sobota, 17. januar 2015

The Curse

I'm cursed. Don't think I'm stupid, no way, it's a curse of stupidity. When I was in the Philippines last year I felt to be right when I was swearing and calling it a retarded country because almost all of the money changers recognize only a single one foreign currency - the US dollar. I knew it and I still didn't change my wons to pesos when I saw the best deal. Why? I have no clue, it's the curse. So I ended in Santa Cruz (Zambales) with almost no peso and no way to change wons. Luckily I had enough for a bus ride to Dagupan and from there a van to Baguio where I arrived in the middle of the night. The staff of the Upstairs Bed&Bath were nice as last year and they let me sleep there  with a deposit in Korean won. The next day I managed to get pesos from wons, bought few beers and lots of food, slept there another night and again used my own feet for locomotion. Down in the valley and back to the west coast and north to reach San Fernando, La Union (to be precise, it was San Juan, I'm really getting tired of all these fucking saints) and the other Circle hostel. A good thing, there I met Volo, a crazy French guy, we spent the first day drinking together, the second day too, the third a bit less and the fourth we left, each his own way. We exchanged good music, movies, ideas, travel tips, promises and goodbye hugs. I hope one day we'll meet again. I went back to Baguio, this time following another river back to the mountains. After two days I was there and had an unpleasant surprise - all the hostels, inns, guesthouses and hotels in Baguio were full. Well, maybe some expensive ones still had vacancies, but I didn't even want to know. By vans and windowless buses I tracked my way back to San Felipe and after a sleepless night I'm again at the first Circle. And to make me feel good there was a lot of "Uncle Dag, welcome back!" to greet me!

And, no matter how sad it made me, I decided to quit. I just can't play anymore with the Korean and Japanese immigration. They have power and in this world it means that they are always right. And it doesn't make me feel good when I hear stories way more absurd than mine - I met a girl who was denied a working visa in Japan. The reason? The requirement for the job was previous experience work in tourism (and fluent Japanese, clearly). She worked in tourism and she studied Japanese in Osaka. The answer was: the job position requires previous experience in tourism but the applicant for the visa has only previous experience in tourism and is so not eligible for the position. It's not even funny anymore. In December at the Incheon airport I was held for questioning why I'm leaving Korea and why I'm spending so much time there. I know that anywhere I'll go I'll eventually end with the same troubles, but for the time being let's see how Australia will look.

nedelja, 04. januar 2015

Fear of Farting

A two days rest in Angeles city, bought maps and food and started my hike. The basic plan was to reach the east coast. Climbing the Mt. Pinatubo would be a plus. Day one was a pain in the ass - trying to escape the gravity of the city. It took me more than six hours to leave the last suburban areas and another one to cross the cultivated countryside and finally reach some sort of wilderness to set camp for the first night. I was tired and pissed off, but the next three days were more than perfect. I followed the canyon and when, after two days, I realized it's a dead end - sandy walls impossible to climb - I wasn't too disappointed. I had absolutely no clue where I was, no idea which way could lead me to Pinatubo, but I still felt great. The weather was merciful, cloudy with a gentle breeze, plenty of fresh water for drinking or taking a bath... who needs more? I went back the same way (there was no other) to the first camp and this time from there went to south.

Too soon the wilderness was just a faint memory, the sun was blazing mercilessly and my feet felt like lead weights stomping the hot asphalt. No way. Two jeepney hops and I was in San Felipe at the Circle Hostle on New Year's eve. Just across the hostel there's a store/canteen where i planned to have a few beers before going to sleep, but the owner ruined my plans - he threw a big garden party for anyone who was passing by, with infinite supply of ice cold beer, barbeque, pineapple tuna salad, fried noodles... you name it. Oh, yes, and karaoke. I tried my best to annihilate his beer supplies, but I was really beat. No matter how much I liked the short hike I didn't sleep properly so I was off before midnight and the Armageddon explosives that are here sold as firecrackers made me just turn in my bed. I managed a proper 12 hours sleep.

In the morning I learned that I completely forgot I changed time zones - not that it matters when I'm on the hike, dawn and dusk tell me if it's time to go or time to stop. I stayed at the circle for three days and made some friends between the local kids and teenagers. It all started when one of them approached me, asking for money. I gave him one of my most terrifying pissed-off-teacher looks and told him that if he asks for money one more time I'm gonna kick him so hard he won't be able to take a crap for a week (a curse like that would be more than welcome to me, I was already affected by the liquid fart syndrome). It ended as good start. No more begging, but we talked a lot. We actually improvised a lesson when I was correcting their English and they had great fun because they were allowed to say fuck and shit and I was entertaining them making stupid crazy faces. After that I became the most popular guy in the neighborhood, they learned I'm just a funny harmless drunkard and when I came back two days later even grannies welcomed me with laughter and a loud "Hi, uncle Dag!"

After three days of amazing relax, morning swims in the ocean and evening intoxication with Red Horse, I left back for the mountains - that's what I thought at the time. I was lucky I could rent a locker for 20 pesos at the Circle and I left there my Korean winter clothes and the laptop, my heavy oldtimer. It ended to be a desert hike. I spent basically two days in the dry sandy river bed of Santo Tomaso. Since the only map I could get is a stupid road map and I couldn't figure out the terrain, I was sort of sure that the Mapanuepe lake is located somewhere in the mountains east. As I found out today in the morning, it's located at the foot of the mountains east. But after all the sand it was sure a beautiful thing to see, even more beautiful for jumping in. I'm a selfish bastard - I hope the tourists will never discover it. It would be the ruin of a beautiful place. It was still early and instead of going blindly (again) in the mountains, I took a shortcut through the jungle, going west, back.

At the edge of the jungle I stumbled upon a stupidly amusing monument, but a woman there was having a phone conversation that sent chills down my back. You are free to think I'm making this up - but be aware that reality is practically always more amazing than fiction can be. She had a business conversation about selling her baby. Three months old. But she wanted to sell it in block with the older sibling of two years, which was something the buyer - or the intermediary - wasn't willing to accept. So she was lowering the price. I know it's nothing unusual, maybe even a daily matter, for all that I know. What disgusted me more than the fact of selling her children, she simply didn't care that a dumb foreigner was standing almost near her, taking pictures of Plastic Jesus. And she was talking in English. Now don't think that I despise the poor woman, in a way that disgusts me, I understand her and I don't even think to pity her. I just plain HATE to live in such a world. If anyone thinks that praying for that woman and her kids will work out... yeah, you're fucking disgusting morons.Well, fuck you, Plastic Jesus.

Back at the Circle hostel for my birthday party. I guess I'll spend it having fun with the kids. And with one of them I already have a deal that he'll be my surf instructor. Well well.. me on a surf board.. THAT will be some real fun!