Friday, August 26, 2016

Elitism, it does not need to exist.

I have always known it exists, but I tried to push it aside.
My first trip to the Philippines was arguably my first to true income disparity/class warfare where you simply could not hide it.
Mind you As I stated I know it exists but never to this extreme. So in 2007 I would find myself tossed right into the mix of elitism at its greatest, and I had no Idea it was coming.

I had been encouraged by my GF at the time to visit the Philippines version of SeaWorld, a little place called "Ocean Adventure Park" in Subic Bay. Going to the park was not something high on my list of things to do as I generally dislike being surrounded by people, hard to avoid in the Philippines to be honest.
So there I am, buying tickets and my GF gives me the big eyes and the "It is my dream to swim with Dolphins" statement. Now it was expensive, some 85 dollars per person to do this, and I am a frugal traveler so I tried my stance against, and of course lost as usually happens in the battle of men vs women. With a Grimace I coughed up the extra dough and into the park we went.

Mind you this ended up being an Amazing adventure, not only were there Dolphins involved, but False Killer Whales as well. I was thinking this would be a bit more fun as Dolphins in my mind are merely Pirate food :O, but whales are cool!

While we were getting ready there were two other White guys and their families. Of course it made sense only other whites would be able to do this as most Filipinos earn around a dollar to seven dollars a day, depending on if they live in the city or in the country.
They relaxed me a bit by telling me "We do this all the time, it is very fun for everyone" so that helped.
While we readied, we talked about our lives a bit. I mentioned I was self employed and had Heavy Equipment so was instantly one of the boys.
We laughed, had a grand time and off we went.
The adventure was amazing, We would get to hold onto the Whales fin as they swam us to a dock as well as do tricks with us, absolutely incredible.
We laughed, chatted it up and headed to the Photo Shack to get some CD pictures of our encounter.
Standing in the shack they started to make comments about the locals working there "Can you believe they cater to us for a dollar a day?"
"I know, pathetic isnt it?"
I am starting to boil, I am not one to put anyone down for working, especially those living in abject poverty who have to work for a mere pennies just to find a mea to survive upon.

So I say "Whats wrong with them working? They have little choice after all"

One of them says "Well it is just pathetic to have to do this kind of work"

Ohh I am getting miffed "Now hold on here" I say trying to be calm "I grew up on a small ranch and my first job can arguably be said was logging" I took a deep breath "I have washed dishes, toilets and anything else to make ends meet"

Surprised I am then asked how I got my business.

"Well" I replied slowly "I built it up with lots of long hours and hard work"

They looked perplexed "But how did you pay everything off?" They asked.

"Dedication and devotion, I focused on not giving away my money so it would give me an easier life"

That was it, end of the conversation, they refused to look at me again. I made sure to tip well and to as always, thank each and every worker there who had been part of a wonderful experience, which undoubtedly infuriated them even more.
Nothing new with me, I always, ALWAYS try to thank those who work the hardest, if I see you cleaning public Urinals I will thank you and truly mean it. You are making life liveable for the rest of us.

You see this is the problem, they born into wealth assumed all others who had to work for it are vile wretched beings. Not true, like anyone else they are still human beings, susceptible to a death just as everyone else. We do not get to choose the lives we are given, so why not take the time to treat each and every person like the Human being they are?
Maybe, just Maybe if we started treating each person like a living breathing creature who just wants to Fish Fuck and Eat like everyone else, we would be far, far better off with less conflict and hardships all the way around.

Just Maybe.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Robbed while traveling overseas, what to do?

For a reference for beginners or even seasoned travelers, please see here

One of the biggest fears while traveling abroad is the inevitable robbery.
Unfortunately movies and the news have people panicked over this event. While quit serious the odds of it being very nasty are slim, so here are some tips on how to handle such a situation.

Carry your money in various locations, all your money in one spot is asking for trouble. If you are traveling overland try to keep your important goods hidden, with your photos being uploaded to a cloud as often as possible.
I lost a camera to a pick pocket in Tabacco Philippines. Looking back it was quit blatant at their theft, at the time I could not figure out why someone would be bumping into me, common distraction. Nevertheless I lost my camera and pictures I of course can never replace. My camera was kept over my neck and shoulder in the supposed safe spot, so keep that in mind while traveling.

I like having two cameras, one cheaper one to point and shoot while a better one saved for special photos. The advantage of todays world is even a cheap digital camera or even your phone will get you a wonderful picture.

Getting a camera stolen sucks, but I just remind myself that 30 years ago a 36 exposure roll of film would be dragged out for days, if not months :P

Remember in the event you lose your money it is not the end of the world, you can still wire yourself money. I had to do this before, while embarrassing it worked very well.

Never flash anything and OD NOT wear expensive or any jewelry if possible. In the event you are robbed anything they see will be taken, and not in a nice way either.

Cooperate, do not try to be a hero, NOTHING you own, be it your camera, money, bike or car is worth your life.

Developing countries require a special kind of attention, do your homework before you leave. If a local tells you not to go someplace, listen and do not.
They want you to be safe, safe travelers mean more people coming to visit.

Odds are in any of these places you will make it home with a story, if you are dead then authorities have cause to look for the murderer, and one thing a thief does not want is the attention of the law, regardless of how corrupt they indeed may be.
IF you look for trouble in a developing nation and think you are going to go all Jason Statham on some bandits, you are sadly mistaken.
Being on the receiving end of a firearm is not a fine point in life, nor do you forget the taste of a blade. That krav maga class you took suddenly seems worthless, your arms feel like they have weights tied to them and you realize doing it wrong is indeed the end.

Keep your travel plans and especially times and dates quiet except to those who need to know. As mentioned bad guys visit travel forums as well. Not all the friendly people you meet and ask directions will keep it quiet. People in desperate situations are forced to do desperate things. While this is rare, this is why you need to be cautious. With that said I have had friendly locals guide me more than once, keep your wits about you.

Only fight if there is absolutely no other option and then do so as if it is to your last breath, as likely it will be at that point. That point would likely be in the event of a kidnapping or some other dire situation you probably will not ever face.

Even in the event you think it is a kidnapping, make sure you know what is up. I was taken into a caged Van again in the Philippines and it turned out these was a friendly local and a Bodyguard (literally) making sure we got to a safe spot. How did I end up there? Well with desperate starving people pulling at you in all directions you tend to go with the most friendly people. Once inside the van I realized it was a cage. I tried ot make myself valuable to be kept alive, fortunately that was not needed.
It is also common especially in latin america to take you and force you to use your cards at an ATM.

The Marines are not coming for you, just remember that.

Lets say they do, lets pretend you are someone important or with the right connections, most hostages are killed during a rescue attempt :(

Try not to go out at night.

Here is an example how quickly things can go wrong

Good job to those in the video, they made it home. Objects, money even your bike can be replaced.

Travel safe, be smart and you get to grow old and tell some kick ass stories.