One of the foundations of our big sweep through Asia has been the ability to make it up as we go along. Have laptop and smartphone will travel, just look for agreeable fares and hotels and go to that place like a modern vagabond and plot out the next leg based on the same premise. But I almost got caught up in a major flaw in this kind of thinking, the kind that rubs governments the wrong way.
When we went to pick up our boarding passes for the flight from Xiamen to Manila on China Southern Airlines the agent noticed that we only had one way tickets to the Philippines. she asked to see a ticket to our next destination but we told her that we didn't know where we were going after a month in the Philippines. My wife was born in Manila so the airline wasn't concerned with her but the China Southern agent had me fill out a form absolving the airline of any financial responsibility if the immigration officers in Manila decided to deny me entry and have me immediately deported. Eleanor spoke to the agent in Mandarin but she wouldn't budge. The concept is sound, what would prevent me from entering the Philippines on a 30 day tourist visa and never leaving? In modern American lingo I'd be an undocumented immigrant. I'd be an illegal alien national and on the lam from the Pinoy la migra.
When we landed in Manila I deposited my form attesting that I hadn't visited west Africa and that I didn't have Ebola and I moved on to the immigration windows. Eleanor spoke to the immigration officer in Tagalog and convinced them that since she's entitled to a one year Balikbayan visa I should be too. The immigration officer agreed and I avoided having to pay for my own deportation to China.
The weather in Manila is hot and steamy. I'm told that the best way to cool down is to enjoy a big bowl of cheese and corn ice cream.