Two Savages in Southeast Asia

Rained In

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Incessant drumming
Loud in my core. Feel the rain:
A great, wet prison

This morning found us in our stifling, windowless room at the Crosswinds Hotel, rain hammering at the roof. We poutingly packed our things and headed down for the included breakfast, which did not cheer us up much. What kind of breakfast is a hot dog, a boiled egg, and a scoop of rice?

On principle, we refused to take another taxi to get to our hostel, so we hoofed it wetly to 7-11 to get an umbrella for our walk. $7 later, we had an umbrella and some bananas to make up for the nutritional lackings of our first breakfast. We plunged into the storm.

As sheets of rain swept across the road, taxis and buses and cars darted blindly onto side streets. Vendors with their shop carts called to us to buy whatever it was they were selling. We were damp and not amused, attempting to ignore the pedicab drivers offering us a ride rather than snap at them. Eventually, after getting up to our knees in garbage-filled water, we found the metro system, where we went through security.

Apparently there were bombings in the Philippines not too long ago, and security is now a Big Deal. Every transit station has it. Every mall has it. Restaurants, apartment buildings, hostels, grocery stores… they all employ guards to wand their customers, searching for bombs or who knows what. All I know is that it’s a bit unnerving to see an 18-year-old boy holding an assault rifle smiling at you from inside the supermarket.

On board the metro, we realized that it wasn’t a subway, but actually an elevated track. Lucky for us we didn’t have to slog through the water on the roads. The metro got us pretty close to the hostel, and it was a short walk to get there (once we figured out where “there” was: Evan’s phone, the only one with cached map tiles, had died, and we spent 45 minutes combing malls for open WiFi networks to get directions). Although it was only 10am, and checkin is 1pm, the hostel staff let us into our room and we settled the bill with them. Showered, we felt like people again.

Lunch meant popping out to a local fast food place. The nice thing about fast food in this region of the world is that it’s just a passable-to-okay version of regular food, as opposed to plastic or whatever it is that our fast food is made of. We had some tasty fish stuff along with Filipino biscuits and gravy (really salty, the biscuits had a different texture, more like cake) and ginataang bilo-bilo, which is a tapioca and fruit soup.

For the remainder of the day, we basically puttered around our computers. Rain continued to drench everything in sight, and even the hostel staff were stir-crazy. They broke down and rented a videoke (karaoke + videos) machine for us to all use for 24 hours, so we spent a goodly amount of time belting out songs half-remembered on that.

Continuing their burst of awesome, the hostel staff also cooked dinner for all the guests. Apparently there are some foods which are traditional to eat for rainy days, and we had one of these. It’s also eaten for birthdays. It’s basically noodles and chicken and lettuce, and it’s delicious. We also had spring rolls with Filipino dipping sauce. This sauce, made of just vinegar, garlic, and salt, is super light and fresh compared to sweet and sour sauce.

All in all, we basically did nothing today other than entertain ourselves where it’s dry. We met, and sang with, some interesting folks at the hostel. Hopefully tomorrow we can go sightseeing?