Tuesday, October 31, 2006 

Travel with Big Al 2007

Check the right side of my main page for updates. Here is my tentative schedule for 2007. I recommend that you start saving the cash and requesting your paid time off. Ciao!

2007 Schedule (subject to change):
April 16-29
Costa Rica

July 4-15
Running with the Bulls!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006 

Callgirl Confessionals: Uncovering the real business in Asia

I met her at the food street vendor outside of the Beach Café in Bintang district of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the evening of 10/22-23. I was in a 12 hour layover between Bali & the Philippines, so I decided to go out into the city to kill the time.

(The view from outside the Beach Club)

I was intrigued by this particular vendor. For $1 USD, I had a choice of boiling or frying the raw meat of my choice with as much sweet & sour sauce as my stomach desired. During my meal, I caught a conversation amongst a group of Filipina females speaking in Tagalog which was very odd given that we all were in Malaysia. At that point I decided to open a dialogue with them in English. This is where I met Charlie, a young 24 year old female, dressed in a white top and short pink mini skirt. She was happy to speak with me.

Charlie was very pretty with long black hair and no makeup. She spoke with a Filipino accent, but she could speak English fluently. If there was one flaw it was her front tooth that had a small hint of decay on it. We first exchanged basic information – names, city of origin, age and then occupation. My occupation of a “businessman” came out without any confusion. Hers, however, was a little vague when she mentioned she worked “here” and pointing to the dance club district with her finger. As vague as it may be, I let it be and decided to continue in our friendly banter. We spoke about the great places in the Philippines (Boracay & Cebu). She then went into her complex world of where she had been in the last 5 months.

Charlie came from a home in the greater Metro Manila city of the Philippines where she lived with her older brother and mother. Both of whom had no idea what she has been up to lately. For the last 5 months she has lived between Singapore & Kuala Lumpur, but her most recent stint had been in Malyasia for the last 3 days. After careful prodding, I found out that she had left the Philippines in May 2006 to live in Singapore. She wasn’t an ex-pat based on a work visa in a traditional sense, but a roving person on a tourist visa. Singapore’s tourist visa allows for visitation of up to 14 days in their country. Malaysia allows a tourist to stay within the country for up to 90 days. Given these two constraints, Charlie would travel back and forth between Singapore and Kuala Lumpur to stay within these time limits.

She explained she worked for a Singapore-based man who had 5 Filipina employees, 3 of whom were in Kuala Lumpur that night. His job was a simple - collect a pre-set amount of money from the girls at the beginning of every night via the local area manager. This amount was due regardless if the girls had made any money the night before. From what I gathered, she was an indentured servant willing to trade a high risk occupation for a better life whether that be through expensive clothes, fast-paced lifestyle or trying to escape abuse or just getting out of the ghetto. I want to believe it was more of the former than the latter, but it was had to understand it from speaking with Charlie that night.

I found it odd that she was outside of the club rather than inside mingling with potential customers. After I realized that the cover charge of $8 USD was fairly steep given her potential income. She said that once the customers start leaving the clubs she can probably get one on the way out. Charlie explained that about $100 USD can “hire” her for a night, but they tend to negotiate a price that is below ½ of that.

At that point I felt sorry that she was trying to work that evening from outside the club, so I offered to pay for her cover charge just to see what would happen. Once inside she was able to find her other 3 friends who were brought into the club by a middle-aged man of Middle Eastern descent. Charlie mentioned that she liked “Englishmen”. She didn’t care too much for anybody else because the non-white men tend to “not be clean”, they smelled bad and they disrespect the girls. She said that the white men were the complete opposite.

(Alice & Charlie inside the club)

I also asked Charlie about the physical dangers involved. She told me that was apart of the job. “What can I do?” She said she would try to get out of the danger, but you could tell that she had been apart of many physical situations in previous nights; none of which have deterred from going out on this rainy evening.

(The potential customers)

As the night progressed she hung around me. Often times dancing, but I made it clear that I was not going to be a customer that night. I observed many guys (aka Johns) speaking with her. After each guy I asked what they said, and I found out they were doing harmless flirting. None of the men made any propositions. However, about 2am there was this one young guy from Europe that made multiple attempts to speak with her. You could tell there was a point where it went from flirtation to business negotiations.

(The original Middle Eastern man who offered to pay for 3 girls club cover charge. He probably had a good night that evening)

As my flight time came closer, I decided to interrupt her deal and tell her that I was leaving for the airport. She gave me a hug and I disappeared. Looking back she continued her deal with the European male. I left not knowing whether or not she made money that night.

