Tom Linnemann, the former St. John's quarterback, now a family man and business executive, is back in Asia, pretty much killing it. You are invited to follow his adventures on 1500ESPN.com.
TOMMY CRASHES A JELLYFISH PARTY
There is always that moment when you're traveling in a third-world country where you stop breathing for a split second and ask yourself, "What have I done?" In this case, it was the jellyfish.
After awaking like a Keebler elf in my treefort, I headed down to the open-air restaurant to get a buko. They speak "tagalog" in the Philippines, which is pronounced "tuh-GAH-lug."
A buko is a baby coconut--and now that I know that I realized that Danica and I ate these in Vietnam too. For 45 pesos, or roughly a dollar, I convinced the guy to let me get my own coconut and eat it.
I used this long pole with a blade at the end of it and got the buko down. I'm not a very good buko harvester, though, as I brought down two of them, so I got one for Josh even though he didn't want one.
The guy opened it up with the biggest machete I've ever seen. It was delicious--imagine if coconut water actually tasted good! After you drink the juice, you scoop out the meat. It was a good way to start the day.
The element I love most when traveling to places like the Philippines is to learn about the people and to understand what makes society work.
The most striking social aspect on the trip thus far has been the positive role of feminism in the Filipino culture. Compared to other developing countries in Latin America and Asia, the Philippines is head and shoulders above the rest in terms of the leading roles women play in society.
There is the history of Imelda Marcos and the cartoonism that most people only know (her shoes), but she was leading a nation well-before most western first-world countries (ahem, United States).
Women are definitely equal in terms of gender roles in everyday society here. I understand there is the elephant in the room when it comes to the red light element in the Philippines - it's undeniable and deplorable.
I'm not here to solve problems. I'm on vacation. I just want to see things and try to understand them.
After eating my boku, we traveled about an hour and a half to Sabang and the site of the underground river.
We made a stop along the way so I could buy Danica and my daughter Nora bracelets from a village handicraft maker. I always like to buy those things outside of the city, as it's more likely to support them directly.
During the stop, Josh and I asked some guys to take our picture with Honda Bay in the background. They did, and then asked Josh to take a picture of them with his camera. They insisted that I join in the picture.
The road was one and a half lanes switchback-style through mountains, valleys and countless rice patties. After seeing a caribo, which is something like an ox, Josh asked: "Do you think those guys can write those off?"
I'm not sure Quicken has a drop-down for caribo in the rice-farming occupation. As we passed through a small gathering of homes, I saw the bags of rice stacked up with Cargill emblazoned on the side. Cargill is officially everywhere.
The trip down the river was pretty amazing. It is set inside limestone caves and was full of stalagmites (go up) and stalactites (go down).
The tour guide relied very heavily on 3rd grade humor. It would have been better had he not spoken at all. I was more interested in watching the hanging bats and trying not to get crap in my mouth.
When we came out of the caves, it was lunchtime and we needed some sun.
We headed back toward Puerto Princesa but stopped at Honda Bay to see if we could get onto a snorkeling tour or something. We got onto a boat and did something they billed as "island hopping.''
The first stop was at the reef. I snorkeled around for awhile. It was nice; not as good as the snorkeling along the Yucatan in Mexico.
I reached out to grab a piece of plastic in the water. But it wasn't plastic. It was a jellyfish and I had apparently just crashed a baby jellyfish reef party.
After I choked up salt water and tried to swim away quickly, pretty freaked out, I stopped and looked around. There were small jellyfish where I was wading and they are about the size of a can of Red Bull.
I didn't feel the stinging or itching that I expected. I got into the boat to do some inventory and I was fine. Thirty seconds later this big guy was in the water--and when I say big, I mean he gets the #1 and adds a McChicken chaser a couple times a week--and he encountered the same jellyfish.
The only difference was that he completely lost his mind and acted like he was hit by a Great White shark. He was flailing and splashing around, saying one got into his life vest. Dude, bro--nothing could have gotten into that life vest.
After we hit a couple more islands (of the 7,107 in the Philippines; Palawan has over 1,700), we headed back to the pier to find a place to stay.
We finally landed at a really nice place in town because it had a pool and WiFi. We went to dinner at a place called Kinabuch and pretty much killed it.
When a 16 piece order of fresh sashimi tuna is just under $4, it's time to give the menu a beating. We ordered: tuna sashimi, ceviche, crocodile with vegetables, grilled marlin, cantonese noodles, chicken curry, sweet and sour grilled grouper, some beef dish with soy, and a plate of rice.
Tuna was the best, followed closely by the crocodile and the ceviche. After drinks, the bill came and it was $2,359.50 Pesos. That's $54.88. Even with just a few bites of everything, we're going to roll back in a tricycle and get some rest.
I have a feeling tomorrow is going to be weird. I saw a commercial for what is the national pastime of the Philippines. It starts at noon.