Monday, January 22, 2007

Manila Trip '07 - Wheels In Motion

In about 2 weeks time, I hope to be on my way to Manila for the first time in my life and I have to be honest that I’m really excited about it.

It all started sometime back in November last year when a bunch of my secondary school alumni boys proposed an overseas trip. They decide to pick Manila as the trip destination and those who were interested to go would have to sign up to be included in the tour group. The prospect of going to Manila was really appealing to me since I have never been to any part of the Philippines. Having not been on a trip overseas since my last company business trip to Singapore, the idea of flying off to a far away destination became something that I hardly resist.

Those who were joining the trip had to pay for their own way which breaks down to return flight ticket, accommodations, food and other incidentals. Since we planned the trip so far in advance, we were able to get a pretty good deal from Air Asia for the return flight tickets. At RM 130 for the return tickets, it was a deal hard to beat although it was strange for me to buy tickets that cost less than the taxes they slapped on it. The total cost for the air fare came down to RM 353 excluding the Philippines airport tax that we have to pay when leaving the country. All in all, I set aside about RM 500 for the air fare from the total budget.

As for accommodation, we all made reservations at the Palm Plaza Hotel in Malate district in Manila. From what I was able to look up in the Net, it is suppose to be a businessman’s boutique hotel which means that it would be surrounded by a healthy spread of nightlife offerings. At least that’s what I understand when they say that they cater mainly for traveling businessman. Hopefully I would get a chance to enjoy it and continue to stay substance free for the trip. I’m sure the temptation would be greater there since I almost have never went out KL pub crawling since I stopped smoking and drinking. I really don’t want to fall off the wagon after all I went through to stay clean and sober. I think that I just have to play it by ear once I get there and double check myself if it’s worth succumbing to the temptation when it arises.

Speaking of temptation, I don’t know if I would be able to get to check out the alternative, as in not exclusively hetro-inclined, scene in Manila. Since the trip seems to be turning into a boys weekend away from the women-folk, I am fairly certain that a visit to a seedy strip joint would be in the plans some how. As much as I might enjoy the excursion, it wouldn’t be exactly the same for me. I guess that I could take a chance and slip out on my own and venture for to see the scene for myself but who am I kidding? For one, I would not want them to find out about my predilection if I got caught. Furthermore if I don’t have the balls to go to any of the gay bars in KL, what makes me think that I would have any to go to one alone in Manila where I don’t have any of my support structures in place? So a walk on the wild side in Manila for me looks very doubtful at this point.

Hopefully that would leave me with more money for food and incidentals. After RM 500 for the airfare and airport taxes and another RM 600 for 3 night’s stay at the hotel, I will be setting aside RM 2000 for the rest of my expenses there. I pray to God that I won’t be spending that much while I’m there since there are better things that I can use the money for. I just have this overwhelming fear of being stranded in a foreign place without enough money to get home which explains my irrational need to carry this much money on this trip. I’m fairly sure that I would be able to keep to a fairly balanced expenditure sheet seeing that food is suppose to be priced fairly reasonable in Manila and I’ve been told that there isn’t really much to shop for other than the locally made mementos there to bring back home. Other than my customary travel gifts that I would usually buy for my family and a few selected friends, I don’t think that I would be on a major spending spree while I’m there.

I wouldn’t be surprised if it turned out that I spent more leading to the trip then when I’m there. As latest count, I already had to shell out money for my passport renewal and a new pair of jeans which I truthfully need since I already wore out my last one until it was threadbare in the crotch area just waiting for an unsightly accident to happen. I even went as far as buying the male equivalent of a little black dress! I don’t know what drove me to actually buy it. I admit that the black with blue striped shirt does cut a fairly flattering silhouette on me now that I lost all the weight that I carried before. I must also admit that it does make me feel a bit saucy when I wear it but seriously I don’t know it I would ever be able to bring myself to put it on and go out in public. I’ve bought it on impulse and now it is sitting there making me feel intimidated. Does anyone else in their right mind would feel the same way?

I guess that I could con one of my friends to let me tag along when they go out to clubs and I finally find the courage to wear my little black shirt.

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