The end of the Philippines, a return to Thailand, and A Comment On The Evils of Karaoke

Last sunset in Coron

Jen and I have now gone in our separate directions, and while Jen has filled you in on what she has been up to, I so far haven’t told my side of the story. So here goes…

Our last stop together in the Philippines was a town called Coron, located on the island of Busuanga, off the northern tip of the island of Palawan. Coron was the sight of a famous battle in World War Two. With an entire fleet of Japanese warships moored in the harbour, the Americans launched a surprise attack, sinking the entire fleet and setting the stage for the future invasion of Coron by budget dive operators anxious to take you on underwater tours of the wrecks. With only one free day together before Jen had to return to Manila, we had planned a day of diving together. But unfortunately it was not to be - I awoke the morning of our tour sick as a dog and spent the rest of the day in bed with a high fever. That makes twice since passing our dive course that we’ve booked a dive trip, only to have one of us wake up sick. I guess we’re just not meant to dive!

I was feeling marginally better the next day, and so Jen and I at least got to spend some time together before I saw her off that afternoon. Evan meanwhile had started his PADI Open Water course, which gave me three days to recover and relax. Our hotel was situated on a pier, with a great patio and hammocks overlooking the bay, in which I spent most of my hours. And while doing so, I discovered that Philippine karaoke is Cruel and Sadistic.

The Taiwanese love their Karaoke. And Jen and I loved Taiwanese karaoke as well - it was a huge amount of fun. You head out to one of the Karaoke centres - usually a building about 10 stories tall, filled with hundreds of private karaoke rooms (they REALLY love their karaoke!) You rent your own private room with a pile of friends and then proceed to make fools of yourselves all night singing these ridiculous songs. It’s a blast.

Philippine karaoke is entirely different. A Philippine karaoke parlour is just one room, just a bar, and anyone who wants to sing does so in front of whoever happens to be in the room at the time - friends, family, complete strangers. While Taiwanese karaoke is done in complete, sound-proof privacy, Philippine karaoke is a very public exercise. And they also love their karaoke there - they REALLY love it.

The unfortunate result was that over my three days of recovery at that hotel in Coron, the karaoke bar on the neighbouring pier engaged in a systematic and ruthless assault on my sanity by continually and mercilessly subjecting me to some of the most horrid singing ever to be broadcast over high-powered speakers, beginning daily at 10 in the morning and not ceasing until the middle of the night. Unless I was lucky and got a short reprieve when we were struck by one of the town’s frequent brownouts (”Damn those guys at the power plant!”, swore the proprietor of the local internet cafe, watching his rows of computer screens go black. “They just turn off the power so people have to use their diesel generators. Those assholes that work the power plant are the guys that sell the diesel!”). At the end of all of this I had turned into such a quivering ball of jelly that I decided to hop the next plane out to Thailand with Evan, where I am currently relaxing on the island of Koh Pha Ngan trying to regain my senses.

Actually it was really more of a laugh than anything. Coron was a great little town overall, on just a beautiful island, and at some point Jen and I will have to return, not get sick, and put some time into exploring the above- and underwater environments on offer. But with the flu still holding a grip after three days there, I decided I really wasn’t up for any more exploring of the Philippines over the end of my trip, and I instead took off to a beach I knew, where I could end my Asian adventures with some relaxation.

But tomorrow is the start of the trip home. I head out in the morning for Koh Samui to catch a flight back to Bangkok. Sunday I fly to Hong Kong, and then on Tuesday I finally leave Asia for Vancouver. Home soon.

One Response to “The end of the Philippines, a return to Thailand, and A Comment On The Evils of Karaoke”

  1. Adrian
    July 30th, 2007 | 1:00 pm

    Jon, just caught up on the last few months. Can’t wait to see you back in Canada soon. I will be in Vancouver for a couple days towards the end of the month, hopefully you’ll be around and you can fill me in verbally as well!