Today I learnt an important lesson and it came in the form of a chicken.
I am on the Bicol Peninsula, in Southeast Luzon and was despondent after my first three days in the Philippines just hadn't gone to plan. Unable to find a guide to take me up the dormant volcano of Mt Isarog (1966m), inspiration was lacking and I couldn't find anything photogenic, interesting or colourful.
The hotel suggested I should go to the Watersports complex, 10km out of town and billed as the 'best cable park in the world'. For someone in search of a real Filipino experience, I could think of nothing worse. It was up there with the shopping mall on my list of places to avoid. But, while it was not the experience I had in mind, it is still the real deal and definitely not generally on the foreign tourist trail. I begrudgingly relented and went (but only because I could go by local bus and then tricycle).
It was then that the chicken appeared. It was on the local bus, seated opposite me, next to its owner. No-one else batted an eyelid, but I had to keep looking out the window so the other passengers couldn't see me grinning. That chicken made my day.
I am not too proud to admit that I enjoyed the water park experience and guess what, the clouds opened up and there was an uninterrupted view of that beautiful (albeit unattainable) volcano. So the lesson for me - when travelling, it's not WHAT I see that's important, but HOW I choose to look at it.
Sometimes you can't sit back and wait for the magic to come to you without a little bit of effort.