DEADLIEST SNAKES IN THE WORLD
Philippines is home to more than 175 snake species and as i come from a country where there are very few snakes i treat each snake i see with caution, even though they are defensive creatures that usually slither away when they hear a noise, so if you are walking in long grass or vegetation carry a stick with you and wave it among the grass in front of you to alert the snake to your presence. Many islands do not have the anti-venom so let us hope that if you are bitten by a snake it will not be poisonous. (i know of two people that were killed by snakebites last year). Since i have lived here i have never been able to find a book about Philippine snakes or even a detailed list with photos on the internet.
Most of the snakes here are harmless, but don't be fooled as some of the deadliest snakes in the world are found here. Cobras are found here, including the King Cobra (the world's largest venomous snake) and as with all cobras they can be recognised by their hooded sides of their heads. There are also 3 types of spitting cobras here who can direct venom in to your eyes from a distance of 3 meters.
Pit Vipers are also quite common here and they are very venomous, usually dwelling in trees. On my land i have seen perhaps 10 of them, a particular type that are black and white with a bright red tail, usually only 2 feet long but if one bites you, yo will be dead within 5 hours if you cannot find treatment. It is a particular painful death as they attack the nervous system. One strange fact about the vipers is that they give birth to live young ones instead of eggs.They are known here as Ogu-ogu.
Coral snakes are usually found in scrub jungles and monsoon forests, avoiding dry areas, usually having multiband colors or stripes. They avoid human contact and are usually docile.
Sea snakes are common in the waters of the Philippines and very rarely venture out of the sea. They must come up for air now and again but some can remain underwater for up to 8 hours, while others live in the sea all their lives. Many are found near mangroves. The yellow lipped sea wraith can produce 10 times as much venom that is necessary to kill a human. There is the Lake Taal Snake that resides in the volcanic lake after which it is named, the only sea snake that can live in fresh water.
There are other snakes such as pythons, whip snakes, wolf snakes, bronze back and flying snakes that inhabit the islands, but if i was you i would back away if you saw a snake on the trail.
CRIME IN THE PHILIPPINES
Certain governments warn their citizens about crime in the country but if you keep your wits about you, there is not much need to worry. As in other countries you must be careful of pick pockets especially on the buses, jeepneys and metro in Manila as often they will be crowded. Even long-time residents like myself have suffered from the hands of pick pockets despite us being very careful indeed. Normally i keep most of my cash, credit cards, I.D.s in secret pockets sewn on the inside of my trousers, and try to keep my hand in my normal pockets to protect my wallet, but even then i had my wallet stolen on the busy metro. On a jeepney a thief opened my wife's handbag, stole her purse and zipped it back up again without her knowledge.
Be careful about joining locals for a drinking session, especially if you don't know them very well, as the drinks may be spiked. This happened to a friend of mine who woke up in a remote spot less his camera and money.
Be careful of bag snatchers who may be on motorbikes or approach you in the mall.
Never raise your voice to a local or swear as this can become very serious. If you are arguing about something, do it with a smile.
Should you be in an are where locals start a fight, leave immediately.
Never get in to an argument with a local, better to walk away.
Never withdraw cash from an ATM after dark unless you are accompanied by a friend, especially in Manila.
Remember many people are stricken with poverty here and are desperate for money.
ELECTRICITY BROWNOUTS AND POWER SURGES
If you are taking your laptop or other important items i suggest you take a voltage converter with you so you can use your devices. Normally the electric supply is 220 volts and 60 Hertz, where as in UK it is only 50 Hertz. You may also want to take a voltage regulator with you to protect your device against frequent power surges.
Outlets in most of the Philippines accept two types of plugs, the two pin flat type that you get in the USA and the two round pin type. If you have the three pin type that is common in UK, most hardware stores will sell an adapter for around 50 pesos.
BE CAREFUL OF A G.R.O.
Unknown to some tourists a G.R.O. is a guest relation officer, a fancy name for a bar girl who are nearly all available for a price! Normally these girls will work in bars, sometimes without a salary, but will get commission on lady's drinks. You may pay 100 pesos for your shot of Vodka and orange while you will have to pay around 300 pesos for a lady's drink, often watered down or containing no alcohol at all. Now, should you wish to take the girl out of the bar for some special activities you will have to pay a "bar fine" which can be as high as 5,000 pesos, which is often shared between the bar and the girl. You may decide to rent a room nearby for a few hours but be careful not to fall asleep as the girl may be gone by the time you wake up, and your wallet too!!! No point going to the police as they will just laugh at you!!!
