Friday, January 31, 2014

Borneo again

This wasn't supposed to be a particularly active trip, but it didn't take long before the novelty of new surroundings and amusing foreign English signs stopped being enough and I gave in to the urge to research potentially stressful DIY day trips out of Kota Kinabalu.

I expected there to be a level of confusion and annoyance as we struggled with erratic transport schedules. What I didn't expect was to get completely bloody knackered after a day of walking around in the sun and needing the entire next day to recuperate. It's not as if I was ever in great shape to begin with, but it was no effort to power walk o'er vales and hills to the pace of an enthusiastic power metal playlist before. This is what six months lying on a bed watching The X-Files and eating cookies does to you. I did wonder.

It's a good thing I decided not to take on the two-day hike up Mount Kinabalu then, though a few more days of walking around these city streets and docks should at least get me in a suitable condition to tackle the undemanding hiking trails around the national park next week. After I've got that out of my system, I expect Bali to be all about beaches, books and betutu (a Balinese food beginning with 'b,' looks nice).

But Bali does have volcanoes...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Exit wounds

Our 'relaxing holiday' got off to a great start when we made it as far as the airport's immigration counter before our immaculate timetable was shattered and our immediate future cast into doubt. What did I expect?

This time it wasn't my girlfriend's stunting nationality that derailed the first part of our trip so we missed our flight and had to race around Cebu picking up the documents needed to jump on another flight before our legal right to be in the country expired. This time the problem was with the dumb white guy, who always does what he's told but can't be expected to do things no one told him about and that don't make any sense.

So instead of getting to spend our anniversary exploring the wilderness, beaches and corals of Borneo, we got to endure an extended stay in my third least favourite Philippine city. Because of course there would be a problem. It's more frustrating in the Philippines!

I've criticised disgruntled expats who moan about visas and other mild immigration requirements in this country, when it's nothing compared to the hurdles Filipinos have to leap when going anywhere at all. I've also criticised blogging trolls who don't have anything better to do in their free time than condemn the country they've chosen to live in. But that doesn't mean I've given up my right to be similarly loud and whiny when shit inevitably happens every time I try to do anything in this place, even when I try to leave.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

I am a free man, I just quite like my cell

So, what have I been getting up to in the last few months since I landed back in Davao and failed to take off again?

The brief answer, as far as colourful travel blogs are concerned, is sod-all. But to be fair, that sod-all has included writing thousands of pages of corporate content, further developing a relationship and getting through the 1960s TV series The Prisoner, which is ace as long as you don't watch the final episode. You might have noticed an increasing tendency to discuss my life in terms of the TV I'm watching, now I longer have actual life experiences.

I am a man of extremes. Not in terms of getting involved in treacherous activities or spending more than 24 hours without a Wi-Fi connection (not fair, I went 36 hours one time!) but in my tendency to drastically compartmentalise different phases of my life for the convenience of future biographers. When my latest self-imposed three-year cycle of travelling came to an end (following three years of university and three years doing real jobs), I went from visiting an average of two countries and flying 1,972.8 miles per month to sleeping every night in the same bed and not having ventured further than a mile from my flat in six months. In many ways it was exactly what I needed, and it took the new year, depressing weather and insane promo flight deals to push me into getting out into the world again.

I'm a little worried.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Why don't you just go home?

As I remind prospective advertisers and would-be guest posters from the Indian subcontinent when they get in touch, this isn't a travel blog. It's just my diary, so I'm not beholden to anyone to say nice things about the places I visit and am at liberty to expose unsavoury truths. But letting off steam doesn't mean unleashing your inner dick (it's normal to have one of those, right?)

I created the borderline racism tag at this blog's genesis and have made liberal use of it since, each time I voice my irritations in various lands. The tag isn't an excuse, but it helps to remind me that some people might conceivably take issue with the things I'm writing (whether they're right or not) and to make sure I think carefully about what I'm saying, so I can justify it when enraged nationalists leave comments two years down the line.

Other grumpy ex-pats don't have that filter between their brain and the keyboard when slagging off the country that's welcomed them, so I don't see why I should give them any slack either. What the fuck are they even doing here?

Wednesday, January 15, 2014