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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Adventures in Laoag

I woke up this morning at 6:00AM to phone in to see if my hot air balloon would be taking off. Sadly, I was told that the winds were too strong so there would be no hot air balloon riding. I'm bummed. I don't know how much it usually costs but this one is only P1000 ($21.93), how can you turn that down? Right now I am trying to figure out if I will take my chances and see if it will fly tomorrow or to be on my way?...

>>>>REWIND So yesterday I arrived in Laoag early in the morning. I checked in to Texicano Hotel which I keep calling Texaco. Oh well, the tricycle drivers know what I'm talking about. It's a dump but it's only costing me $5.48! So who am I to complain? Although I was tired, I quickly made my way out to Fort Ilocandia since I heard that you could take a hot air balloon ride. Finally made it out there around 11:00AM and they told me that it was too late (I suppose the rides only go out early in the morning?). So instead, I took advantage of their other activities.

I went on my first ATV (All Terrain Vehicle). It was the first time for me to do it. It's definitely not as fun when you're by yourself. Even though it was for 20 minutes, after riding around in circles by yourself, by the 4th round, it's boring. I tried to entice my guide to race around with me which definitely made it more fun. I was afraid to go fast around the turns and even got stuck in the sand at one point because I didn't go up the hill fast enough. Or wait, maybe it was my fat ass? After my 20 minutes were up, I went for a one hour outdoor massage. The massage wasn't that great but it was a nice experience to do it outdoors overlooking the ocean. The view wasn't that great but it's the closest I've been to an oceanview massage. It also allowed me to take a quick nap since I hadn't slept well on the bus ride the night before. My activities ended with hitting some balls on the driving range. Years ago (almost 5?) a guy that I dated bought me 4 golf lessons. How sweet. It was in the beginning years of the restaurant business and I had shared with him that my dad was getting into golf. He wanted me to learn how to golf so that I could golf with my dad. The sad part was that I did 2/4 lessons then didn't make it back (as with everything back then, I got busy). Even though I only had two lessons, I was trying to remember what my instructor had taught me. Surprisingly, I did okay. All those activities cost me only about $40USD!

Later, before I decided to head back to town, I heard that the property housed a casino?! I had asked about one in Manila but didn't get a straight answer. So they do have gambling casinos is the Philippines! I found it upstairs above the lobby but I really could have missed it if I didn't ask...there was no loud exciting music and no sign. The only indication that there something there was the metal detector outside...I guess in case of the Chinese triads and guns?

I am really not a good gambler. I always think I'll get lucky and go 'all in.' Though since I'm very mindful of my hard earned money, a big bet for me is $50.00. I decided that I would play only P1000 (around USD$22) I started off with the slots. I actually won but was still down. I didn't want to lose all my money so after only having half of what I started with, 3 minutes later, I cashed out and went to my dragon slot machine. In Vegas, I always end up playing the "Asian" slot machines, with the dragons and always seemed to fare well. I wanted to test my luck and see if my dragon luck would know no boundaries. I was wrong, in 3 hits, I lost my remaining money. But there were still tables that I hadn't tried...They had a lot of baccarat tables (which I have no idea how to play)and 1 black jack. Although the minimum was high P300 (USD$6.57), more than I would play in Vegas, I decided to go for it. With some hesitation, I took out my second P1000 bill. I think the casino tables are rigged. I quickly lost at the tables as I did at the slot machines. The first hand the dealer played was a black jack! PRICK! No fun. At least I helped myself to the lemonade and coffee that they had. Made me appreciate Vegas and their cocktail waitresses! No self-service there.

The day was actually the most fun I've had on my own here! YAY! I got home fairly late and needed to get to bed early to try and catch the hot air balloon...It actually turned out to be one of the worst sleeps I've had yet. My room faces the road and directly across the street is a karaoke bar. Ha ha. The irony! Oh how I love to sing that they gave me the room RIGHT ACROSS the street from the karaoke bar. Luckily for this traveler though, I have taught myself how to sleep anywhere. Maybe I should check it out later...ha ha.

I also found a 'hair dresser' who offers straight perms for P300. I had seen it offered in Manila too for P3,500 or so but P300, really? She told me not to wash my hair for two days, that it takes an hour and that it should last me for about a year...all the same characteristics of a regular straight perm in the US, I think? In Hawaii at the place I usually go to get my hair done, it is $225.00. I'm not sure how it's going to turn out but I think I'm going to do it. I want it to come out nice and be able to say that it only $6.58! :) Jeremy has his concert tomorrow and we are shooting to meet up in Baguio this weekend where its known to be a cool escape for Filipinos because of its elevation. We'll spend the weekend together and then I'm going to try and do a quick trip up to Banaue and Sagada to view the rice terraces, said to be the 8th Wonder of the World...we'll see about that. I need to get back though since I'll be flying out to Taiwan on Friday!

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