Years ago I wrote half of a lame-arse book and called it ‘West Africa on One Bra’. Hilarious, non? But if I were to write a screed about my recent shenanigan, it would have to be called something like Around the Philippines with Annoi, a litre of 12-year-old scotch and two litres of duty free Tanqueray. The woman is an insatiable fiend.
Take a moment, if you will, to compare our typical journeys:
| Arrive at foreign airport laden with quality booze and breeze onto prepaid taxi.
Shower, dress in tropical attire and drift serenely about town with the aid of a map. Scatter coins to beggars. Chaff taxi drivers and laugh hugely at attempted ripoffs. Trip into wee shoppe and buy something delightful.
Return early to hotel, fill up water bottle with Tanqueray, tonic and calamansi juice. Sit by pool in divine garden as though casually sipping water. Enjoy lush surrounds and read book.
Shower, dress for dinner and catch taxi to nice restaurant.
| Arrive at foreign airport and get mobbed by locals. Chaff them for a while and pick the least seedy-looking. Get ripped off at destination.
Chase away cockroaches, inspect rubber underlay. Shower under brown trickle and/or bucket bath. Eschew map, stagger off immediately into wrong side of town and meet n’eer do wells. Exchange contact details with crowd of boys. Trip over paving stone.
Get thoroughly lost.
Dine in hole in the wall eatery/street stall under close scrutiny of locals.
Return to hotel after fobbing off advances of manager/gang of boys outside. Barricade door and sleep early.
Annoi travels in a far more civilised, organised way than I could have ever thought possible. The capris! The wet wipes! The hair ornaments! The ability to bend myself, other travellers and even the locals to her iron purpose and make friends with everyone within a 5km radius, even the dawgs. Someone should unleash her on some of those South American economies, she’d soon lick them into shape.
But when you travel with Kathleen Turner, you’d imagine a certain amount of drama, right? Perhaps a stiletto through the window, a call to the agent or the mantelpiece swept clean of Academy Awards. Oh yes, there were lashings of sundowners at the appointed hour of 5pm and a ridiculous amount of cute outfits, but the most furrowed her brow ever got was upon catching sight of the contents of my ancient backpack, when she was heard to very quietly comment: “no high heels…but she brings twine.” (readers, she was to eat those words later on).
We stayed in the most marvellous place in Manila called ‘Bianca’s Garden Hotel’, which was a converted 19th century Spanish mansion full of trinkets and furniture that made me weep real tears. After a couple of days wafting about Manila – which is nicer, and not as polluted or crowded as many would have you believe – I came up with nothing regarding the King of Fruits. Out of season until September. However we realised that buying a decent cocktail in the Philippines can cost anywhere from $2 all the way up to $3, which certainly made up for this.
There can also be nothing much wrong with a country where you are declared ‘beautiful, beautiful’ every second of the day, and greeted and hallooed from every doorway. I was a full head taller than everyone, and as Annoi is a full head taller than me, she was gazed upon in awe for her ‘simple beauty’. Unlike the actual Kathleen, Annoi was a mite shy at this turn of events, whereas I lapped up the attention. More on the old-style gallantry of the gents to follow.