The Great Escape

Rediscovering life in Palawan Philippines

Archive for the tag “lifestyle”

The Feist’s Great Escape: Facebook

Life is like a book filled with chapters. In these chapters are snippets of every day life. We’ve just launched our Facebook page ‘The Feist’s Great Escape: Coron Palawan’ to share these little snippets. Here, you’ll find travel tips, get an inside perspective of what it’s really like to live on a third world tropical island and maybe get inspired.

Visit our page – https://www.facebook.com/thefeists/

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We Finally Escape Canada

good-bye toronto

My little brother sends us off at Toronto Airport.

Two weeks ago it was -33 degree Celsius. Now it’s +33 degrees Celsius. We’re finally here. Our escape from Canada was long and drawn out. We had things laid out so it should have been smooth sailing but does anything ever go as planned? Just when we thought we could relax and await our departure we got a nasty last minute surprise which I won’t get into. Then in the final hours we frantically scrambled to balance out the weight of our two pieces of luggage. Some items we thought could make our life easier in the Philippines got tossed out. Oh, well. Surprisingly, the twenty-one hour flight on EVA Air was quite good except for the freezer like temperature of the plane’s cabin. I should have clued in when I saw dozens of passengers with thick jackets. At least they gave us blankets.

hello kitty lounge

The ‘Hello Kitty’ lounge at Taipei.

After about 16 hours we landed in Taipei for a stopover. Our departure gate was the Hello Kitty lounge and plane. We were definitely in Asia. From here it was just a short hop to the intensity of Manila. As we expected the plane circled the airport for about 20 minutes. We’ve never had a flight arrive or depart on time in the Philippines. When the wheels hit the runway I was happy. We had finally arrived. The blast of heat and humidity, honking horns, pollution, horrendous traffic and general all-around chaos welcomed us back. I kept thinking to myself with a sliver of disbelief, “We’re actually here.”

tricycles

The hustle and bustle of Calamba.

The first few days in our newly adopted country were brutal. We slept for twenty hours, had bizarre dreams, foggy brains and intense jet lag. It was damn hot but we loved it. Staying with relatives on the mainland helped us ease into life here. We felt so lucky to have honest, helping hands to guide us in the beginning. Things aren’t simple here. There’s no standard way of doing things and not much organization. Even the locals have a hard time. Just figuring out how cell phone worked involved my cousin, uncle, two helpers and us. After four hours, two SIM cards, a pocket Wi-Fi and several attempts at ‘loading’ we were set and ready to go or so we thought. Things didn’t sail quite so smoothly when we got to Coron.

cell phone load

How many people does it take to figure out a cell phone?

This was the first time we were not tourists. We soaked in our environment. There’s just so much you can read but the only way to truly understand the many nuances of Filipino culture is to experience everything for yourself, both the good and the bad (and we’ve had a good amount of both). We are absolutely intoxicated by our new life and it is just beginning.

What if you could live anywhere in the world?

Man carrying world map

Where in the World? (photo: Timothy Krause)

When we decided to move to the Philippines I joined several expat forums. I wanted to find out as much information as I could to prepare us for the challenges we could face. There are many reasons people move to other countries. Many move to the Philippines because a spouse wants to be close to family. Others move because the cost of living is lower than where they come from.

One member from a particular forum posed this question. If you had no constraints (circumstance, family ties, finances, etc.) and you were free to pick any where in the world, where would you live?

I was half way through writing this post when Paris was attacked. It was afternoon and ‘The Chef’ was playing an online game on his tablet. A player from England typed, “France just closed its borders and it can’t be good.” I asked what that meant and he said something bad must be happening in Paris. I immediately googled ‘Paris’ and there on the screen were the words ‘Paris Attacks.’ It’s hard not to think about what’s happened when I think about the question now.

Over the years I’ve dreamt about living in a little farmhouse in the countryside of France. I could imagine myself gorging on local cheese and fresh bread and washing it all down with a bottle of red. It’s a romantic notion and I laugh at how cliché it sounds but we’re just musing, right?

When I was younger, wilder, more energetic and single the city life had everything I wanted. New York City in the 80s and its gritty East Village appealed to my anti-establishment, artist sensibilities. At the time I could picture myself in some loft splattering paint on some canvas.

I once gave serious consideration to moving to Bali, Indonesia. I love their deep culture, smiling people and beautiful landscape. But after ‘the Chef’ and I visited Palawan I fell in love with Coron. Palawan is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to. There’s something about the easy-going nature and honesty of the people that makes me feel like my true self. In Coron I feel like life is not dictated by time, fashion or trend. It suits us well.

So, if you had your choice where would you live?

The Land Where I Was Born 020

Photos and thoughts about the Philippines.

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.

