Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

So last week, I told you all about my FAM / Press Trip to the Philippines. And really, I had the most marvellous time but truth be told, the Philippines isn’t really on the agenda on most Europeans.

India? Yes!

Thailand? Oh yes!

Bali? Absolutely!

But the Philippines? Er what!

You know! The Phiiiilipppppines!

Emm. Nope!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

OK then. How about Manila?

Oh, Manila!

‘So you’ve heard all about it then?

Yep! I heard it was full of crime, and you would be shot in the streets, mugged, kidnapped, or all the above!

?&$%!!!???%&$§!!!

I’m guessing it’s time that I write about my own impressions of Manila. After all, I was there.

And I lived to tell the tale!

Being under the loving protection of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines & TBEX, means I'm relatively safe from external danger!
Being under the loving protection of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines & TBEX, means I’m relatively safe from external danger!

But let’s be realistic, one of the reasons that the Philippines turned out to be such a roaring success was because we weren’t on our own, and had the loving protection of the Tourism Promotions Board Philippines, who did a fantastic job of providing transport, an information table at designated approved hotels, a welcome team at the airport, and a whole bevy of young Filippino students who helped us get from one place to the other, quickly and safely. In fact, at one point, one group even had a police escort as it was quite late in the day…!

THE DIPLOMATIC FACTS

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

According to the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the embassy advice is NOT to travel to certain parts of the Philippines because of on-going terrorist activity and clashes between the military and insurgent groups.

There is also the issue of typhoons. There may be flooding, landslides, storms, and even death and destruction which could result in local evacuation! Indeed, typhoons in the Philippines are no joke as just last year, the country had 27 tropical storms, 18 typhoons, and nine super typhoons, resulting into people being forced to flee their homes, torrential rains, submerged villages, devastating floods, and death.

In fact, we had a few typhoons while we were there.

Boy in debris after typhoon Saola in the Philippines. ©Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images
Boy in debris after typhoon Saola in the Philippines.
©Ted Aljibe/AFP/Getty Images

However, since we were in Manila, we were not outrightly affected, but all the FAMtrips in the affected area, were cancelled.

The simple fact is that the Philippines does have a high incidence of street crime, scams, robbery, terrorism, and kidnapping. Including gun crime.

The bare reality is that Manila isn’t the safest of places, and foreign nationals are increasingly becoming targets. Most of these crimes are committed by local youths who are involved in incidents of violent robbery, gun crime, assaults, random acts of violence, kidnapping of foreigners, streets fights, looting and violent crimes triggered by excessive alcohol consumption.

If you're a US or foreign traveller stay alert. Violent robbery, gun crime, assaults, random acts of violence, kidnapping of foreigners, streets fights, and looting, is not unknown.
If you’re a US or foreign traveller stay alert. Violent robbery, gun crime, assaults, random acts of violence, kidnapping of foreigners, streets fights, and looting, is not unknown.

Sadly, on November 3rd, the US Government had to issue a travel warning to alert U.S. citizens that terrorist groups are planning to conduct kidnappings, in areas frequented by foreigners on the southern portion of Cebu Island, specifically the areas around Dalaguete and Santander (to include Sumilon Island). As I write this, the warning is still valid!

Check for incidents before you leave.
Check for incidents before you leave.

Is it any wonder that my friends and family were nervous at the thought that I was travelling solo to the Philippines? Their only consolation being that I wouldn’t be totally alone, and that I’m a smart experienced traveller!

Having said that, most tourists and travellers will have a wonderful time, just as I did, but the warnings are not without merit, as the Philippines does have a reputation.

MANILA

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

Manila, otherwise known as the City of Manila, is the capital and the second most populous city of the Philippines.

Founded in 1571, by a Spanish conquistador – Miguel López de Legazpi – Manila is one of the oldest cities in the Philippines and was the seat of power for most of the country’s colonial rulers. It is situated on the eastern shore of Manila Bay and is home to many landmarks, some of which date back to the 16th century!

With a population of 1.8 million in 2015, Manila is the second largest city in the Philippines, after Quezon City. It is also the most densely populated city in the world, with 41,515 people per square kilometer!

