Tag Archives: Philippines

Our World School: An End of Year Report

30 Dec

A living room with chequered tiles set up on the ceiling, at Scienceworks, Melbourne

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For anyone planning longterm travel with kids, anyone who would like to travel and is delaying having kids to do so, or any parents who would love to travel but feel they can’t because of the kids, probably the single biggest concern is what sort of education a child will get on the road.

This is also a major source of anxiety for other family members, particularly grandparents.

Honestly? Education, once you get the hang of it, is one of the easiest things about travelling as a family. I’ve posted before about the wonders of unschooling, a child-led approach to learning. I’ve also posted about the sheer hell of imposing a school-y structure on travelling, AKA death by long division.

Most of Z’s learning is hands-on, supplemented by almost entirely self-directed reading. We spend very little time on more formal learning, though I’ve had to learn a lot myself to keep up with his questions on the places we visit.

Here’s the end of year report card on my now-ten-year-old son’s roadschooling. I’m hoping travelling parents, prospective travelling parents and, for that matter, others considering alternatives to the school system, will find it useful. Continue reading

When Travel Becomes Time Travel

23 Sep

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]Tomorrow we embark for Pulau Halmahera, one of Indonesia’s Spice Islands, where we will travel back in time.

Our aim? To experience the nomadic hunter-gatherer life as it is still lived today, among unassimilated Togutil people.

And this is a journey almost as close to time travel as it is possible to get. A step right back into human history. Continue reading

#theglamoroftravel

18 Sep scarlet hibiscus covered in dew, pulau kadidiri, indonesia

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It was on the golden sands of Pulau Kadidiri, in the Togian Islands, Sulawesi, Indonesia, as a wave of what I would dearly like to call “social diseases” spread along the beach like glandular fever in a boys’ boarding school that just took girls for Sixth Form, that I began contemplating a new hashtag.

And, after our social disease non-drama culminated in a small hospital, several hundred miles up north, yesterday, I cannot think of a saga more ripe for the Twitter tag #theglamoroftravel than this. Continue reading

A Fistful of Dollars

17 Sep little girls in marching band, Rantepao, Tana Toraja, Sulawesi, Indonesia.

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Our favoured local, back in Rantepao in the Tana Toraja, was the hangout of the local Guides Association, a Teamsteresque conglomerate of the most amiable rogues since Dick Van Dyke.

Sporting various permutations of Aviators, moustaches, long hair, cropped hair and funeral sarongs as night-time outerwear, the chaps spent most of their time out back smoking clove cigarettes, drinking Bintang beer and swapping stacks over rupiah a card game not dissimilar to shithead.

We liked them a lot.

Didn’t play cards with them, mind.

I mean, that would have been just stupid. Continue reading

In Which the Family Dines in Considerable Style

19 Jul

view of revolving restaurant atop the bayview hotel, georgetown, penang[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]It was my Dad who said it first. “That singer,” he whispered, over the sound of a particularly special Malaysian band. “Is she actually a man?”

He is, I realise, very possibly still scarred from my parents’ last trip out to join us on our travels. That was the Philippines. A nation where he couldn’t walk more than thirty yards down the street without some chancer endeavouring to sell him Viagra.

I think his personal record (best? worst?) was six pushers over two hundred yards in Manila.

Perhaps the nine year old was dawdling at the time. But it wasn’t good for the ego of a man who, although a grandfather, only just passed sixty.

Anyway. My dad has a point. Were we in Thailand, or, for that matter, the Philippines, at least one of the chicks would have been born with a dick, and most likely still retain at least an attenuated version of the original. Continue reading

Farewell to Manila

21 May

There is such a thing, when playing hide and seek, as being too clever for one’s own good. In which category I would have to place depositing oneself in the deep end of a swimming pool by night, breathing through a snorkel, commando style.

Yep. My son has definitely watched Dr. No one too many times.

And, it appears, Jaws too.

As he put it, “I’m not sure I’m quite equipped for midnight swims. You see, when you’re underwater, breathing with a snorkel, and it’s dark, you don’t have many senses left to remind you there’s no sharks about.” Continue reading

The Museum of Doctor Rizal

21 May

Manila is not a spiritual city. It’s one of those big, dirty, urban sprawls, expanding organically, growing without control, the beating heart of an archipelago, maybe, but a cancered one at that.

12 million? 15 million? Honestly, who’s counting?

Manila long ago outgrew its natural ties to earth: the river and the Bay. Before its roadways are completed, they are already too narrow for its needs.

High-rise condos with names like Knightsbridge and Gramercy spring up cheek-by-jowl with squatter camps where families fresh from the countryside learn that, unless you’re educated, connected, local and (most often) lucky, the streets of the big city are paved with shit, not gold. Volunteer fire brigades wail down canyons of mouldering concrete to fires that can burn for days.

It’s a maze. A consumerist maze. From the delis to the junkfood to the sari sari store.

Emo ergo sum.

But if the city has a soul – and I’m not sure my own city does — I guess it flits and murmurs through the mirrored shadows of the Rizal Museum, in Fort Santiago, the old colonial core. Continue reading

The Inflatable Waterpark

16 May

Ek biki inflatable waterpark, Santa Rosa, Philippines

The magic of childhood. Or something.


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This technicolour dream palace is indisputably special. Possibly a little “special needs” too.

What is it?

You may well ask. For this, my friend, is an inflatable waterpark.

Occupying 5000 square metres of apple-green Astroturf in the middle of nowheresville, Luzon, EK Biki comes complete with dangling sharks, inflatable dragon slides, slightly forlorn clownfish and, weirdly, an Olympic-sized paddling pool.

All, like the giant hamster’s wheel and spinning top on which Z spent many happy minutes scrambling, entirely blow-up.

To add a further note of the bizarre, it caters entirely for non-swimmers. Continue reading

Working Girl

16 May Bright white explosion as a firework goes off in the night sky.

Bright white explosion as a firework goes off in the night sky.

[tweetmeme source=”@mummy_t” only_single=false]MJ’s been working bars since she was fifteen. Standard shifts. 6pm to 6am. She was an Avon Lady before that, but this pays better.

She’s seventeen, now, she says, almost eighteen, and works in, or more often, outside of, a tourist bar in downtown Manila.

Nothing slick. But nothing especially seedy. It’s sort of a tent, with some wall hangings, a few tables, a bar at the back, Poker Face on repeat on the stereo, and MJ bouncing and jiggling on the pavement in shorts, vest and hightops, with a big smile and a big, big laugh.

Your drinks cost the standard. Forty pesos for a beer, or thereabouts, twenty-odd for fizzy pop. Her Red Horse super-strongs, when she joins you at the table, cost two hundred pesos. One hundred goes to MJ, one hundred to the bar.

And on that steady stream of Red Horse, a hundred pesos a pop, MJ is keeping three adults and eight children. Four full siblings. Four half-siblings. Her dad, her stepmom and, lest we forget, herself.

And hormones don’t come cheap. Continue reading

Full-Contact Management

14 May

We have Doc McGhee, the rock ‘n’ roll svengali who kept Motley Crue, Jon Bon Jovi and Kiss on the road, to thank for the term full-contact management. That’s punching people…

Now, I’ve been considering training as a scuba instructor over the next year or so. It seems like a nice lifestyle, a good string to one’s bow, relatively stress-free, combines easily with other occupations, and the like.

Sure, I’m not the best diver in the world. But compared to earning the money required to spend a lot of time underwater, acquiring a profession which gives you free diving and free time in which to do other things makes a lot of sense from where I’m at now. (Z considers it a “cool job”.)

Then I met Matt… Continue reading