1. Mosquitoes. There are many places where mosquitoes are only really bad during certain times and seasons. Here, they’re bad all day every day. If you are near food, flies are just as bad.
  2. Roosters. I was in the Philippines for two weeks. I was woken up by a rooster nearly every morning at 5 am. No matter what hostel or city I was in, I saw and heard roosters daily.
  3. Dogs. Stray dogs are everywhere. You can turn down one street without seeing a dozen of them roaming free.
  4. McDonald’s. While riding in a trike across Manila for about 20 minutes, I must have seen a McDonald’s on nearly every block. Side note: Filipino McDonald’s serves rice, corn, soup, and spaghetti in addition to the regular menu items.
  5. Coconut Trees. Driving across any city in Palawan, it looks like the fields of coconut trees go on forever.
  6. Bamboo. Two out of the four hostels I stayed at were made almost entirely out of bamboo.
  7. Basketball Courts. Travel one kilometer in any direction and you’re bound to see at least three outdoor basketball courts. I even saw a basketball goal made out of a tree. Funny story: On Starfish Island there’s a statue of Michael Jordan, but his jersey says 32 instead of 23. You’d think a country so obsessed with basketball would get the correct jersey number for one of the most famous players in history.
  8. Smokers. Traveling across this country for two weeks, it feels like almost every person I met smoked cigarettes: men, women, boys, girls… Everybody.
  9. Bible Verses. These are everywhere. You see them painted on people’s vehicles, on the walls of businesses and restaurants, on bilboards. Even the Welcome to Puerto Prencesa sign says “The City of the Living God.”
  10. Christmas Decorations. It’s the end of January, and I don’t think I went to one place that didn’t have Christmas decorations. I made this observation to a local, and she said, “Well, we are a Christian country.”