HOW TO BE SAFE IN MANILA

Be vigilant. Don’t show all your valuables or wander into dodgy corners!
Be vigilant. Don’t show all your valuables or wander into dodgy corners!
  1. Be vigilant
  2. Keep away from large crowds, protests and rallies
  3. Don’t wander too far “off the beaten path”
  4. Watch where you’re going at night, or stay sober
  5. Take licensed taxis such as Grab
  6. If you take public transport, make sure it’s not too crowded as traffic jams are common, and the heat can be stifling!
  7. Keep your valuables out of sight
  8. Be respectful and polite to the locals
  9. Try as much as possible not to take photographs without permission. The homes of local people isn’t a zoo!
  10. Go on a walking tour

I love walking tours.

Not only is it a way to get your bearing, it’s also a means to meet some of the locals, and find out local secrets.

As I told you last week, TBEX doesn’t only organise post-TBEX tours but pre-TBEX tours too! I knew that I would be on a very long flight, so opted for a morning tour that wouldn’t take more than four (4) hours or so!

A WALKING TOUR OF MANILA  – INTRODUCING OLD MANILA WALKS

TBEX calls it "The Old China Food Tour" but Old Manila Walks markets it as "The Big Binondo Food Wok"  walking tour!
TBEX calls it “The Old China Food Tour” but Old Manila Walks markets it as “The Big Binondo Food Wok” walking tour!

The company – Old Manila Walks – is a local organisation whose motto is “experience the best of historic Manila – one step at a time!”

They have five (5) tours that people can join:

Honestly, I wish I could have taken all of them but I was only able to go on one. TBEX called it The Old China Food Tour but Old Manila Walks calls it The Big Binondo Food Wok nibbling our way through Chinatown tour!

Locals in the capital city of Manila.
Locals in the capital city of Manila.

I had arrived late the night before and was looking for a place to eat at my conference hotel – The Golden Phoenix. The hotel restaurant had closed and so the staff had directed me to a local haunt across the road.

I was extremely pleased as the restaurants was packed with local punters, with the only foreign faces being that of two random British guys and myself.

We soon got chatting!

Even though it was my first night, I felt perfectly safe ‘cos:

I was a little concerned as I ordered chicken & got pork. I ordered green beans & got okras & pumpkin! Hmm!
I was a little concerned as I ordered chicken & got pork. I ordered green beans & got okras & pumpkin! Hmm!
  1. The two British guys were quite beefy, and were more than able to hold their own
  2. My hotel – The Golden Phoenix – was right in front of the restaurant. As were the security guards
  3. We were in a classy area with 4 or 5 star hotels scattered all over the vicinity!

Anyhoo, our meeting point for the food tour the next morning was in the lobby of a hotel before we moved down to the Binndo Church!

Book your hotel here!

One of our Chinatown walking tour guides & the lady who was standing right next to me - Patricia Schultz - author of the #1 New York Times bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die!
One of our tour guides & the lady who was standing right next to me – Patricia Schultz – author of the #1 New York Times bestseller 1,000 Places to See Before You Die!

If you’re a foodie, then the best place to go to in Chinatown is Binondo, and to munch your way through a wide selection of dining establishments, ranging from Cantonese themed restaurants to local regional fare!

Let’s go!

Ivan Man Dy - the man and brains behind Old Manila Walks.
Ivan Man Dy – the man and brains behind Old Manila Walks.

Ivan Man Dy is the brains and owner of Old Manila Walks, and also the man who led our tour packed with journalists and foodie bloggers!

In 2005, he established Old Manila Walks and has since then literally walked a thousand miles! In between walks, he has found time to finish a master’s degree in Cultural Heritage Studies, do professional work in the field of heritage tourism, appear in countless local and international TV documentary shows, as well as local modelling!

Ivan wanted to show us the Chinese heritage of Manila, and so we started with a backyard sit-down stool place called New Po-Heng Lumpia House.

Lumpiang Sariwa or Fresh Spring Roll is a type of spring roll of Chinese origin commonly found in the Philippines!
Lumpiang Sariwa or Fresh Spring Roll is a type of spring roll of Chinese origin commonly found in the Philippines!

We had some lumpia.

Lumpiang Sariwa or Fresh Spring Roll is a type of spring roll of Chinese origin commonly found in the Philippines.

