My Beginner’s Travel Guide in The Philippines

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People have always been fascinated with other places thanks to the power of internet. People traveling to tourist spots of other countries share not just their photos but also their experiences with various people and their culture. The more people share their travel experiences, the more other people become curious and plan to such places. I heard from my friends that traveling to other countries, such as France, UK, Japan, South Korea, Singapore and Thailand, would be a great experience. Well, I definitely agree since we get to learn several things that we couldn’t learn in our own country but great beginner’s travel guide would be to explore one’s neighboring region first before going abroad.

Mati Oriental in the Philippines

Other than it really takes time and money to travel to distant places, we still need to question if we really understand our own country, whether its ethnic groups, local cultures or history. A great beginner’s travel guide is to start within your country to gather information from different local regions as it saves time and money while simultaneously enjoying and understanding the culture of various neighboring areas by conversing with the local people and the foreigners staying in that region.

Let’s take a simple example here in the Philippines – a very diverse country. My dad grew up in Manila while my mom in Davao city but we, the children, mostly adopted our dad’s culture. We have been staying in Davao city for as long as I could remember. When I was a child, I was very fond of going to my neighbors’ house (just a few meters away) and play with the kids. I was not only enjoying my time with them, but I also learn their interests and behaviors as if I was learning their culture. It was my beginner’s travel guide.

davao city
View from the Plane of Davao city 2017

Then as I we became closer friends, I got the opportunity to get know other neighbors who lived about 50 meters away, without feeling intimidated. Then I started to gradually keep up with their behaviors, which are a bit different from my neighbors who lived a few meters away. The kids on the other side of our fence were playful but reserved while those who lived a few blocks away were also playful but quite boisterous.

Somehow, these two groups of kids were adjusting their approaches with each other for the sake of friendship, but of course, there were times that I got to see some of them fight over an outdoor game. I guess this is what makes us come into compromise – having to play outdoor games that we enjoy. It was the culture of the kids those days in Davao City. Every weekend, it seemed like it was part of our schedule to play, at least an hour or two for the day, outdoor games like hide-and-seek, tag, dodgeball or kickball. However, it was different when we went to Metro Manila.

Our family traveled by land going to Manila (thousands of kilometers away) in order to visit a deceased relative on my father side. We had a few stop overs in some regions in the Philippines only for a while so we really never got to explore the cultures of the places we passed by. Since we stayed longer in Manila, we had a chance to get a glimpse of their culture, specifically the kids’ culture. My cousins were not fond of outdoor games so they stayed most of their time playing board games or computer games. For us who lived in Davao city, it was a surprising culture and it was quite intimidating. Later, I found out that my younger sister and one of our cousins fought over decisions on what to play. In addition, having different dialects, Tagalog and Visayan, would make both sides reserved in speech whether they are children or adults but as they say, “When in Rome, do what the Romans do.”

The idea here is that if going to a distant place with different cultures would make one intimidated and form unpleasant relationships, it’s a best beginner’s travel guide to start wandering within your country from your nearest locality to the farthest regions in your country before going to foreign countries in order to lessen culture shock. Although we were taught to study the places, people and culture of other countries, it’s very different when we experience them first-hand, especially if the target area has a unique culture.

 

davao city
my friends in Davao city

.. He met people from different ethnicities and gathered information about the neighboring localities bit by bit. Slowly traveling farther and farther every year gave him courage to start traveling abroad alone and met various individuals without feeling intimidated because he already had second-hand information on the country he planned to traveled to. From Philippines, he went to Hong Kong, the next year to Macau, the year after next to Singapore, then China, Thailand and its neighboring countries, and lastly to India but this time, with new friends who also like to travel. What’s advantageous about taking small steps traveling distant places is that you get to meet tourists who have been to several countries and naturally collect information.