Halo halo especial

Halo halo especial (photo credit Jeff Younstrom)

Summer isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and the best way to beat this unbearable heat is with every Filipino’s undisputed favorite shaved ice dessert: the halo-halo! A medley of sweetened jewels, a gracious layer of icy granules, a heaping scoop of ube ice cream, all drowned in creamy milky goodness-it’s a sweet tooth’s dream. ~ Top 10 Halo-halo in Manila (2014 Edition), spot.PH, April 24, 2014

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style

Power Breakfast Pinoy Style (photo credit weye)

Magandang umaga! ~ 21 Delicious Filipino Breakfasts That Are Actually Hangover Cures, Buzzfeed, August 21, 2015

LECHON ON THE TABLE

Lechon on the table (photo credit whologwhy)

In restaurant circles, the dreaded F-word—fusion—is usually reserved to describe some sort of disparate multi-culti combination, like sauce soubise on top of tamales. But in the case of Filipino food, there’s no stronger term to capture the essence of Asia’s most unique, idiosyncratic, and underrated culinary tradition. ~ Coconut, Vinegar, and a Whole Lotta Pork: An Introduction to Filipino Cuisine, Serious Eats, June 14, 2014

Life is easy. Why do we make it so hard?

Slowly our friends and family are beginning to take notice. Back in 2012 when we started talking about moving to the Philippines we got a lot of “let’s just humour them” nods. I think most thought it was just a novel idea that would pass like a highschool crush. Now as we get ready for our next visit to Palawan we get another type of look, the slightly surprised “Oh, they’re serious” look.

I don’t blame them. It’s a pretty big lifestyle change we’re proposing. We’ll be going from Executive Chef and Designer to organic farmers. We’ve already begun to simplify our lives and shift our way of thinking.

‘The Chef’s’ cousin and wife dropped by the other day and as we talked about our ideas for the farm they told us we had to watch this TEDxTalk.

The speaker, Jon Jandai, talks about his journey from the rice fields of northeastern Thailand to the big city of Bangkok and back again to the rice fields. He talks about his hardship in the pursuit of success. What he concludes is so simple but so provocative.

It reminds me of ‘the tourist and fisherman parable’ a story about how an enterprising tourist tells a local fisherman how to improve his life (you can read the story here). The only difference is Jandai’s story is real. To watch his talk just click on the video above.

The Land Where I Was Born 019

Random photos and thoughts about the Philippines

Our environment, our experiences, and the people we choose to surround us shapes us into who we are. In this series I search the web for thought-provoking images about the Philippines, the country I was born in and which I am now rediscovering.

Filipino-American grocery

New Home

The year was 2008. I was 24 years old when I left the Philippines for the United States to marry the man of my dreams, who left the country right out of college. When I arrived in the States, I had nothing but two suitcases and the clothes I was wearing. Everything else—my family, my friends, my job, my home, everything that defined me, everything that I knew, everything that I loved—was left behind. Most people who move from one country to another only have one reason for moving: the pursuit of the good life. ~ The truth about chasing the American dream, Manila Bulletin, July 6, 2014

Sauces!

Sweet, Sour, Salty

At Maharlika, a number of foreign condiments await use on the table before diners: bright yellow and red bottles of patis, a fish sauce, suka, a coconut-sugarcane vinegar, banana ketchup, a blend of bananas, sugar and vinegar, and Maggi calamansi seasoning, a citrus based liquid. Bright sour, sweet, and salty flavors jump out of traditional dishes like crispy, sizzling pork sisig, oxtail kare kare with peanut butter, and fried chicken slathered with macapuno syrup. Head-on prawns decorate a number of dishes and fried chicken skin is offered as a pre-meal snack. ~ Filipino Fare for American Palates, Huffington Post,  October 16, 2014

Untitled

The Whiter the Better

My attitude was a bit different before, because I was socialized as a young child to think that I’d be prettier if I was light-skinned. I actually have trauma about it. At a preschool Christmas pageant most kids were cast as angels or elves, and I couldn’t help but notice that all the light-skinned girls were angels. I was just like, “But I want to be an angel… I’m an angel!” In a lot of places it’s still more common to think of light-skinned as being pretty. Actually, the last few times I visited the Philippines I couldn’t even find sunscreen – just skin lightening products. ~ How to Be Pretty in The Philippines

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Filipinos Love to Party

Even though I am ‘technically’ a Filipino I’ve always looked at Filipino gatherings with outside curiosity. I grew up in Canada surrounded by ‘wasp’ friends and western ideals and never thought of myself as anything different. With our ‘neighborhood gang’ my siblings and I played road hockey (even though I was a girl I was a ‘killer’ goalie), built forts out of junk wood, got into fights for no good reasons and egged houses on Halloween. As far as I was concerned I was simply Canadian.  Read more…

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