It is a savoury snack made of thin crepe pastry skin called “lumpia wrapper” enveloping a mixture of savoury fillings, consisting of chopped vegetables (carrots, cabbages, green beans, bamboo shoots and leeks) or sometimes minced meat (chicken, shrimp, pork or beef). It is often served as an appetizer or snack, and might be served deep-fried or fresh.

Lumpia is usually garnished with sweet sauce, coconut flakes and crushed peanuts. A nut-free roll was made specifically for me so don’t worry if you have allergies, they will cater for you if you let them know!

TBEX bloggers at the famous Chinese restaurant called Quik Snack / Quick Snack - Amah's kitchen!
TBEX bloggers at the famous Chinese restaurant called Quik Snack / Quick Snack – Amah’s kitchen!

After this snack, we went through the market place to a historically famous Chinese restaurant called Quik Snack / Quick Snack, otherwise known as Amah’s kitchen! It was much nicer and larger, catering to friends and family.

Empanada de kaliskis - a traditional flaky, pastry filled chicken pie - sweet to taste, filled with tasty ingredients, and a hefty crunch!
Empanada de kaliskis – a traditional flaky, pastry filled chicken pie – sweet to taste, filled with tasty ingredients, and a hefty crunch!

At Amah’s Kitchen we had a pie called Empanada de kaliskis. It’s a traditional flaky, pastry filled chicken pie. It really was quite delicious as I like pastry pie that is sweet to taste, filled with tasty ingredients, and has a hefty crunch!

A type of tofu dish with cheese, oyster sauce and sprinkly bits!
A type of tofu dish with cheese, oyster sauce and sprinkly bits!

After that, we had a type of tofu dish with cheese, oyster sauce and sprinkly bits!

A staple in Chinese cuisine, tofu, or fermented soy bean curd, is rich in protein. In the Philippines, it is known as tokwa. Firm varieties are good for stir-fries, while the softer varieties like silken tofu is good for soups and puddings. By itself, tofu is almost tasteless. Its versatility lies in its capacity for absorbing the flavor of any ingredient mixed with it.

I’m not usually a fan of tofu, but this meal made everything better again!

After this, we ducked into a restaurant in which we had to go upstairs. The stairway was so low and narrow that even a petite girl like myself, also had to take care when going up or down the stairs!

Dumplings in Manila!
Dumplings in Manila!

As we entered, we saw some young girls kneading dough. I was excited.

It could only mean one thing.

Dumplings!

A simple spiced vinegar dip, that wasn't quite so simple!
A simple spiced vinegar dip, that wasn’t quite so simple!

Dumplings in Manila are usually eaten with a simple spiced vinegar dip that I didn’t find quite so simple, as the spiciness made me splutter! Nevertheless, I tried a little and covered the rest of the dumplings in soy sauce!

A thick layer of Filippino pork schnitzel!
A thick layer of Filippino pork schnitzel!

We were then served a thick layer of Filippino pork schnitzel!

A sort of custard-like dessert made from condensed milk and duck egg yolk buried in the mud for one (1) month - a common Filipino dessert called Yema!
A sort of custard-like dessert made from condensed milk and duck egg yolk buried in the mud for one (1) month – a common Filipino dessert called Yema!

The next dish we had was some sort of custard-like dessert made from condensed milk and duck egg yolk buried in the mud for one (1) month! This is a common Filipino dessert called Yema!

I didn’t personally like Yema as it was served cold, and felt like having an English school dinner dessert that had been left out too long! But if you’re not British, you’ll like it!

An ingredient that looked liked armchair stuffing and tasted like hot-chilli peppers!
An ingredient that looked liked armchair stuffing and tasted like hot-chilli peppers!

Not to worry though as it was soon time to sample some sort of street food once again.

Ivan took us to a herb and spice shop where we had to smell the ingredients and guess what they were. The highlight was when I tried something that looked like armchair stuffing, and tasted like hot chilli peppers!

Ewgh!

Lastly, the group tried some purple yam balls!

Purple yam - Very avant garde!
Purple yam – Very avant-garde!

Purple yam is used in a variety of desserts and is also known as ube. I wasn’t able to try it as it had killer stuff like pistachio, coconut and almonds!

