Thursday, March 8, 2012

Visions from the Future - Part 1

I am in Manila for a month on an adventure. What follows are the idle thoughts and brief chronicles of my time abroad.

Morning in Manila, only a handful of days into my adventure and the novelty of communicating with my friends from thirteen hours into the future has not worn off. I arrived at the start of a long night which transitioned from the harsh fluorescent lights of the airport to my small yet welcoming apartment to once more into the night on a journey to rid my body of the evil humours of air travel. Manila is a city of multiple faces, so far each one smiling and open. The night is filled with soft lights and mystery. The day is filled with industrious meandering.

That first night, the soft lights leads to a respectable spa and the myriad of chambers within. A bathhouse with several pools, each at a set temperature, thirty degrees, forty-two, and forty-four. The forty-two degree pool is infused with green tea. According to my host the small pool is brewed and steeped with giant bags of tea each day. Beyond the bathroom, past the changing room with its wooden floor, is a dark hall. The aroma collides gently with me as soon as I step through the doorway. It is delicious, herbal, oaky, and pleasant. Small darkened archways half the height of a man line one side of the hall. Within several are the dim outlines of prone customers enjoying the oxygen enriched atmosphere.

On the left side of the hall are a series of three chambers. Each chamber is a compact sweat lodge, each more aggressive than the last. Hot rocks line the walls of the first, the floor is made of small heated stones. The air has a misty herbal flavor to it. I dig my toes into the rocks and let the heat begin to wash away the strain of travel. My host turns an hourglass filled with red sand to mark our time. After one turn we move on to the next chamber. It has a classic sweat lodge look and feel. Logs of wood are set into the walls and the floor is covered in overlapping mats. The ceiling is a dome of stucco. The air is infused with the scent of oak. We turn the hourglass twice in the second chamber because the third chamber will be too warm to spend an entire turn within it.

When I reach the third chamber I immediately see why. One wall has a glowing mock fireplace of rocks set within it. Over the arch of the fireplace is a thermometer which reads seventy degrees centigrade. The air is heavy and rich with the scent of herbs and heat. Sweat pops out over my skin instantly and we remain within until we feel we have to move on. My host insists we stay a minute longer than we feel comfortable. He has an idea on where to go next.

At the back of the main hall is a door to a small chamber lit with blue and white light. The walls are coated with the kind of ice found in a deep freezer, a stucco of frozen compact snow pebbles three of the walls within. We sit on small stools and breath in the chilled air, instantly refreshed. The ceiling is patterned after winter and a string of Christmas lights running the length of the room blinks an alternating white then blue.

After a while we move on to our massages. My masseuse spends nearly an hour working out all of the trouble secretly installed into my back, neck, and limbs after an economy cabin flight across the world. Even though I have been up for a day, the oils and massage restore my energy and it will be hours before I fall into sleep. My host returns me to my apartment by way of taxi because we are both too relaxed to walk the twisty return route.

When sleep comes the warm air of my room keeps me under until nearly noon. I have lost Wednesday to the oddities of the international date line. My mind drifts to thoughts of the child sitting near me on the final leg of my journey. His birthday fell away between stops, lost somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, a cruel fate for a youngster where each birthday should hold promise and party. The day before me, however, holds equal promise and I rise to meet it.



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About Me

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Geek - Gamer - Librarian - Writer. Only awesome at one of those things at a time, unfortunately.

About Fading Interest

After writing op-eds and travelogues for several years, after finishing a few books, and after failing to get the ball rolling with project after project I stumbled into an idea that might just hold my interest long enough to enjoy some level of satisfaction with my writing.