Beer Breakfast, Salsa Shaker

Trip Start Feb 12, 2006
Trip End Mar 02, 2007

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Flag of Philippines  ,
Saturday, December 23, 2006

It was 5am. We had not slept for 24 hours and the airport was deserted except for a bell ringing electro-Santa, a bored hirsute man in a Russian hat, and ourselves. At times like this you become oblivious to reality. All conversations become inconsequential and you find yourself rolling syllables around in your mouth like hot whiskey, having neither the energy to spit them out or swallow them back. So it was that Erin and I found ourselves concious on nothing but adrenalin, waiting for time to pass as if in a Samuel Beckett play.
"I wish I had black shoelaces," I began. "When I bought these shoes they came with white ones, and they gave me only one black one as an alternative. I was pretty annoyed by that."
"Yeah," Erin replied. "Black shoes look better with black laces. They don't get as dirty either."
"True dat sister."
Minutes pass.
Erin: Praying Mantis are the weirdest insects."
"Yeah. They're pretty creepy. Like chameleons. They're creepy too."
"I once took a really cool photo of a praying mantis on a postcard."
"You took a picture of a postcard?"
"No dude. They mantis was sitting on the postcard."
"Oh cool."

When you become aware of these conversations, you are then forced to analyze them too:
"I can't believe we're talking about shoelaces and praying mantis. We're too tired."
Then you analyze your anaylsis:
"I can't believe we're analyzing our conversation."
It's a vicious vortex which we were relieved to pull ourselves from after an hour to jump into the check-in line, all of which went smoothly except for Erin needing to drop her bag at the counter and run to Immigration for the small matter of getting a return visa.
It was with great relief that we managed to squeeze into our seats (the time between check-in and boarding being a complete memory vacuum) and grab 45 minutes of scattered sleep on our 4.5 hour flight to Manila.
After the extreme grey sterility of Korea, our eyes burned under heat of colour that assaulted us driving through the streets of Manila. Pimped out WW2 jipneys decked with rainbow psychedelia were loaded with locals of caramel skin and ivory smiles. Reds, blues and pinks rained down from the buildings and the sea echoed the blue we had been dreaming about for months while surviving the monotony of long, snowy work days with little sleep.
We were greeted at the door of the hotel (which is owned by Aussie ex-pats) by Veronica who had her breakfast beer in hand. We decided a beer breakfast all round was in order and downed a couple of jugs whilst feasting on the "Aussie Breakfast" - a venture into authenticity I thought I would never taste again until I landed back on home turf. It was a tear jerking moment - or perhaps that was just the exhaustion getting to me.
With bacon, eggs and beer filling our tum-tums, Erin and I finally allowed ourselves to collapse into blissful sleep for a couple of hours before taking on our new city.
We awoke at sunset, just in time to glimpse the sky turning magenta as the sun dipped into the ocean for the evening. The night owl in all of us started hooting: It's time to party!
Feeling fresh after a decent shower, we ventured into the coffin-sized elevator that trembled us down to the ground floor where we were greeted by the sight of a Christmas Party in full swing. A huge Australian-Filipino banquet had been laid out on the pool table and plates were enthusiastically thrust at us as we were encouraged to "dig in mate!"
The hotel seemed to be the local base of all over-the-hill Aussie men who decided to rediscover their youth in young Filipina who would prefer to spend their time with saucy older gents than live in poverty. Unfortunately, all these men are under the misguided apprehension that "They don't care how old y'are, they still like ya!" as one charged off cleverly to Erin. Still, the women all seemed contented enough and there wasn't anything too sleazy about it all, but it really was a bit of a stretch to convince ourselves that these beautiful young women chose a loud-mouthed, old sweating Aussie as a companion based on real attraction.
We weren't complaining though, as our table was never clear of free beer pitchers (accompanied by the stimulating, slurred conversation of men who hadn't laid eyes on a white woman for a long long time.)
We were somewhat relieved to be approached by the hotel tour consultant, a beautiful vivacious Filipina named Cora who saw us in need of rescuing and offered to whisk us away to a more socially appropriate venue before we were drowned in the pitchers everyone was forcing upon us.
Finally we found ourselves outside, feeling the electric energy in the air, tasting the anticipation of a night out melting in our mouths. Cora hailed down a jipney and we sped off through the streets of Malate towards the city's clubbing hotspot. We jumped out at a busy night-market intersection, populated by banana hawkers, trike drivers and party-revellers who all chorused happy greetings at us as we made our way under the glowing yellow street lamps to Havana, a Cuban-inspired club with a Buena-Vista theme Mr. Castro himself would envy. We plonked ourselves outside on the verandah in the warm night air and promptly ordered a pitcher of mojitos, which went down a treat as a the evening's chaser.
It wasn't long before the beat and irresistible rhythm of the Cuban music enticed us inside, where we shook our thangs for what seemed like hours, moving to the live music that bounced with tremendous energy after the soporific K-Pop drivel we had become used to in Seoul. 
Around 2.30am we wisely decided to make our way back to the hotel for some shut-eye before our long trek into the mountains the next day. We were following through with this plan until we thought we'd "just have a look" in a thumping club called Arcadia, just around the corner from Havana. In the same way our resolve to 'only have one more beer' commonly dissolves, we danced for hours in the thick crowd of partiers who were fascinated by the three blonde girls gyrating within their midst.
Everyone moved away from the stage and took a seat as two obese transvestites wearing black miniskirts and red bras took the stage to sing "The Stars Are Blind" which entertained us to the hilt while putting Paris Hilton to absolute shame. 
The icing on the cake was when they bent over (revealing their true gender) and started deep-throating their microphones with great relish, sending the crowd into spasms of laughter and applause.
Unfortunately, there came a point where the lack of sleep and mojito overdose starting to take it's toll on us, and we reluctantly climbed into another jipney and made our way back to the hotel.
The party was still swinging, but couldn't coerce us into another round, so we made arrangements for a 7am wake-up call, and fell into bed for two heavenly hours of sleep.
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