Seriously, I am loving this place so far. But, it still doesn’t really feel like I’m outside the United States… Weird, huh? With no offense to my many Filipino friends in the US, and my few Filipino readers here, being in Manila, specially in Makati, feels like I’m living in an US city with a lot of immigrants (which would explain the language barrier).
Before coming here, I read that Manila wasn’t your typical Southeast Asian city, it was as if “Honolulu had a love child with Mexico City” — and boy, is that expression right! Just like people claim that Cancun is an extension of the United States, Manila also feels the same way. It is very Americanized! And sure, you do have your random Filipino chain here and there, but heck, we have different restaurant chains depending on the region you are in the US, so that means nothing.
And even being in Makati, the very expensive area of town, where dinner is not cheap, the most we have spent is about $30/person — which is a FORTUNE here, but that included dinner, alcoholic drinks, all in a fancy place. And for every expensive dinner we have, we also have plenty where the two of us eat for 10 bucks.
I am already dreading leaving this place in two years. Can you believe that? I have been here a month only and already NOT looking forward to leaving?
I miss my running trails in DC, I miss my running group, and most importantly, I miss my friends (both running and non-running) dearly, as well as the little bit of family I have in DC. But aside from that? I don’t miss DC at all. I like how here is a big city and I can walk pretty much everywhere. That in a 5 block radius I have dozens and dozens of options of restaurants and coffee shops. I love that I don’t have to wear a jacket when I go out — and I won’t have to put on a jacket for 2 years! The hot and humid weather? Makes me feel right at home! (I do have Brazilian blood in me, after all.)
And sure, traffic here is a bitch, but you don’t hear about anyone taking over 13 hours to get home, stuck in the car due to weather related incidents, do you? (Like the little bit of snow we got in DC a few months ago, where many people I know took 10-13 hours to get home from work). Sure, there’s typhoon and monsoon season, and it might cause the roads to flood and people will get stranded, but that’s a BIG weather related event. In DC, you get stuck in traffic for things much more trivial than that. (Heck, the snow that caused everyone to get stranded, didn’t even cause the government to shut down the next day — which doesn’t take much for that to happen in DC — even though some people didn’t get home past 3am!)
And for whoever complains about traffic here, you haven’t been on 66 or 495 in Virginia or Maryland at the wrong time of rush hour. Where it can take well over 2 hours to go a few miles. Here, traffic moves. People drive like maniacs, don’t respect lanes, stop signs, and sometimes even lights, but traffic is constantly moving, even if slowly. After being here a month, I have yet to see a car accident, despite how people drive. Because you know why? Though they drive like crazy, they don’t go fast (likely because traffic doesn’t allow them to go too fast), so if there’s an accident, it would unlikely be fatal.
I am finally getting used to being called ma’am everywhere I go and boy am I enjoying being able to afford a full-time maid for the equivalent of what 2 cleanings would cost in DC (we’re paying her $250/month, which is on the high end of the prices here). She is a sweetheart, keeps this place super clean (my underwear drawer is even folded!), walks Lily, does the laundry, cooks for us, and will even stay this weekend to take care of the pets while we’re away. And she refers to Karl is “the sir.”
And the massages here? If you go to the fanciest swankiest place, you can expect to pay about $30 for a massage. Most places cost around $20. And on that note, I’m off to a 90-minute hot stone massage now.
Now how can you NOT get used to this lifestyle?