Asia is a wonderful continent with so much to admire and experience. It is a land of contrasts. When people ask me where to go to in Asia, I make a pause and then ask them what they like. Asia is diverse and depending on what you are looking for you might like one country more than another. Still there are always 4 countries that are on the top of my list every time. These are The Philippines, Cambodia, India and Myanmar, quite different from each other but all so authentic and touching.
Today’s blog is about The Philippines, which is not as popular as other neighboring countries like Thailand, Vietnam, China, etc… and that is one of the reasons why I love it so much! it is not crowded by masses of tourists.
Its rich culture is another of its highlights. Remember that we are in an Asian country that was colonised by a European civilization, the Spanish and then centuries later by an American country, the United States. When you walk along the streets of Manila and mingle with the people you can see that almost in every corner there is a mix of the 3 cultures – 3 continents – in one, and that is The Philippines. Like the photo below: the Asian boy, in a Jeepney (The Philippines adaptation of the US Jeep), with an image of Jesus Christ, the religion brought by the Spanish. Or the photo with the Philippine flag, the Chinese House, the Spanish carriage and the English sign, “No Parking”, of course the carriage is parked there!
If you are looking for beautiful lands I recommend you to travel up north to the Luzon area, which is one of the biggest islands of The Philippines and home to half of the country’s population. In Luzon you must visit Vigan, a wonderful cobbled stone colonial town. The local art crafts’ centers in the area are also worth a visit.
Taking road trips up north takes time, long time, which I must say I do appreciate when the landscape gives us the precious gift of the rice fields, time to think and time to waste, quite a luxury these days!
The Philippines has wonderful beaches, but I am sure you have seen at least a few beautiful beaches in your life, what you might have never seen is a Tarsier. This is a fun primate, the second smallest in the World and indigenous to the island of Bohol and to a few more in the archipelago. The Tarsier can be as tiny as 85 to 160 millimeters height. It has a funny structure, with a huge head for the size of his body and a long tail. They sleep during the day and like the owls make a living during the night. Due to its size and to the fact that they sleep on the branches of trees it is quite difficult to spot them.
In Bohol you can also visit the Chocolate Hills, which take the name from the dark brown color they acquire during part of the year. It is a geological formation of about 1500 hills in an area of aprox. 50 sq meters.
And above all, The Philippines is a country where I felt welcomed, where people are generous and kind, but more importantly genuine! I never, not even one day, felt that they were treating me with kindness to get something from me. Genuine generosity, genuine kindness, genuine interest … Genuine is a great value! I wish you a genuine happy and interesting trip to The Philippines or wherever you go!