Day 46: Back

And I'm back.

No sooner did I step off the plane did the fun ensue again. Some minor, some major - always fun. But before I get to the stories, first some general commentary.

I'm not sure going home was a good thing. Even for two weeks. The psychology of the trip was significantly different. On a trip to go to someplace, you're leaving home to go somewhere new, and then you can come back to something familiar. Home is the anchor - the safe place - familiar faces, familiar places... or at the very least - surrounded by your own stuff/family/etc. My situation was exactly the opposite. I was in an unfamiliar place, admittedly  lonely, and wanting to go home. I got on a plane from the unfamiliar place that is the Philippines, was greeted in joy by family and friends, only to know that in two weeks - I would have to again be ripped apart and be away from it all again.

The trip has been extremely physically and mentally draining for me. Physically given that it took about 8 days to readjust to Central Time, and then to get on a plane and roll back to Manila time. Mentally for the reasons that I detailed above. This was of course exasperated (I'm sure unknowlingly) by the same people that eagerly greeted me. Conversations with family/friends/co-workers went like this.

Person: Welcome back, James! I (have/have not) been following your blog. Me: Thanks! Person: It must be great to be back home. Me: It's good to see everyone. It's just hard because I have to go back. Person: Oh yeah. Well, how long are you going back for? Me: Another four months. Person: Oh wow. Is your wife able to go with you? Me: She'll be there for two weeks in December. Person: (slight frown) Well, that'll be good at least. I couldn't do it, that's for sure. Person: Well, good to see you.

Just about every conversation that I had went like this. On one hand, it has been nice that a good amount of people have been following my blog. I sure do like telling stories, but it made it easier to simply share nuances of the trip. rather than entire stories. I'll also admit that I was a bit of a downer, but trying to be jovial when speaking with people. However, I experienced the same social edict that (unknowingly) hurt me again when I came the first time - people attempting to make small talk, reminding me that I'm going far away for a period of time where my wife will not be accompanying me. It's nice that people are caring and trying to speak with me, it just reminded me quite often that what I'm doing is hard for me emotionally. I'd probably be having the time of my life if my wife was here with me. Just not how the cards were dealt this time around. Don't get me wrong, I did enjoy seeing everyone - it just made it that much harder to leave again.

I'm back. Here in the Philippines. I'm actually sitting in a hotel again, because my apartment still isn't ready for me to habitat. That's the funny story.

As far as the actual trip went - much better than before. I made a last-minute stop at REI and picked up some of the awesome hunting/hiking/outdoors undergarments (UnderArmor) I figured that I could avoid the excessive discomfort of sitting on a plane for 25 hours if I had some nice wicking underpants, shirts, socks, etc. I was the most comfortable person on that plane, by far. Did they work? Surprisingly, yes. I was able to be relatively comfortable for the long haul, was able to take a shower in HK and change into some day clothes (given that I was landing in Manila at 10AM). It was a good plan, and I highly recommend it.

I landed in Manila, which was the usual enjoyment that it is. The airport here is the epitome of Philippine chaos. People are everywhere, traffic is atrocious, and yet things seem to get done. Luggage is delivered, people get into the country, and eventually home. The paradox is amazing to me. Called my the person scheduled to pick me up, only to find out that this person wasn't in fact picking me up. He had been rescheduled. I should call this other person. Call him up - nope. Not supposed to pick me up. Neato! Call up the person at the office who helped me out - hang up, and then a driver magically appears. Turns out, the driver assignment had been changed the previous night (while I was on the plane over here), and I didn't get that memo. No worries - small hiccup. I have learned to just go with the flow while here.

The office person who has been helping me with my apartment tells me that I should come by the office and pick up my luggage, since the apartment wasn't ready until last night, and she had to raise Holy Hell in order to get it ready. Interesting. Head to the office, pick up luggage, and then head over to the apartment. Head upstairs and there it is. Apartment. Missing - just about everything. To be fair, the bed/couches were still there, but all of the furnishings that I need (since this is supposed to be a furnished apartment) are gone.

And then Holy Hell breaks loose. Phone calls are made that included angry screaming (held in the other room where I was asked not to come, and the door shut) were had for over an hour. I'm here, with all of my luggage in toe, and I'm just kinda sitting there trying to figure out how to respond. I don't know if I should be angry, sad, upset, whatever. I know that my associate is certainly playing the part well... so I did what I knew best - slumped into a corner chair and did my best to prevent myself from falling sleep. I couldn't be angry if I wanted to - I just didn't have the energy.

After all of this, I was kindly advised to check into the hotel that I had been staying at for the last trip (all 2 months), and that all of this would be solved by tomorrow. Heh. Lugged all of my luggage back downstairs, got into a car, and checked into the Ascott Makati.

Here's what (apparently) happened. Asurion has been working with a set of Brokers (we'll call them Broker A), who interface with a set of brokers (we'll call them Broker B), who interface with an assistance, who interfaces with the Owner of the apartment. Got all that?

Visually, it's like this.

James <--> Office Colleague <--> Broker A <--> Broker B <--> Owner Assistant <--> Owner <--> Kevin Bacon

The owner was under the impression that the apartment had been turned over to me three weeks ago (before I left). Somewhere in the mix, a whole mess of things didn't happen. This included - furniture selection/delivery, cleaning, paperwork, etc. The owner just thought that we (Office Colleague) was being a PITA for demanding that we have all of these things in our apartment, and we were clamoring for no reason. As far as the owner was concerned, I'd been living in the place happily, and was just raising a fuss.

What happened instead is that somewhere between Broker A and the Owner Assistant, a miscommunication happened. What that miscommunication is still baffles me. However, as of last night (5PM Manila time), we know that the chain from Office Assistant to Broker B is on the same page, and Broker B is now going to whip into shape the Owner Assistant so I can move in tomorrow. I did ask if I needed to book a few nights at the hotel, but I was assured that tomorrow would be the day. If I hadn't heard that at least a dozen times before, I'd believe them.

The rest of the day was fairly uneventful. Got a haircut, a massage (big boy massage - maybe I can attract some more random folks to my blog with that), and made it all the way to 6PM. Then, fell asleep until 1:30AM, and have been working since then. Not because I love it - but because I really don't have any thing else to do.

Hey, at least the temperature is in the 90F range. I do feel bad for my friends/family in the US that are dealing with 30F- 40F. I do hate me some cold.