Tourist Spots that are close to your region is a nice place start exploring for a beginner’s travel guide. They do not only have breathtaking surroundings but also have various people who lived in or traveled from other local areas or from foreign countries in which the travel guide to start within your country would make it seem like you’re traveling abroad. Conversing with foreigners is the good way to start gathering information about other countries. First, guide them about what you know within your country, whether about the places, people or your culture. It’s also a way of building trust.

After giving them enough information and established at least a handful of trust, the next step is to start asking questions about the countries they know or they are familiar with. How many foreign countries have you been to? What’s your country like? What’s the most attractive or the best place to hang out in your country? What are your native delicacies that you would recommend for foreigners to eat? What can you say about the people in your country? What’s interesting about your culture? These are just some of the questions to start the discussions about the country they came from. Assisting foreigners in your country creates a give-and-take relationship, which also serves as a beginner’s travel guide. As you delve deeper into obtaining information, you will have the opportunity to at least understand a bit of the place, people and their culture.

. It’s a Japanese school located at the north of Davao city. When I studied there for one and a half years, I was able to meet Japanese descendants who have been going in and out of Japan. Other than acquiring information from Japanese professors, those descendants also shared facts, their ideas and opinions about Japan and their people, although books and internet also helped me a lot in information acquisition.

 

 

They talked about how different their culture is compared to the Philippines, especially when it comes to discipline. Whether it’s the government or the citizens, everyone there works hard to build a better society not only because they strictly follow the laws but also because it’s already their habit since childhood. I was informed on how Japan’s school system practically and meticulously trained primary school kids about manners and discipline before they proceed to High School. Even though those were just second-hand information, I was still refreshing to hear what it’s like to be in that country and with the help of imagination, it’s as if I was residing in that developed country.

Currently, when people I know talk about the places they have been to, I simply smile and nod because I already understood what it’s like to be in that certain country they were discussing. However, I do not disclose second-hand information easily because it’s not like I was really there and those second-hand information I obtained might not be entirely true, although I share information from the books I have read and state my source. There are times that second-hand information are not well elaborated, so the next step in a beginner’s travel guide after gathering data is to experience what you have heard from those foreigners, that is, if you have the time and money to finally travel distant places. Then follow the same travel guide – gather information from various people who have been to the neighboring areas or countries, and travel to the nearest local region if you have the time and money.

I have been traveling only to my neighboring local areas, and had witnessed the similarities and differences among those regions while I collected information from people about the neighboring areas in Davao city and some ideas about foreign countries. For me, I still need understand my own country because of its diversity, which is why I ask questions from people who have been to several places if I have the opportunity, while saving time and money simultaneously. And when I went to places I’m interested in, it was not that surprising to encounter such people and experience their culture. I was able to blend in naturally. It is a great beginner’s travel guide to start within your country in obtaining information to avoid, or at least mitigate, culture shock.

 

It is not easy to adjust one’s attitudes and behaviors when staying in a country that has a completely dissimilar culture which is why the best beginner’s travel guide without much intimidation is to understand your locality and gather information from visiting foreigners, then slowly taking steps from your local region to the neighboring places until you have visited all the regions in your country. Traveling to neighboring regions one at a time could help in gradually familiarizing a unique set of habits from different ethnicity and in obtaining ideas about what the visiting foreigners shared about their country.

Cost on Travel of Singapore Cars from Singapore Via Tuas

Let me give you an idea about Johor Bahru. Johor Bahru is about an hour drive from Singapore Via Tuas or second link.

Johor Bahru was founded in 1855 as Iskandar Puteri when the Sultanate of Johor came under the influence of Temenggong Daeng Ibrahim. The area was renamed “Johor Bahru” in 1862 and became the capital of the Sultanate when the Sultanate administration centre was moved there from Telok Blangah (Singapore).

During the reign of Sultan Abu Bakar, there was development and modernisation within the city; with the construction of administrative buildings, schools, religious buildings, and railways connecting to Singapore. Johor Bahru was occupied by the Japanese forces from 1942 to 1945.

