My first stop after my tour of US national parks was the Philippines. I had traveled in South East Asia extensively years ago, but I had never made it here before. That’s why I made it my first stop this time around.
The reason I didn’t go was the same reason most people don’t – it’s out of the way. Most backpackers fly into Bangkok, and take buses around Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. But you can’t take a bus to the Manila from Bangkok. You have to book a flight to get to these out of the way islands.
And I’m glad I did. Traveling around the Philippines was independent, adventure backpacking at its best. There’s mountains, rice terraces, jungles, crazy cities, caves, islands, snorkeling, and more deserted beached than you can count. And it’s not overrun with tourists. In Manila, the capital, I hardly saw any other foreigners around. Once I headed North there were practically none. Most of the travelers were Filipinos. In Palawan I did encounter quite a few foreigners.
A unique aspect of traveling in the Philippines is that everybody speaks English! It was nice to be able to ask vendors what kind of food they were selling, and to be able to converse with practically everybody. But the upshot was that it made me lazy and I never learned any Tagalog beyond hello.
Two months wasn’t nearly enough time for this amazing country, and I only made it to three of the 7,000 plus islands. Some day I hope to return to see more. In the coming weeks I’ll be posting on my experiences in the Philippines, so stay tuned!