Frankie Goes To Angeles City
Clark Airport isn't what you would call paradise on earth but I actually cleared immigration and customs quicker than in Bangkok, the officers managing a smirk rather than a scowl at either my lack of luggage or the camo pants and punk tee-shirt
– I had left Blighty wearing four pullovers and a charity shop parka but discarded them along the Standstead to Kuala Lumpur to Clark airport route (all on Air Asia with a break in KL for a night), leaving me with a small bag full of condoms,
Viagra, tee-shirts, socks and underwear – anything else I could buy in town.
The plan, spend two winter months lounging around in Angeles City, indulging in an excess of sex in the hope that I could burn the last Thai girlfriend right out of my mind and heart… I actually lasted just a week before escaping back to Blighty!
Exiting the airport revealed the usual heat and bright sun in the early morning sky… and half a dozen taxi touts but I managed to lever myself into an arriving taxi almost before the occupants had got out and paid 150 peso for the short ride into Fields Avenue – still a rip-off but the touts were quoting 500 peso, no doubt impressed by my porcelain white skin after six months in the UK. My attempt at convincing the natives I didn't have two peso to rub together by wearing clothes about thirty years too young for my fifty-five year old body obviously wasn't working. You can walk out of the airport and jump into a Jeepney but too much hassle to save two quid.
The theory behind the camo pants, such an association with the military would dissuade wannabe gang members from using me in their initiation rite (they were supposed to beat up a tourist to gain their colours), not wanting the full might of the American military to fall on their drug-addled heads. The obvious flaw in this impersonation, I was skinny rather than macho muscle-bound but what the hell, anyone who tried to make a concerted attempted at reality has no place in somewhere like Angeles City.
The taxi driver spat out a litany of lies, broken hearted that I had already booked a room in the Amenica hotel and reluctantly let me out of the taxi without a hint of pleasure at being given the correct fare. The hotel is a bit off the main strip, but walking down dangerous streets at odd hours is a sure way to get the adrenaline going and keep you young.
The hotel is actually Chinese run so no surprise that they tried to upgrade me to a more expensive room despite having an email confirming my booking. Only by telling them I would have a look around at the other hotels did they suddenly find an available room at just under a 1000 peso. I got ten percent off by paying for a week in advance (after checking the room). All a bit old and faded but it had a big bed and okay bathroom. Stay in an expensive hotel in Angeles, the con-artists will be lining up to do you over.
Angeles City has its roots in being an entertainment zone for the American military bases… and a good way of thinking about the present day Fields Avenue (the main drag) is to imagine Soi Cowboy extended by about ten times its current length and plopped down in the middle of a small town in, er, Iran. We are talking an entertainment meca in the middle of a warzone consisting of utterly corrupt cops, disgruntled local men and mafia thugs – all of whom are absolutely convinced that as a foreigner in their country you have absolutely no rights (a view shared by many Thai men but they are held in check by the loss of face in giving foreigners that much importance).
One reason why I am not yet dead, I don't drink in the day – the bars are open from about 2pm, some of them 24 hours, but you won't find me going anywhere near them until 8pm. However, I had a quick trot around the area to get my bearings for later… it took about ten minutes for the first scam to go down! Some little kid tried to ram her body into me, only I sidestepped and she went flying along the pavement and rolled into a heap – bloody little bitch started howling and I didn't hang around to argue the toss with a couple of scowling, tubby locals who were moving in for the kill from across the road. By the time they arrived I was half way down Fields.
I hid out in a small restaurant, enjoying a reasonable tuna and salad roll – not up to Subway standards but as food in the PI goes it wasn't half bad. The PI is a world centre for rice growing but all the good stuff is exported and the locals end up with junk which is usually cooked with dodgy water. Even the burgers are laughable. They haven't yet worked out a way to ruin their mangoes, though, absolutely delicious and there are plenty of places where you can start the day with freshly made mango juice and ice (make sure they don't add sugar, etc).
The general area still seemed more Wild West than anything else, although there are plenty of signs of big money investing in some of the larger bars and newish hotels. The usual collection of speeding, polluting third world vehicles, all set on the wrong side of the road for Brits (always dodgy after a few beers, although after Bangkok I have taught myself to expect traffic coming every which way).
