Sunday, June 30, 2013

Mt. Samat

On Saturday the owner of the bar/restaurant next to the hotel offered to take me for am hours cruise around the city. We went through some walled communities that were surprisingly nice. It occurred to me that I'd been driving through some poor areas to get to/from work. Seeing these neighborhoods game me a dangerous "hey, I could get into this" kind of feeling.

From there we went to the war memorial Mt Samat. Its a tribute to the fight the Filipinos put up against the Japanese in the face of certain default. Suffice to stay it was a pretty horrific story.
Speaking of stories, there's an enormous cross at the site - 36 stories high. There's an elevator that leads to the top and offers an amazing view of the surrounding area.

I have one last follow up for work tomorrow and I really hope to have Tuesday off to get one last excursion in before I leave on Wednesday.

You call this a monsoon?

It finally rained last night. The timing couldn't have been better as I'd already done all the sightseeing I wanted (pics to follow) and was going to spend the rest of the evening hanging out with the same driver.
He took me to a great little spot for an authentic Filipino dinner. Two types of goat (one spicy and one just plain delish) and finally the lechon I'd been wanting to try. It was all terrific, especially the mango shake. They seem to really like their shakes out here and I'm a convert now.

This was the drive into Olongapo:

People were stepping off the curb into "puddles" up to their knees!! So we headed indoors for some pool and socializing. I ruin the photo but Akih was a stunner! My new favorite Filipino. sigh.

Today it continued to rain so I spent the day indoors relaxing. Started it off right with a Filipino breakfast of fried eggs, beef tapa, tocino and garlic rice.

I've got to head into work tomorrow, one last time (fingers crossed) and hopefully I'll have Tuesday free to mess about.

I'm torn: one one hand I'm stoked about returning home, but on the other I love this place and would like just another month or two to get it out of my system.

I'll post pics of yesterday's excursion after I finish this awesome pizza. :)

Friday, June 28, 2013


I'm an expert traveller now because I've figured out how to get a napkin without ringing the bell

Here we go!

Breakfast is on its way, got my coffee and OJ, and it's a beaut again today!

First day off!

Work went pretty well today! 7 or more months of work and preparation was tested today and my software held up! Well enough that I've been granted a weekend off for good behavior.

I've arranged for a driver tomorrow that will show me around for about 5 hours for about $100. I could probably talk him down a little, but frankly I could care less at this point. What's a hundred bucks when work has paid for the flight and hotel, amirite?

I know we're likely going to the site of some giant cross on a mountain. I don't know the back story yet and frankly don't need to. I just want to see more of the countryside, enjoy some views, snaps some pics, eat some food, have some laughs and relax.

On Sunday I've got another guide. My cousin's Filipino wife's dad has offered to put me in touch with HIS cousin who lives nearby and apparently is happy to show a foreigner around. The generosity threw me at first, but I eventually came to and said absolutely! I'm going to request that we try and find some lechon, I read about it a number of times when researching the Philippines before I left so its definitely on my mini-bucket list while I'm here.

Spent an hour or two in a bar tonight listening to a drunk Swede and an Austrailian warn me over and over that I'm doomed. Over and over and over. Since I'm white and single I'm supposedly going to have women throwing themselves at me and I'll end up falling in love. Oh lawd, save me now!!!

Speaking of which, I made an adorable little buddy. She's a waitress at one of the only two restaurants near the plant I'm working at. Jelly Ann is her REAL name, but like most Filipinos she goes by a nickname most of the time. Lilian. Her NICKname is Lilian. Weird. But who cares, she's adorable. All this time I thought she had the cutest little demure smile, but on the second day I realized she was simply hiding braces. lol

I can't remember if I posted a pic of where I'm staying. Its right here, pop by if you're in the area!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Almost time for a vacay

Whoops, haven't gotten around to posting for a couple of days. I'd expected I could post quick ones from my phone, but I've since learned how quickly one can burn through a roaming data plan so I only work on wifi now.

I love this place. When I'm not working, I've spent most of the time being driven to/from work and the drive gets more beautiful every day. The weather's been perfect which helps of course. The traffic initially felt chaotic but I'm pretty accustomed now. I'll need to be careful not to be passing people on the right when I get back home!

I guess my last post was Monday. So what's happened since then?

  • Tuesday night was as simple as a shower, dinner and catching up on email and texts. The evenings fly by so quickly.
  • Wednesday I got dropped off in Olongapo to meet some friends of friends. Its amazing how hospitality works here. My cousin married a lovely Philippino girl and a few days ago her father "friended" me on Facebook and has since offered to look up some relatives in the area to pick me up and show me around if I so desire. I think I might take him up on the offer for Sunday.
  • Tonight I'm wiped after a fairly full day at work and now a very full belly. This week it feels like I've eaten more seafood than I have in my entire life (I used to really dislike seafood). The last few years I've found that things I didn't think I liked or normally wouldn't have tried are actually quite good! But, tonight I fell back to comfort food for a change and had a surprisingly good pizza.
Okay, time for some random snaps.
a nice view on the way home

lots and lots of rice fields

gorgeous area on the way to work

one of my favorite parts of the drive to work

coconut water. comes with a spoon to scoop the flesh out

my favorite pic of the trip so far. the view on the way home (briefly)

