This is the beginning of a new series where I will recount stories on my time traveling around separate continents amist a pandemic.
“Don’t Look Back”
It was the end of February and I was still getting over the fact that I had just finished my year as an English teacher in Thailand. Now that I was willingly become unemployed, I thought I had earned myself some time to travel at leisure while I formulated a better idea on what I wanted to do.
The plan was 1 month between the Philippines and Indonesia to complete my East Asian tour before moving to another region of the world.
So, first stop was the Philippines. I waved goodbye to Thailand (having no idea it would be near impossible to return less then a month later) and tried my best to give up the ghost and occupy my mind with what’s to come.
Reports of SARS COV 2 where becoming more and more frequent, I didn’t worry too much about it, but decided to wear a surgical mask in planes and around town as a precaution while few other people were.
The flight to the Philippines was fairly uneventful as I crossed through immigration just like the many other countries I’ve already been in. Now in less developed countries, having a metro system that transports you from the airport to the city center typically doesn’t exist. Taxi or bus is the choice.
A typical work around though is the usage of rideshare apps which is typically more economical then a regular taxi. Which is what I was right about to do after getting set up at the airport. Then the prices increased as demand shot up when more people arrived.
Disappointed, I eventually opted to take a regular taxi after much internal debate. I told the driver where I wanted to go and off we went, exchanging some friendly chit chat along the way.
I was keeping track of the trip on Google maps on the way, then I noticed the driver missed a turn. I informed him, he did a U turn kept going the other way and soon after missed another turn and another.
It soon became clear he had no idea where he was going and each subsequent miss agitated me further. The taxi meter was ticking up the entire time and the more “lost” he got, the higher the fare would be which would be his benefit and my loss. He responded by texting on his phone. I insisted he use Google Maps. He refused and continued texting during grid locked traffic.
The fare was already at 5 times what a rideshare would have cost. Pissed at this point by the cost, time wasted and driver’s indifference, I paid the bill on the meter and left to walk an hour at night to my accommodation.
By the time I got to the guesthouse, tired and sweaty, there was no one there. I asked the neighbors to call the number in the gate, no answer. It was 11PM now, tired and seemingly out of options, I grabbed a key off the unattended desk for one of the rooms, saying to myself I would talk to the owner in the morning.
And morning it was, there was someone banging on the door at 4 in the morning. The owner, who would end up shouting at me while I was stumbling around half asleep threatening to call the police.
Needless to say I didn’t leave on good terms. Welcome to the Philippines (I guess).
On Conflicting Motivations
I learned from this experience that one should tread lightly when the other person whom you are interacting with’s motivation does not line up with your own. The taxi man wants to get paid as much as possible, so it makes sense for him to take a long a route as possible to milk more money out of it. With the guesthouse owner, he has already been paid beforehand for my reservation booking so could care less whether or not I showed up or not.
Both of these cases would be to your detriment. So the lesson is to anticipate the goals of others, and make sure you won’t get stomped on when they try to obtain it.