Well, here it is Sunday already. Let’s catch up.
Up early and off to Seoul on Wednesday morning. The 18 year old that brought me didn’t disappoint. I’m talking about my car of course.
Finished a successful meeting with the union president and then had the good fortune to secure a coveted “Space A” doctor appointment at the Army hospital. I mostly needed to get refills on all my meds, but also got three shots (pneumonia, tetanus, and one other one recommended after age 60 that I can’t remember at the moment. My arm hurt like a mother fucker for a couple of days afterwards though.
Caught the AREX at Seoul Station and arrived at Incheon International right around 6:00 p.m. My flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until 9:30, but better early than late is how I roll.
My flight was delayed 30 minutes because of air traffic congestion, which put me on the ground at Clark Field in Angeles City just before one in the morning. Breezed through immigration and then got stalled at baggage claim. I don’t understand why, but the bags were coming out in batches of five or so at a time, which made for a frustrating delay. It was my first opportunity to practice my new mantra for successful living in the PI–take a deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way.
Got gouged for 500 pesos (ten dollars) for the short ride to my hotel, but I employed my mantra and stayed calm. Once checked in, it was 2 a.m. (three Seoul time) but I figured I’d grab a beer or two before getting some sleep. Wasn’t in the mood for a girly bar, so opted for the street side seating at Phillies and engaged in a little late-night people watching.
As I sat there it occurred to me that I have become more of an observer of life than I am a participant. And perhaps I’m projecting, but what I observe seems to be sadness and desperation. Or maybe dull resignation to the meaninglessness of everyday living. I certainly have felt that about the people I encounter on my walks through the boring little village of Anjeong-ri and the surrounding countryside. Sometimes it.just seems all so pointless, and yet folks continue plodding on with their routines day after empty day.
Now, there in the bar district of Angeles City in the early morning hours, those manifestations of hopelessness are only enhanced. As I started in on my second San Miguel Light beer I wondered what it was that makes people just keep pushing on the way they do. I guess it all comes down to you just don’t have any other choice but to make the best of life until that too has disappeared. That’s my plan at least.
So, I caught a few come on smiles from the ladyboys who frequent the area (which I did not reciprocate), watched the bargirls who hadn’t snagged a customer for the night and those that had as they made their way to home or hotel. And then one young woman stopped in front of where I was sitting and wordlessly pleaded with me to be with her that night. I know the look but I told her sorry, not interested. She then spoke and asked will you buy me a drink? I hesitated, then shrugged, and said sure, why not.
When she set down next to me I immediately asked her age (she looked even younger in good light) and she told me she had just turned 20. I asked her where she worked and she told me she was a masseuse. That normally translates to freelance prostitute. I again declined her this time verbal offer to give me a “massage”. We sat in silence as we drank, but she practically oozed sadness and desperation. I’m sorry for her situation of course, but these days it’s all I can do to save myself. And it was time for me to go to sleep. As I paid the tab, I asked her if she had eaten and she told me no. I handed her 200 pesos and left her sitting there alone.
More to come. And it is not all doom and gloom. I promise.