So you’re planning to meet some ladyboys in Pattaya? Read this.
The whole of south-east Asia is remarkable for its highly visible populations of transsexual women. These are not at all the same as you may be used to thinking of, if you are a Westerner. They’re not like Bruce ‘Caitlyn’ Jenner. (See my discussions on Ray Blanchard for more details.)
Ladyboys in Thailand and across Asia are not like that at all. They are
beautiful and very sexy. They are extremely feminine in appearance and manners. From their early teens they use female hormones, often birth control pills which are freely available without prescription. These can turn them into staggeringly beautiful women. And the fact is that many men are powerfully attracted to them.
Not for the French the quaint Anglo-Saxon habit of neighbouring towns staggering their half-days—or even taking half-days in the first place.
On Monday, the whole of France is as dead as that chap they poisoned on St Helena. You know the one. In fact, I think he was responsible for it. And of course, the reason is quite fair; all the shops are open on Saturday so that the people who don’t work in shops can do their shopping, and why should the commercants and their staff not enjoy a proper two-day weekend?
My plan had originally been to make my trip to Asia after Christmas, but Crissy had told me that she was unlikely to be available then. I was in contact with a number of girls, but only she had that spark, and I knew I wanted to meet her. She was lively and enthusiastic, but had an edge about her and a depth too, that I liked. She had a way of just knowing what I was thinking, even before I said it, that always bodes well for a new relationship.
So I rearranged my schedule. In fact, November is the best time to go to southeast Asia in any case. The typhoon season should have come to an end, and the temperatures are relatively low, with lots of sunshine. In addition, flight prices are twenty per cent or so cheaper then, than in March or April. I readily persuaded myself that making the trip sooner was justified on a whole raft of counts; other, of course, than my interest in getting to know Crissy a whole lot better…
‘It’s as if a couple of jumbo-jets of Western culture crashed into a container-ship of Asia and the wreckage is still settling.’ These words jump out at me as I read over my notes. And it’s true; the Philippines is a cultural conundrum, a Rubik’s Cube of interlaced and interlocked themes, memes, images and sensations.
It’s not like India, where the veneer of Westernism added by a couple of hundred years of British domination is so thin it seems as flimsy as a bride’s veil, yet definitely attached, as if the bride herself is shy about lifting it, nor Thailand, where Western cultural influences seem grafted on, bizarrely co-exiting with something older and fundamentally opposed. Instead, the Philippines is a genuine melting-pot, a sculptor’s crucible where metallic elements are alloyed to make something completely new. The roots of European culture here go deep, deep into the fertile soil of Asia, and the resulting foliage is strange, at once familiar yet surprising.
Manila is huge. Apart from Manila itself, the conurbation of Metro Manila includes other cities that would themselves be enormous by any other measure: Makati, Pasig, Quezon, Cavite, and others. So transport is a major part of Manila life. But this is Asia, and unlike Europe, there is no organised public transport. There are no service buses, no trams or metro systems oganised by local government. Everything is run privately, and the sheer amount of private transport provision is staggering.
Given that I have not yet see anyone carrying a passenger on his shoulders, and horse-and-cart solutions are reserved for the tourist area of Intramuros, the old part of Manila, the most basic, though not always the cheapest, means of transport is the gloriously named ‘pedicab’. This is a bicycle with a side-car.
The main problem with this solution, leaving aside the thorny moral issue of whether it can be right for a 14-stone Scotsman and an admittedly much lighter Filipina to be push-biked around by a sweating 9-stone Pinoy, is the complete lack of suspension on these contraptions. Since the roads in Manila resemble the Somme after a barrage, this means a bone-jarring ride that risks lumbar impaction.
Boracay is a bouquet of impressions. Triangular sails silhouetted against the sunset, tropical forest all around, an avenue of palms along the beach. Pure white sand, clear, unpolluted tropical water, adventure excursions, fun night-life and a laid-back atmosphere—not to mention exotic dancing girls. All this at prices that remain very reasonable. Does this appeal? Well, instead of Phuket or Bali, consider a trip to Boracay instead.
Boracay (pronounced bor-AH-cay) is an island in the Western Visayas region of the Philippines. It’s a popular resort amongst Filipinos and other Asians. It has an amazing beach, lots of eco-tourism and adventure sport, and great night-life. However it is relatively unknown by Western tourists, and remains fairly unspoiled and friendly. Plus, for Brits and other anglophones, English is almost universally understood and very widely spoken in the Philippines.
I’m back from the Philippines again. As many of you will know, I’ve been going there every winter for the last few years.
I started in 2012, with a short 3-week stay; 2013 was longer, with a 6-week one. Then in 2014 I went for just under 4 months and in the next two years, just under 5 each, with this last being the longest. Although the last visit was not without its difficulties, I now know that I love the Phils. It seems like the place I always wanted to live but never knew where it was. Continue reading I’m back from the Philippines. And I don’t like that.→
Last week I visited Bataan, here in the Philippines, for the first time. I was amazed by the scenery, which is remarkable; beautiful mountains, beaches and sea views, amongst everything else. What a richness this country has! Anyway, the highlight of the tour was when an old friend suggested going to Las Casas de Acuzar at Bagac.
Bagac is south of Olongapo on Subic Bay and is accessible by bus. Once again, the scenery en route is spectacular.
Well, a belated Happy New Year to everyone and my apologies for the long hiatus.
I came here to the Philippines in early December after three months of flat-out work, to the point of exhaustion. I achieved a lot but I think regular readers would have noticed that my focus was not on the blog here but on other things, notably my new books — of which, more later. Continue reading Happy New Year 2017 from the Philippines→