Over the last two weeks the Filipino tourism slogan “It’s more fun in the Philippines” has been thrown around quite sarcastically.
“It’s been three days since we’ve had electricity.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
“I got so hot last night I thought I had dengue fever.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!”
“The storm blew a hole in the roof.. It’s more fun in the Philippines!
After my ear infection hit for the second time, putting me out of diving for another week my personal sarcasm levels definitely hit the roof. My quest to be seen by a doctor was more difficult than I anticipated. There are two clinics on Panglao island that I had become familiar with during the first ear infection. The first, I avoided as I knew that all I would find there would be a sign on the door saying “Doctor on holidays.. Back in one month”. The second clinic was were I had been successful the first time, so my journey began there. I was welcomed back by the same concerned nurse from my first visit, “hey it’s the Irish diver with the sore ear!”. But the warm welcome was followed by the sad news that their doctor had also decided to head away on holidays and would be “back in a few days”. And so I hopped on a bike and made the sweaty (and dizzy, thanks to my ear) journey to Tagbilaran city.
Just when you think you’re getting used to life in Asia, a trip to a built up area is enough to set your unjust confidence straight. Finding my way around is something I’ve accepted I’ll never be great at.. But crossing the road is a skill I’d like to have thought I’d mastered quite some time ago. Not so much here.. But thankfully my habal-habal driver noticed my struggling as I stood at the edge of the road for just long enough to be embarrassing and stepped out in front of the moving traffic, slowing it down long enough for me to make my way to the hospital (pride slightly damaged).
After two hospitals informing me they were full for the day and to come back tomorrow I must have been looking a bit defeated as I was offered help by another kind stranger. This time, a police man who called me a tricycle and insisted on making the journey with me to another hospital to make sure I was seen to. It was still unsuccessful – but the gesture was nice. I did however manage to secure an appointment for the next morning, which involved seeing the inside of my ear on a t.v screen and various terrifying looking cleaning devices. I left the hospital feeling like it was the first time I was hearing properly in my life. Pain gone, dizziness gone, hearing back. Is this what having super powers feels like!?
After the second ear infection I was also feeling much more cautious. I returned back to the local clinic in Panglao two or three more times for a quick check up to make sure I was fit to get back in the water. The doctor, who at this stage laughed a little every time I wandered in, would look so guilty as he’d tell me “maybe just a few days more”. Clearly torn between keeping me from losing my ear and ruining my fun. He was also so fantastically kind. Refusing to let me pay for any consultations after my first visit and much to the irritation of the other waiting patients, giving my ear a quick examination immediately after I arrived. It was almost sad to get the all clear and to leave hoping it would be my last visit.
When I imagined this scenario playing out back in Ireland, I couldn’t help but feel a bit homesick. I thought of the simplicity of getting in the car, driving to the doctor, receiving a prescription, going home and waiting it out until I was better. This was when I realised just how accurate the sarcastic remarks actually were. Yes, it would be more convenient back home, but where’s the fun in that? No bike rides around the island, no personal police chaperone, no making friends with drivers, doctors, nurses, no real feeling of having accomplished something when it’s over. With just over two weeks left in the Philippines I will definitely be monitoring by sarcasm because I know once I am home I will soon miss the adventure that was in the everyday activities. From cooking by candle light during the power cuts, to the barber that somehow managed to power his entire shop by hooking it up to his motorbike engine. It really is more fun in the Philippines!