see how having Jenny with us will change the dynamics of the group, this is one of the main reasons I wanted her to come, so that we have a different way of experiencing things and another head to put to the ideas we have of where to go, what to do and what our opinions are about everything. I think as time’s gone by, Micci and I tend to agreed about everything now. We took the flight to Phuket excited for the next step. We all agreed it was the slowest take off ever, it didn’t throw us back in our seats at all, it was like 60mph and it took forever to take off. Also, they turned the seatbelt signs off when we were still taking off, which gave me a good opportunity to see how far I could lean forward without falling over as the plane was at an angle.
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