The Philippines

Lookit me, blogging about my vacation right away. I should give myself some sort of reward… hmmm… how about ANOTHER vacation in September?  Hooray!
I took some notes while I was on the plane and again near the end of the vacation while I was sitting on the beach watching the sunset on my last night in Boracay.
Here is the first block of notes, written on the plane and then in the domestic terminal in Manila:
Least excited for a trip ever. I blame coming to the airport to see other people off but not getting on the plane myself. The idea that I’m going some where still doesn’t seem real (even though I’m at the airport waiting for my flight to be called)  I definitely need this vacation right now though, I’ve been feeling like a stressed out bag of balls.
I’ve been in the Incheon International Airport more times than any other airport in the world – something like 12 times (at least!) by the time I leave Korea. No wonder I don’t get excited by just being at the airport. I remember when I went to YVR (Vancouver), it was SO exciting! Now… meh. I’ve done it.
I suppose you get what you pay for and airlines are no exception. And I thought Air Canada was bad! Cebu Pacific is a tiny little plane with no legroom and you have to pay for drinks and peanuts. Jerks!  Oh good, now they have provided free mango juice, which I think may be the sickest juice on the planet. I’ll give it a try though because I feel like I’m dying of thirst and I refuse to pay for drinks. EW! Sick.
On the custom declaration for the Philippines (in big red letters) "Warning: Death to drug traffickers under Philippine Law (RA7659)".  These mofos mean serious business.
Got to thinking while filling out the customs/immigration forms: I feel SO non-threatening. Nationality: Canadian.  Occupation: Teacher.  Could I BE any more harmless? I’m stinking cute on paper… good thing they don’t ask about personality.
It also made me think about going to the UK and the Ancestry Visa that I plan to apply for. If I get it, after my five years in the UK I can apply for permanent citizenship. Heck, I could probably convince some cute British boy to marry me and get it even sooner than that. But would I want to? What would it gain me (other than a cute British husband if I took option B)? I LIKE being Canadian even thought I’m not always sure what that means (as I ponder my national self-identity I am sitting in a Cebu plane, wearing pants from Malaysia, a sweater from Korea, a shirt from the USA, a necklace from Thailand, with my Canadian passport – which was issued to me in Seoul, Korea – in my bag from Cambodia).  Although my previous aside note somehow seems to add to my Canadianism rather than detract from it.
Man, mango juice is rank. It’s thicker than freaking Guiness and not nearly as satisfying.
Where was I? Oh ya, my Canada rant. Although I don’t aim on going back any time soon, for all the places I’ve been now I still think BC is the best. I’m beginning to feel as though I don’t really want to settle anywhere – what harm can there be in moving on every three to five years? Other than heart-crushing loneliness, I mean.  Maybe that’s why I don’t feel the need to settle down roots right now – there hasn’t been anyone yet strong enough to keep me in one place. I’ve come to feel that home isn’t really a place – it is where your heart is. So I guess for now home is still Canada because only my Moms really has a good piece of my heart. I mean, it shouldn’t just be geography, right? Although, who knows, maybe I will fall in love with a place sooner or later and deecide to call it home. And as I think about these things, alone in a plane at God knows what altitude (can you believe this shitty little plane doesn’t even have TVs? I never thought I would miss watching that wee plane track itself across a map interspersed with information about wind speed, altitude, ground tempurature, shite like that), I realize that the possibilities of where I could be are endless. Think of all the places I have been! Think of all the places I HAVEN’T been yet! Who knows, if the UK can’t ensnare me permanently, maybe South America could be next. At least I already know how to say "beer" in Spanish.
Guess who was completely unprepared for this trip. If you said "Jodi", you were right. I had no idea what the exchange is (turns out a buck is about 45 pesos) or that I wasn’t supposed to bring more than 10,000 pesos into the Philippines. Hopefully they won’t notice I have 13,000. I also don’t know if there is tipping expected. I’m retarded.
So, the Cebu left late, which is fine because it means I am only spending 5 hours in the shitty dump of a domestic airport instead of 6.5. At least I got to stay inside (I asked the guard) while I waited from 1:00am until 3:00am for the Asian Spirit counter to open. I met a Canadian couple (also teaching in Korea) that stayed outside all that time in the parking lot. Finally, at 3:00am, I was able to pick up my plane ticket. They tried to give me a 10:00am flight, but I told that I had already asked for 6:00am (twice!) via email. They fixed it and I went inside the smallest, dingiest domestic terminal ever to wait for my flight. There were signs saying that if you "cracked" any jokes about having bombs, you would be detained. There was also a Cinnabon and that was pretty tempting. I didn’t indulge though – I was still feeling rather harfy from traveling and no sleep. I did get a massage though – one hour was 350 pesos (so less than $10 even after the tip). I felt a bit obliged to tip even though I didn’t know the rules – the lady who gave me the massage was blind. That was a new one for me. But she was good and I felt better. I went from feeling like a bag of shitty balls to feeling like a bag of balls. At this point – I couldn’t wait to hit the beach!
