I have been called lucky more times than I care to admit. To an extent I always have been, but last night was something else. The ups and downs had my adrenaline pumping, my head spinning, and my brain overclocked. It was crazy, I am exhausted, and I made it! I am currently at a hotel in Manila, it's very hot and very humid. This is how I got here.
My final days in Korea were nothing short of amazing.
The boat and marina festival was in full swing the last few nights. Fireworks, concerts, street food, they even constructed an entire floating bridge spanning the bay for people to walk across. Quite a feat considering it's a huge bay! All our friends visited from Jinju.
It was great, if not a little disheartening saying goodbye to everyone so soon. Especially not knowing if and when I will be seeing them again. My family here, consisting of Italians, Kiwis, Canadians, Koreans, Americans, Brits, and of course Filipinos, will be missed very much. All of us surviving and just trying to live in this crazy country has bonded us in a very unique way. Anyway, back to the how I got here. I hopped on a bus to Busan, where the airport is, very early just in case something went wrong. To start the trip off I missed my stop at the airport and had to take a taxi from the bus terminal in town BACK to the airport. I actually saw that we had stopped at the airport and in grabbing my gear got to the bus door right as it was closing. Just so happened I had the Hitler of bus drivers that day. After asking him to open the doors so I could get off, he yelled at me in Korean gesticulating wildly for me to sit back down, and then just drove off. Ass-hat... I finally arrive and start the check in process, the lady asks me if I printed out my return flight.
"Yes Sir, you cannot board this plane unless you have a flight showing you are leaving the Philippines."
We have a problem. My flight leaves at 9pm, I am literally hours away from overstaying my visa. I have to get on this flight or I face some heavy fines, and worse case scenario I am sent home and banned from Korea for years. I borrow a phone and quickly call Max, maybe we can come up with something. She had no idea (obviously) that I needed a flight out. Time to think. I have no plans to return to the US soon, so booking a flight home would be a waste of time and money. I ask the lady if it has to be to America, she says no. Great, I am still going to have to buy a ticket to somewhere I don't plan of going just to get to the Philippines. I am not exactly brimming with extra money. This isn't gonna work. I stare at her; she sees the desperation in my eyes. I am out of options and she knows it. She stares at me for a second,
"Come with me."
I am lead into a back room, there is Korean guy on a computer. She explains the situation. He quickly hops online.
"Anthony, right? I can get you a ticket out of the Philippines to Hong Kong for $40, does this work for you?"
"Very much so."
This fix was short lived, after trying numerous times and on numerous computers, I could not book any flight. The server was having errors for the day, back to square one. This whole time Max is singing her last set ever in Korea, sweating bullets, not knowing if we will even be able to meet up in the Philippines. Her mother, sister, and cousin are already on the 6 hour bus ride to Manila to pick me up. This is bad. The Korean guy looks at me, grabs my pinky, and says,
"You have to promise me you won't tell anyone here about this. What I am going to give you, rip it up when you land and get through customs."
He goes to the printer, and hands me an itinerary, complete with a flight out of the Philippines. Completely and utterly fake. Yes, the Korean airlines faked an itinerary, illegally put me on a plane, and printed me a way to get past Filipino customs. I sigh in relief for the first time in hours. I thanked them both more profusely and sincerely then I have ever thanked anyone. It only got better, I had an over sized bag, as well as Max's keyboard. The planes to and from Korea to the Philippines aren't very large. It's about $30 per bag to check in. The same lady that helped me the first time also did my check in. She smiled at me and told me I had been through enough today. The bags were checked on for free. I can not explain how awesome this airline is, I have never had people go so far above and beyond for a customer. Pay attention world, this is how things show be. After getting my ticket and checking my bags, Max texts me that Frank is at the same airport, in the same terminal. Frank was the person I was staying with when I first came to Korea to teach. I look up from my Phone and see him standing there. No way... there's luck and then there's something else. Something that I personally can't explain. I also had time still since I made sure to leave extra early for the airport. We had one last dinner in Korea, chatted and reminisced about last Christmas. He wished Max and I the best of luck, and that was that. I got through customs no problem,
I am currently at a hotel in Manila waiting for Max and Juna to arrive around 1am tomorrow morning. Two months in the Philippines here I come! Not sure if I will have internet but I will try my best to get some updates out. As usual, hope everyone is doing well. This lucky SOB is gonna take a nap.