Saturday, September 3, 2011

Intermission: First impressions from the Philippines

I think I owe 3 days worth of entries. They'll be up soon. But it's not my fault! I'm in Manila right now. As in, right now, it's 8:33 p.m. There are palm trees lining the sidewalk. The red light district is a block away from my hotel. I had to buy a universal plug converter to charge my laptop. I am currently scratching 7 mosquito bites. The cell phone I just bought -- "dumb" -- was 2150 pesos (conversion rate: 42 to 1 -- do the math). The best parts of the red-eye flight were the Taiwanese flight attendants (<3) and the Hello Kitty lounge during layover. That, and the food court in Taipei served ramen and dumplings. Can we please transition to this, San Francisco?

Today was my first full day in Manila. 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. was spent apartment hunting with another new employee. Here are the two apartments I'm debating at the moment:

Apartment A: "The Juggernaut"

- 25,000 pesos, with a 50% chance negotiable to 23,000.
- Studio
- Slightly used
- 23 square meters
- Mismatched but adorable furniture: 2 chairs, table, love seat, toilet with buttons
- Huge gym and 25 foot long pool
- Closer to everything

Apartment B: "The Spartan"

- 20,000 pesos, 40% chance negotiable to 18,000.
- Studio
- Fold-out couch as bed
- Jaw-dropping view of northern Manila
- Brand-new: I'm the first tenant
- Lacquered wooden floors
- 500 feet further than Apartment A from everything

If I go with Apartment B, I'll have 5,000 additional pesos I can use for eating out, travelling, buying exotic fruit, giving to beggars, paying for Wifi, taking scuba diving lessons. Apartment A is safer, by a little bit. It also houses more expats, which might or might not be a good thing, I haven't decided.

My brain still thinks I'm on a summer internship. Try as I might, it absolutely refuses to recognize that I will indeed be here for 364 more days. Maybe when I move out of this hotel, the ramifications of my flight will sink in. My hectic schedule hasn't helped either: I already feel too in tune with the city. Manila reminds me of Hong Kong but dirtier, Beijing but sexier, Quito but classier, and Santo Domingo (DR) but richer. I've been here 36 hours, and the topsy-turvy whirlwind 2-month introduction is long gone. I don't think it ever happened. The wide-eyed wonder or irresponsible positivity? Not this time, folks.

One goal of being abroad was to refresh and restart, but procrastination has arrested that possibility. I have 150 starred emails from the summer on hold. The sticky notes on my computer number 13. IPA's given me an assignment already, and I want to come in Monday ahead of schedule. The residue from my social life in New York has me itching to join the expat scene right now, jetlag, rain, the mile walk, hunger, and lack of wingmen be damned. I'm stuck in an American state of mind, and I don't like it.

Be prepared for more on first impressions, when I'm able to balance my brain out a bit. But I owed you guys something right now, even if it was quick and sloppy. To be continued...

No comments:

Post a Comment