Friday, November 20, 2009
Swine Flu 09
After a long and loud (you should never, under any circumstances, be able to bring an infant on board) flight I arrive in Manila! The sun is just setting and as I step onto the tarmac I can feel the tropical weather. Ah 80 degrees how I have missed you! The first thing they say to me in customs is
"Oh you're by yourself, do you have a friend contact?"
me: No, here alone.
customs: Oh (with a look of pity and bewilderment)
This exact conversation happens again when I try to book my flight to Boracay. Do people not travel alone to the Philippines ever? This can't be that uncommon, right?
I know that I want to go to Boracay. I know Boracay is a flight away. I did not know the closest airport to Boracay, in Caticlan, is closed until December. So I go to the ticket booking office, wait forever, and get tickets to the second closest airport....for tomorrow. Last flight out was 4:45 and it's now 6. First flight in the am is at 8:35 so I book it and figure I'll check out Manila for the night.
Trying to get a taxi is a pain in the ass. This is a small airport, everyone thankfully speaks English, but everyone also knows I'm a tourist. I was definitely the only non-Filipino/Japanese person on my flight and let's face it, tall, with blonde hair sticks out everywhere in Asia. So everyone's trying to scam me into something, I finally see a dude who seems nice enough and tell him to take me to the Mall of Asia. This was recommended to me by a woman in the Hotel booking lounge. Cab driver tells me this is no good because it closes at 8 and he'll take me to a legit Filipino dinner. Alright. He then informs me that he will be my tour guide for the night. For $20 he'll take me around for the next 4 hours. Sure why not.
We get to a little fish market on the bay and as we pull into the parking lot all of the attendants/waiters? are waving and saving hi to me through the window. Everyone's so nice! No not nice, looking to take my money. We walk down the market looking for shrimp and every single person is harassing and trying to get you to buy their fish. I know this happens a lot in markets, but this was especially bad. My favorite were the ladyboys though. They are just that. Men with long hair and makeup and booty shorts trying to sell something to you. They're amazing! I get some live shrimp and a crab and Ray, my tour guide, takes me to this really cute restaurant behind the market. There are rows and rows of tables, lights, disco bally things and color! There's a live band at the next restaurant and ours is blasting Christmas music. Apparently Christmas starts in October here.
The restaurant cooks up my food; crab in an oyster sauce and the shrimp in a spicy red pepper butter. So good!!! I was licking the oyster sauce out of the bowl. Ray had some but I think I scared him with how much I could put away. By the end of the meal I was a total mess from crab picking and de-shelling the shrimp. All in all the meal, with beer and rice, was less than $12, with leftovers. Fresh crab and fresh shrimp for $12. And I bet that will be my most expensive meal here.
Next Ray takes me to the bay which is behind the Mall of Asia. He plays guide and tells me about all of the Embassies and government buildings etc. and informs me the MOA is the largest mall in all of Asia. Makes sense as it's huuuuge. We walk along the bay and check out the scene; lots of kids, palm trees, dates, and rando carnival games including one where children get into large blow up balls on a swimming pool and try to take each other out. I wanted to play. Ray decides he wants to show me a good live band and we're off again.
This time he takes me to Cowboy Cafe. It's a huuge restaurant where they have a really impressive stage. Then the band comes on.
Song 1: some REM song
Song 2 (Suzi this will always remind me of you) Run away Train!
Song 3 Losing My Religion
Song 4 Sanatana with Rob Thomas
Then he busts out a ton of J-Pop (japanese pop) and ends the set with a Korean song!!! It was awesome and a legit concert. And the best part was that I was just chillin there drinking with Ray, my driver.
It's 11 and I don't want to get a hotel because I'm nervous I will sleep through my early flight, so I have Ray take me back to the airport. He offers to take me out after his shift on a jeepny (I'll have to get pics bc they re awesome) but I'm beat, haven't slept much in the past 3 days and just want to chill. So I park it on a bench outside, turn on my ipod and put a shirt over my face and join the 100 or so other homeless (not really) people on the airport outdoor benches. I honestly slept pretty well and the best part was at 4:45 the security guy came and tapped me and told me I could go inside! He was looking out. Now it's 7am I am in the actual terminal, which they make you pay $4 to enter???, and I'm on my way to the beach!!!
Going through the security this morning:
Officer: You're alone?
O: Where's your boyfriend?
M: I don't have one
O: Why not?
How do I answer that? Because I've been waiting for you baby.
An hour flight. A 2 hour bus ride. Beach. :) Thank you H1N1.