The touchdown of Zest Airways flight Z2-171 into Manila marked the beginning of the end to our wanderings in the Philippines. Darcy’s driver picked the five of us up and made the rounds though the bewilderingly dense traffic to drop us all off at our respective destinations about town.
Tracy and I were plopped right in front of the Somerset Millenium Makati, which Darcy was good enough to recommend and have his staff make us a reservation. We checked in and quickly got settled into the relative luxury of our room with its stellar 18th floor view of the city, and foraged out to the nearby swanky mall complex known as Greenbelt 1 through 5 for a nice sushi dinner.
Back at our room Tracy was spent and so passed on our invitation to join Darcy and his peeps out at a bar he owned nearby, Heckle & Jeckle’s. In the interest of camaraderie and raising a beer to the man whose resort and hospitality made such a difference for us the last 3 days, I set out myself into the warm Manila night.
There’s something I absolutely love about wandering about in an active city by myself at night. The lights, the flow of people and the architecture all have a certain vibrancy that calls to be observed in an unhurried way that you just can’t do as well in daylight or with others around wondering why you’re smiling at everything with maw agape like some enchanted 6-year-old. Conditions are perfect to wander aimlessly and be distract-able by shiny. I found myself in a triangle-shaped park nestled among sky rises, faced on one edge by a slew of open fronted eateries with hoards of happy people enjoying things like late night ice cream, and throughout with bushes and trees strewn with elaborate strings of lights that put the typical Christmas yard decoration to shame. Add in the summer evening perfume of the abounding plant life and you’ve got a faint sensation of magic in the air.
Eventually I made my winding way to Darcy’s bar. It was a bustling joint with pool games being played, darts being thrown, and three Filipino women joining vocal forces to do a pretty darn good set of Alanis Morrisette covers. I ordered a trusty Red Horse (by this time my well-established local brew of choice), and found Darcy in short order.
“Red Horse, eh? That’s the beer of the poor people!” For real? I thought all along it was the good stuff… it was more expensive back in Boracay! “Yeah, it’s a cheaper way to get drunk because it comes in those bigger bottles and is a higher percent alcohol.” Ahhh… yeah, that makes sense: I started to notice the tendency for it to come in these jumbo-sized bottles of liquid fun back in Sagada. It reckon the whole scenario was like some hapless Brit coming to the US proudly drinking Budweiser, the King of beers, presuming that we Americans somehow held fast to a reverence of monarchs. Whatever, it tasted alright and facilitated a talented dance exhibition to Lady Gaga.
It was now at this point that I was invited to the strip club as referenced in the preface to this whole saga. It was the next stop of the night for Darcy and his crew, and since we were all getting along so swimmingly I was a welcome tag-along. At this point I did indeed have presence of mind enough to remind my new chums the vague inappropriateness that this would be, what with this being my honeymoon and my new wife back at the hotel sound asleep. “Right on,” I was assured: “this one will be pretty mild, so it’ll be fine. Now, the second one we go to, that’s gonna be inappropriate for a man on his honeymoon. You should probably skip the second one.”
“Oh, and if the DJ announces he’d like to welcome back Darcy and his friends when we get there, he’s talking about some other Darcy.”
Fair enough. In the interest of having experiences that I wouldn’t be embarrassed to confess to either my wife or the world, I happily joined the gang as they hopped into the Range Rover of fun bound for our next destination.
There the crowded smokiness to the cheesy choreography reaffirmed for me that, yep, strip clubs even in this part of the world aren’t really my thing for anything above, say, 20 minute doses of novelty (even if the men’s bathroom was bemusingly wallpapered with naughty cartoons). That, and contrary to the observable taste in about 60% of the older white men we’d seen during our trip, I don’t really have a thing for Filipino girls.
With my confidence again bolstered about my recent decision to take a wife of pasty-white European descent, I finished my beer, called it a night, and gave thanks to my new friends for having me along and the fun times.
Darcy walked me out and awesomely summoned his driver to give me a ride back to the Somerset, further cementing his role in my memory as a bad-ass host. Despite my earlier ramblings about loving to walk city streets at night, by this time it was after midnight and the tropical rains were falling in force. Back at the hotel I stripped out of my smokey t-shirt and gave the report of my evening’s activities to a sleepy Tracy, who just chuckled.
My wife is so awesome.
Soon to sleep, for tomorrow we travel.