Johor Bahru became the cradle of Malay nationalism after the war and gave birth to a political party named

United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) in 1946. After the formation of Malaysia in 1963, Johor Bahru retained its status as state capital and was granted city status in 1994. A central business district was developed in the city centre during the 1990s. More development funds were channelled to the city after the introduction of Iskandar Malaysia in 2006.

We have  been living  now in Leisure Farm Resort Near Gelang Patah in Johor  Bahru for over 4 years…

My husband was living in Johor full time and my last 4 years was half Singapore and Johor.

Our community as far as I know is more safe. We are in a well guarded environment meaning we are double gated and double guarded by Gurkhas security from Nepal.

Singapore Via Tuas photo
Though its not allowed to have this photograph taken, yet I still did for the purpose of understanding this blog

Unlike the area near Woodlands…

mostly likely are condominiums. I have heard  some several landed property.  I am not saying that we are in Horizon Hills, Leisure Farm resort or property where nearby Tuas are safer. But so far, I have not heard some issue on a burglar in these community from my friends.

I know a friend who is a victim of robbery in a broad day light and her place is one of those near woodlands. She was battered with 2 men riding on a motorbike.

I also got to met by accident while I was shopping in bukit indah a lady who were talking to my other friend  about she is going back living in Singapore as her unit a condo near woodlands was empty  when she came back home one day.

Those stories are real. We got lucky where we stayed in Leisure Farm Resort.

We bought this unit on  high price already because a neighbour bought his  for only around RM 400,000 and ours is Rm 600,000. RM is a sign for Malaysian money. We call it Ringgit.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST NOW TO ENTER JOHOR  FROM SINGAPORE VIA TUAS OR SECOND LINK?

As we are living in Johor Near Gelang Patah, we always like to drive  Singapore via  Tuas Customs.

Massive traffic every day from 5 am to 8 am and from 5 pm to 8 pm Singapore time. Try to avoid this timing if you can. It is not worth to damage your nerves.

Before the cost to enter coming from Singapore  via Tuas was less than $6 Singapore Dollars one way, today, to enter Johor from Singapore via Tuas or Second Link has just got higher.

Here are some fees involve: This is written on 20 February 2017.

SINGAPORE CUSTOM FEES BY CAR $3.20

JOHOR MALAYSIA CUSTOM FEES RM 20 (PER $1 SGD IS RM 3.11). THIS WILL  BRING TO SINGAPORE $6.40

This cost RM 20 or Singapore dollar 6.40. This is if you coming from Singapore Via Tuas

AFTER JOHOR CUSTOM, THERE IS A TOLL FEE OF RM 7.50

Toll fees after Johor customs. travelling Singapore Via Tuas
Ringgit 7.50 per entry

Total Cost of Travel By Car Entering Johor from Singapore via Tuas one way is Singapore Dollars $12.04 these days comparing to $5.60 few months back or would say in 2016.

So, if you are a person living in Johor that drives to Singapore via Tuas to work and come back at night and you own a Singaporean Car plate number like us, your total   expenses for entering from and to  is Singapore  $17.65 per day.

(Toll fees to go back to Singapore is RM 7.50. Singapore custom fees is $3.20. TOTAL COST TO GO BACK TO SINGAPORE  IS $5.60)

The cost of your petrol or gas is not included in my calculation yet.

There will be more fees coming as Singapore side will be implementing a new fees for Malaysian car plate number.

I will write it down here once it is confirm.

In our neighbourhood, only a few house occupied full time. Most have gone back to Singapore.

Today, there are still new  property development arising. Wonder who is going to buy?

Though I have visited one of the famous property now in Johor Iskandar called FOREST CITY, I must say it is indeed a very design development that I am sure to attract many  investors.

All in all, we are happy here as away from traffic and city life. We save more and have a relaxing life together.

AT THE END OF THE DAY, YOU DECIDE WHAT IS BEST FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY..

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