Note to self: Must use the insult "fucktard" more often.
It was a great vacation: I really enjoyed reading trashy novels, eating lots of great food, and drinking far too much San Miguel while making new friends. This next bit is all over the place… I quickly jotted down some things to remember to say about Boracay and my time there. Hope you can follow…
The airplane from Manila to Caticlan was horrible – it was really hot in there at first and then when they turned on the A/C it smoked and dripped. Not very reasuring. We landed safely though and then I got to take a boat to the island. The boat was tiny but the trip was only five minutes. Then a quick 5 minute tuk-tuk ride got me to The Orchids.
The resort (a rather grandiose term for where I was staying) was simple but nice. I had a cabin all to myself with a double bed, hot water, and a fan. I was happy with it.
There weren’t many lizards, but there were a lot of stray cats and dogs. There were also a lot of bugs – I have so many bug bites I look like a freaking leper. However, I don’t have a sunburn so I consider myself ahead.
The beach was amazing. The sand was perfect and the water was clear and warm. I really enjoyed spending time just laying around on the beach and going snorkling one day.  That was about the extent of my daytime activities though – I really wanted to relax this vacation and so that is what I did. The nights were a different story though.
The night life was fun – there was cheap beer and lots of live music (tonnes of Bob Marley being played, of course!) I ran into the couple I had met – Michelle and Kyle – a few times and spent a couple nights hanging out with them. Shame of the universe: their last night on the island I didn’t find them and so now I can’t contact them. They were really cool though and fun to hang out with. One night we went dancing (a great time!) and the other we sat and watched live music. That second night we headed to a different bar (after closing down the first) when it started to rain – hard. It was the rainy season, after all. We decided to stop and eat a burger first – we were starving. So we ordered our grub and then all the lights ("all" as in "all the lights on the island") went out. Fortunately, they were cooking with gas so we got to eat our burgers by candle light. After that though we decided to tuck in and head home.
I also ran into Kirstn and Starr (both live in Suji too) each night. They were on the island with another guy from Suji (who I hadn’t met before) named Eric, and their friend Josh and his wife were also there. We often went out all together and it was a lot of freaking laughs. Most of those laughs had to do with one paticular establishment on the island: The Hobbit House.
On my first day on the island I walked around and had noticed The Hobbit House. I only even remembered it because I thought to myself, "Man, people will ride any train for the money".  That’s it. However, there was more to this wee establishment than I noticed during my quick glance that afternoon.
The entire place is manned by midgets. Midgets! Once I heard that I was more interested in checking in out. So the next night Michelle, Kyle and I went to The Hobbit House. We enjoyed listening to the live music, drinking San Miguel, and smoking a hookah.
Heh heh. Yah. I smoked a hookah with Hobbits. That’s the most awesome sentence I’m ever likely to utter.
The next night, the group from Suji and I were sitting around, and (mostly) Josh and I started cracking jokes about the employees of said House. Now, I’m not going to repeat them here, they were extremely low-brow and less than PC, let me tell you. But it seemed to help Eric relax enough (he was honestly frightened of them, I’m not kidding) to go. So for the second night in a row, I was smoking hookahs with Hobbits. Sweetness.
There was another night when I went to "Charls" place that was right on the beach. (Note: all of them were technically ON the beach, but some were MORE on the beach than others, if you can dig that). It was so cool, even though I was there alone. It was very dark out, only a few stars, but the moon was nearly full. And then down the beach to my left I could watch a thunderstorm even though there was no rain yet. It was a very cool moment.
Another cool moment was going night swimming with Starr, Eric, and some Irish guy that joined our party.  Even though there was no light other than the moon, you could still see all the way to the bottom of the ocean. The water around Boracay was amazingly clean and clear.
