But in my country… how many times have we all heard that phrase uttered by Westerners, which would normally be pertaining to a legal dispute of some sort here in the Philippines? And believe me I was guilty of the same narrow minded thinking years ago. The phrase “When will they ever learn” from the song; “Where Have All the Flowers Gone”. Comes quickly to mind when I hear it spoken.
I was shocked in 1966 when the La Guardia Civil in Barthelona Spain shot a British Tourist Just because he tried to climb up a public building in Colombo Square (Yes he was drunk) and attempted to remove the Spanish flag. It dawned on me: “Paul, you’re not in Boston anymore.” (The Brit lived and did 3 years in jail.)
This tended to put me on my best behavior for the next 50 years as I sailed ships and lived all over the world. The first question I would ask is: “What is frowned upon here?” Most laws are universal so obey the same laws you would at home. But some places have quirky rules that pertain to them and only to them and a breach of these rules will land you in hot water. We have all traveled and you should already know some of them. But for sure if you don’t find out what they are before you walk down the brow of your ship to the pier or walk outside of the airport terminal it could be traumatic. Common Sense will be helpful.
On the island of Malta the use of the word “Bastard” will cause a fight faster than the non-payment of your pub tab. So I wondered during the crew briefing; Why the Navy bothered to tell me that, as it is a word that in normal circumstances I would never use. But now that you’ve planted the seed into my brain…, it will come out. (Wear your running shoes, and jump into the first water taxi back to your ship.) Hey who knew??? Well I was warned!!!
The Philippines does not allow me my Second Amendment Right to bear arms, and as I’m not in America I really don’t expect them to! So I don’t bear arms, (Just another reason for old guys to never wear a Sando) because I’m not in my home country. I’ll respect their wishes because it is their law. But here is a trick taught to me by an Old China Fleet Sailor who has lived here since the 1960’s, Pyrotechnics are legal here (except in your town) so if you hear a strange noise or movement on your property, lighting off a M-80 will often send a malefactor scurrying, do not let them see it just let them hear the load report so they think it is a Mossberg on full choke.. Now I’ve never had to do this but I keep a few M-80’s around. Also air powered pellet guns are legal here. But these are personal choices. CCTV is another option if you can get anyone to look at your video after you are robbed.
In Japan I seldom would drive on the right side of the road as they prefer me driving on the left. It’s these little accommodations to the local rules of your host nation that will aid in an uneventful trip. Singapore has some really odd laws, but I can only assume there was a need for them, I myself have never thought of an elevator as a Comfort Room. I’ve never chewed gum as an adult so those laws never affected me, I just bought the T-shirt that listed the things that you can get fined for and never had a problem on Orchard Street.
In the Middle East, never wave or shake with your left hand, something to do with a lack of toilet paper? And never show the bottom of your foot? I can’t remember ever doing that but I can see where it would piss me off if I fell down while trying to do it. Middle East is an oddly named location, is there a Middle West somewhere?
This happened to me three weeks ago. On Subic Freeport on a four lane divided road me and a Toyota were at a four way stop sign. We both waited until our turn and both moved forward at the same time. I was waved over and stopped by the SBMA policeman. He informed me that both cars couldn’t start through the intersection at the same time (Which left me wondering if his rule applied to traffic lights also?). I was surprised and having had a driver’s license for over 50 years I calmly said; “I really didn’t know that, which car does go first?” He answered; Sir you may go now, but please don’t do that again was his final word. I gave him a very polite “Yes sir!” And drove away smartly knowing there is a new sheriff in town.
I turned to Mayang and smiled as I said: “I can’t think of any place on Earth I’d rather live!”
Live somewhere else, I really don’t think so.