Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Traveling Without Moving

In case somebody out there hasn't heard yet, I'm going to be in Singapore for a few days later this month. Thankfully, it's for leisure purposes, and seeing the hours I've been working lately, I look forward to scouring the bookstores over there for collectibles, rarities, and Things That Man Was Not Meant To Know™.

What that also means is that I've been busy for the last few days. Apart from organizing a good part of the vacation itself, there's also the matter of making sure that all obligations are completed and tied down so that the world can survive without me for about four days. That means talking to my backups, putting any and all emergency measures in place, and running a disproportionate number of errands that suddenly seem to be popping out of the woodwork this week. (Murphy has never been so accurate.)

For starters, I've had to pay the bills. Make no mistake about it — December is a really confusing time for bill payments. Most collectors will give you until the 20th of the month (or so) in order to make your obligations, but with my vacation and the strange holiday schema this year, I felt that it would be best to make sure that everything was squared away before my departure. Just to be certain that none of the utility services would be calling me while I was away, I threw in their payments for January as well... which was a decision that cost me something in the realm of the mid-thousands this month. (Yowtch!)

There was also the matter of making sure that the travel bags were filled, so I went on a supply run this weekend. This involved looking for the little itty-bitty necessities that we would need to bring along; Toothpaste being one example, razor blades another. This resulted in my spending the better part of an hour looking for a single toothbrush in the bowels of one of the local malls (a story for another time), as well as having to skulk around in various deodorant sections like an embarrassed criminal.

Then, there was the matter of my mileage program. Despite the fact that I applied for it three years ago, Philippine Airlines has not seen fit to acknowledge my presence (nor the existence of tons of miles earned from a previous trip to the United States), so I'm being forced to reactivate it all over again. What's even more absurd is that some indifferent encoder out there decided to enter my name as "Jean" instead of the correct "Sean", so the airline is now asking me to prove that I'm exactly who I say I am... which somehow involves dropping by their main offices a good hour's ride away. *Sigh*

I'd also describe my experience with the bank with regards to my travel funds, but the less said about those, the better.

My sister and I also spent the afternoon looking for canned goods and other gifts for our bakeshop's Christmas basket. If you haven't gone canvassing like this yet, then you haven't realized what an exercise in patience it is. In this case, we ended up lucky — we only had to run through the entire supermarket three times (one to check the prices, one to load the stuff, and one to fish around for missing items). The end result, of course, involved an overweighted shopping cart, an sizeable dent in our credit account (yowtch again), and the knowledge that we were going to spend the next couple of hours picking off a few hundred price tags. At least the end result was worthwhile, I suppose.

The interesting part, of course, is that I haven't even started packing yet — although I plan to do that tomorrow. I will need to pencil that in among a few other errands, though. For starters, I still have to give Philippine Airlines a piece of my mind. Then I have to visit my barber for a haircut that matches my passport photo better. (There was this little incident the last time I visited China, you see... and, well... ah, let's just leave it at that, shall we?)

For my first four days off work, I have yet to experience circumstances that even so much as make me feel like I'm taking a break. It's not nice, of course, and it's a little funny in the right light. But now... well, it's not so nice at the moment.


Pipe said...

Ah, Singapore - my guilty pleasure. I know that somewhere in that city gross weakening of individual civil liberties must be taking place, but principles aside, it is probably the only place aside from Manila where I can really kick back and relax. Not because of any great similarities mind you - but simply because the imposed order and English proficiency ensure that I don't become completely lost there.

And of course, there are the bookstores - or, rather, THE bookstore, Kinokuniya.

Have a good vacation Sean - looks like you need it ^_^

Sean said...

Pipe: I like dropping by Singapore for the observation of life there as much as I do for the bookstores. There's a general perception that personal liberties are weaker than other countries, mind you, but it seems to be largely ignored due to the excellent peace-and-order situation. It makes me wonder just what makes Singapore work right, when compared to any number of infamous "oppressive" states with a similar stance on civil rights.

That said, those thoughts will probably be farthest from my mind. I keep telling myself that this is supposed to be a vacation, which is the utmost indicator that I need one.