Tag Archives: Manila

Leaving the Phillipines, Next Stop Thailand

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After 10 full days in the Phillipines, Shana and I are both very anxious and excited for this plane to leave Clark airport outside Manila and take us to the land of smiles, Siam sunsets, and coconut curries. I really enjoyed scuba diving the Japanese WWII wrecks and exploring the lagoons and lakes on Coron Islands but I think we could have done Basuanga Island in less time. Shana has had a hard time eating vegetarian here as Filipinos love their chicken, fish, and pork so we are both looking forward to the veggie friendly Thai cuisine.

Yesterday we left Basuanga Island and took a flight to Manila. From there we had to make our way to Angeles City about 90 minutes north of Manila where our flight to Bangkok left today. Angeles city is home to Clark Air Force base, a huge sprawling airport that once housed the US Air Force during the Vietnam war. During the late 60’s, Angeles City developed a nightlife scene to cater to the needs of the many Americans and Australians stationed there. From what I’ve heard, very little has changed and during our short time there it felt like were in the middle of a giant brothel. The hotel we stayed at was full of Australian, British, and American ex-pats and their young Philippina lady friends. Looking through a weekly tourist guide, it seemed like the small city had developed a decent sized community of permanent and seasonal expats. Ads offering houses for sale and rent, visas, cheap medical services, and the latest girly bars filled the pages and made me feel a bit gross and sad for these men. What were they escaping from back home? Were they lonely widowers who hadn’t found a wife or partner in their country of origin? Were they stationed here in the Vietnam War and never could acclimate returning home? Was there a shameful legal past they were running from? All of these questions raced through our mind as we watched solitary sad looking men between the ages of 50-80 years old sipping drinks at bars and paired up with girls half their age. It was easy to be judgmental of these men and I wished that I could hear their life stories and learn what had brought them here. There was a fine line going on between prostitution and what may have been actual loving relationships. The entire place was a documentary film waiting to happen, although I can’t say that I could stay there long enough to film it. Needless to say, Shana and I stuck out there like sore thumbs. To be fair, very similar places exist all over Asia and in Thailand like Pattaya and the Patpong district in Bangkok. However, this place really struck me due to the ex-army backgrounds of most of the men.
When we arrive in Bangkok, we will be starting preparation for some videos we are producing while there and lining up interviews. It is a great city to act as a hub for our travels, due to it’s proximity to most South East Asian countries, modern amenities, availability of most everything we may need from clothes to film supplies, and access to internet connections. I have spent more time in Bangkok than any other city I have not permanently lived in, and am so excited to visit my favorite restaurants, food stalls, and stores. We look forward to sharing our stories, photos and videos of this amazing country in the coming weeks.

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On The Road

20120301-101513.jpg Above: Shana on the way to the airport

After a stressful past week and a grueling past 48 hours, we are on the road–the road being a huge of slab of concrete known as the 405, which now resembles a parking lot, full of Angelenos on their way to work. We’re moving slowly but surely over the Sepulveda pass towards LAX and our first destination, the Phillipines.
I have been fortunate to travel throughout South East Asia many times but I have yet to visit several countries, including the Phillipines. For many years I have heard stories of jewel encrusted white sand beaches where you can find your own piece of paradise, even if just for a day. I’ve also heard stories of tourist kidnappings, Manila Mafias, and all sorts of violence that makes your parents worry for your safety. We are choosing to write our own story and are looking forward to the slow pace, the turquoise colored snorkeling lagoons, and abundance of WWII wrecks to scuba dive off of that has drawn us to explore the island of Coron.
One of the main inspirations for our trip is filming a short documentary dealing with the trash problem at the Full Moon parties on Koh Phan Ngan in Thailand, and a web series about social/political street artists in South East Asia…but that can all wait as right now our first order of business will be to decompress, snorkel, dive, and get some color into our white complexions. Stay Tuned!
-Ben

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