Friday, August 23, 2013

Friday, August 23, 2013

Every time I see group tours and tour guides, Nia Vardalos' movie “My Life in Ruins” instantly comes to  mind.  Although they stereo-typed the tour guide in the movie, still it speaks a lot of truth with the real ones.  You will find them holding/raising a small flag, makeshift flag or umbrella or whatever easily noticeable – as agreed upon with the group - herding group of tourists around and yelling (at times) “Group B”.  I know - I've seen them, I've joined them, several times.

I normally travel alone and a huge fan of DIY, but I do join group tours at times when it's really necessary and there's no other option.  I did it with the walking tours in Amsterdam and I find them one of the friendliest bunch of tour guides I've encountered.  In Barcelona, they do run the same free walking tours and most of the tour guides are also travelers themselves and mostly expats living in the city.  They're friendly, informative, and best of all, it's free, hmmm, not totally, you hand out few pence as tips if you're happy to do so, nonetheless, it's all up to you.

Palawan is a prime tourist destination and there are lots of tour operators and licensed tourist guides here, you'll find them wearing IDs. 

I've included tourist guides in my list of people I should be extra nice with (that includes wait staff at restaurants, flight attendants, hotel staff, amongst others).  With restaurants wait staff, for obvious reasons as they handle my food, I like my food warm and clean, you know those revenge stories with rude customers, you heard those, right?  As with hotel staff especially the room attendants, they make up your beds everyday with extra care, additional towels, more single use soaps and shampoos, and other stuff. You see, you get some more if you're nice with them.

In the case of tour guides, it pays to be nice and friendly with them as they’re your source of local information, if you’re a nice customer, they not only do the job that you pay for, they could do some extra favours, like additional or free side trips, better info of places, tips on where to dine, sleep or things to see and do, they make your holidays or trips worthwhile.  They also act as shields against touts and scammers. 

We have the most cheerful, witty and entertaining tour guides in Palawan.  Tough job indeed, and while you’re on your own having a swim at one of the beautiful secluded islands in Honda Bay for instance, they too are left entertaining themselves while waiting for you. Never a dull moment (see photos below). 

So the next time you hire a tour guide or booked a package in Palawan with a guide (or anywhere in the world), be nice with them, say “Thank you”, they do appreciate those in addition to those few (or generous) tips you hand to them.


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