Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Phils II Part 1 - Being The Hoff

February is a horrible time. It’s cold, of course. It seems the cold will never end, because the cold had ruthlessly continued since early December, November, or sometimes even October. If you are religious, a brutal February morning is a fine time to shake your fist at god. February is anchored by Valentine’s Day. Since I haven’t had a girlfriend on Valentine’s Day proper since the Clinton Administration, it’s rarely a good day, other than a good day to drink cheap wine alone. Fear not, this is not a classic downer post. Stick with me while I break down a few Februarys past:

1999: I got two traffic tickets in 3 days, and nearly lost my crappy $5 an hour job.

2001: No cold, as I was living in Florida. However, I was abjectly broke, had no friends, and drank something called Silver Thunder malt liquor nearly every day.

2002: Word came down that the office I was working for was going under soon after.

2003: Chicago winter. I was in a crackerbox apartment with a 13 inch Curtis Mathis TV with no cable and a cardboard box for a table. I slept on an air mattress with a pin prick in it, so I woke up on the floor every morning as it slowly deflated overnight. Rent was $470 a month, and I made $720 a month. More abject poverty, obviously.

2004: Same apartment. Less broke, but I commuted 35 or so miles one way each day to a job I hated.

2007: Cold, in Seoul, in debt, and I worked 6 days a week, just as I had in January.
Of course, I left out the centerpiece, 2000.

In February of 2000, I lived in a horrible converted garage, the cheapest apartment in town. My mother left Lawrence, as did my roommate. All of my oldest friends were living in other time zones. I had a nasty break up. The Kansas Basketball Jayhawks were unseasonably awful, on their way to an 8 seed. I did things like leaving for class, but stopping at the liquor store instead to buy an 18 pack of Milwaukee’s Best Ice, with which I would return home to watch The Price is Right. The 18 pack would never make it to the fridge, nor to sundown. February 2000 really spawned my (and my buddy Jack’s) hatred of the shortest month.

A funny thing has happened in recent Februarys. In 2006, I spent a fair portion of it in Europe. In 2008, I had the same crappy hours as 2007, but I was debt free and far richer, and had time to duck out to Singapore for a few days. In 2009, though I had a bad job interview and spent Valentine’s drinking wine alone, I did swing a Vegas trip, followed by a trip to San Francisco in what would become a 2-month coast-to-coast hopscotch around America. February 2010 ended in Bali, which certainly doesn’t suck.

February 2011, as they say, took it up a notch. Sure, it was just as boozy as the lowest February depths, but the bottle of shame had been replaced with the bottle of triumph. In early February, I was living in Bundang, sleeping on a February floor again. However, the month kicked off with a mini-bender, Don and I going out until late every night like we used to in the old days. Late February was basically a 4 day nap, and I finally ended my 2011 homeless period. In between, the clear highlight - my 15-day jaunt in the Philippines, easily the longest Asia trip I’ve done thus far.

I’m long overdue when it comes to writing about my Philippines trip. This trip didn’t really have the same kind of narrative structure that my first trip there did, so I’m going to go photoblog instead. Plus, I don’t want to put my Phils trip pics on Facebook, since I’m tired of that bastard Zuckerburg owning the theoretical rights to them.

Before I get to the pics, I should note the overall awesomeness of this trip. It was rockstar from CEB to MNL. I spent much of the trip experiencing what Hasselhoff must feel when he’s in Germany. There’s almost no point in doing a Roadtrip Bracket this year, as this trip is an absolute lock to win.

I flew into Cebu city. Via bus, boat, van, motorcycle rickshaw, bicycle rickshaw, and regular old taxi, I made my way to Dumaguete, Sipalay, Iloilo City, Boracay, Puerto Galera, and Manila. I regret not stopping to smell the mangoes more, but I spent two or more nights at each stop other than Iloilo and Manila. I stayed in a dorm for $7 a night, and at a 5 star for considerably more. I listened to half a million cover bands play Journey and America and Allen Parsons. I played Skee Ball and won mini Butterfingers with the tickets - both parts of that statement would be a pipe dream in Korea. I met a ton of people, from ex-cons to millionaires. Plus, I didn’t do too shabby with the ladies. Looks like I’m breaking into two parts - pics up next.

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