Thursday, July 1, 2010


After my days in Manila, I traveled to Bohol. I had some more Korean immigration setbacks, but I told my recruiter that I'm not staying in Manila for the rest of my vacation and that because these setbacks were caused primarily by my new school slacking off in getting my visa shit together, if I needed to make any other alterations to my itinerary, the school needed to foot the cost of the changes.

Anyhoo, I went to Bohol. I had booked a room at an amazing hotel that looked like an island paradise. I stayed at the Alumbung resort.

Manila was great, but I really wanted to get out of a metropolitan environment and go swimming/drinking on the beach. So, I went to Bohol. The hotel/resort was wonderful. I went snorkeling(I would have gone scuba diving, but I have a strange paranoia about scuba diving.) I saw everything I wanted to see there and had a great time. I finally got my visa after returning to Manila and headed back to Korea. Then, the fun began.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Hobbits and Christmas Carols

One evening while in Manila, I decided to check out the nightlife. I started off by eating in some open air little bar/restaurant. I had an alright dinner, some ridiculously cheap San Miguel, and I talked with some expat from England who was there for some sort of business.

While I was eating and drinking, a group a street kids came up to the entrance. They began singing Christmas Carols. It felt a bit out of place, but then I remembered that even though I was in the South Pacific wearing shorts and a t-shirt, it was in fact December and The Philippines is a very Catholic country.

These carolers were amazing though. They didn't just stand politely singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," they had makeshift percussion instruments and a dance routine. I was more than happy to give them a donation.

My next stop for the evening was a very strange, but kind of amazing place, The Hobbit House. This is a bar which was apparently opened by a peace corps volunteer who really really loves Tolkien. The front entrance is a big round wooden door like that of Bilbo Baggins, and most of the staff are little people.

Now, I know what you're thinking. It's exploitative. The bar/restaurant is there for people to gawk at the little people. Perhaps it is. Nevertheless, I enjoyed the place. They had a great beer selection, a bathroom attendant, a pretty good atmosphere and decent music. When the band had finished, the bar-tender put on the "dream match" between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya. It was a few days old, but I don't follow boxing much, or really at all, and it was a great match. During the match, the bartender told me all about Manny Pacquiao and acted as a personal commentator for the match. Needless to say, "The Pacman" is now my favorite boxer.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Manila continued

After my carriage adventure, I decided to grab some dinner and head back to the hotel. I was pretty beat, so I stayed in for the night. I watched Pay it Forward which was a pretty stupid movie. I also really just don't like Kevin Spacey.

The next day, I went out and visited Jose Rizal park, which is really beautiful, interesting and a bit odd.

Call me crazy, but in a beautiful park built to preserve old buildings and honor an author who was executed by the conquistadors, a golf course seems a bit out of place.

Friday, June 11, 2010

The carriage ride

I'm at work now, waiting for my evening class to begin, so I don't have the photos to go with this entry.

Anyhoo, I hopped into the carriage, and the driver took me around intramuros. Intramuros is an old area of Manila where a ton of the old Spanish buildings are. It was pretty sweet because it was a whole neighborhood of grandiose European architecture that was all several hundred years old. He talked about the history of the area and then we went through China town which wasn't too exciting.

The trip ended back where he picked me up. He then said, "Ok, 50 hundred pesos." Before I hopped in, he clearly said "50 pesos" which is why I took the trip. 50 pesos is about $1. I told him, "Excuse me? You told me 50 pesos, not 50 hundred pesos."

He replied "Right. 50 hundred pesos."

I said "That's $100 for a 30 minute ride. I won't pay $100."

He said "You won't pay? Alright. I'm taking you to debter's prison." Keep in mind, this guy looked to be about sixty years old and weighed about 90 lbs (that's 41 kilos). He then started to take me to "debter's prison."

After about 30 seconds, I started pondering whether to leave 50 pesos on the seat and hop out or to see where this was going. I decided to stay for a little while. He then stopped again.

"Ok, I'll tell you what. How about 30 hundred pesos?"
"That's still $60. I won't pay it."
"Ok, you're going to debter's prison."

