Well, I’m back from my two week trip to the Philippines!
Disclaimer before going any further….my luggage was delayed so I don’t have my laundry yet, I’m not up to catching up on housework yet & my husband had to go back to work after picking us up from the airport so this blog is part of how I’m filling my time so I can get back on my normal schedule. I left Tokyo ‘this morning’ just before noon and landed in Houston, Texas just before noon on the same day….I’m reliving part of this day over again…how weird is that?! Today’s calories are really messed up. LOL I really don’t know how long my body has been awake because what feels like just this morning was actually a long time ago…my phone, my fitbit and my brain are a little bit confused from passing through so many time zones in one day!
My impression of the Philippines:
Very sweet, happy people! What we would consider inconvenient or a hardship is everyday life for them and they take it in stride. Many don’t have a car and take their whole family plus extended family in a ‘trike’ to go anywhere…basically a covered motorcycle with a covered side car. If they don’t own a trike, they can pay a trike driver to take them. I rode a trike twice and I wasn't fond of breathing in exhaust from riding among the traffic, but the native folks do it all the time. Some wear masks. This is the monsoon season so we had quite a bit of rain while we were there but they don’t let that stop them even on a trike! The family we stayed with had a washer but no dryer and some families don’t even have a washer. The ‘air con’ is expensive to run so if they have one, they don’t turn it on all the time and it is common to only have air conditioning in the bedrooms for sleeping, but not in the living areas, kitchen or bathroom. Many homes don’t have hot water for anything or have instant hot water heaters only for bathing. They wash dishes in soap & cold water because that's what they have. They also aren’t as picky about refrigerating lfood as I am, but nobody seems to get sick from it and neither did I!. The average wage there is equivalent to $6.00 a DAY. We take so much for granted in America. (Their shopping malls are nicer than most American malls which is hard to understand since the wages are so low. )
I tried to make good choices when available, but if someone sacrifices to feed you in their home and offers rice and fried food, then that’s what you eat! Meat goes further in a fried spring roll or a fried stuffed pepper (they call those ‘dynamite’ and they are awesome!) The friends we stayed with typically eat traditional breakfast foods like eggs, cereal, fruit and how funny, they don't buy bacon but bought it for us so I let them eat the bacon as a treat for them and I ate their oatmeal with some fruit. LOL We often had rice, sautéed vegetables & fish or chicken for lunch & supper as that is their usual meal….simple and available. Fish & chicken are the least expensive, with pork next. Beef is not eaten often because of the expense. I loved the pineapple and mangos! I bought plain greek yogurt, apples & mandarin oranges at the supermarket to keep at the house for times when I needed an evening snack and took nuts with me. I didn’t always get my 5+ servings of produce in but I did what I could!
New foods & experiences:
I saw pineapple growing (it's more like a low shrub or bush than a plant or a tree) and we ate it often. I had dragon fruit for the first time and mangos (theirs are different from ours...look like potatoes to me lol and taste WAY better). I had various squash & several kinds of gourds served sautéed with other vegetables, santol fruit (tastes like meat), banana heart (also tastes sort of like meat), purple yams (I think it was mixed with coconut milk & sugar & served as a dessert but looked like a dark purple ‘playdoh’ Lol), jack fruit, I’ve eaten plantains before but it’s not common for me but very common for them, the bone broth soup was delicious!, I had water spinach and the longest green beans I've ever seen and their carrots are HUGE!…can’t remember anything else right now.
One day, I walked to the local market with my friend to buy fish & vegetables for our lunch….very cool experience! There was a pig’s head & feet hanging up and I’m pretty sure the rest of the pig was part of the meat display under the hanging meat! LOL My friend picked out a fish & had it deboned but left the fish intact. They typically pick it off the bones when they eat it so she did that for me. She meant to tell them to take off the head and forgot but I told her it didn’t bother me. They like to eat the fish head! I helped her cut up tomatoes, onions, garlic and ginger and she stuffed the fish with that mixture, wrapped it in foil and cooked it in a slow cooker....delicious!
They often eat Tilapia, but we had milkfish too. One family served us a large grilled tuna as part of their dinner and I confess those were some big eyeballs and it was right in front of my plate the whole time but I got past it and ate anyway! They have some supermarkets that look like ours and “Walter Mart” is their version of Walmart…I thought that was funny! The local markets are the least expensive place for them to shop though and they try to go in the morning while the food is fresh and before it runs out. How cool to be able to walk to the market for meat and vegetables each day...now that's fresh!
The traffic is interesting…I think it’s a combination of anything goes and the biggest vehicle wins! If the traffic on your side is backed up & there is an opening on the other side, it’s common to see drivers cross the (suggested) lane marker and drive on the wrong side of the road around the congestion & then scoot back in before they run into oncoming traffic! That would be frowned on in America. LOL My solution was to not look most of the time! There are cars, bikes, motorcycles, buses, trikes, pedestrians, and jeepneys (a squashed down, blinged out, open air bus all wanting to be in the same space at the same time....the intersections look like ants running around, but somehow they are used to it and make it work! Only two times during my stay did we pass by an accident so they seem to manage through the chaos.... I was told that's how they roll! LOL
My maintenance report:
I had wifi at the house where I stayed so I was able to keep up with logging my food each day when we were at the house and I took my scale for both me and the luggage so I kept up with logging my weight nearly every day as well. I walked when I could, but my schedule wasn’t really my own and that was fine too. My friends took me walking twice in their Filipino neighborhood I walked some when they took us to the mall and quite a bit in the airports in Manila and Tokyo. I didn’t get my 10,000 steps very many times, but my weight stayed within about 2.5 pounds the whole trip so I’m pretty happy with that considering I was eating rice & fried food some of the time! I think the range was 129 to 131.7 lbs
I adjusted to the time change the best out of the 4 American travelers and really didn’t have any issues at all. Hopefully, I’ll do as well now that I’m home. It’s 5pm and I’m still awake, but I'm getting sleepy so I better post this and get up and move around. LOL
I got up a lot to walk & stretch especially on the longer flights and my knee did fine and is doing very well in general for those who remember I had been concerned about that.
I honestly had the time of my life on this trip and I am SO glad I went! My daughter and I picked up on a few words in their language...they were great teachers! I met new friends and definitely left part of my heart in the Philippines with my sweet friends there! I sure hope I get to go back one day!
Edited for more explanation:
My daughter and I went to visit friends and their church in the Philippines along with our pastor and his wife. Our host family was the pastor's family and my daughter & I stayed in a room they set up for visiting American friends and use for homeschooling when we aren't there. Our pastor and wife graciously stayed in a local hotel (very nice) to allow us to stay with our friends. Our room was downstairs where the church also meets and our friends live upstairs. Every morning I'd walk up after announcing myself so I got to really feel like I was part of their sweet family. The wife, my dear friend Catherine, said she didn't feel like she even had a guest which was the nicest thing she could say to me! I really did feel very relaxed and comfortable there and ate simple meals with them many times during my stay. They share everything and don't really eat much at one time. We also ate in a different church member's home each night for 5 nights too. On both Sundays, the church ate potluck together for lunch & supper so I had the opportunity to experience many homes and many new foods! I only tasted two things I wasn't fond of....a sour soup in a restaurant and I'm not crazy about the smell of papaya but I will eat it. I really tried to be adventurous and most of the food I thought was "Masarap!" Delicious!
After being awake over 24 hours, I finally gave in and slept from 8pm until 9am this morning so I'm back on Texas time. :) I weighed in this morning at my lowest weight: 128.5, so I learned that I can even take the maintenance lifestyle on the road in a foreign country and survive. :)