More meandering had a couple of trike drivers trying it on – everything from drugs to underage girls to card games – all cons to rob you of all your worldly goods. Stopping for a moment, to let the traffic part, some reasonably dressed local, about twenty-five and what passed for a handsome man in the PI, approached me and said he knew me from my hotel. I mentioned the Orchid Inn (not where I was staying) and his face lit up – tosser! Not that I am that way inclined, I asked him how much to sodomize him, short-time and no condom. Amazingly, he shook his fist at me and walked off in disgust. So now you know how to get rid of the touts! One major disadvantage of the PI, they all, more or less, understand English so you can't really wander around shouting oaths at the locals.
Heading back to the hotel, the receptionist looked at me as if I had just landed from the moon despite our earlier altercation and only reluctantly handed over the key after consulting her boss. I immediately assumed that someone was in the room either stealing all my Viagra (the only thing of value in there) or they were setting me up for a drug scam – there is quite a lot of thievery in Angeles, putting money in the hotel's safe a quick way for it to disappear, and you never quite know when some surly porter is going to try to get rich quick by planting drugs. But I gave the room a quick scan over and all seemed well.
After a nice cold shower, washing my tee-shirt, socks and underwear (all soaked through from the humidity and afternoon sun), I settled down to do a bit of reading until 8pm. Three times the phone shrilled but I ignored it, almost certainly more scammers. Unfortunately, it was hardwired so I could not unplug it, told myself to buy a screwdriver so I could dismember it and kill the buzzer!
Night meant cooler weather, and there was enough street lighting to make the stagger to Field's seem safe enough. Just as I was entering the main mecca I noticed a group of local men posturing on the corner with an air of corpulent menace and they grunted a couple of words at me but I pretended not to hear them. Most likely cops in civilian clothes on the make. They were dressed in black and armed with short batons that they seemed keen to use! Nothing like making the tourists seem safe.
Past experiences in Manila have led me to the belief that the locals absolutely fear the cops, and even if robbed and beaten are reluctant to report the matter – worrying that any admission of wealth more likely to be an encouragement for the police to steal any remaining money rather than do something arduous like tracking down the original thieves.
I was beginning to wonder what the hell I was doing in Angeles City when a thuggish looking local grabbed my shoulder and pointed up into the sky. Before I looked upwards I put both my hands in my pockets to keep my loose change safe – sure enough the clown's face fell in disappointment! The scammers hotwired to try any new face in town. I dived across the road into the first bit of neon I could see, one of those small bars whose sole purpose in life is for aged bargirls to hang out once they get into the failure phase of their life. I back-pedalled before I was mass raped and hustled down the road fast enough to make most joggers look like they were going backwards.
I ended up in Carousel go-go which would've been okay except a lot of girls looked like they were in training for buffalo fighting, or something – I could now see where a lot of the thuggish looking Filipinas in the UK had started their life! The mamasans in these places define two-faced – sweet enough to the customers but quite likely to beat the hell out of gals who don't do what they are told or provide them with some of the loot. I always try to avoid using them as an intermediary and managed to both wave two of the leaches off and a few minutes later grab the attention of the one attractive babe in the joint.
Gracie turned out to be twenty-two years old and had hands rough enough to confirm that she had spent most of her youth cutting sugar cane. The nuclear heat out of her paw went straight into my groin like an electric shock – I hadn't even had my quarter tab of vitamin V yet! She was 40kgs of well toned muscle, minor breasts, big smile, wild hair and chiseled cheekbones. She reminded me of the first Thai girl I fell for twenty years ago, although I could do without having my heart ripped out this time around.
Her English left a bit to be desired and it took me a while to persuade her to buy a cola for herself – turned out she had only been there a week. I was inclined to believe this as she was a bit shy, looked like an accident about to happen tottering on high-heels and had been shuffling without enthusiasm rather than dancing. She drank the cola so slowly one of the mamasans had steam coming out of her ears! A few other girls tried to pester drinks out of me but once I grab a girl, that's it, no interest in the others.