He moved along and stopped again 30 seconds later.
"Ok, I'll tell you what. How about 20 hundred pesos?"
"You told me 50."
"Ok, how about 10 hundred pesos?"

I mulled this over for a while. It was $20 when he told me $1, but I figured that $20 wasn't a ridiculous price, and I wasn't in the mood to play the going to debter's prison game any longer, so I gave him 1,000 pesos and went on my way.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Manila part 1

So, I had some bullshit to deal with regarding my visa and ended up having to fly all over the Philippines, but most of the time, the trip was great. While I spent my first night in Cebu, I pretty much got to my hotel, checked in, passed out and flew to Manila the next day.

I reserved a room in some shitty "hostel" my first night in Manila. I'm fond of hostels not only because they're cheap, but they tend to have a more friendly atmosphere where you can mingle and converse with people if you're traveling alone. This hostel, however was just a cheap place with no character and no other guests.

It was okay, though. I was in the exciting center of fun and tourism in Manila. I was in Ermita. I had arrived in the early afternoon after getting a full night's rest, so I was ready to go out and see the sites. I wandered around a bit and took some pictures. Here are a few.

It was a pretty exciting, vibrant city. It was busy, but not like Seoul. No one was rushing around. People were everywhere, but they were doing everything at a leisurely pace. I had been to Thailand before, but only in smaller cities, never Bangkok. This was like a strange mix of Thailand, Mexico and something entirely new.

After wandering around for a bit, I was approached by several people who wanted to either scam me or sell me something. The first guy offered access to girls, guns or anything else I wanted. I kindly declined. The next person who approached me was a hermaphrodite. H/She said "Hey, I've seen you around here. I think you're very sexy. Why don't you take me up to your place?" I told him that I wasn't interested, and then he/she insisted that he/she wasn't a prostitute, but I continued on my way. Finally, a skinny old guy came up to me and offered me a carriage tour of Intramuros and China Town. I said, no thanks. He said, "Oh no. I don't want to sell you anything. My tours are 50 pesos. That's it."

I asked him, "50 pesos?" and he confirmed it. So, I took him up on his offer.

Monday, May 31, 2010

My first vacation in quite a while

Between the time I finished at Reading Town and I started at my new school, I had about a month. It was December, so I decided to take this time off to enjoy a nice tropical country. I had already been to Thailand, so I decided to try the Philippines. The trip had two purposes. One was for some r and r, the other was to get my new visa. I booked a trip to Cebu and Bohol after confirming with my worthless recruiter that I could get a visa at the consulate in Cebu. A few days before I flew out, my recruiter contacted me to let me know that I had to go to Manila. I was a little pissed, but after I adjusted my trip and got a ticket from Cebu to Manila for about $20, I shrugged it off. My recruiter and new boss would continue to piss me off throughout the rest of my vacation with visa issuance number delays, but that's another story.

So, I flew out to Cebu. The next day I flew out to Manila. I'm kind of glad that I had to go to Manila, because I really enjoyed the city, but more on my trip to the Philippines later.

The search begins again

So, I put in my notice and began searching for another job. I chose a pretty crappy time to search for a new job, though. The won was at a ridiculous rate, and most employers were offering a maximum of 2.3M. I had several interviews at various Avalon branches, and most of these offered 2.5, which I would have been happy with, but most of the locations were brand new, and they had set curriculums with class flow charts. I was not looking for a job where I essentially follow a script, and I wasn't going to gamble with a location that was just starting up.

A friend of mine mentioned his school which sounded pretty great. The classes were entirely up to the discretion of the teachers, and they taught using novels. I went in for an interview, but there were a couple of things which worried me. The pay was pretty high, but there were no benefits. The visa situation was also a little odd. I ended up declining the position.

Finally, I talked to a school in Anyang. The pay was 2.3, but the hours were very low, teachers were allowed freedom in the classes, and there were lots of opportunities for extra pay. I talked to the teacher I was replacing, and he gave a glowing review of the school. So, I decided to work there.

This was one of the worst decisions I have made since coming to Korea.