Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Of Hobbits, Streets of Sin and ABC by a Beach

So I finally found it. The legendary Hobbit House in Manila on the day the tsunami and 8.9 Richter scaled earthquake hit Sendai, Japan.

I feel vindicated, only because I had to get it out of my system especially since I now had been misrepresented as a midget molestor at my hotel. I was expecting a rowdy, riotous atmosphere - i will be honest, I was expecting a packed bar, a rock band on stage, midgets dancing on tables and basically what a scene from a pub in the Shire would look like (minus the rock band).

What I found was a quiet little backpacker bar with great acoustic performances. You know you got a versatile singer when she actually sang my request for Bob Marley's 'Waiting in Vain'. The little people who act as doormen and waiters are quietly dignified and thus i was reluctant to get them to pose with signs to the FON proclaiming him to be an Evil MOFO. Plus it was too dark for my BB camera.

Its a great little salute the the Lord of The Rings legacy with pictures and images adorning the walls from the decades of printed literature saluting Tolkien's grand work. Even the entrance was inspired by Bilbo Baggin's home's round door (it swings inwards).

What can i say - the San Mig Lights are about RM5 bucks a bottle (about USD1.50) and check this out you guzzlers - they serve over 200 beers from all over the world! Now that's what I'm talking about people!

All in all in was a quick hour as my Pinoy buddies felt a little weird as they had never been there but they did start rocking when the band started singing our requested songs (we have good tastes).

For more info go HERE
The Hobbit House is located at:
1212 ARQUIZA TRADE CENTER Marcelo H. del Pilar
Manila 1000, Philippines
Phone : 02 521 7604

Streets of Sin and Tales of Survival
On this trip I was staying at the Makati Place Hotel at the infamous Burgos street with its girlie bars with listless gyrating young girls looking to attract the attention of shabby tourists to either buy them commissioned drinks or for a more intimate transaction.

I had walked into one when waiting for my buds to pick me up and at 730pm things were early but the girls were out in force already. I chatted with my waitress and it seemed like it was the standard story - single mums forced to work, giving up their bodies for money. What is different in the Philippines is many of them are either college students or some already graduated. Jobs are hard to come by in the Philippines and hence the huge export of manpower to the rest of the world. Getting jobs in the Philippines itself is supposedly a game of who you know.

After the Hobbit House, we decided to head to one of the upmarket karaoke bars - we had started listening to the news on the earthquake and its devastation and at this point were not sure what tomorrow would bring (cancelled flights, possibly giant waves north east of Philippines, etc. "what better way then to sing a few songs with cold beers and some babes at a time like this?" my Pinoy buds suggested. Who am I to say NO eh?

I have to say the women in here were stunning. Anyone of them in Malaysia would pass for a model, singer, pseudo celebrity but here in Manila they were working as hostesses. I chat with one of them - a single mum at 21, she took on this job as she didn't have enough money to go tru college. And this story is repeated thousands of times across the city from what I had gathered from some university professors that i am working with on some programs. Many insist on finishing school and take months or a year to work in clubs, bars, brothels to save enough to finish their courses from good universities.

"But that gives you an edge over the guys then?" I ask - i mean a girl can earn more in a high end bar than they can ever hope for even in an average marketing, admin, job in any company.
"there are bars like this for men too" came her casual reply.

"wtf..." But they cant be as many as with women? She is not sure but she says the boys find other ways to find tuition fees. These are educated kids. And they will do what they need to to survive I guess in a tough world their goal is to get a degree and leave their country for work just so they can send savings back to their family and children. In the meantime their working day starts at 3pm everyday, fighting the Manila traffic to work by buses and jeepneys and finally exhausted walking through the door at home after work in the wee hours of 4-5am after a night of drinking and dancing with strangers.

One of these days I will prob do a more detailed post on this segment of the region that we overlook and some women frown on - these fortunate ones who live in the suburbs of KL and Singapore never knowing hardships of this sort.

