Hell exists on Earth. It goes by the name of Clark, Angeles. I'd headed North from Manila, relieved to be seeing some countryside. The view flew by, and I started to relax. Arriving at Dau, I jumped off the bus and into a waiting tricycle for the short hop to Clark. The place used to be a USAF base, and it seems a lot of the servicemen are still here.
I walked down the main street, accosted by go-go girls at the entrance to bars and brothels. Men negotiated services and charges by the door. Elderly white men sat entertained by young Filipina beauties, playing with their hair and hands, looking at them like they were in love. I was sick to my stomach. I don't blame the girls, they have to make a living. And it's a Catch-22 situation, as without this money coming in, what would happen to the area? The people are as poor here, and beggars line the streets waiting for whatever change the men leaving the bars have left. It's a pitiful sight I can't get used to, nor do I want to.
The grimmest sight I witnessed was a fat old man, around 60, riding down the street in a pair of skimpy shorts and a vest...with a girl of around 20 behind him. I'd liked to have punched his smug face.
Heading out of town, I found somewhere to stay, and the helpful fella on the front desk gave me a number for a volcano guide. Not cheap at almost 90 quid, and half of me wanted to just get the next bus out of Clark, but it's what I came here to see. I'd have liked a tee-shirt with "Volcano Tourist, Not Sex Tourist" on it, to be honest. The people here, hookers and all, look at all of us the same....with dead eyes. Hearing the sound of pool balls as I signed in the guesthouse, I decided to go take a look. I walked into a scene which summed the town up; a room full of old men with young girls. The owner is an ex-pilot, and still wears his uniform. Those days are gone, pal...get over it. I felt a lot better when he miscued and hit one of his patrons with the ball. I sank my beer rapidly and left, choosing to stay in my room the rest of the evening; socialising with them was not an option.