Having said that, I do like the velveteen purple tones. Very avant-garde!

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

I really enjoyed this walking tour and got to see the Chinese food heritage of Manila.

At the end of my stay in Asia, I flew back to Manila for 24 hours and this time, I chose the more humble 3-star Vieve Hotel rather than the nicer 5 star Belmont Hotel, which we all later moved to! I liked the Belmont so much that I paid to stay over the weekend. A good thing too, as I was really ill…!

The staff at the Vieve Hotel were nice enough, but I wouldn’t recommend it if you were travelling solo. I wanted to see the more “authentic” Manila, and I certainly did!

Book your hotel here!

Male and Female prostitution in the Philippines. ©philippineslifestyle.com
Male and Female prostitution in the Philippines.
©philippineslifestyle.com

As my taxi drove me through the dark narrow streets of Ermita, I had to confess that I was a little anxious and was already getting my phone out to book another hotel! The area is dodgy and appalling. Shop after shop was either a massage parlour, a go-go bar or a karaoke “show,” with ladies of the night plying their trade, and homeless people lying on many a pavement.

As you know, I have no issue with legal prostitution, but I would never wander into the red-light area alone, and here I was right slap and centre, in the middle of it!

Suffice to say, I didn’t go out that night. I stayed in my room, double-locked the door, and put a chair behind it!

The next day was sunny so I plucked up the courage to walk around the area on my own.

It was fine.

The locals were friendly and allowed me to take photographs of their carts and vehicles. I even did my nails at a neighbourhood salon where staff were 50% transgender.

They were hilarious so I left them a hefty tip!

Well that’s it for now.

Book your hotel here!

IS MANILA A CRIME-RIDDEN PLACE OR IS IT SOMETHING COMPLETELY DIFFERENT?

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

This article is not sponsored and even though I was invited on this trip as a guest of Old Manila Walks, and as a member of TBEX, all opinions and the spicy sauces that I dabbled in, are my very own!

I’ve started a new job!

November is going to be amazing!

Watch this space!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?
Is Manila a crime-ridden place or is it something completely different?

D you think Manila is a crime-ridden place, or do you think it’s something completely different? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

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Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

I’m actually in the Philippines you guys!

And wow!

It’s looking far better than what I ever imagined it would be like!

But first.

The Philippines?

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

WHATEVER AM I DOING THERE?

Well boys and girls, a long time ago, in the summer……..I told you that I had astonishing news! That astonishing news was the introduction of my journey to the Philippines for the very first time.

WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO THAT EXOTIC PLACE?

I’m in the Philippines right now, and it’s ridiculously exciting.

I'm in Manila right now! Yeow!
I’m in Manila right now! Yeow!

WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO THERE?

I’m going to:

I'm going to eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
I’m going to eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
  • Visit Manila
  • Fly to the island of Bohol
  • See the most famous Chocolate Hills (which aren’t actually made of chocolate…)
  • Stare at the tarsier, otherwise known as the world’s smallest monkey!
  • Go on a river cruise
  • Run around the Bohol Butterfly Sanctuary
  • Explore the southern edge of Bohol’s Panglao Island
  • Search out where the best dives can be found on the Balicasag Island
  • Explore historic Cebu – the Queen City of the South!
  • Sail across and experience a Mactan Island Tour
  • Find out if the Lechon suckling pig dish delicacy really is as good as they say!
  • Eat the best that Filipino food has to offer!
  • And at the end of it all, I’m going to take advantage of the spa and massage moments, because by the end of an exciting but intense time, I’m going to need it!

Book your hotel here!

I'm going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!
I’m going to see everything that there is to see all over the Philippines!

Whew!

BUT WHY AGAIN?

Sigh!

I'm a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin - © Pascale Scerbo Sarro
I’m a very happy British lifestyle, expat, travel blogger. Right here in the beautiful city of Berlin –
© Pascale Scerbo Sarro

As you know, I’m a lifestyle expat travel blogger. And part of this lifestyle is spending an awful amount of time writing and spreading the love on social media.

If you don’t get yourself out there, it can be quite lonely.