This brings me to my last night. Before I went out and met everyone, I sat on the beach at dusk and wrote some more thoughts while I watched the sunset.  Here’s what I had to say on my last day:
I thought by being alone on this trip I would have a lot of time to think about things. I don’t mean plan, either. I didn’t want to think much about the next part – the travels, the visas, the headaches and uncertainties – about any of that. I just wanted to think about my life in general. And despite having all this time, I’d only really thought about a couple of things.
The first is how fortunate I am – to be who I am, when I am, and where I am. This thought came to me most clearly while drinking at The Hobbit House. It got me considering all that I’ve done and seen in my life – most notably in the last couple of years. I’ve done and seen amazing things. We had joked that we could cross "smoke a hookah with Hobbits" off our life to-do lists, which got me thinking about what would be on my to-do list. I don’t have one. And most of the things I have done (again, most specifically, recently) have been so varied and so weird that I would not have ever dreamed of putting them on a freaking list. So I’ve been thinking, even though there are lots of things I want to do and/or see before I check out (South America, Europe, Africa, Australia, the pyramids, sky diving, scuba diving, play "Creep" on the guitar, have a dog, get married, run a marathon, circumnavigate the globe, learn to ballroom dance, read Palaniuk’s newest novel, etc.) I don’t want to make a list. Because I feel as though, at this point, I’ve seen and done so much that asking for more is selfish. I would, of course, be delighted if any (or all!) of my not-a-to-do-list list gets done, I also feel strangely content with life right now. There will hopefully be more adventures (both large and small) to come, but I’m also insanely pleased with life in general right now. Mostly.
Which kind of brings me to the next thing I’ve been thinking about.
Being here has made me think more definitely about the one thing that I don’t have in my life that I feel may be keeping me from being 100% satisfied with my life. I’m not surprised that I haven’t realized it before – it isn’t something I was particularly sure I wanted or needed, so I never realized that I was missing it, even though I’ve been feeling as though I’ve been missing… something. Or, as I’ve come to realize on this trip, someone. Someone other than just myself (and my blog) to share these experiences with. Because as I sit here on a tropical island in the Philippines, watching two beautiful Filipino babies play in the surf as the sun sets more spectacularly than I’ve seen in a long, long time, I can’t really help but think I wish that another person was here to share it with me instead of just my notebook and camera, or at best, the random strangers that feel compelled to adopt me into their group when they find out that I am, in fact, alone.
Alone. There’s even a stray dog that keeps coming over here and sitting with me, going so far as to nudge my pen as though he’s asking how I’m doing. I’m vaguely concerned that the dog, the stray dog, mind you, feels sorry for me. I know. That probably sounds ridiculous. But you probably aren’t the one sitting on a beach with no one but a stray dog and a notebook for company.
I always thought that I liked being alone – that enjoying being by myself was part of my personality. I’m certainly capable of entertaining myself – even if I don’t have a book/iPod/DS handy. Fortunately (sometimes unfortunately!) my imagination is just as vivid now as it was when I was eight years old. But all of that is besides the point. The point is, I don’t enjoy being by myself, I just prefer to be alone over being with most people. Because most people suck balls. And in the end, "enjoying being alone" and "prefering that people who wank aren’t around" aren’t the same thing. So, although I have one more (epic!) vacation coming up that I am going to be doing on my own, I’m beginning to hope that in the future I will be able to share these tropical sunsets on the beach with someone other than my stray dog.
Not much to say after that. I went out after the sunset (I’m such a trooper) and partied. The next day I had no problems for the trip "home" although I got in pretty late. I’m happy that it is already Friday tomorrow… I need the rest after my vacation! Oh… and I’m so well behaved that I have already posted my picures on Flikr, if you want to see just how beautiful Boracay really was.

2 responses to “The Philippines

  1. thanks for sharing about your vacation.. i\’m happy to see that you had some time to sit down and relax. also happy that you\’re learning more about yourself in the process. you\’re such an amazing person who has done/is doing so many amazing things.. i just hope that you continue on with the same confidence. dont worry about being alone. it\’ll happen. you just gotta leave korea. 😉
    i miss you!! loves from the hooiser state..xo. 

  2. I love the pictures of Miller… especially the one of him wrapped up in the hammock… I love your geekness 

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