The mamasan wanted me to pay 1500 peso barfine but when I said it was usually a grand she settled for 1200 peso. The barfine is split between the girl and bar, up to the punter if he wants to give a tip or taxi money in the morning. Hardcore mongers like to agree on the details beforehand (what kinda sex and how long she will stay, etc) but I just go with the flow and usually get what I want. I know, the last romantic.
Once she went off to change, I was mobbed by half a dozen thuggish looking gals who all wanted drinks or to join us. It was hard going to remain polite but years of experience allowed me to pull it off. Readers of my various tales will know that I am not a naïve idiot who is likely to fall for the first Oriental gal who smiles at him but here I was picking up the first girl who sparked my interest in the first bar where I'd bought a beer. All I can say is that's the way it goes sometimes and I knew I could spend all night, a week or even a month, wandering around before I found someone as interesting. So grab before someone else does.
Gracie wore flip-flops, cheap jeans and a red tee-shirt that phased her skin into almost Ethiopian blackness. No make-up and no hint that she had just been dancing almost naked in a go-go bar. Lovely. Far too early to retire to the opulence of one of the Amenica hotel's cheapest rooms, a bit of exploration of Angeles City the obvious option. There are about a hundred bars littered over the zone – about half a month's serious work to do them all as my body gives out after more than six San Miguels of a night.
Armed with a woman, the hustlers and touts tend to retreat into the dark corners of the city – unless the babe already has a local husband or pimp. You can never tell and the locals tend to help each other rather than foreigners (exactly as per Thailand). Gracie kept hold of my arm as if her life depended upon it, obviously not yet really relaxed in the neon zone.
Beer was mostly under a 100 peso – cheap compared to Thai go-go's – but lady drinks hovered around the 150 peso mark. Gracie was a bit shocked when I ordered San Miguel for her, she seemed to expect a Cola even though there was no commission for her. A quick track into the soul of an Oriental babe is to see how she acts under the influence of alcohol.
Go-go's tend to blur into one neon strip in my mind but as far as I can recall both Tropix and Private Dancer had loads of attractive women and a nice atmosphere. At the particular time I was in them, anyway, as things can vary greatly depending on when you hit the bars and who is actually available on that particular day and at that particular hour. And obviously tastes vary so it is all down to a bit of footwork and saying no way until a suitable woman turns up.
Gracie obviously wasn't used to alcohol as I was drinking about three times as fast (and I drink slowly by most standards), so I usually helped her out after finishing my own beer. A bit sozzled, she was all sweet smiles and laughter but I reckon if she was still on high heels she would've done herself serious injury. A blur of a holy half dozen go-gos and a beer in each forced the day past midnight and, in the toilet of the last bar, I took the quarter tab of Viagra hidden in my shoe knowing that it would kick in by the time we got back to the hotel. (Alcohol will burn it out of your system if you take it before drinking).
Walking back to the hotel, with Gracie holding on to me to stop herself falling over, I wished I had a big stick to wave about – packs of beggars desperate for the odd peso! I am not adverse to throwing the odd bit of loose change at some bambino but I knew from past experience that giving one peso to one beggar would result in a minor riot as the rest of them tried to get some much needed dosh, so I waded through the buggers making like they did not exist. Ignore them the first time, they soon get the message and become less of a hassle.
We were also buzzed by trike drivers desperate at the loss of face resultant from a tourist actually walking more than a hundred yards. One of the idiots followed us all the way to the hotel, shouting abuse in the local dialect at Gracie – I don't think he was her husband as she tried to merge into my body to hide from the lout. The late night receptionist a lot nicer than the earlier bitch though the burly security guards gave each other a knowing look, not sure what it was about, though.
I will just say that if I was a first-timer in the Orient she would've ripped my heart out in about five minutes and I probably didn't actually need the Vitamin V. The alcohol had got her all motored up and she seemed well impressed by the slimness of my body, which fortunately did not extend to one important part (hint, I find both Condomi XXL and Durex Comfort condoms a bit tight!). Enough!