(One last look at Charlie with her newest client)

Assuming that she went back to the guy’s room that night Charlie probably made anywhere from $50-100USD, enough to pay her fees for the next day and enough for food and clothing. Based on my calculations of one guy per day over the last 5 months, his client # was between 140-150.

(The manyworking girls & the potential guys that evening in the Beach Cafe)

I’ve read about this stuff in books and watched the situations go wrong in those serial killer stories, but it wasn’t until this evening that I was able to get a first-hand account of it. These girls live interesting lives. They live day-to-day. They live on the edge. You have to wonder what life they had to leave to realize that this was the better option for them.

Monday, October 23, 2006 

Big Al Conquers Mt. Batur

So I head out on Sunday morning at 2am with no sleep to do the 1700+ meter climb of the Mt. Batur volcano in Bali.
(Mt. Batur kicked the shizzle out of my - it is the leading contender for the Big Al "My Daddy" Bitchslap Award 2006)

It was approximately a 1.5 hour hike up the volcano with my guide Nol, a native Balinese. I had a choice of climbing this volcano or Mt. Agung which was 2x's the height. I was a little disappointed at first that I chose Mt. Batung, but after the hike I'm really glad I did. It kicked the crap out of me. It was a lot tougher than I expected, but I came out uninjured - unlike some of us who can't do a really easy stroll onto Half Dome w/o spraining their ankles.
(Nol & Big Al. This guy is great. Look out for a few promo plugs of him for BigAlsHouse.com )

Anyways, I got to the top with plenty of time to check out sunrise. The view was pretty awesome from the top. I saw the whole island and the nearby island of Lombok, another Indonesian tourist spot. I think the best part was seeing the Southern Hemisphere night sky. I saw a ton of stars, the Milky Way Galaxy and the Southern Cross constellation.
(The Breakfast of Champions interupted by the Mountain Dog)

I made the hike back done in the same 1.5 hours - just in time for me to get back to my hotel, catch a ride to the airport and make my flight Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Lots to report from there... until next time.

Thursday, October 19, 2006 

Mr. Adidas May You Rest In Peace

(Mr. Adidas 2003-2006)

I have finally retired my pair of soccer slippers. There were with me on my first International trip to Europe and they survived until the current one in Bali. Some of the highlights of Mr. Adidas included the go-go bars of Phuket, the bachelor parties in Las Vegas, the barber shops in Seoul and the coffee shops of Amsterdam. Mr. Adidas you're gone, but not forgotten.

Enter Mr. No Fear. May you live up to the expetations in strip clubs, bachelor parties, go-go bars, etc. of your fallen brother. To Bali and beyond!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006 

Big Al gets attacked by blood thirsty dogs and a few things I learned...

So I'm going to dinner and I get attacked by 3 huge killer dogs. Actually... just chased after in the streets of Sanur, Bali. Actually... just barked at and curiously followed by small pack of harmless stray dogs for about 10 feet.

(WANTED: Attempted assault on a tourist)

On this trip I've learned a few things:
- Asian food is great and cheap, but you can only eat so much of it before you have to get back to American goodness - like pizza. I'm going to KFC tomorrow.

(Kinda' like CPK but only $3)

- Labor is extremely cheap here. If you go to the malls, there may be 4-5 people trying to sell you a pair of shoes or sunglasses. For example, Budwieser or Miller Brewing use machines to serial # their beer stock. Here in Bali, they handwrite it. Good jobs with those with bachelor degrees will get you about $200USD/month. So for those of my friends that think they're underpaid - be happy. And for those that are "bling-bling"... maybe you should give me some.

(Bali's version of a Gordon Biersch Marzen but with handwritten "Born On" date)

- There's this International fascination for Ralph Laruen Polo here. I can understand all the surf shops, but c'mon Polo??? Anyways, not that I hate the stuff, but there's one of these stores around every corner.(I have nothing to say here)

- Lastly, the bombings have really made a financial impact to this island. It really sucks for them. The 2 bombings (2002 & 2004) occurred around this time - most likely due to coincide with Ramadan. I passed by both sites today and checked out the memorial to the 2002 bombing that claimed 200+ lives.(The memorial dedicated on the 2nd anniversary of the Oct 2002 bombing lists the names of all those that died in the bombing)

(The 2nd bombing occurred in Oct 2004 in a cafe that has since been replaced by Rusty - a surf clothing shop. You can see that just to the right of Rusty an empty shop and hole above it. It looks like everything is not back to normal yet).