If you are an old man, do not be so gullible when the girl says that she loves you----just look in the mirror and take a reality check.
Often the girl will ask you for money for her studies, her sick family, her house repair, her rent, her motorbike repair, or just about any reason she can think of!!!
Airport Cabs: Centralized BS
More friends are reporting airport cabs who are not using their meters. When a rider inquire on the reason, cab driver states that cab company has a new policy of centralized meters. Do not believe this! I would strongly recommend that you feign calling a friend or relative in the Department of Transportation and pretend to ask about centralized meters. For sure, cab will suddenly develop engine trouble and cab driver will ask you to just seek another ride.
So, from the start before you move a couple of meters away from the airport, insist to see driver turning on meter.
I attached a sample of an erring cab driver's plate number.Related to:
- Work Abroad
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
A delicate subject.
I am trying desperately to think how to write a tip which, as the title suggests, is rather a delicate one. Certainly I do not want to offend any of many many Philippino friends who were so good to me during my recent six month trip but for a first time visitor I think it needs to be flagged up.
Like many other places in Southeast Asia you will see European / American / Australian etc. men with "girlfriends" who are a lot younger than them. You will see bars which are obvious pick-up joints for prostitutes although these tend to be karaoke / videoke places and you will also see Philippino couples and even families on occasion in them which I found slightly odd. The girls in these places tend not to be pushy though and someone will politely ask you if you want company. A simple, "No thank you, I'm only here for a beer," and you will be left in peace, they do not seem to be pushy.
I am not making any moral judgements here and several expat friends of mine are happily married to Filipinas, indeed one got married to his long-term girlfriend when I was there. Many more are in long-term relationships.
Male visitors should also be aware of another potential problem, often carried out in collusion with the police. You will be offered female "company" by a girl who says she is 19 and may even produce papers to prove it. The age of consent in the Philippines is 18. Next day you have a visit from the local police saying that a complaint has been laid against you by the girl who turns out to be under 18. At this point you are looking at a long time in a Philippino jail which is not a prospect I would relish or, for a large sum of money and I mean very large,the girl's family will withdraw the complaint which means there can be no court case. I realise this is hearsay but I did hear of exactly such a case involving an Australian on the island of Cebu at the back end of last year.
I do not wish to present a negative side to a country and people that I have come to love deeply, I am merely pointing out to potential travellers what the scene is and possible pitfalls. If such things are not your scene, you will have difficulty avoiding seeing them but that is just part of the package.
1 more image
Sadly not for everyone.
It is no secret that I abolutely loved my six months in the Philippines, there is so much to like there not least the fantastic people. I wish that everyone could go there, however this is sadly not the case. Although thankfully able-bodied myself, I am minded of a quote from another VT member that "everyone is a potential wheelchair user" and this tip refers to people with disabilities. I am afraid I would have to suggest that it would be horribly difficult for travellers with disabilities, specifically mobility problems to get around in this country.
In some of the larger urban centres they have made some sort of desultory attempt to provide a little access but the second photo, taken in Manila, shows what a mobility impaired traveller would be up against namely someone parked on a wheelchair ramp. I could literally have taken hundreds of images like this. It is often tricky enough for me to move around with broken pavements with great unmarked holes in them, pavements used as carparks and a hundred other problems.
Acommodation options, shops and restaurants don't seem to do much better either. I don't remember seeing more than a handful of special toilet facilities in six months. Outside of Manila, I saw very few lifts (elevators) anywhere, only stairs.
On the plus side, the Philippino government seems to have adknowledged the problem as indicated here dating from June 2011 although I heard nothing about it in-country.
Sorry to post such a negative tip but I thought I should point out the potential problems.Related to:
Many dogs in the Philippines have not had vaccinations against rabies even though the city officials go from house to house providing free vaccinations, so no matter how cute a dog looks, stay away unless you know the owner.
Be Watchful. You Drive Your Own Issues
Common sense Acommon Travel rules as to where ever you go.
#1. Don't go where you shouldn't go.
#2. Follow the rule of law in the country that you reside.
#3. Adhere to the rule of law from your home country.
#4. Respect and "pre-" read up on the culture(s).
#5. Gain some familiarity with the country's national language prior to your trip.
#6. Practice the local language with the locals.
#7. If concerned with lodging then don't do what isn't familiar to you.
#8. Eat what has been cooked.