Late morning, excessive beer and delayed jet-lag, didn't sit very well with my fifty-five year old face but luckily by the time I'd had a cold shower and shave, my features had reformed into what passed for human and I was able to wake the babe up in a nicely vigorous manner. After six months in the UK without any intimacy with a woman (I turned down a couple of aged Western ladies, no way…) it was energizing to get my hands on a hot body that repaid my efforts with a big smile and intoxicating amount of happiness! The kinda stuff that can pull the innocent right on in…
We ended up spending the afternoon in the SM Mall… its existence a sign that the city was on the way up. I managed to find some salad and fish to eat, forced Gracie to eat the same rather than the noodle muck she wanted… there is no quicker way to piss off an Oriental girl than to force her to eat food she doesn't want but she took in it good stead and even seemed amused when I pointed out some of the portly women who were eating noodles! There are many tales of guys who get pissed off when their women order huge amounts of food and only nibble at it – the solution is easy, tell them they can order what they want but if they don't eat it all they can pay for it! Works every time.
Just as we finished our food, some Filipino decided to sit down next to Gracie and try to sweet talk her. He was about thirty, well built and would've been quite attractive if he lost the air of being god's gift to women. I twitched with repressed violence whilst Gracie looked frightened out of her wits. So I simply grabbed her, pulled her up and walked her out of there as if the guy did not exist. I like to think that he was so self-absorbed that it took him five minutes to realise he was talking to empty air!
Gracie was less than amused when I insisted on buying her a suspender belt and stockings for my later entertainment. I cast my eye over some school uniforms but they were far too demure, very long skirts, but bought her what would pass for a summer dress in the UK and some low-heeled shoes to match. I was already pondering hijacking Gracie and heading off to Cebu at the end of my week at the Amenica Hotel. She had that most rare quality in b-gals – amiability! Part of my thing, is ending up with a gal who owns clothes that only I have bought for her. But don't panic, I was under the influence of that other L-word – Lust!
Gracie in her new outfit looked suitably transformed and for a moment all was well with the world. Another blur of drinks, near naked women, wild music and heady sex only mildly interrupted on the route home by seeing some poor foreigner in the throes of what seemed to be a heart attack being bundled into a police car by two extra large clowns.
At about four in the morning authoritative hammering on the door almost threw me out of bed in sheer fear and panic… I snaked through the darkness to peer out of the peephole to thankfully find that it was the room opposite being raided, blurred images of fat cops pulling out a huge tourist and some small girl; Gracie had found sanctuary under the bed! The cops desperate to fill their coffers before the festive season set in.
The third day, more shopping, food, beer and bars – only notable that Gracie was fast turning into an alcoholic and had to be forcibly prized out of the last bar after the boss had bunged us a couple of free Tequilas. I wouldn't touch the gut-rot so the feisty lady drank mine whilst I finished off her beer. She was far gone enough to later have a multiple orgasm when I dangerously bare-backed her up the old Khyber Pass! A power trip for me that she wasn't that amused about the next morning (actually afternoon…).
No idea if there was a connection or not but the fourth night was rounded off by a couple of villains trying to knock me off as we neared the hotel after another night of booze, go-go bars and loud music. Some lout tried to whack me in the mouth with an iron bar! He came out of a dark doorway with all the truculence of a hungry crocodile but none of its deadly speed. Having previously done in my back moving 40kg sacks of sand (I thought later that it was the same as carting my Thai girlfriend around) I had learnt to bend my knees rather than my back when going down, so it was second nature to snap down on my knees, the iron bar whizzing over my head to clang into a concrete wall. Gracie had the sense to run off as the threat went down and I popped back up to full height to find the lout howling with the pain from his hand/wrist where the violence of the blow had reflected back through the bar into his arm. Put it this way, if it had hit home I would not have any teeth left.
His tubby little mate was armed with a length of bicycle chain but stood open-mouthed at the state of play and made no move to stop me sprinting to the hotel. No sign of Gracie, and the security guys seemed to be in high spirits, always a bad sign. The bloody phone rang about six times through the next hour until someone started hammering on the door – not Gracie unless the peephole had distorted her into a 100kg transvestite! I moved the wardrobe to block off the door and tore the phone's wire out of the wall. This was war but they left me alone after that.