Thankfully, I’m a bit of a social butterfly and a little bit of a show-off, so meeting other bloggers is always going to be a good thing. One of those ways to get-together is to attend a TBEX conference.

I had originally planned to go to Sweden...!
I had originally planned to go to Sweden…!

I had originally planned to go to the European conference in Sweden, but a window opened up. That window was the fact that I’m taking up a new job!

Yep!

I'll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!
I’ll soon be working for Logo Sprachenschule!

Now you all know that I presently work for a British / American company doing corporate teaching in industrial, business and governmental establishments. Well, from November 2016, I’ll be working for a German company as the Vice-School Principal. And get this. I’ll be responsible for their English-speaking business AND their Social Media Management!

It’s a small business and will be focused on international languages. The company is called LOGO Sprachenschule, and is based in my gentrified hipster neighbourhood of Prenzlauerberg. In the best place in the world – Berlin!

As usual, I’m an advocate for smart travelling, so I’m not quitting either my travels or my job anytime soon, thanks very much!

and then We Were Three. In Wales!
and then We Were Three.
In Wales!

Anyhoo!

Oh yes. I didn’t go to the conference in Sweden, so I decided to go to the TBEX Asia-Pacific 2016 conference in the Philippines instead!

Gosh, you’re a busy girl Victoria!

WHAT IS TBEX ALL ABOUT?

I'm at TBEX - Travel Blog Exchange Asia Pacific 2016 - The future of travel Media!
I’m at TBEX – Travel Blog Exchange Asia-Pacific 2016 – The future of travel Media!

Well, TBEX is the holy grail of the travel blogging world and stands for Travel Blog Exchange.

It’s the world’s largest conference and networking event for travel bloggers, writers, online travel journalists, new media content creators, travel brands and social-media-savvy travel industry professionals. There are three (3) conferences held annually in North America, Europe, and Asia-Pacific, attracting 600-1000 delegates from all over the world!

The organisation used to be located in North America and Europe but for the first time in 2015, was based not only in “the West” but in Asia too, and on a cruise-ship in the middle of the sea!

Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.
Me on the beach at Lloret de Mar, Spain for TBEX.

It’s also a medium for the creative minds of the travel industry to come together, to network, to learn, to negotiate with the travel industry, and for those who are so inclined, to take the business of blogging to the next level.

How exciting!

I had heard a lot of good and sometimes controversial things about TBEX, but I decided to attend the conference for myself and make up my own mind.

Last year, I went to the TBEX conference for the very first time.

Eeek!

Shocking news! I'm actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is....Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m actually in the Philippines and guess what? The secret Chinese-speaking location I told you about is….Taiwan!

Every year, TBEX partners with fantastic destinations so that bloggers and media people get the opportunity to meet potential business partners or sponsors, meet influential bloggers, get new strategies and tips, network with each other, discover new destinations, share a new experience and well, be entertained and paaaaaaaarty like it’s 1999!

Oh alright then. Paaaaaarty like it’s 2016!

Party like it's 2016 at TBEX in Manila! ©Vicki Winters
Party like it’s 2016 at TBEX in Manila!
©Vicki Winters

There.

Happy now!

I love the Asian continent, and I’ve been to Asia many, many times, but I’ve never been to the Philippines!

THE PHILIPPINES

Turtles in the Philippines!
Turtles in the Philippines!

The Philippines officially known as the Republic of the Philippines, is a sovereign island country in Southeast Asia, situated in the western Pacific Ocean!

It consists of:

I can't wait to run across the many sandy white tropical beaches such as this, in Bohol!
I can’t wait to run across the many sandy white tropical beaches such as this, in Bohol!
  • A population of 101 million people!
  • 36,289 kilometres of coastline
  • 10,000 feet of mountain ranges
  • 7,107 tropical islands
  • 6,000 endemic plant species
  • 5,000 species of clams
  • 2,000 species of fish
  • 900 species of seaweed
  • 600 species of birds
  • 500 animal species
  • 400 species of coral
  • 176 languages and local dialects
  • 100 indigenous ethnic groups
  • 22 species of whales and dolphins
  • countless beaches
  • and the capital city – Manila

Book your hotel here!

Just me and my horse in Manila!
Just me and my horse in Manila!

Golly!

