Travels of a Kinnie travel blog


So back to the Philippines, back to Cebu City, connecting through Manila, through an airport named after the guy who was assassinated there, Ninoy Aquino; can't quite make up my mind whether that's a touching reminder or a naff tribute. The cab ride to the hotel is on smooth tarmaced roads, with white on green signs in the American style, and this US influence is reinforced by the jeepneys that dominate the roads in a way that even the London cabbie would be hard to beat.

After finally settling on a room, decide to go out for a wander and a shop around the giant roundabout that is Fuente Osmana, and I can't help noticing that the majority of Westerners are older single guys, or sometimes not single. One pair I see (amongst many similar ones) really makes me stop and think; the girl was just that, a girl, looking no older than 13 or 14, skipping along with a rose in her hand, the very personification of innocence, like she'd been plucked straight out of a sun-drenched meadow she's been playing in, the other hand entwined with that of a 50 something guy, for whom the phrase 'bulldog chewing a wasp' could have been invented for; at first I think he's gurning at me, and then I realise that's just the way his face hangs. He looks at me with a defiant air, like he was daring me to challenge him, which is I soon find out one of roughly three ways guys in that situation react. The other two are just to ignore me or to look guilty, like they've been caught by their next door neighbour coming out of a sex shop.

So far being alone traveller has been easy, but here I feel like getting a t-shirt made up that says 'I am not a sex tourist' (though as you can never say never, perhaps with 'Yet' written on the back). But then, who am I to judge, it's such a common sight here, it's just that I'd forgotten how common, and like the locals it's just something that I'm going to have to get used to.

Grab something to eat, somehow resisting the 'Day Old Chicks' food option and watch the memorial service to Cory Aquino on the TV. That's a big difference to get used to; in India, it's hard to be a carnivore, there's such a long established tradition of vegetarianism, while here, in a town whose specialty is lechon (roasted baby pig), being a veggie is nigh on impossible. Go looking round the malls and am a little gutted to find that there are whole floors (well, almost) dedicated to flipflops, and for a fraction of the price I paid in Singapore. Oh well, buy a big bottle of eight year old rum for 70 pesos (about one euro) to help me get over it plus a few other things I'm going to need in Malapascua, such as shaving stuff, sun cream etc.

Get hungry again and as I seem to be on a fast food streak, sit down in KFC. A woman sits down at the one table in a near empty restaurant that looks at mine, and with my chin dripping with chicken fat, gives me the old sign. I can't quite describe it right, it was kind of a raised querying eyebrow, but recognising 'The Sign' seems to be something all men are born with the ability to do. I'm not especially bothered (at least she was a woman rather than the ladyboys who keep waving at me), except by the fact that she's there with her small boy, who by his looks is the result of a previous joining together of east and west. What would happen to the kid if I went ahead, would he just be sat in the corner of my room playing with his Lego whilst I plugged his mum? The mind boggles.

This is my third culture in as many days, and now I have to get used to a third way of being looked at by attractive women, namely 'You're a scummy backpacker (true), I'm sexy as hell (oh God yeah, many of the women here look like they've come off the cover of FHM), we can go at it like rabbit (Hooyah!), for a price (oh...)

And it's all in that look



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