Travel & electrical outages are manageable for the short term. For long term travelers and those living with random interruptions it can be a very different matter.
What is it like to live with no Electricity?
A failing electrical supply has made the President of The Philippines turn Mindanao into a “state of calamity”, others want a “state of emergency”.
Hence writing a travel blog without electricity is becoming increasingly difficult these days!
What’s happening, to me, is utterly mind-boggling. For the last 6 weeks there have been enforced national power outages imposed by the Philippine National Power Grid. They sell electricity to smaller companies to deliver electricity throughout the country, but still remain the source. These companies are rationing electricity ranging from 5 hours, to 16 hours.
Causes & pre-planning of no electricity
According to National Grid, it’s a lack of rain to fill the dam. Do I believe them? Well …
Why wait until the dam reaches critical point before imposing electrical outages. Surely this could have been scaled in months ago, and not in the last 6 weeks?
Is this the typical Filipino/Asian/developing country thing of “lets hope & pray the rains come to save us?”
Or is it more to do with the fact we are just weeks away from a general election?
As I travel around its amazing to see how many roads have only just recently been paved and sealed? Of course the huge signs over such roads reminding everyone who paid for it, who did it, and who’s up for election in a few weeks serve as a none to subtle hint.
Talking to locals, it seems, unfortunately, that this tactic does indeed work.
A defeated mindset
Again, most surprising about all this, to me, is the lack of interest the electrical outages are having with the general public. It’s as if the life has been taken from them. There is no more spark in the Pinoy spirit.
I talked with a taxi man the other day. He shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s all about the election. People are vying for a different kind of power in this country.”
A sample of life right now with no electricity
Today as I travel in search of electricity so I can write this travel journal I ended up at one of the big malls. However, the once sparkling super cooled leisure complexes are now dimly lit warm humid boxes. They too are being rationed.
“The supermarkets have taken on a strange smell as steamy mists rise from the meat counters into the warm humid atmosphere.”
What’s more, there are much fewer people here than usual. The coffee shop’s are virtually empty, the employees are forced to call out for your custom more than ever. But, it’s too hot to stay in the malls these days. Which to those that know, cuts off a vital social & cultural gathering point.
More amusingly; the positive effect in all this is that the escalators are also switched off. For the first time I am seeing Filipino’s being forced to take more exercise. A good thing, for a developing “fast food” nation!
Lack of electricity is spreading worldwide
This is the fourth or fifth country I’ve traveled and stayed that is now suffering from serious power outages. West Africa has a near constant and random black out phase. Nepal is currently only serving up 2 hours of electricity during daylight hours. Pakistan is not too bad, but random electricity outages are frequent. And now, the Philippines has joined this infamous club.
Globally it’s known electricity is becoming harder to supply. The U.K. Minister for Energy recently warned that Britain may have shortages in the future too. The U.S.A.’s auto industry is an indication of what happens when you think there is a never-ending resource.
This all effects tourism & travel to an extent, but day-to-day life even more so.
Traveling through these countries; the main cause for electricity shortages, in my view, is politics, followed by a lack of planning and infrastructure.
The saddest thing for me to witness though, is that in all these countries, it’s the people that seem to be failing themselves. They seem to have literally just given up on wanting something better.
Think about the future
In the Philippines if you have electricity right now, it doesn’t mean everything works! Turn on the T.V. and there might be no reception because the T.V. station is having an outage in their sector at the moment, the same with internet connections, mobile coverage and even the water supply.
I believe electrical outages will start to become more frequent in many more countries soon, including developed ones. And, I don’t see anything from preventing it.
It will become like many more things today, the richer classes will be able to afford electricity, either through priority lines, or generators. The poorer classes will not have any at all.
And, so it will be yet one more burden for those striving to achieve something in life to struggle with.
For travel it will be the added question of “Do you have a generator?”
How many people know about load shedding and the cost of generators? Which in turn equals fuel shortages, increased pollution and the cost of buying inverters, stabilizers and surge protectors.
How does it affect this travel blog?
For me it means I might not be able to write my travel journals as frequently here, nor respond to comments so quickly at the moment.
For others it means the foreclosure of a business, a failed surgery, no water, or at the very least, no light in sweltering heat.
I wonder how people in other nations would react? Can you travel in the same way with electrical outages?
I can’t, though I do cope. But coping gets tiring after a while.
Saturday was Earth hour. One hour without electricity to promote the environment. Some electrical company’s have different ideas though, and are not turning on the electricity for 1 hour. Who needs to, with rationing ongoing already? Instead the polluting generators will kick in. There is a missing point here.
They did however turn it all on for 24 hours when national hero Manny Pacquiao fought a boxing match recently. Priorities …
Have you lived or traveled in a country with electricity rationing?
How many people reading this really know what it’s like to have power rationing on a daily long term basis?
How do you think it would affect your travel, and how would you cope?
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Life After Travel