While I’m in this part of Asia, I decided to visit another new country in the vicinity.

I picked Taaaaaaaaaaaiwan!

TAIWAN

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC), is a state in East Asia.

Neighbors include the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to the west, Japan to the northeast, and the Philippines to the south. Taiwan is the most populous non-UN state and the largest economy outside the UN.

The history of Taiwan dates back tens of thousands of years although it’s believed that the appearance of a culture based on agriculture around 3000 BC, reflects the arrival of the ancestors of today’s Taiwanese aborigines.

Taiwan was initially colonised by the Dutch in the 17th century, followed by an influx of Han Chinese including Hakka immigrants from the Fujian and Guangdong areas of mainland China, across the Taiwan Strait.

The Spanish built a settlement in the north for a brief period, but were driven out by the Dutch in 1642.

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

In 1662, Koxinga, a loyalist of the Ming dynasty who had lost control of mainland China in 1644, defeated the Dutch and established a base of operations on the island. His forces were also defeated by the Qing dynasty in 1683, and parts of Taiwan became increasingly integrated into the Qing empire. Following the First Sino-Japanese War in 1895, the Qing ceded the island, along with Penghu, to the Empire of Japan.

In 1945, following the end of World War II, the Republic of China (ROC), led by the Kuomintang (KMT), took control of Taiwan.

Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).
Taiwan, otherwise known as, the Republic of China (ROC).

The KMT ruled Taiwan (along with Kinmen, Wuqiu and the Matsu Islands on the opposite side of the Taiwan Strait) as a single-party state for forty years, until democratic reforms in the 1980s.

During the post-war period, Taiwan experienced rapid industrialization and economic growth, and was known as one of the “Four Asian Tigers.”

Wow!

How intriguing!

That’s all for now!

Book your hotel here!

SHOCKING NEWS! I’M ACTUALLY IN THE PHILIPPINES AND GUESS WHAT? THE SECRET CHINESE-SPEAKING LOCATION I TOLD YOU ABOUT IS….TAIWAN!

Street food in the Philippines.
Street food in the Philippines.

Even though I was a member of TBEX, all opinions and the exciting time that I’m currently in the middle of, is my very own!

Right now I’m travelling around the Philippines and Taiwan and you can follow what I’m doing and where I’m going, on Twitter & Facebook.

Come and find me on social media ‘cos you know what, I believe it really is more fun in the Philippines!

In November, I’ll be travelling to Austria and starting a new job!

Save the Date!

October is going to be just delightful!

I’ll be there. Will you?

As usual, you can also follow me via daily tweets and pictures on Twitter & Facebook!

If you’re not in Berlin in October, you’re lost!

Watch this space!

How do I get to Taiwan?
How do I get to Taiwan?

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

Shocking news! I'm in the Philippines and the secret location is Taiwan!
Shocking news! I’m in the Philippines and the secret location is Taiwan!

Have you ever been to the Philippines? Did you guess the secret location would be Taiwan? Any tips? Have your say!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

If you like this post, please Share it! Tweet it! Or like it!

How I was attacked by monkeys and I screamed!

Ouch! I'm still smiling. I'm still smiling! Photo@ Frank Böster
Ouch! I’m still smiling. I’m still smiling!
©Frank Böster – Behind The Couch Studio

Monkeys!!

I absolutely hate ’em!

Last week, I retold the story and gave you the beginner’ guide to going up a volcano for the very first time; because going up a volcano really isn’t for everyone!

The-Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.
The-Hobbit: Battle of Five Armies.

The adventure of walking through the flames of Mordor and struggling through the mountains of Erebor, whilst I plunged myself through the footsteps of Thorin Oakenshield and….

Oooops!

Not that mountain in New Zealand. The other one! The one in Indonesia.

In Bali!

It sure was a challenge and what was even moreso, was of trying to get through the hordes of monkeys.

I’ve met monkeys before.

Many times.

I don’t like monkeys.

I have a fear of them!

At the Ranthambore National Park, India.
At the Ranthambore National Park, India.

The last time that I had an encounter with monkeys was in India. I was in Rajasthan and I went on a tiger-hunting safari tour at the Ranthambore National Park, not far from Jaipur.  Ranthambore National Park is known for its tigers and the best times for tiger sightings are in November.

