On a domestic flight in the Philippines, my seatmate, who was born and raised in Hong Kong, explained that in the 1960's, Manila was seen as the most advanced Asian city, more modern than Singapore, Hong Kong amd Bangkok. How things have changed ... or in the case of Manila, not changed. The infrastructure and economy have stagnated. When I asked him why he thought this was the case, I expected him to talk about the political corruption which has plagued the country. Instead, he said: "Filipinos are too happy. If things go wrong, they just smile and no one fixes it. In Hong Kong, we are always dissatisfied. Even when things are going well, we want to improve them." Click the link to read more about the Philippines' "happiness problem."
Welcome to Donsol, a town in the Philippines that in some ways is like my hometown of Indianapolis. Just as Indianapolis hosted a big event--the Super Bowl--Donsol is the gateway to one of the most spectacular traveler experiences--swimming within an arm's reach of the world's largest fish, a whale shark. From what I've read, while visitors to Indy felt the Super Bowl was a great game, the real highlight of their visit was interacting with the wonderful people of Indy. Likewise, while swimming with the whale sharks was every bit as incredible as advertised, the real highlight of our visit was interacting with the wonderful people of Donsol. Click the link to see how far I can stretch this analogy!
Our first day of travel consisted of three flights (including a 13-hour flight), a lot of Hello Kitty, a skipped day on the calendar, and no sleep. Click the link to see some photos from the beginning of the trip.