"Just buy an onward ticket, any onward ticket, and I'll let you on the plane. Then just get a refund when you get to Hong Kong!"
"Fine! Fuck! Gimme a cheap one. Gimme Manila."
So, after the eleventy-million hour flight from London to Hong Kong, it was really easy to forget all about the hastily-purchased Manila ticket crammed into a backwater pocket of my suitcase. In fact, it was so incredibly easy to forget it that I didn't think about it again for months and months.
But I DID remember it.
And then I went there!
My travel plans weren't even halfway baked. I just knew that I wanted to get some Filipino sand in my crack, and I only wanted to travel over land and water, not fly. I ended up taking a bus from Manila to Batangas and a boat to the island of Mindoro, then went all over Mindoro by boat and moto, spending three nights on three different beaches. It was unbelievably easy and cheap to travel, the beaches were lovely, and two out of three were secluded enough to please me. But ultimately I was uninspired by the lack of fresh food endemic to a tourist center accessible only by boat, by the mildew-impregnated Tom Clancy (barf!) I begged off a front-desk clerk, and by the whore-humping hordes of tourists I encountered in northern Mindoro's main city, Puerto Galera.
Fortunately I still had time to get a bus back to Manila for two days of rock-solid urban action, just how I like it.
This shopping-mall karaoke booth was having a sale. For only PP110 (apprx US$2), you could choose two songs, record them in the booth, then a producer would mix them, burn them onto a CD, and print out an "album cover" with your name and picture on it. INCREDIBLE. By the time I mustered the cojones to approach and pick out a song ("Cotton Fields" by Creedence), four people had materialized in line ahead of me. I circled the mall for an hour and came back, and the producer still hadn't finished recording even one person. And that, my child, is why I never became a hit international recording artist.
Battered deep-fried hard-boiled egg, PP8=US$.17.
Mmm. (That's not fingernail dirt, it's leftover black nail polish from my last job in Hong Kong.)
I have more stuff to show and tell, but tonight I prefer to celebrate my triumphant return to Portland and the liberation of my travel-cramped hamstrings by slumping over an Entertainment Weekly and a cup of tea. Here's a final tidbit from my layover this morning in Tokyo.