from “Man”, Neneh Cherry (with Youssou N’Dour), 1994.
After a few days of living in Makati we’ve already begun to get a feel for the way some things are done here in the Philippines, much like we did when we were first in Japan (see blog post 23. Turning Japanese). And obviously it’s not always quite what you expect or are used to back home.
7 seconds is approximately how long the green pedestrian crossing sign lights up for on Manila’s roads. Basically you need to step it up pronto to cross, and that’s still with cars trying to drive over the crossing while you’re using it. Be bold, be brave, but most of all be quick when crossing.
Still on the roads there are, at least in Makati, quite a lot of one-way streets. However, on the weekends and holidays, these turn into two-way streets.
From our experience so far this seems to be just as confusing for us as it is for everyone else. We’ve seen quite a few vehicles doing three-point turns on the one-/two-way roads and looking like they don’t really know which way they want to go, or so it seems.
As we’ve learned from Thailand, it pays to look both ways regardless of the stated direction of traffic.
Shops here in the Philippines give you paper bags for your shopping. Er, have you seen the rain this time of year and what water does to paper? Never mind the fact they don’t have handles. Oh good grief!
We visited the the nearby Washington Sycip Park for a stroll around and discovered that there is music played from speakers hidden away in the bushes and trees. And with such classics as It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones, and It’s A Heartache by Bonnie Tyler, there’s certainly something for discerning ears of all kinds 😉
We’ve yet to discover if the music is unique to this park or whether it’s a Filipino thing. Watch this space – but maybe with earplugs in.
Unlike the Post Office and Royal Mail services in the UK – and mail in other countries we’ve visited – the Philippines seems to do things a little differently. Firstly there are no post boxes on the street so to post your mail you need to visit a post office. This is also the only place you can buy stamps. So basically you need a post office in order to be able to do anything with your mail, and there are not many post offices around that we’ve seen.
So with mail in hand, we headed off to the Makati Central Post Office, around 20 minutes walk away. The post office was somewhat archaic, with lots of counters, and no technology or self-service machines. It took a few moments to work out which was the best counter to queue for – basically the one with the most people, who were also trying to buy stamps funnily enough.
We had to queue for 30 minutes which included a fun game of “musical chairs”: you sit on the plastic seats that are tied together with string and everyone shuffles along one place when the person in Seat 1 gets called to the counter. The queue wasn’t helped by the fact that the person at the counter when we arrived had literally hundreds of letters he wanted posting – it looked like a marketing campaign and he was getting them all franked manually. Fortunately they did open another counter to allow the growing queue behind him to be served.
Philip decided he wanted to send the birthday card he was posting as registered mail so we had an additional post office adventure as we had to go to Window 106. This was located at the back of the sorting room and no one batted an eyelid as we went – as directed – behind the counters and through the sorting room in search of Window 106. We found it with no problem – resisting the temptation to help with the mail sorting as we passed through – and so the birthday card was delivered into the tender mercies of PhilPost (no pun intended).
Will it arrive OK? We’ll keep you posted 🙂