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Category: Travel and Culture

A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life

Today I woke up at 5:30 in order to make the 1.5-hour trip to Cadiz City before the first center meeting.  The bus passes by 100 or so kilometers of sugar cane farms and fields.  The loan officers arrive at the branch around 8 AM.   There will be 14 center meetings led by 7 loan officers.  Each loan officer is in charge of 1-3 meetings per day, depending on the proximity and size of the centers, which range from 6…

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Thoughts on Mass Tourism

Thoughts on Mass Tourism

“To be a mass tourist, for me, is to become a pure late-date American: alien, ignorant, greedy for something you cannot ever have, disappointed in a way you can never admit. It is to spoil, by way of sheer ontology, the very unspoiledness you are there to experience. It is to impose yourself on places that in all noneconomic ways would be better, realer, without you. It is, in lines and gridlock and transaction after transaction, to confront a dimension…

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Fixing a Tire at Angkor Wat

Fixing a Tire at Angkor Wat

Last week I spent three days visiting Angkor Wat and the nearby city of Siem Reap.  I’d arrived two nights before and, in the span of 48 hours, had already become cynical and jaded about the entire experience.  I’d spent the last three days getting ripped off by street vendors, restaurants, and taxi drivers, and was ready to snap.  Feeling downtrodden by the constant scams and suffocating hordes of tour groups, I opted for a more natural, pure means of…

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Beard Difficulties

Beard Difficulties

In my previous life, I worked at a job that made growing a beard difficult.  Every time I’d let it grow on vacation, I’d get close to an acceptable length, but still below the threshold of respectability.   Naturally, when I learned I’d be working with Negros Women for Tomorrow and Kiva here in the Philippines, I looked at it as a great opportunity to reinvent myself as a man with a beard.  On the street every day, people walk around…

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Mr. Inasal and Me

Mr. Inasal and Me

The food in the Philippines garners mixed reviews from expats, but, as with most things, they might not be eating the right things.   Beef is harder to come by here, and usually much more expensive.  Fish, white meat (chicken), and the other white meat (pork) are the meats of choice in the country.  And everything comes with rice.  Rice and eggs for breakfast, chicken and rice for lunch, rice and anything else for dinner.  When in doubt, I know I…

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Dancing for Filipinos

Dancing for Filipinos

In the Philippines, or maybe just here in Bacolod City, people enjoy celebrations.  Bacolod is called the City of Smiles and is known for its annual MassKara Festival held in October.  The tradition began in 1980, in response to a sugar crisis plaguing the island of Negros and a ferry-capsizing that killed over 700 Negrenses.  To pull the island out of a pervasive gloom, the government organized a weeklong festival in which the participants wear smiling masks.  The festival is…

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Organized Chaos

Organized Chaos

Here in Bacolod City, and the rest of the Philippines for that matter, traffic laws are non-existent.  There seem to be no rules governing how you act behind the wheel – only that the horn is your friend, and is especially useful for letting the other guy know that you don’t intend to stop.  Last night, I went swimming with one of my coworkers and her mother at a resort in town (with an Olympic size pool, complete with a…

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Filipina Heart

Filipina Heart

The motivations for travel on a Trans-Pacific flight run vary more than your average domestic flight.  Businessmen hammering out last-minute presentations to their Chinese counterparts to your left; a sex tourist that looks, talks, and thinks like a sex tourist to your right.  And you, physically in the middle, but not necessarily anywhere along the same spectrum or plane.    The sex tourist and small business owner from southern Indiana sitting next to me is 48 and right now is en…

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