Thursday, January 10, 2008


I've said it before and I'll say it again: The best thing about working in Korea is the holidays in the Philippines, Thailand etc. Especially if you're work is getting you down. I've been here two weeks and already feel much better. But, as usual, it's been a bumpy ride getting here.
My buddy Kasia and I were invited to a wedding in Manila and Kasia knew a guy who could get us cheap tickets. I checked around and they WERE cheaper.

Our original plan was to come on the 20th of December. Then we could see the Christmas fireworks AND the wedding on the 28th. We got the tickets arranged. Then Kasia gets into a taxi accident a few days before the 20th. Luckily she wasn't hurt too badly, but she DID need to transfer to a later date. I was still going to try to go on the 20th. So on the 19th I went to my favourite place in the whole world: the Eui Jung Boo Immigration Office. My multiple re-entry stamp had expired. What's the deal with that anyway? Why can't we just get them for the entire length of our work visa? We need to get 2 to cover a one-year visa. Just another crafty way to collect extra money I guess.

Anyhoo, I go to the immigration office and it's closed! It was election day! So I start the LONG process of calling the travel agent and finding out what I could do. It took forever but finally I reached him. He said I could go to the immigration office at the airport and do it there. I asked if it wasn't too late to just change my ticket to the same date as Kasia's. He checked and said that that would be no problem. I said, "Am I confirmed?" He said, "Yes." So I cancelled my ticket and waited for my new one. It was for the 26th. So he had exactly a week to send me the e-ticket. He said he'd send it the next day since election day wasn't a working day. I said that would be no problem. The 26th rolls around and I still have no ticket and nobody can get ahold of this joker. So I started calling all sorts of airlines, airport information, baggage handlers, all sorts of people who kept referring me in neat cirlcles to each other, or just wouldn't answer.

But I decided not to let that deter me. I stayed overnight in Seoul and took the 4:30 AM shuttle to the airport. The flight was at 8:30 I think. I was hoping I could just get on the flight without an actual printout of my e-ticket. I had asked 15 people if that was possible but nobody knew.

I caught a break! I was able to check in with no trouble at all. Kasia, on the other hand, was having a bit of trouble with connecting subways and buses. So I told a few people that she was coming and they said they'd wait.

She made it to the check-in counter at 8:00. Just seconds after it closed. I was on the phone with her from the plane. People boarded for at least half an hour after. The plane didn't take off till 9. But they wouldn't let Kasia on. Oh well, I got two seats. Heh heh.

Then I got to Manila and had a helluva time trying to use the payphones. But finally got ahold of the bride, Jessie, and she told me where I could meet them. So I took a taxi to Ortigas. Robinsons/Galleria. I waited at the main entrance. A long time. With a huge bag. In the hot, humid air. Nobody came.

They were waiting for me to call back, I guess to establish a meeting place. I tried the phone in the mall several times. What I didn't know is some payphones don't work for calling cell phones. But when I dial it doesn't say any message, it rings and rings like nobody's home. So I thought they had all hopped in the car to come and get me.

I waited and waited. I decided to get myself a hotel for the night and start fresh next day. So I got into the cab. The meter had a sign on it saying something like "don't pay if the meter is broken". I asked the guy why the meter wasn't on and he said it was broken. Because of the wet roads. So I payed the dumb guy rate. He took me to this hotel where they had dogs at the main gate sniffing cars for drugs or bombs, their handlers wore bellhop uniforms with bow ties and caps and I saw people pulling up in luxury cars getting out, or rather being let out and immediately an umbrella was popped up over top of them. "Keep right on going." I told the cabbie.

So then he took me to a place that was I think 700 Pesos. For 12 hours! ha ha ha. It was hot pink. But it was within my price range so I took it. There was a mall right across the street with some payphones that caused a whole lot more frustration. But they also had a cell phone store there. So I bought one. After that things were smooth. I hooked up with John, brother of the bride and a guy I had taught with at a kids camp in Korea. He drove me to a place we had arranged to stay at before coming. WHAT A DIFFERENCE! It was called Metrodorm. It was awesome and cheap. It was nice to see John again. Had a good chat with him. But as things go at wedding time, he was running all over the place so I let him do his duty. Kasia was supposed to be coming on the late flight that night.

John's brother James was supposed to meet Kasia at the airport and drive her to Metrodorm but somehow they didn't hook up and SHE had to find herself a hotel for one night too.

But eventually we all made it to the wedding and had a really good time. That's Jessie and Bong. Don't they look happy? Nice wheels too eh?

So after the wedding it was meet the family time. It was a great pleasure to meet the Minguilians. I'm not sure I spelled that right. I didn't get a good family photo but we went to John's house one night and I took this pic. That's Mr. M., Kasia, Mrs. M., John, me and Joey.

Later that night we tried to go swimming and Kasia had a bit of a spill and re-injured her already banged up legs from the taxi incident. But she soldiered on. She kept saying, "It coulda been much worse." I think 2008 will be much better for her.

I'd like to continue but can't. Next entry I'll tell you the story of the car I hit on the golf course. Of cours it's the most expensive car in the whole city. But on the bright side, the ball deflected onto the green. You can see it if you zoom in really close. But why would you park there. It's like 10 feet from the hole. And not only that, there's a playground for kids off to the left of the green. Yank your tee-shot, hit a kid. Hit it long, hit a sports car. Now THOSE are hazards!

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