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Philippines, June 16, 2006

Never Check Your Bags

I check only on pain of death

where to today?
Where to today?
too much luggage
My nemisis
I don't know how many miles I've flown, how many flights I've taken, how many times I've been asked, but never, ever, when checking in, do I check my bags.

Why, might you wonder, do I not? First off, you cannot make last minute changes to your trip, grabbing an earlier connection or getting bumped for a free flight coupon. Next, if you flight is late, and you sprint for you next connection, your checked bags will never make it. Late they will be, missing they could be.

Oh and let us not forget the invasion of privacy that the Transportation "Security" Administration perpetrates on your checked luggage at will. With their little notes informing you of their search, they are only one small step above the seedy baggage handlers that take a look, and a few things, in airports worldwide.

Still the supreme reason I never check is because I never need to. Unlike those who lug around coffin-sized bags, I pack light and only take exactly what I need. All my stuff fits into a carry on sized bag, and if it doesn't fit, I don't take it.

Now there is only one tiny issue with this perfect luggage life - my carry on, really a roll on or roll aboard, is just slightly larger than the box the airlines use to check such things. Larger due to my wheels and handle, which a strict and annoying check-in agent might think means it should be checked.

That's why, when faced with the Singapore Airlines check-in desk in Manila where they were checking bags with foolish strictness, I sprang into action. I stored my bags with the swank Pennisula Hotel, Manila airport rest area and checked in without bags.

Yes, that did shock the check-in agent, but what could he do, I didn't present any bags for him to size-check, and once I grabbed my bags from the Hotel and headed through Immigration and Customs, those kids didn't care.

So good try, Singapore Airlines, but you gotta wake up really early to get me to check luggage.

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Philippines, June 15, 2006

The Mall of Asia? Yawn.

It's a slow Thursday afternoon in Manila. You wanna do something exciting and cool. What may that be? How about you go local and do what everyone in Manila said they'd do - go to the mall.

The mall, like your typical suburban mall. Not the National Mall, or even the Mall of America, we're talking the Mall of Asia.

Continue reading "The Mall of Asia? Yawn."

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Philippines, June 14, 2006

Manila Night of Cockfight

The heat is oppressive. I start to sweat the moment I walk in. I don't notice it yet, though, as I am deafened by the sounds.

Men screaming, yelling, flailing about with mad intensity. Words reduces to shouts, repetitious, guttural, filled with hope or despair. Hands always in motion, signaling, gesturing, figures up, out, curled, then wrists dipping in unison, a match made in sign, owners still yelling, but now to each other.

This a cockfight in Manila and I haven't even seen the ring or the birds yet. This is just the stands, where action is overwhelming, then silent.

Continue reading "Manila Night of Cockfight"

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Philippines, June 13, 2006

Nice shoes, Imelda!

There in the lobby of the Peninsula Hotel, the hero to all shoe-fetish women worldwide with her quote "I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty," was none other than Ms. Imelda Romualdez Marcos.

Continue reading "Nice shoes, Imelda!"

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Philippines, June 12, 2006

The Peninsula Hotel, Manila

As strange as this may sound, when I travel, I rarely stay at fancy hotels. If I am paying for the trip myself, I stay at cheap local hotels, place where the nationals of that country would stay when traveling.

Clean, cheap and basic, they suit me just fine, for they offer a clean, dry place to sleep but not much more. When I travel for fun, I want to be out with the people, not sequestered in a fancy hotel.

Continue reading "The Peninsula Hotel, Manila"

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Philippines, June 11, 2006

Swimming in Sweat

See that sheen on my face? How it looks like I just jumped out of a pool?

While I may be soaked as if I went swimming, that's all sweat. Hot, man-sweat from a 10km run in downtown Manila. Downtown Manila after a thunderstorm, which means its only around 110% humidity, enough that I soak through my shirt before I even get around the block.

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Philippines, June 10, 2006

My Machismo in Manila

The Peninsula Hotel, Manila pool is breathtaking, a clear blue oasis that calls to me irresistibly after a week in Typhoon Taipei. The sun is warm on my skin, and I yearn for a day of pool-side bliss. Into this perfect vision, I find a deck chair positioned just right, and start to recline it for maximum sunage, when...


Continue reading "My Machismo in Manila"

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