#9. Drink bottled water that has a seal. Open it yourself.
#10. Know your coordinates (esp. North & South). Memorize the major cross-roads prior to taking your trip.
#11. Have a copy or two of your Passport in a safe place (either on you personally or in an emergency place).
#12. Go electronic (with back up paperwork) when you can.
#13. Be reluctant to share your full plans with strangers.
#14. Be flexible.
#15. How you handle "it" determines whether it'll be a good event or day or not. Understand that something weird, funny, or bad might occur.
#16. Watch your travel companions as they might just as well cause trouble by accident / unknowingly or on purpose.
#17. International travel is not a time for pranks. (Stay away from pranksters that want to travel with you)
#18. Just try to remember that "nothing" is for "free". (This goes for women too! Crazy partying guys should know this.)
#19. Silently meditate as to rehearse (or re-play) plans.
#20. Always be prepared for a back-up exit plan (... where ever you are (and check for exits)).
#21. Travel with flex travel time on the front end but esp. back end of your visit. This'll reduce your frustrations if there happen to be delays.
#22. Pack light while being wise.
#23. Be nimble. (physically)
#24. If you have good judgment with befriending people (anywhere) then be social with out giving away too much information.
#25. Know your money. Where it is. How much is on you. Denominations in order. Minimize coins if possible (don't need to be heard walking around jiggling).
#26. When driving a rental car ... pay the extra for full coverage. (Take it from a guy that has had 2 separate flat tires and locked up engine all in the same trip. Can you guess where?)
#27. Walk like you know where you are going even when you get lost. The best way to not get lost again is to remember where you were when you were lost.
#28. You are not a "stick" in the mud if you choose to stay away from the "loud" crowd.
#29. Avoid traveling during the host country's elections.
#30. Be aware of political and labor union protest. Don't accidently get caught up.
#31. Never walk away from your open beverages and/or food. Once you've stepped away then pass on further consumption as to be cautious.
#32. Ladies and guys, know that you will meet lots of wonderful people plus some not so. Don't be fooled by "beauty" or a "handsome" face. Danger lurks. If you have a bad judgment of character domestically then it is not going to get any better outside of the country.
#33. If you're not considered "HOT" back home then don't be fooled when you are abroad. Money matters. It isn't really your looks.
#34. The money train gets you access but it can also generate trouble.
#35. Make certain Taxis / Limos drivers happen to be locked into the price and directions prior to departure.
#36. Know the weather conditions prior and during your trip.
#37. Read the local newspapers / journals prior to arrival. (seek to understand cultural, social, economic, etc topics of the day)Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
- Hiking and Walking
AsiaBill's Travel Tips For the Philippines!
1.)Always carry small change;saves you being annoyed by reply, "sorry no change"
2.) Ask someone about taxi or jeepney, tricycle fares before you get
in. Pay & walk away. NEVER ask "How much?" because the price goes
up the more you talk. A moving taxi is busy so tends to be an honest
taxi vrs parked taxis waiting 4 victims. Tip the taxi driver P10
to P20 reward him for not hassling you. Good Karma ALWAYS REWARDS you.
3. ) Never change money on the street/ inside a restaurant. You
will ALWAYS lose & usually almost half your money. Money
change scam artists R very good & show U the hand is quicker than the eye.
4. ) Never gamble with Filipinos not pool, cards, chess or any game
for money & even for drinks. It's safer not to gamble. It's one
example in life where when you win you lose & when you lose you lose.
5. ) Never raise your voice at a Filipino away from your own
neighborhood. Never call a Filipino "STUPID". They are very sensitive
about it. If you do get angry & make the mistake. Please leave the
place as soon as possible .Go Away Fast cause you are in more
DANGER than you realize. Filipinos do not like to fight & "fair
fights" are not the custom, "fight to kill" is.Related to:
- Study Abroad
- Budget Travel
AsiaBill's Next 5 Travel Tips for the Philippines
6. ) Forget about the 2 words "WHY" & "SHOULD" or you get constant
headache trying to understand why things happen like they do in places
outside your own country, especially the Philippines. Acceptance is
the preferable attitude. There are too many things for you to
question, so it's better for you not to start. So just relax/ enjoy
the positive aspects of living in the Philippines with a sense of humor.
7. ) Expect everything to be late and slow. Life stops at LUNCH.
Schedules change & the weather is unpredictable. Telephones,
electricity, and water - sometimes they work, sometimes they don't.
