Manila is dirty. Yup, I said it. Beautiful countryside, amazing fruit, friendly people... dirty city. There are just a lot of people here, and the city is crowded, and lots of cars, and ... and ... and.
It's so bad, that a whopping 12% of deaths in Metro Manila are caused by air pollution. (Source: World Bank and Department of Natural Resources?). On several days so far, you can see it outside. I tried to take a picture of it... can you see it? (I really only see a haze in this picture, but just go along with it, okay?)
Nonetheless, I'm enjoying all of the exercise I'm getting walking around in the pollution. My average commute is about 3/4 mile one-way (a little math here, ... 3 over 4, divide by two, carry the 8, and...) so that's about 1.5 miles daily. Good stuff! The downside is that my feet have blisters. This makes the 1.5 miles a little more challenging. I'd really love to try out some of those Vibram Five Fingers and see if that assists in some of my back problems as well as prevents blisters. Too bad I can't find any of them here in Manila. To be fair, I haven't really looked yet. Here's a little of that commute.
Today, I was officially declared as fat by the Republic of the Philippines. I'm heading out to the beach tomorrow, and I forgot my swim trunks. Easy problem to solve, right? Head out to the local department store and pick up a pair of swim trunks. Meander over to the area where said trunks are being sold. What is on display are children's swim trunks. So I ask the question - where are the adult swim trunks? Oh silly American - they're right here, said the sales assistant's eyes. She promptly informed me that they have up to XXL. Okay, good to know. Good thing I'm a Large, XL at best. I pick out a nice design and ask for both Large and XL for me to try on.
Head out to the dressing room and tried on the Large trunks. Came up to my knees. Oh wow. Okay. Not Large. How about XL? Slightly past my thigh. Progress, but no dice. I do not think the natives of the Philippines would appreciate me waddling around like a duck, trunks barely past my thighs, all because I thought I was an XL. Head back to the trunks, and sheepishly ask for the XXL. Slight grin, and a presentation of the only style they have in XXL. Man, I hope this works. Sure enough, try it on, and I can get in! Hot dog! I have swim trunks.
A brief commentary on the L vs XL vs XXL controversy described above. It turns out that a L is not universally the same, as I came to appreciate today. In Philippine terms, I'm a big fatty-fat. It's no joke! My office coworkers made mention of this fact when I arrived. Slightly bruised, the first thing that came to my mind was that of Eric Cartman saying "I'm not fat, I'm just big boned". However, compared to the average Filipino, I am not only fat, but extremely tall. I bump my head on things designed for not me. It would be super if we had a universal measuring system - something like centimeters. That would be super. Then, I can proudly proclaim that I'm 95cm around the waist, we can all marvel at my enormous American gut, and then get with the program. Forget this XX crap.
Side note: almost got evicted today. Last night around 8PM, a note was slipped under my door informing me that I would be checking out on 8/10/10. My brain saw this as the 10th of October for some reason, and I didn't think twice about it. However, upon arriving home this afternoon to a door that would not open, I quickly realized that I was wrong. DAY/MONTH/YEAR, not MONTH/DAY/YEAR. I just looked at the second and third columns and paid no attention to the other columns, and was locked out of my room. Thankfully, this was rectified fairly easily, but still was rather interesting.
Back to the swimming trunks story. It gets better. I was on my way to checkout, and was standing at the checkout line. Keep in mind, the checkout line are random terminals scattered throughout this store (store is named Landmark). For me, this store represents complete chaos. It's in the middle of two major shopping centers (Greenbelt and Glorietta), so people are coming and going as a walkway. There are hundreds of people working in pink outfits, folding, standing around, barking orders at each other. None of these workers look particularly happy. And finally in the middle of all of this - randomly placed checkout stations. Now, I head to one of these counters and stand about 5 feet away from the nearest person. It's a habit of mine - pesky Americans need their space. The person checking out was doing just that, a gap of about 5 feet, and then me. What I learned is that zero space is allowed in checkout just as in driving. Two women jumped in front of me. One of those women got impatient of waiting about 10 seconds, grabbed her stuff and left. I just stood there bemused. Another women did the same thing not but another 10 seconds later. She started to checkout, and the cashier just kinda grabbed her stuff, glanced an apologetic look my way, and started helping her. I guess this look must have indicated something, because the woman who just cut in front of me looked back in horror, and started apologizing profusely for cutting in line. I was simply amused by the entire ordeal, and told her it was more than fine that she should checkout. After all, I had only my pair of shorts and nowhere to go. (... makes note .. future song lyric ...). She again apologized, and then continued with her checkout. She did lean up next to me and said I should get closer, otherwise other people will do what she just did. I smiled, took a step forward, and sure enough people behind me started lining up right on my tail and sticking their stuff in front of me to checkout. I guess this makes it faster?
Got to the checkout, and was quickly informed that I did not have an Order Slip. I have no idea what an order slip was, and the attendants had to page over the woman from the bathing suit section. She came over, and started writing out said Order Slip in the amount of the shorts, and handed it to cashier. I tried to ask what it was that she was doing, but she would have none of that. I'll have to find out what an Order Slip is. Got the shorts, and headed home.
Thanks to all of you reading along with my story so far. I'm averaging a whopping 30+ hits a day! I think that makes me the 12,969,022th most popular site on the entire internet! Fantastic! And since I'm a stickler for graphs and whatnot, you can see that my site ratings have gone up over 3000% in the last 12 days. The best news is that one of my top ranking keywords to find my site is massage big boy. Glad to know that I can be found that way. Turns out, the Big Boy sandwich at Army/Navy along with a shiatsu massage is a powerful combination in the land of Google.
I'm pleased with some of the tactics that spammers are making to add comments to my blog. I almost considered having spam bot advertising a weight loss site to let their post come through. I decided not to in the end, but it's funny enough to share.