So X-day came and went, and again, the world didn't end. Phooey. Well there's always next year. Sometime after X-day, I took a trip with my girlfriend to visit her family in the Philippines. It was my first time going there, and I have to say, I have never suffered this level of humidity in all of my life. Everyday was 1000% humidity. There were moments it was so humid, I couldn't tell if I was breathing or not. It was absolutely stifling.
Humidity aside though, the Philippines is a beautiful place with a beautiful culture that blossomed in spite of the horrific weather patterns they have there. I happened to be there during the rainy season, where nearly everyday there was monsoon-like conditions; but the locals just shrug it all off. Everyone just goes about their business and just flows with the weather.
And, although the animal life isn't as chaotic as it is in, let's say, Australia, the abundance of giant insects, lizards, and stray animals is pretty impressive. Spider the size of human hands, water-bugs and cockroaches the size of Tic Tac containers, and more mosquitoes per capita than any place else I've ever visited. In my ten days there I was bitten almost 50 times!
But I digress; I did also spend about 3 hours in Japan before my transfer flight to the Philippines. I flew JAL for all my flights, and I have to say, they were some of the best flights I've ever had. Really smooth. For once, I was relaxed while flying.
In Narita Airport I found a small diner where they allowed smoking. I had a delicious bowl of chicken teriyaki (with cheese!), a nice and dark Ebisu beer, and a cigarette. There wasn't much ventilation in the smoking box, but it was still nice to just sit back and have a cig with lunch.
Anime culture really was at the forefront in the shopping center located in the airport. Giant anime girls were everywhere in the fake "Akihabara" where they sold overpriced electronics, souvenirs, and Gundam kits.
Because I participate in a few Godzilla 98 groups on Facebook, I brought along my small Godzilla 98 "egg" figure for some photos, but sadly, the lighting wasn't too good for this sort of thin at the airport.
While waiting for my transfer flight, I bought some snacks at the Blue Sky shop near my gate. I really enjoyed the bacon flavored snacks and the onigiri. The bottled tea tasted a bit like sand, but it was still refreshing. I really enjoy bottled tea so long as it has no sugar.
There are no pictures from my arrival to the Philippines since I got there pretty late. I basically landed, went to my girlfriend's place and went straight to bed because the following day we had a party to attend. My breakfast consisted of yet MORE bacon flavored chips, RC Cola (which is my favorite cola), a Red Bull, and vitamin fortified spicy corn chips. I should mention that RC Cola seems to be the top cola in the Philippines; I saw it advertised pretty prominently all across the country. I'm not joking when I say it's my favorite cola either, but it's gotten so hard to find here in NYC.
A day after the part we took a trip someplace to stay as a small resort. I say "someplace" because I have no clue where the hell we were. I told my girlfriend she was in charge of our travel plans, and I planned on just following her wherever she wanted to take me. This place was really nice, if not a little more rugged than we anticipated. They definite had a bit of a bug problem here, but in their defense, this house was located in a really lush area.
The Philippines is not a coffee drinking country, and that sucks for a caffeine addict like myself. I did my best to survive by guzzling these Cobra energy drinks, a popular brand there. My favorite one is the Cobra PLUS SMART flavor (it contained ginkgo biloba.)
Here's one of those giant spiders I talked about earlier. They tell me these spiders are absolutely friendly, and they help deal with the mosquitoes. Here I placed my limited edition Batman V Superman wallet next to one for size comparison.
The shots below are from my trip to the world's smallest volcano, which can't be seen here because the fog and foliage are obscuring it.
I almost bought this coffee flavored "dessert wine" but I decided to pass on it.
Some restaurants serve this tiny bananas as a free appetizer much like how some places here in the US have either free bread or corn chips for free before a meal.
My girlfriend and her friends took me to a bulalo restaurant where they thankfully served coffee. The food was pretty good. bulalo is a sort of meat and born marrow soup, so I was all into it. You can make your own dipping sauce by combining the peppers and tiny limes together in a dish.
Dong Meat Stand! Hah!
So I was introduced to a chain called Angel's Burger which is maybe the cheapest and tastiest little fast food burger I've ever had. For less than a dollar you can two freshly cooked burgers with a sweet sauce topping (I'm not sure if it has a name, but it may have been banana ketchup). The common joke is that your first bite of an Angel burger is just bread, but I gotta say, I love these things. They're bigger than White Castle burgers, and they taste good.
Because I have a somewhat sensitive stomach, I can't really enjoy a giant hearty breakfast like most folks do. I mean, I do sometimes, but during this trip it was out of the question so instead I bought a few bottles of Vitamilk. It's a sweetened soy milk, and there was a chocolate variant as well. Good stuff.
I forget when exactly, but at some point we took a trip across the country (roughly a 10 hour drive) and I got to see the more of the countryside. Of course the first memorable thing I saw was a statue of a kaiju named Godji, who I think is the mascot for a local energy company.
More pics from the road.
We made a pit stop at a goat-infested place to see an old lighthouse, but sadly, it was out of commission. This entire area however was quite beautiful, so I made sure to take as many pictures as I could.
At this point we were nearing our destination. The local Coca-Cola distributor had some giant cans on display.
We finally arrived at our destination in a tourist town next to a beach. The water is so warm in the Philippines, especially when compared to the water we have here in NYC at our beaches.
My first snack was Taho, a sweet tofu based drink. Delicious.
Little cricket friend.
After a few days at the resort, we made our way back to whatever town it is we were at originally, and we made a stop at Shakey's for dinner. SHAKEY'S! I haven't seen a Shakey's in decades. I didn't even think they existed, but they're apparently the top selling pizza in the Philippines! HOW BIZARRE! As a side note, I also saw a few Kenny Rogers Roasters while driving around; they're another chain I thought died out.
And finally, after years of dreaming about it, I have finally had a ride on Tricycle/motorcycle side-car. What a fun way to get around. I had to pay double though, because I am so much bigger than everyone else in the Philippines. I take up two seats in this thing.
Just a few shots at the SM Mall cafeteria.
SPORT WALKING SUPER BALANCE CAR ROBOT.
Me with local celebrity, Jolliebee.
Transfiguration Whirlwind Deformation.
This is from a South Korean toy line for a show that's like if Pokemon or Bey Blade was about billiards. It's pretty cool actually.
I really wanted Shattering Dragon, but he was sold out.
There was a shop that sold bootleg and giant versions of Transformers and Gundam figures. I was in awe of this place. I really wanted the giant version of the Dark of the Moon Megatron. It was as big as my arm!!
This beautiful ancient toy spider made my life better.
Here we have Beef Spicy Flavor 2-D (check out his cow medallion); Twinkie the Kid as corn; and lastly, Goku if he had red hair.
And there we have it, that was my trip to the Philippines. It was ten days of traveling and snacking and it was pretty great. I have only a vague idea of the places where I traveled, and I kind of liked it that way. It was a new adventure everyday, and that's the best way to experience another culture. After I returned I had the absolute worst jet lag I ever experienced. Took me nearly a week to get my sleeping schedule back in order.
So I guess it's good that the world didn't end on X-day. I got to experience something fun and new. Around the time of my return, this inspirational image of "Bob" appeared on my Facebook feed and it really gave me inner strength. We all need to partake of "Bob's" frop and be ready because next year for sure, the Xist's will arrive!
This amazing piece was done by the wonderful Catfeather