8.) Never accept drinks, candy, or fruit from strangers, especially
young women, in Manila. In the past few years a few of our guests have
been drugged using the above methods after being met in Rizal Park,
shopping malls, the open markets & even on the bus. We have never
heard about this happening in other parts of the Philippines.
9.) Always wear a cloth type money belt which is worn around your
waist under your clothes instead of those leather or vinyl pouch waist
bags with several zippered pockets because psychologically they appear
as you are advertising your valuables. It may seem a bit awkward to
reach under your pants to get your money or travelers checks at a bank
but it's MUCH SAFER. Even when you drink too much your money is much
safer closer to your - - - -.
10. ) DON'T WORRY BE HAPPY!!Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Study Abroad
Traveling in Mindanao
Hello, while I can't say that is true for all of Mindanao, I was cautioned when I was there about 12+ years ago but, it was a business trip to National Steel and had to go. It was not comfortable at all from the drive to the plant from the airport and the airport was another story. My Philippine business associate was also quite uncomfortable about the trip and we flew in and out in on the same day for safety considerations. The US and other engineers and technicians lived across from the plant in a compound. In this case compound meant a fortified walled enclosure with barbed electric wire. The gate of the compound and the steel plant was guarded by machine gun carrying military looking guards. Security was tight. Weather to go or not is a personal choice and if one is taller than say 5'-3" (1.6m) tall you will "stick out like a sore thumb". A 6 foot (1.8+m) tall European or American is immediately recognized, my point is caution! When we drove to the plant from the airport and return we were low key our chauffeured car was driven by a non-descript local and the car was a bit worn, possibly 15 years old. Security at the plant was tight and had no problems whatsoever for the whole trip.
Also our associate knew which local restaurant (very very basic) to use and he advised what to eat and, "don't drink the water".
The trip was unforgettable and educational. Driving in the countryside between the Cagayan de Oro airport, Iligan-City and the plant there were many people mainly women and many children walking along the road carrying containers. After observing more closely, I realized that they were carrying water to their homes from central wells that seemed to be quite a distance from the occasional home/structure. Their homes were mainly small frame buildings on stilts with no windows, just openings. To be sure the homes had no electricity or running water. Consider how fortunate we are. The Philippine people that I met at the National steel plant and in locals in Manila are quite open, friendly and intelligent. Would I go again to the Philippines?, yes to Manila.Related to:
- Business Travel
Balut. Ok, locals will often try to get you to eat this. Be informed, balut is a duck egg with a duck embryo formed. depending on the # of days old the egg is, it can have a beak and feathers. i never tried this, but for what it's worth, a friend did and she quite liked it.
Keep it simple and be vigilant!
If you're planning to do a lot of shopping and walking around Manila (or anywhere in the Philippines) avoid wearing outlandish clothes that scream "tourist"...and keep the accessories to a minimum. Don't ever flaunt too much jewelry so as not to attract unwanted attention from criminals.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Family Travel
Serious danger spots for tourists
In general the Philippines are completely safe, much more so than London or New York. However, there are a handful of small, isolated areas that should be avoided. They are so far from anywhere that tourists are likely to go that it is almost not worth mentioning, but here I go anyway. Also, ask locals before trekking into any remote or mountainous area, they will know the exact situation at the time.
Mindanao - some of the Sulu islands such as Jolo have Islamic extremist groups and should not be visited. Others such as Tawi-Tawi are completely safe. Also mainland Mindanao's interior has MILF groups (anti-government rebels who are much more dangerous than NPA) hiding out. Other areas such as Barangay Ned have sever tribal warfare. In mainland Mindanao you will never get to any of these places anyway because locals simply will not let you go.
Palawan - further south than Sicud is the territory of pirates. Abu Sayyaf also hide out in the jungles, but again locals will never take you anywhere near them.
Interior Panay - tribal warfare in a few parts. Locals will not take you to these areas even if you want to.
Mindoro - NPA rebels throughout the interior. They have never kidnapped any tourists and are much more likely just to ask for a "donation". Again, locals will not allow you to go anywhere near them.
Kalinga - tribal warfare unlikely to affect any tourists. Weapons very visible everywhere in areas such as Tanudan but absolutely not in Tinglayan (more touristy but still culturally interesting area).
This is not a comprehensive list of areas you should not visit, just the ones I know about and can give details about from my travels. Even so, these areas are SO remote and SO small and SO far away from anywhere you are likely to go as a tourist that there is really no need to even think about them.
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