Tuesday, October 17, 2006 

Big Al visits Bali

So despite the numerous bombings on Bali I have decided to go against the US Travel Advisory and visit Bali, Indonesia. Getting off the plan after a quick stopover in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia felt a little creepy. This place definitely changed post-bombing.

The first weird thing that happened was that when I went through passport control, the agent asked me for a tip. I was like "what"? Anyways, I tipped him $5 and then he stamped my passport. Check out the visa for this place:

I then toured the island a little bit over the last couple of days. My colleagues here have driven me around and taken me out to eat, but you can't help but feel that this place is just different - like the calm before the storm. The bars are empty. The streets are empty. The street vendors are more desparate for cash. It's a little depressing.

So I managed to starty my PADI Advanced Open Water diving course. I selected night diving and wreck diving as my electives in this course. I was able to complete 3 dives on Tuesday. The night dive was the absolute best. I felt really clausterphobic under the water without lights. I also saw a few white tipped sharks and a giant pufferfish that was the size of a small/med dog. Crazy!

My dive guide did some spear fishing during the night dive and caught about 5 rabbit fish. This dive company is pretty cool. It's not everyday that you get a private instructor - business must be really slow. They even provided me with lunch. Peanut butter & jelly with the crusts cut off:

Anyways, I have a few more days here. I'm mixing in work and and pleasure. I have 2 more dives. I'm thinking of doing a hike on top of the volcano here. If I do it they'll pick me up at 11pm so that I can get up there for sunrise. I'll let you know.

Saturday, October 14, 2006 

Big Al goes International with his Karaoke skills

So the family took me out last night in Lucena City. We hit up a Karaoke bar and an outdoor spot with a live band.

The Filipino's take Karaoke very seriously. There are a few rules:
1. You never ever sing My Way or you may get shot
2. You can sing even if you totally suck.
3. If confused, refer to Rule #1

I did 2 songs - Kharma Khameleon & Build Me Up Buttercup. Not much of a response. I did score a 94 on the latter song. I need to go back to Bamboo 7 in San Jose and get a few reps in before I take it International again.

At the outdoor live band I was pulled from my seat to sing with the hot singer. The singers in Lucena City kinda' suck. They're definitely not as good here as they are in Manila. They took requests, but they tend to make up the words if they don't know the lyrics.

Thursday, October 12, 2006 

Crossing another thing off my list...

So earlier this year I created an on-going list of things I'd like to accomplish before I "kick-the-bucket". One of them was meeting my family in the Philippines. It took me 28 years, but I finally did it.

(going clockwise: Big Al, Luis, Jan-Jan, Bernadette aka B'dette, Mark David aka Avid & Cid)

My whole mom's side is located in Lucena City, Philippines; about 3 hours south of Manilla. She had one sister who had 7 kids. Prior to this week, I had met only 3 of them. The rest were just scene in photos, letters, video tapes, etc.

It's too bad that they live so far away because it would be pretty cool to see them more often especially my 4 nephews and 1 niece. This gives me more incentive to get my "job" going so that I can make more trips out here.

(some of the fam)

Wednesday, October 11, 2006 

Big Al finally gets to use his scuba certification

So I finally was able to put my scuba certification on Tuesday. I did 2 dives off the shore of Anilao, Batangas City in the Philippines. Here I am with my guide Bebot:

(Big Al and Bebot before going under. It's a good thing that I didn't need him to save me. It would have been a pretty big task for him to pull me out of the water given our size.)

So the name "Bebot" is kinda' weird for guy's name. For those that are familiar with the Black Eyed Peas should know this, but the term "Bebot" in Tagalog means "hotty" or a word that you would refer to a good-looking girl. When told that I would be diving with "Bebot" it kinda' got me stoked until I met him. Oh well.

So the dive was great. This site is a protected place by the Philippine's government so that hunters cannot grab coral or fish for resale so it made it a lot more spectacular. I don't have an underwater camera yet (but Christmas is coming up just in case you're wondering what to get me), so I couldn't take any pictures underwater. I saw a lot of trigger fish, clown fish (Nemo's) in their anemones, trumpet fish, giant clams and coral of all sorts. This dive will be hard to top. Thailand was awesome, but the Philippines was awesome too.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006 

A little wall climbing in Boracay

(Mt. Everest is next)

Just wanted to include this. Frenchy and Big Al did a little wall climbing in Boracay. I was able to get to the top without falling, but Frenchy slipped. Good thing for the ultra-tight harness.
BTW: Alcohol was not involved with this activity. Frenchy just sucks. The staff at BigAlsHouse.com do not approve of any activities that involve mind-altering substances. Be cool - Stay in School! Say NO to drugs!