Any sane person would've moved out next day but you don't get to be a rich bastard by throwing money away and, besides, I had seen an Angelica Jolie lookalike in one of the bars – Angelica when she was a young woman, that is – and it seemed like a good moment to abandon Gracie before things got too serious. Old hands will recognize the flaw in this – if you change girls you have to change location. But given the endemic violence in Angeles City an enraged b-gal didn't add much more to the danger level.
I got to the bar dead on 8pm but was forced to use the mamasan to get her attention and had to pay a 1500 peso barfine as they reckoned she was one of the stars. I am not much of a breast man but the mild pair she sported were perfectly conical with no droop and huge engorged nipples – I knew because she gave me a quick look when I agreed to buy her a Cola. She said she was twenty-one but I could see nothing in her body or face that said more than eighteen although her attitude was much more long-termer than newly arrived from the rice fields.
I still did the dodgy walk back to the hotel, much to her annoyance as she seemed to have a trike ready and waiting for her. Judging by the imitation of a particularly sullen dead fish during sex it was probably her boyfriend doing the trike run. The problem with Vitamin V, it makes you hard but removes some sensation, so if you end up atop an unwilling partner it goes on for hours! One seriously pissed off babe didn't want to sleep over and looked particularly offended when I only gave her 50 peso for the fare home. About all her boyfriend was worth.
Night six I needed a rest and limited myself to a bottle or two of beer in the room and a good book. At the very least it would foil the doubtless growing legion of people I had offended over the past days who were no doubt queuing up in the street below to beat the shit out of me. A couple of times the peace was disturbed by heavy hammering on doors – cops or disgruntled babes, no way I was going to wander around investigating.
The last night in this particular hotel – would I survive or not – I decided to head over to Perimeter Road where there were more bars, aimed at the local expats rather than the tourists. I was probably the youngest guy there, certainly the slimmest! Damn hard work to find a decent babe but I ended up with a sultry twenty-five year old as dark as sin who probably would've smoked me in the bar if I had been into in. Or in the trike on the way back, as I had wandered a bit out of the zone and wasn't entirely sure where I was after about seven beers, or even who I was. The trike guy had only asked for forty peso so I gave him a hundred as a reward for his relative honesty! He seemed highly amused as were the security guards at the hotel…
The ultimate embarrassment for a old-hand at the game, the bitch had a marvellous body, sublime if small breasts, long well muscled legs encased in black stocking topped by a suspender belt – all ticking a long list of turn-ons – but when I pulled down her knickers guess what popped out? Yes, a bloody tranny… with much kicking and screaming I bunged her out of the room and locked down the door again, supported by the displaced wardrobe.
No doubt hugely hilarious but in its way a bit soul destroying and I could see myself moving one more step closer to alcoholic annihilation, Angeles City not the kinda place where you could survive stone cold sober for more than a day. After a sleepless night I decided I wanted out of paradise and managed to change my ticket for the next available flight to KL (twenty quid surcharge by Air Asia so not the end of the world). Sad as it might sound, I was also missing the comforts of my house in Blighty and the knowledge that nefarious elements were unlikely to break down the door in the middle of the night and rob me of all my ill-gained dosh.
Travelling solo to Angeles City is probably not recommended, the only use for the place I would find is to pick up a gal and head off pronto for somewhere more civilized in the PI – but then you have the problem of sussing how genuine the babe really is – or, indeed, if she really is a woman! Even right up to the moment of revelation there was no tell – even the voice was sweet.
So I sit here in Blighty, the bloody Happy Hooker (last Thai girlfriend) still firmly in my heart, pondering if I should chance another SMS to find out if she is up for another exchange of insults or has actually got lucky with her UK visitors visa (with her new British boyfriend) and is still mining the new guy for whatever cash she can grab. Before I went to Angeles such thoughts would've been insane (given our history) but after that week a reunion would almost be a blessing in disguise. Almost…
Fantastic trip report although I have to say you have well and truly put me (and I bet a number of the readership) off Angeles altogether.
* Note that since publishing this submission I have received a fair few emails from readers who are familiar with Angeles and who feel that this does not paint an accurate picture. They also tell me this submission contains a number of factual inaccuracies i.e. ladyboys are simply not allowed in the bars. I have never been to Angeles myself so cannot comment.