Burgos - A pictorial

Burgos at night is a neon streaked street with music wafting into the street from behind heavy curtained entrances as shifty eyed older men sit on bar entrances with older women, way past the age of wearing plunging neck lines and spaghetti straps. In the day its slightly different. I took a walk around while waiting for my airport pickup which was to take me to Clark Airfield for the flight to Kota Kinabaly where Nex waited with lightsabers in hand and offers of noodles from the Place of Lorries.
Could be any old street in the US of A?

I really want to know what happens inside this one.

Home made road cones from food tins.

One of the cafe's along the street opposite the Makati Palace hotel

Financial problems has Bruce Wayne renting out facilites and not being able to afford a decent proof reader.

Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia

I took the 4pm flight from Clark in the Philippines and head to KK for a stopover. Nex fetches me from the airport and updates me on the latest cosplay politics in KK and Semenanjung. WTF man, Cosplay world is as bad as FIFA!

Sunday morning we drive through a lovely cold morning to Tamparuli for a breakfast of the Tuaran noodles. I love these trips. I dont know why, the noodles are ok but maybe its the old charm of Tamparuli town, maybe its the famous fragile bridge over an engorged river, maybe its the faint faint old memory of the folk song about the bridge or maybe even that large hill beside the town where Nex and I always say that the flat top of the hill would be perfect for a home (in my case a bar).

If there ever is a place in this country i would retire to it would be Sabah. The women are HAWT, the beaches and mountains are just two hours apart, the pace still uncorrupted by the dynamics of a strong commercial engine outside of the industry of natural resources. But the politicians are here. Illegal immigrants are being given citizenship like a fire sale every time there is a general or state election. The hand of politics hangs over, claws at, and greedily covets this resource rich state.

What to do la? Idealism wont win this fight. Possibly a secret campaign group of Jedi's, mutants and Stone Cold Steve Austin might do the trick but at the moment they only exists bat the bottom of that 5th jug of Heineken.

We hit an outdoor store near Jesselton Pier - almost all the products at fake (100% fake as they say) but the prices are a bit too high for fakes. I did buy a water proof hiking pants just to test if the fabrics are 100%. Dodgy workmanship can be repaired. Quality fabrics are a diff story. Test run in a month when i try to get up Agung or another mountain. If one drop of water wets my balls there is going to be hell to pay. The earth shall shake, mountains will cry, rivers shall bleed when I seek revenge. Well, at least a refund.

Just before my flight back to KL at 6pm, we head to Tanjung Aru, for our tradition of that sloppy burger by the ocean on Beach 3 of Tanjung Aru. An overcast day brings in cold wins from the South China Sea. Japan is devastated, the Philippines are going ahead with life, a beuatiful young single mother rides a cramped jeepney to work in a baggy t shirt and jeans but when the setting sun transforms manila in a neon city she transforms into a sophisticated beauty in a little black dress, across the Asia Pacific hysterical news and gossip sent some markets down and some folk running for the hills. But on that beach, on that day, as the waves crashed against glistening gold sand, as I ate cold Air Batu Campur on the beach with an old buddy, life, my dear friends, was good.


langkau said...

Hobbit House seems like THE place to be, especially with the versatile singer on acoustic guitar playing such classics. It reminds me of the Lisa Bonet character singing Baby I Love Your Way in "High Fidelity"...

Chindiana said...

YES! it was EXACTLY the same style she sang it in bro! cool no? 'over 200 types of beer'. I thought i had you at Quick when do we go to Manila?

langkau said...

No where did I find the word "cheap" written in the same sentence "over 200 types of beer". Because of that, I still have to think about it.

BUT for that same style of singing - and I don't care if a hobbit sings it! - some classic covers in a bar, I'd go for it! When do we go to Manila ah?

Chindiana said...

RM5 per bottle ok ma right? ANytime you want man. I go there at least once a month! let me know your schedule la. maybe somewhere mid or end april?

langkau said...

RM5 is more than ok! Ok, set! I'll see what's in mid or end April but that should be an ok time.