Saturday, August 22, 2009
Have broom, will travel.
There is a distinct advantage in being Filipino when traveling, especially in Asia. White people and Japanese look ever so much richer, and this gives us one incredible benefit - we are less likely to be mugged!
It stands to reason that a mugger would go for the American naturally endowed with dollars rather than the Filipino who actually brings around instant noodles to save on food. Heck, a mugger probably can't even tell which one is the Filipino on the street of Southeast Asia.( I was mistaken for a Malaysian or Chinese when I was in India)But you know, a fellow Filipino can always spot another Filipino because we are the ones who are haggling hard, like we are squeezing water from a rock.
Living in and around Manila gives one an innate craftiness that is very useful when shopping in a foreign land. You see, we are armed with the following truths:1) of course souvenirs are overpriced;2) of course the sellers will tell you anything to make a sale;3) of course those aren't real antiques. Anybody who believe they've got an unbelievable bargain too good to be true grew up in Neverland.
A Filipino haggling is a thing of beauty. Watch closely as the Filipino asks for the price, then inspects with much skepticism the merchandise, then gives a counter-offer (usually around half the original). Observe how the merchant acts insulted and gives a slightly lower amount nowhere near the Filipino desired purchase price, then watch as the Filipino pretend to walk away as the now-frantic merchant agrees to the Filipino stingy offer.
The level of expertise though of the Third-worlder ends about there. Sometimes our lack of exposure to wealth can be a drawback.Take deposit boxes, something I have absolutely no need for and therefore feel strange when I come into contact with one. It's because I don't actually have anything worth putting in a safety box. I don't have much cash nor jewelry. But I do have my passport and ticket and no money to replace them if they got lost. The thought of using the safe was just for fun.
But I know there are people out there who seriously need a safe. On the immigration card, there is a box that needs to be ticked if one had more that $10,000. That means there are people who actually think of bringing around that amount in cash! I wouldn't even know what $10,000 looked like if it were ahead of me in the baggage claim counter.
That's too bad though because I'd like to have $10,000. With that kind of money, it wouldn't be hit and miss with the hotel. It will also buy me a seat in business class where they serve drinks in real glasses. A business class seat also means being able to move one's arms and legs around a bit.
But then, first class all the way somewhat kills a bit of the travel. If all I wanted was to stay in a fancy hotel, I could do that here and save money. I always felt traveling has to be about getting immersed in other worlds. And if that mean wandering aimlessly in the streets of a city where people don't understand English, then so be it.
How about you? What would you want to gain in your travel to foreign land?