8/25/2018
Out of the way

I'm writing this from my hotel room. I have three hours before checking out and I've done most of my packing. I don't feel like taking a bath because that just accelerates your timeline and once you're past that, you feel like you should be leaving. It's not that I don't want to leave; it's just that I'm a little anxious about the delays to my flight back to Manila, the delays that I am very sure will definitely happen.

The other thing that's definitely happened is my transformation into a business traveler. Not the Monocle kind, not ever, but still. I arrived here in Cebu on Thursday night - was supposed to be Thursday afternoon, but again, flight delays, "additional servicing of the aircraft" making things a bit more tense - and my hotel is closer to the airport than it is to the city center. And Nat and I weren't able to meet - she wasn't available - so, let's be honest, what else is there to do?

Well, the hotel I am in is on the main road. I often pass by this hotel in my previous trips to Cebu, often while in a cab going into or out of the airport. In theory, I can easily hire a cab and go into the city, but then, I am alone, and what am I supposed to do once I'm there? I'm tired and I may or may not have work left to do. So I just booked an in-room massage , awkwardly attempting small talk with the masseuse that came in.

"Gaano katagal ka na nagmamasahe?"

"M-magwa-one year, sir."

And then I fell asleep, earlier than usual, which is appreciated, because I haven't really been having enough sleep these past few weeks. Imagine the irritation when I woke up at three in the morning.

The staff at this hotel is incredibly attentive. You truly feel like you're a regular, even if you've only been here the first time. ("Are you one of the PAL crew, sir?" one of the waitresses at the lobby restaurant - her name is Blance - asked me. Have I truly melted in, or do they just assume that of everyone?) They go out of their way to remind you that puto maya goes best with sikwate, because that's just how they do it here. It doesn't feel like they're obligated to be extra nice to you. It just comes naturally. Then again, I argued to myself, if your hotel is relatively far away from the city center you have to go the extra mile to make staying here worth it.

"All the items in the mini-bar is free, sir," the receptionist told me as I checked in. That legitimately blew my mind. That said, I haven't touched anything but the water, because I'm just trained to not touch the mini-bar. That, and I'm either not in the mood to eat extra, or I am tired.

I got back to my room after a day-long event and saw the housekeeper left a note on my bed. "Thank you for staying!" All right, that is the extra mile.

But then, perhaps it's because I am stuck in this hotel, tired from a difficult flight to Cebu, tired from a day-long event you mostly just listened to. And then there's me assuming I am just surrounded by gas stations and warehouses. The windows at the lobby are big, but the view, frankly, isn't inspiring. I never would have thought that just behind the hotel is an office building with some restaurants and, more crucially, a 7-Eleven. If I only knew that, I wouldn't have worried so much about forgetting my deodorant at home. Instead, I withdrew some money for that massage.

"It's finished, sir," the masseuse - whose name I didn't get - told me, and as she packed up I realized that, well, I really needed that massage. I am sleepy. I turned on my Bluetooth speakers and switched to a speech station. I hunkered down to my bed - a queen-sized one, I specifically asked for it - and tried to sleep. And I did.

But now, with three hours to go before finally checking out, and the chances of Nat sneaking out slimming considerable, I realize you can only watch people for so long. I'm lonely. I miss my girlfriend. I can't wait to fly home.

And your responses...

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