I'm here for breakfast every morning @ 5:15a and sometimes dinner.
tonight one of the waitresses was so cute and shy when she said she remembered me from the other night then kind of hovered around for a while. I didn't marry her.

same place, but inside. that's how I do breakfast now. :)

my super awesome and less than photogenic driver: Rhey

do whatcha gotta do to get to work on time, mang

sunset on the way home - love that mountain in the back ground.
no, I don't know its name. what am I, an encyclopedia?

missed my pups immediately. almost asked the driver to let me out so I could hug the little guy

km #1 of the Bataan Death March. Pretty morbid story but big history here.

don't have to ask me twice. especially the way he was driving. geesus



sunset tonight - and I'm out...

typical driving here

Monday, June 24, 2013

Yeah, I was a little optimistic

When asked how long I thought I might be working at the BFG plant I've been saying it could be 1/2 day, it could be 5. The half day quip was ridiculous, but a small part of me secretly believed it was possible. Yeah, I was a little off.
After a day on site I'm certain I'm going to be there for another couple at least, which is fine because we allowed for 7 in total. There were just so many unknowns and surprises encountered today.
I was up at 5am and eating breakfast by 5:30 on Subic Bay.
It's a gorgeous 1.5hr drive to the plant with all sorts of activity along the sides of the road. Tricycles are all over the place in this area:

After work my driver generously offered to show me some of the adjacent city (Olongapo) to get an idea what it's like in case I decide to spend some off time there. What a mad house, the place is absolutely crazy busy and that was on a Monday night. Apparently the weekends are bedlam. Shops, bars,"dancing" and giant malls, etc.
I didn't get much for pictures today, the wireless in my room blows and I'm tired as hell so not a lot to report on today.
Sure missing my peeps from back home - I'm 15hrs ahead of BC time so there's awkard overlap of our waking hours.
I need sleep, so I'll leave you with a parting shot that I took on the way home from work as the sun was setting:

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Off to work

Hit the sack last night around 9pm, up at 5. Feeling surprisingly rested, but anticipation has a way if opening the eyes, too.
The lead guy I'm working with sent an email while I was sleeping to say he has an appt elsewhere and won't be on site until after lunch. This feels typical for how this project has gone for months now. Frankly I won't need him there so whatever. But still...
The sun is just rising so I'm going to watch that happen over Subic Bay with some breakfast...

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Touch down!

I'm almost glad I didn't do the math in my head, but the trip took a wee bit longer to get there than I anticipated. 2hrs in Kelowna, an hour to Vancouver, a 5 hour lay over, 13.5hr flight and another 3 hours to drive from Manilla to the hotel in Subic. I didn't get a whole lot of sleep on the flight so I'm completely bagged. The humidity is pretty intense, too. Its at 59% if that means anything to you.

Once we dropped out of the clouds and actually saw land, the country is GORGEOUS. Here are some shots from the plane:

Quick vid:

As usual, the traffic in a new country is always interesting. This definitely reminded me of a trip I did to the Dominican years ago. Watch for the motorcyclist almost get squished near the end:

And you'll notice the Jeepney's they're famous for. An old military vehicle converted into transport for a dozen people or so. Often very colorful, and all over the road. The drivers here are nuts - the lines on the road are merely suggestions.

Just a couple minute walk from here is Vasco's. I spent a couple hours hanging out with the owner Brian; an Australian who's an avid diver and shipwreck hunter. He had dozen of items he's pulled up from the ocean over the last few decades which meant for some great stories. Old spanish coins, samurai swords, guns, coins from the 1600's, really cool stuff.

He's offered to take me around the area (Subic) some morning(s) which would be cool. Nothing like having a local show you around rather than a tour guide.

Turns out our three prong power cords don't work on the outlets here. I might head out and see if I can find an adapter - there was nothing to be found in Kelowna or Vancouver. Not sure what kind of life I'll get from this laptop's battery. Internet

I've been up for almost two days now and I'm fading quick. I think I'll go try to find some groceries and stuff before I get too lethargic. Want a good sleep tonight as I work tomorrow - my driver picks me up at 6am and I hope to have time for a breakfast before work.


Just walked in to the men's bathroom to see a woman brushing her teeth at the sinks.
I stood smiling until she noticed me, she made the cutest "eeep" sound (with a mouthful of toothpaste foam) and scurried out. So funny.
I'm also over tired and pretty bored at this point so it might not have been that funny.

Still waiting

This is the first flight board I saw in Vancouver:
Yep, flight's delayed until almost 2:30a. That's really only an hour longer than the original layover.

So, I found one of these:
Plugged my phone in and here we are.

Had a great chat with cousin Taryn on FB. She's such a remarkable person. I've never had an encounter with her and not left feeling "wow".

I've learned that us smokers don't even get a horrible stinky little room to smoke in now. Nuthin!
Good thing I packed a patch for the trip. I'd have put it on by now but I can't get the package open, need scissors. Eesh.

Friday, June 21, 2013


Going to do a lot of that. 2 hr wait in Kelowna after early checkin. 4hr wait upcoming in Vancouver, then a 13.5hr flight.
Leave Friday night, arrive Sunday morning in PH.
I've got a patch, a sleeping pill, a good book and a surprising amount of patience these days.
Here's my view:
I'm gonna miss those hills...