Thursday, March 02, 2006

Back from Asia - part 2 - Philippines

Finally back from my trip –part 2 – the Philippines

I returned Wednesday from the Philippines. The time zones and flight work out such that I left Manila at 8am, traveled for 14 hours (including a transfer in Tokyo), and arrived at 7:30 am in Seattle. That’s right – a half hour earlier the same day that I left! And during those 14 travel hours, I experienced a complete cycle of day and night. So I traveled a whole day and arrived earlier than I left! Go figure, Einstein! Needless to say, my body-clock is completely turned around. I had been waking up around 6am everyday in the Philippines, but last night I slept 13 hours straight through (which I NEVER normally do) and woke up at noon.

Wow - the Philippines. There is so much there, and I did so many things, that I can only post up the smallest taste of my experience there. But I will try.

Here’s my friend Letty and her niece Gina at the place where I stayed in San Quintin, province Pangasinan, on the island of Luzon. To the right below are my dentist and her kids, including her new baby just over one year old. She gave me new teeth. The Philippines are a great place to have dental work done. It is at least 10 times less expensive for most treatments there. That means that even after you add in the plane ticket, you still can save hundreds of dollars on dental work by having it done there.

Here we are at a friend’s birthday party. I am trying to play their piano, which it turns out they haven’t tuned or serviced in about 40 years. I explained this to them, but they wanted me to play it anyway. Below right is my friend Gina’s son getting a haircut. The barber came to the house, plugged his shears into an outlet, and grabbed a chair on the patio, and voila! – haircut time! I got one too.

Here’s a typical Filipino outdoor kitchen, the kind they use all the time. Most Filipinos prefer to cook outdoors because they want to cook over a real fire. You may think this looks primitive, but when you taste the fish they cook this way, it all makes sense. In fact, one of the things we all miss the most when we leave the Philippines is the fish. It is so plentiful, so cheap, so fresh and so good that when you come back to the States and suddenly don’t have it, there’s a big gap in your life that used to be filled by fresh fish every day.

Below right I am chilling with some of the guys after the work day. They are all working on remodeling my friend’s house. We are enjoying some fresh snails and a couple of bottles of Filipino brandy, called Matador (cost is 60 pisos, equal to about 30 cents US). They drink it in shots with ice and water. I also enjoyed a beer called Red Horse that is sold in one-liter bottles there for 22 pisos – (about 10 cents US). Needless to say, you can get several people fairly well inebriated for one US dollar. This is what the guys do while the wives are cooking dinner.

That wraps it up for my trip. The next posts will be back to the music. And with the India experience, I have some very interesting music indeed to work with.


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