I happened to be in India in November.

I was looking forward to seeing those majestic creatures, and you would have thought that after paying our open-top gypsy jeep fee all we would have had to do, was to settle in, and take off.

Yeah right!

When has it ever been that easy?

Inside the national park is a huge forest, and in that forest is the Banyan tree. The Banyan tree is the national tree of India, and hidden in those mystic trees were monkeys.

Huge monkeys at the Ranthambore National Park, India.
Huge monkeys at the Ranthambore National Park, India.

Huge monkeys.

Huge monkeys who didn’t swing off into oblivion. Oh dear me no. These huge monkeys only had to come down and start parading around, as if they owned the place.

Apparently they do.

There was some sort of monkey temple nearby and in order to walk further into the forest, (as we were also on a guided tour of the flora and fauna of the national park), we had to pass these temples.

I turned into a sweat.

India is a place where they take the worship of animals quite seriously. You all know of the virtues of the Holy Cow but did you know that there is a temple called the Karni Mata Temple, dedicated to rats and known as the Temple of Rats.

Karni Mata Temple - The Temple of Rats, India.
Karni Mata Temple – The Temple of Rats, India.

The temple is the home to over 20,000 varieties of rats. You have to take off your shoes and walk in your socks, as bare feet are considered de rigueur. You are then surrounded by lots of little rats who scuttle over your feet.

Don’t move, as they’re holy and bring blessings.

Quite disgusting, but you can’t be in India if you aren’t shocked at least a little bit. Shudder!

Back to the monkeys!

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Don't look them in the eyes!
Don’t look them in the eyes!

In the monkey temple, the primates roamed free and they begged. Nay. They demanded, that you gave them titbits. Our guide had instructed us to:

  • Be careful.
  • Give small amounts of food.
  • Don’t show fear.
  • Don’t look them in the eye.

A huge monkey came towards me. And immediately, I began to shake. He brought out his hand. I gave him my “gift” whilst still shaking slightly. He strolled around me, and I gingerly walked on.

Walking on in Vietnam! I don't recall seeing any monkeys this time!
Walking on in Vietnam! I don’t recall seeing any monkeys this time!

Then we came to the actual temple and all the monkeys were right in front of me.

I was surrounded and found no way to go around them, so I had to go through them.

I kept my head down all the way through until we got to our safari jeep.

And yes, we got to see tigers!

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Horse riding in the Welsh Mountains.

But what started this fiasco of fear in the first place? How did it come to be that I can ride horses, elephants, and camels. I can eat snake and crocodile meat, but I cannot be surrounded by monkeys! I mean, The Music Producer, “The Tall Young Gentleman” and myself love going to the Zoo in Berlin, and even there, I refused to go into the monkey sanctuary, and waited outside.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

In fact, even though I love watching Return of the Apes, it still keeps me awake at night. I mean, what if?!!

Double Gulp!

I love Bali. I really do. We had such a lovely holiday in that most beautiful Bali resort called: Alam Shanti and in our own private ricefield house called: Utari House.

Book Utari House at Alam Shanti or your own Bali hotel here!

Book your hotel here!

Tea and cake at the lovely Alam Shanti.
Tea and cake at the lovely Alam Shanti.

What I neglected to tell you was that our beautiful residence was in Ubud. Ubud is one of the most fascinating places in the world. It’s surrounded by rice paddies and is just packed. Packed with opportunities to dig into your spiritual flow, get your karma going, and focus on your chakra. That’s right, Ubud is the land of enlightenment, learning, and discipline. It’s also next-door to that enormously famous forest of awe.

The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary otherwise known as The Monkey Forest.

You know how I told you that the Banyan Tree is the National Tree of India. Well, it’s also on the coat of arms of Indonesia and is deeply sacred. As are monkeys.

A family of monkeys in The Monkey Forest.
A family of monkeys in The Monkey Forest.

Our hotel was about 5 minutes away from the Monkey Forest. In fact, we had a private team of security men who slept in the surrounding confines of our house. Not because of crime. Nope!

Nothing to do with monkeys. Just a little light relief!
Nothing to do with monkeys. Just a little light relief!

