Published: August 26th 2007August 26th 2007
It is 9:30am. I have been awake and in my hotel since 11pm. I feel a little like Scarlett Johansson’s character in Lost in Translation
. I am waiting for my friends from our vendor to come pick me up to go see a volcano that is nearby - they are coming at 10:30. It has been a long wait! I did venture out around 1am to go to 7-Eleven for a snack and then I realized that one of the two Starbucks
right here was open, so I walked over to it and got myself a decaf latte and banana bread. I’m telling you, I’ve had I think 5 breakfasts in the 2 ½ days I’ve been here. I think breakfast is easier to eat alone. And thank goodness for Starbucks! They’re so convenient, predictable. I love that when I’m by myself so far away. And if I hadn’t been in my T-shirt I slept in and gym shorts, maybe I would have ventured a little further down the street to the apparent street party that was happening with live music. Although I keep thinking of Dave and my mother’s voices of reason/worry about my being here alone and I figured maybe best not to walk down the street alone in Manila at 1am to go walk into a crowd of partying strangers. Although I am SURE it would have been fine. This city is just a regular city, with all the good and bad. And I am in a pretty good area.
Anyway, just thought I’d offer up some random thoughts from the trip so far.
• Sing-songy, friendly voices. “Good morning ma’am”, “Want this purse, ma’am?”, “How are you, ma’am?” I have never been called “ma’am” so many times in my life! But it is very pleasant.
• People walking in the sun with umbrellas. This does happen in the U.S. on occasion, but it is a very regular occurrence here. Could be that it is officially the rainy season and it could rain at any time (although I haven’t seen so much and that is lucky I am told for this time of year). Or it could be that they are just used to living this close to the Equator, and it is hot all the time and they’re tired of the sun beating down. But from my hotel room on the 20th floor, it is very pretty from above to see all those colorful umbrellas bobbing down the street.
• First Buy. It is GREAT to be at the shopping centers when they open. The Filipinos have this thing about “First Buy” of the day. If they haven’t sold anything yet that day, they are much more likely to give you a great bargain. Or at least make the tall white girl feel like she is getting a great bargain. I went to Green Hills yesterday with Nono and his wife, and I was several vendors’ First Buy. After I give them the cash, they wave it around, touching the various goods they have in their stall. It is fun to watch!
. You know those old-looking silver trucks that sort of resemble a jeep? Well I’ll try to get a good picture before I go. I like seeing them, and I remember them from a trip to Thailand about, oh, 18 years ago. I mentioned this to Nono, and he told me that they are leftovers in Asia from Americans who were over here during “the war” (which war? I didn’t ask but I learned from Wikipedia it was WWII). Apparently the Army didn’t want to haul them back to the States because they didn’t work well or it was too much trouble. So they left them here. And the Asians have re-appropriated them as taxis or buses or whatever. And they look like they’ve been here since the 40’s too.
• Security Guards. They are everywhere. At the hotel lobby. In every Starbucks. At the 7-Eleven. At McDonald’s. At the Mega-Mall as I mentioned. At Green Hills. And they have guns…big guns that look like machines guns to me (but what do I know?). So far on this trip, I haven’t had anyone wave the gun at me. But then again, I’ve been MUCH more conservative about whipping the camera out, as I learned on my last trip. Those security guards really don’t like you taking photos of whatever it is they are guarding. And I guess I can’t blame these businesses for hiring them. I have read and heard that there are occasionally terrorist activities in the Philippines. So maybe they’re just covering their backs. But seriously, 7-Eleven? McDonald’s?
Oh good, Nono just called. They’re coming early!