Saturday, March 29, 2008

A series of Firsts

In my first three years in Hong Kong, my previous work included loads of traveling overseas that I often thought that Hong Kong was actually a layover and not my base.

Many of the details of these sorties abroad are now forgotten. Blame it on my passive nature then that didn’t even give me the urge to jot down a travelogue, collect postcards and, by god, even just take photos!

However, there are some memories that I believe I’ll never forget. These are the “firsts” of experiences that made those three years treasured ones.

So since my emotional upheaval is done and there’s no point seething about GMA’s visit tomorrow – I’ll just pour it all out in the rally – I’ll just do this montage of selected firsts of my overseas escapades.

New York, USA: First homeless wandering

At exactly 12:00 MN, our plane arrived at the JFK International Airport. With all the usual immigration and customs brouhahas, I managed to get out at almost 1:00 am.

As instructed, I looked for a bus to take me to the hotel where I was billeted. Sadly, there were no buses so I took a cab that cost me US$32. With what was left of my hundred bucks, I figured that I’d get by fine enough for my hosts will put me up.

At the front desk though, I found out my name was not on their list. The cost of one night: US$70. Damn! And of course, I was not allowed to spend the night in the lobby.

So with my backpack and two other luggages, I walked the streets of Manhattan while it was cold and damp. I finally chanced upon a 24-hour coffee shop where I splurged my remaining dollars on coffee after coffee, fries after fries, and a burger that could last me a week.

Being forced to stay awake until 8:00 in the morning, I did finish a project proposal for the office.

Lesson learned: make the most of a shitty situation. (On second thought, I should just have asked that friendly policeman to lend me US$2)

Panama City, Panama: First shouting match with a government official

The issue then was the refusal of the government to reimburse travel expenses of Asian delegates to that event that I think is better left unnamed.

Previous meetings were sober enough. My colleagues and I thought that since we were foreigners in that land, it was more prudent to rein in our temper. But as with negotiations with government officials go, the empty promises just made our blood boil.

It was an A-grade shouting match with everyone on their feet and vying to get the top spot in the loudest voice category. Until finally, the government personnel said “I am a lawyer and I know the law!” to which my officemate angrily retorted, “I am a lawyer too!”

A couple of hours later, I asked my colleague, “Hey, I never knew you’re a lawyer as well aside from being a chemist.” He just smiled and said, “I’ve got about nine law units in Nepal.”

I was dumbstruck.

Bangkok, Thailand: First heavy flirtation

I have always been well-behaved abroad. But when I met this guy in Bangkok, he kinda blew my mind away. Prim and proper be damned.

With friends in tow, we hopped from bar to bar. I was pushed – with least resistance – to sit beside him, talk to him and, geez, dance with him. Mushy, mushy.

After sweating and drinking the night away, we all headed back to our friend’s place to continue with our hedonistic ways. As if I didn’t notice, all my other buddies started to drift away from the two of us.

So there were just the two us, sitting on the floor, with a candle lighted. We swapped stories and drank Thai whiskey. I didn’t mind his broken english for I was busy fluttering my eyelashes while he talked. Much later, we finally hit the bed ….

I woke up only to realize I only had about 90 minutes left to catch my flight. With a hangover, I let my colleague drag me through the whole check-in procedures.

Once seated on the plane, she turned to me and asked, “so what happened?”

I turned my back to her, closed my eyes and before I drifted off to dreamland I answered, “if you wanna do something nasty, stay sober.”

Dakar, Senegal: First imprisonment

It was not due to anything political but a blunder that was monumental.

We had a break from the meeting we were having and most of the participants decided to partake of the offer to become tourists for the day. Since I’ve already availed of that in a previous trip, I chose to stay put and wander around the hotel.

A full bladder later on found me frantically searching for a comfort room. When I found one, I rushed to a cubicle, locked the door and breezed through the relief process. As I was about to leave, lo and behold, the door wouldn’t budge.

For about 45 minutes, I was trapped in a 3 x 5 cubicle, with a floor-to-ceiling door and with the toilet bowl as my company. I kicked and screamed for help but nobody came. I wrote down “I’m trapped inside” and pushed it outside through the door’s crack in case I lose consciousness.

My last-ditch attempt to shout out for help was finally heard by a janitor passing by the CR. When I was free, I rushed to the main door and as I was about to open it, I found the sign “Do not use the toilet, broken door.”

I was not sure whom to get mad at.

(Photo 1: YMCA Vanderbilt where I eventually stayed; Photo 2: Just a picture of Panama City. I couldn't get a photo of that government official; Photo 3: Thai Whiskey. Sigh!; Photo 4: Goree Island. One of the most popular attractions in Dakar. The island played an important part in the trade of African slaves before.)



ibang klase experiences mo sir... para kang si lara croft. lol.

Mugen said...

Ang cool naman ng job mo. I wonder if i'd be given the opportunity to a globetrotter in my lifetime. Hehe.

wanderingcommuter said...

this is a whole lot of experience...i'll always think of this, just in case i'll be leaving the country..

if the offer will also include free accomodation...hahaha!jk

reyna elena said...

ayuf yung experience mo sa senegal! hahaha! pang miss universe ka ever! wish ko job ko rin yan - matunog kasi akong sumigaw hehehe barakong berdugo! hahah

Jericho said...

@kris: i'm not sure if i should be flattered because you compared me to lara croft or insulted because you called me sir. hehe. kidding! may mga iba pa ...;)
@mugen: past job ko na ito. mahirap nang balikan..;)
@wandering: just in case ha ..;)
@reynz: hindi pwede ang ms. world? ;) barakong berdugo .. wahaha

Abou said...

wala akong masabi kundi ang mainggit ha ha

Kiks Phulumulu said...

first kung first. napaisip tuloy ako bigla.


kawadjan said...

ang daming napuntahan!!! inggit akez. panama? senegal? NYC? taray!!!

Gayzha said...

You should start collecting memorabilias of your experiences as they help you remember when u get older :)

dazedblu* said...

What a great experience... i envy that, hehe :0 nice blog.

Jericho said...

@abou: waahhh. pero ang bora, hindi ko pa napupuntahan..;)
@kiks: at ano ang naisip ng bakla?
@kawadjan: tapos na lahat yan. hindi na maibabalik... hehe
@gayzha: samahan ko na rin ng sustagen prime ;)
@dazedblu: they were indeed great..:)

chase / chubz said...

wow.. around the world in one posting!!

inggit ako ni papa jericho.
you have seen the world na ha.. hehehe.
ang napuntahan ko pa lang is yung isla ng mactan.. ahihihi

Coldman said...

good thing thay you've been traveling!

Kahit kasi pano, masayang ma expose sa ibang communities. =)

Turismoboi said...

nice escapades

sana in detail ung sa bangkok bwahahha

wanderingcommuter said...

no problems, im going to look forward about it. hey by the way, your mob regarding gma's vist there in hk really made a news here in the philippines!

lots of kudos to you guys!

Jericho said...

@chase: papa jericho ba talaga! haha. hindi pa ako nakakapunta ng cebu at davao - my dream places. been to paradise but never been to me drama!
@coldman: true. learned a lot.
@turismoboi: wala ng details yun. i was so wasted. nagising ako na lang na magkatabi kami ... at unfortunately, fully-clothed. ;)
@wandering: thanks. haggard yun!

Bryan Anthony the First said...

so indigenous ng senegal ha... fab ka!

pat said...

wow. ingget. Ü