Because of the monkeys.

Our house was set away from the grounds of the hotel and was blissfully secluded, but with seclusion came nature. We had giant toads, giant lizards, and lots and lots of monkeys. Monkeys that have no respect over walls, and just climb over! In fact, on our first day, we saw a huge number of them in the neighbouring rice field at the back of our house! Alam Shanti were great and ensured our safety so that we always felt safe and secure, as there was a large number of staff on the grounds. And rice farmers!

The Music Producer and “The Tall Young Gentleman” wanted to experience what The Sacred Monkey Forest Sanctuary had to offer. As for me. I already knew.

Inside The Monkey Forest.
Inside The Monkey Forest.

Remember when I told you that I had been to Bali back in ’99.

Yeah!

It was here that I had my first experience of monkeys.

Myself with longer hair. Don't I look cute!
Myself with longer hair. Don’t I look cute!

I had joined a small group that had decided to go to The Monkey Forest. We came by mini-van and had just huddled up in the car-park. Our guide had instructed us to take off hats, glasses, and anything else that might catch the attention of a wandering primate. In those days, my hair was long, and I was leaning on the fence listening intently to the guide, when I felt a thump.

Something had landed on my head.

And that thing took a hold of my then-long hair, and pulled it.

Oh dear!
Oh dear!

It was a monkey.

I was in such a sense of shock that I screamed!

The guide shouted at me not to move but I couldn’t hear him, all I could see were the shocked faces of other tourists as this monkey proceeded to hang on for dear life, all the while pulling my hair, whilst I screamed and screamed!

Local people in Bali.
Local people in Bali.

The local people came to help me and enticed the monkey away, whilst I gingerly went on into The Monkey Forest too, all the while on high alert.

I did it, but not without discomfort, and almost screaming the forest down! As such, you can imagine my dismay when my family wanted to go to The Monkey Forest too.

Going Bananas!
Going Bananas!

They went and had a great time playing and feeding the monkeys. The Music Producer had a cheeky monkey go into his shoulder bag and help himself to a bottle of water. “The Tall Young Gentleman” had monkeys that liked him so much, they snatched bunches of bananas from his hand and tried to take his trousers!

And what about me?

Did I take up the challenge to face my fears?

No way!

They went without me!

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HOW I WAS ATTACKED BY MONKEYS AND I SCREAMED!

Going to The Monkey Forest without me!
Going to The Monkey Forest without me!

This article is not sponsored and all opinions are my very own!

I have so much to share with you so next week I will be continuing our adventures in Indonesia, and Qatar and you can read what happened to me in Korea……!

Winter is coming. Oh my!

A fortnight ago, a British company contacted me and asked me to contribute my expert knowledge on Germany and Britain. You don’t need to ask me twice. Here it is: The 5 best differences between Germany and Britain.

Additional National Theatre Live productions are also coming up and can be seen at the Cinestar Berlin – Original such as:

On January 15th, I will be watching the new Grand Show at the Friedrichstadt-Palast: THE WYLD.

Berlin Fashion Week is coming up and will take place between January 19th and January 23rd, 2015. Save the Date!

For the rest of the year, Berlin will be celebrating and marking the 25th anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall.

At the end of 2014, I will reveal some of my plans for 2015. So many things are going to happen.

December is going to be marvellous!

Alive and well outside the Monkey Forest!

Watch this space!

Note! I never travel without insurance as you never know what might happen.

I learnt my lesson in Spain. And obviously, in countries like Qatar, where technically the risk is higher, I can’t imagine going that far beyond, WITHOUT INSURANCE. No siree! You can get yours here, at World Nomads!

Please note that there are now affiliate links (for the very first time) connected to this post. Please consider using the links, because every time some sort of accommodation or travel insurance is booked via my links I get a little percentage, but at no extra cost to yourself!

A win-win for all!

Thanks a million!

How I was attacked by monkeys and I screamed!

Have you ever been to the Monkey Forest in Bali? Do you like monkeys? Do you like rats?! Let me know in the comments below!

See you in Berlin.

If you have any questions send me a tweet, talk to me on Facebook, find me on Linkedin, make a comment below, look for me on Google+ or send me an Email: victoria@thebritishberliner.com

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