sobota, 01. februar 2014

The Last Few Days

The last few days in the Philippines irritated me to an unbelievable extent. After all the kilometers I enjoyed in its mountains and valleys it was like a cold shower in Siberia. First, Angeles City. Luckily I was in a hostel owned by a foreigner and I have complaints at all. It was actually the best budget place I've stayed in the Philippines during my two visits there. But it was excruciating to leave the Korea town. Just everyone is trying to sell you something. A ride, a watch, sunglasses, sex - or they just beg for money every single foreigner they see. For their standards every foreigner is rich. Me, too. And it can be even worse in a shopping mall. There's so many shop assistants you just can't pass unobserved and in a split second you're surrounded by them. Even if I love to amuse in my shopping addiction alone and spending hours wandering in the shops, I have nothing against shop assistants being visible - to be called for help when I need them. I wanted to buy some socks, during the hike most of mine simply disintegrated. I found them, guarded by a flock of 12 shop assistants. I stopped to have a look of some funny colorful pairs and I was surrounded. They all knew that I didn't really want to buy the ones I was looking and they tried to drag me and show me some others. The fuck with them, I bought socks the next day in a supermarket, knowing that they will last for maybe a month or two. But I returned to the same shopping mall (S-M, and they don't sell whips and handcuffs) because I was curious. It's not a small mall, three floors, but then again it's not THAT big. And I started counting. When I reached 150 shop assistants on half of the second floor I got so depressed I gave up. It was more fun shopping in the district known to be the mecca of Chinese counterfeit stuff. I laughed at Pensonic screens, Sambung smartphones and similar stuff.
Then I left for Manila, one day prior to my departure. It's not that my flight was so early, it was at noon, but I just don't trust Philippino transportation to be on time. They have a different notion of time that has nothing to do with hours and minutes. As long as it's done (anything) it's OK. Well, not that being relaxed and carefree is bad, but... I spent the night at the heavily guarded airport, armed security guards everywhere, maybe even more than last summer - a few days after I arrived there in December they had a political assassination at the airport, exactly at my favorite smoking point. I read about it in the news and laughed when the police stated that they are still puzzled at how the guns were brought inside since they accurately check everyone going to the airport. Even I could go in with a bazooka, if I had one. You just have to go in with the shuttle bus. It's not checked and is usual for passengers to carry large luggage.
I was in the arrival wing of Terminal 1 during night and moved to the departures of Terminal 2 in the morning. I went to the inner shuttle just to discover that yes, it's free if you pay for it. That is if you upgrade your ticket to PAL Express. From a few hundred peso to a few thousand, depending on your destination. At least the lady at the counter remained composed even when I lost my temper and told me that I can use the outer shuttle for 20 peso. No luxury and it takes about 20 minutes, but perfect for me. I'm already used that stuff at the airport is slightly more expensive than outside, so 20 peso for a bottle of water, instead of 15, seemed normal. That was at the arrivals. At the departures it was 70. No free wi-fi anywhere. I wanted to buy more smokes to take them with me to Japan and they were 80 peso instead of 38. And at the end - but this time I already knew it - the "exit tax". I was happy to leave the country. Of course I plan to visit again, but no more cities.
The flight was scheduled for 12.35. At 12.40 there was still no call for boarding. No notice about delays. At 1.00 a guy with a sign with the number of our flight came to GateN 1 where we were waiting and said that we have to move to gate S 2 for boarding. There we waited for another half an hour and finally the bird went flying. The landing at Taoyuan was quite bad, the immigration annoying as usual. I was sure they will not bother me since I had a ticket for next day (today) to Okinawa, but I was again too optimistic. Your address in Taiwan? You see, I have a flight tomorrow so I will just wait at the airport. No, you have to leave an address here. Regulations. But I don't have it. I really didn't care what were they going to do, even if they denied me the entry I would just wait for next day in the transfer hall. The old crone called her supervisor to tell him about this stupid foreigner. We went through the exact same interview again. He called his superior that accompanied me in the Immigration offices. Same Q-A again. She left the office and came back with another man, my blind guess is that it was her superior. And guess what he asked me... and surprise surprise at the end simply said: Could you write "Taouyan Airport" on the immigration form?
Happy that I managed to kill some time in an amusing way (bureaucracy at work is funny when the matter is NOT of importance to you) and went to try Taiwanese beer. Slept like a drunk log. In few hours I will be on Okinawa!

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