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What Happens When “There” is “Here”?

Tuesday May 31, 2016 Knowing we needed to be in the Philippines by the 18th, but not knowing exactly when we would arrive, we didn’t make plans. Since there could have been about a million different scenarios, what was the point? So we arrived in Angeles City in the Philippines, settled into our room, got some dinner and then some sleep. Tuesday morning after breakfast we made SM Mall our destination. With 420 vendors we hoped to find Tom a replacement protective glass screen cover for his LG4 cell phone. *Aside* You cannot buy this item in Okinawa. If it doesn’t have an APPLE on it, they’ve never heard of it nor do they even want to talk to you about it. The Philippines is a completely different story. A short motoerized tricycle ride brought us to one of the biggest malls I’ve even seen. I’ve never been to Mall of America, and Tom says Mall of America is bigger, but this thing was huge. The stores were somewhat clustered according to type: shoes, electronics, jewelry, all the usual stuff with groups of restaurants stuck in everywhere. We didn’t even get into the HyperMarket which was a mega sized supermarket There was even an area of “health and beauty” shops and vendors: barbershops, hairdressers, massages, waxing, tattoos, nail techs, liposuction. “Wait,” I heard you say, “liposuction?” I kid you not. Liposuction in the mall. You could also get a mole. For a few more pesos you could get a 3-D mole. We didn’t get any of those but we did find the protector for Tom’s phone. *Aside* In the States, Tom bought and installed an Otter Case for his phone but the screen protector didn’t hold up. I have to admit the plastic cover looked like hell. It was torn in places with scratches and gouges all over it. He was having a hard time using the touch features. I’ve never had a screen cover fail like that. The young man who helped us find the new cover offered to install the new one. I had to look away when he removed the second piece of film from under the existing protector to install the new one. To his credit, the young man didn’t even look at Tom with an expression of incredulity when he did it. We then bought new sim cards for our existing phones. With a pre-paid call plan, low and behold, we can communicate with the Philippines. *Aside* Then we burned all our minutes. Apparently when you call another carrier, and there are three main ones in the Philippines, there is a hefty surcharge. When you call a landline you just give them ALL your minutes. We learned that no one calls anyone in the Philippines: they all text because text is cheap! For our next destination we set our sights on Subic Bay. Our goal? Get Tom in the water. Wednesday June 1, 2016 8:45 Wednesday morning found us in very comfortable, air-conditioned bus on our way to Subic Bay in Olongapo to stay at Johan’s Beach and Dive Resort. A motorized tricycle ride later (I would not have bet that all our luggage and ourselves would fit on one trike, but let me tell you, these are resourceful people) we arrived at Johan’s. Tom booked diving; Rebecca booked a nap. Johan’s is not glamorous, but it’s right on the beach, there’s a surprisingly good restaurant right on the premises and very reasonable at $42 a night. Our postage stamp room in Angeles City was newer, cleaner and cheaper but there was no beach and not much to look at but power lines. Tom’s two-tank dive will cost him just over $50. Rebecca will look for some tea and relaxation. The diving report will come later. “There” might have been a little nicer, but “here” is better.

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