Monday, October 09, 2006 

Big Al sees a lot of cocks in Boracay

Frenchy was expecting something else when I told him we were going to see some cocks on Sunday. We made it out to the arena where they hosted the Philippines national sport - rooster fighting (aka cock fighting). I couldn't understand how to bet so we kept our money in our pockets. Here's the evidence:
(Lining up the roosters for battle)

(Somebody's dinner for the evening)

Saturday, October 07, 2006 

Big Al is famous in Boracay

Did a little a shooter challenge at the local pub. Frenchy and Big Al are "Still Standing After 15..." and we have our names up on the wall at Cocomangas.

(The hitlist)

(The aresenal of 15 shots)

Friday, October 06, 2006 

Big Al & Frenchy finds Frodo Baggins & Sam Gamgee & Friends

The quest for the Rings stops in Boracay. We found the little people:
They're available worldwide for birthday parties, bachelor parties and baptisms. They're so cool - like Pokemons. Gotta' catch 'em all!

Thursday, October 05, 2006 

Have you seen this French guy?

So Frenchy and I went out in Manila tonight, but I had to get back early and he decided to take his chances with the females. So if you're reading this and happen to see this guy and these girls, make sure you send him back to the Manila Hotel.

(Frenchy & Big Al trying to figure out the timing thing on the camera)

(Lady, one of the singers of 9th Avenue, and the girl that Frenchy was trying to hollar at)

(Frenchy, Luna & Icey just before I left them. Frenchy was deciding whether or not he should go out with the girls while I went back to the hotel. I'm alone in the hotel room now just in case you're wondering what he decided to do.)

Update 7:00am

(Frenchy was found alive & in bed. He was not taken advantage of by the locals)

Wednesday, October 04, 2006 

Checking in from The P.I.

So I think I've recovered from the jet lag. A few things to catch you up with:

This was a very interesting flight. The person sitting next to me had seizures during the first few minutes of the flight. He had at least three. He was having spasms in the aisle, in his seat, across a few seats and everywhere else in between. I got kicked around a little, but not too bad.
I also sat next to a really geeky guy who had a pretty hot wife. She did look like she was about 16, but I give him credit. I'm thinking he either mail ordered her or he created her in his Frankenstein basement. Oh yeah... she also didn't use the bathroom the whole time between San Francisco & Hong Kong so she probably was created in the basement. =P

So Manila is kinda' cool. There's a lot of traffic. I was able to see 4 of my cousins so far (3 of whom I never met before). Frenchy joined me for this portion of this trip. I've pretty much only have eaten a lot and did some shopping for useless stuff.

(Crabs from the Fish Market-like Restuarant. "Lalaki" means "boy" or crab with a lot of meat. "Babae" means "girl" or crab with lots of eggs a little meat. "Bakla" means "gay" or crab with little number of eggs and medium-sized meat.)

(Big Al & Frenchy in the barrios of Manila)

Monday, October 02, 2006 

Happy Burphday to me!!!

Just a little stop before the Asian Adventure. I went home to see my Mom & Dad. My cousin and uncle also are in town to take care of their visa. 28 years young!
(Mom, Kathy, Uncle Romy, Big Al) Photo by: Dad


Big Al goes back to Asia

First off.. Happy Birthday to me! It's my 28th birthday. I'm getting up there in age, but I feel pretty young. Not too much celebration given the circumstances. Maybe a belated party in November. We'll see.

Anyways, my trip starts in a few short hours. I'm leaving out of SFO to Hong Kong and then to Manila. The trip is roughly going to be 17.5 hours and I'll get there Tuesday evening (PST) which is Wednesday morning. I plan on keeping you up-to-date with my blog. Hopefully much better this time since I'll be carrying my own computer.

I'll be in the Philippines for about 2 weeks and then Bali for about 1 week. Everything is going to plan so far. Scott (aka Frenchy) of www.4nyay.com wil be joining me in the Philippines. He'll be there shortly after I arrive.

I'll be available by email (ateruel@gmail.com) and SKYPE (allanscu) and AIM (spamcan1978) throughout the trip, so I'm well connected. Check out the right-hand side of the blog for contact details.