Shopping for groceries and other basic needs in the Philippines is an adventure in confusion and also overpricing for the newcomer. Often times, you will end up overpaying even after many years of living here if not careful.
At home in the States and most other countries, a grocery store is set up with every isle holding items classified by the type of products available including sub categories such as generic, diet, sale, and size etc.
In the United States and perhaps other places it is common practice to go to a neighbors house to borrow a cup of sugar if you run out. You might even go to a neighbor and borrow screwdriver or wrench if needed. But that’s about all.
Here in the Philippines most all people, friends and even those you do not know are quite willing to lend items to anyone who is in need. A few good examples of this is if you are going to the store and can’t or don’t want to walk for some reason, someone will loan you a bicycle. That’s all well and good; but how about something major?
Today’s letters page in Thanh Nien contains a highly amusing tribute to Vietnamese toilet facilities from one Michael Smith, an Australian living in Saigon.
Yes, he says, Vietnamese toilets can be bad, but the problem is by no means confined to Vietnam, and in the cities at least, one can relieve oneself in international-standard facilities.
I have to say I agree with him about city toilets - most bars, cafes & hotels in Saigon have more than acceptable bathrooms. It’s when you get out of the cities that the problems begin. I’m not talking about rural fish toilets (as seen in the film Slumdog Millionaire) - whilst these may be uncomfortable, they’re eco-friendly and generally hygienic.
When last Friday afternoon rolled around I had so many options it was ridiculous. Cocktails at the Ambassador’s house, beers at the Embassy, drinks with fellow workers, live music at Talking or pumping up the jam at Pontoon while Paul spun the discs. In the end, I went home at 4pm (via Russian Market to score the 7th season of The Shield) and announced to my wife that I would not be going out but rather I would be staying in to baby-sit .
Vietnam may have many qualities as a tourist or expat destination, but traditionally nightlife hasn’t been one of them. A handful of seedy pubs or bland hotel bars, local nightclubs playing naff techno, and everything shutting down at midnight. And in the last couple of years it’s often felt as if there was a concerted plan to make Saigon’s nightlife even worse, with popular venues such as Why Not and No5 (in its Ly Tu Trong incarnation) closing down, and flash, ephemeral “lounge bars” opening and closing every few days.
I was on the subway today, listening to some prog on the iPod, when a group of three young girls sat down in front of me. I couldn’t hear what they were saying because the music in my head was too loud. But somehow I knew by watching them that they weren’t speaking Korean. I took out my earbuds and sure enough they were speaking in fluent English. Not just English but American English. There was a slight accent, but the mannerisms, the colloquialisms, the verbal punctuation told me that this wasn’t simply a trio of good students.
Strangely shortly after I received the phone call earlier this week saying that Steve was coming, the usual stifling hot April weather was replaced by much cooler almost autumnal temperatures, the parties that have plagued my street ever since I moved to the village were surprisingly silent, and the local generator that gives us three hours of power every night and which broke down the week before was working again. Funny that!
The first ChildSafe Certified Internet Cafes will receive their certification on Saturday 8 September.
Staff at these internet cafes have been trained to protect children and young people from the potential dangers of using the internet and potentially abusive situations.
The desperate and dateless situation for the females in Phnom Penh really hit hard on Valentine's day this year. This single gal assessed her options... I could have gone speed dating at the FCC but the idea of giving a kiss, hug or cross to a man I already know, work with, is married, or will invariably run into at 'The Shop' on Saturday morning didn't really appeal.
I could have put in a bid at the Bachelor Auction but decided that things really were getting desperate if I had to pay for a date...
Apologies to all of you who locked onto this piece under false pretences, but this is not a groovy article about ingesting love inducing illicit substances. Rather it is the story of how one man suddenly finds himself to be a walking cornucopia of pharmaceuticals.
Prior to visiting Cambodia for the first time, I was a healthy specimen of a human being -never went to the Doctor, never took pills of any sort and rarely got sick. I ate well, exercised and generally enjoyed a high degree of well being.