Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Leaving the thousand islands

It is definitely with mixed feelings we are now leaving the Philippines, going to Norway!
We arrive in the "worst" time possible for Karen, it's the coldest time and I'm thinking, well, now it can only get warmer :-)

So what about this place Land of Islands, it's a place where the people in general are very friendly, every white guy is a "Joe" as in "Hey Joe!" is being said/shouted towards me everytime we move out of Makati. It's a land where the class gap is bigger (than in Norway) this becuase it is not a welfare society. Again that fact leads to the temptation of gaining extra money from "gifts" or bribes to be even bigger. We hear about this also in Norway, and usually when it comes to government related things, the same is valid here only in wider bigger scale, it's not the minds of the people being more "corrupt" it's how the state work.
The intrastructure is (in basically everything) is far from what I'm used to but it works, you just have to plan more time moving between places, and people do. The busses have TVs showing either the local station with entertainment or a pirated movie bloody or not it seem to not matter as long as there is something rolling on the screen in front ;-)
Back home we also value education and family, I believe everyone, everywhere values at least family, here it is even more present. You are likely to live with your parents, brothers and sisters until you get married (or while taking education out of town).
I met a woman that is raising 5 teenagers on her own all sent to top private schools, and who is "the richest woman in miles area" about the shool system here, will you get into the school you want as long as you have the money? "No, because you have take a skills test". Again "Are you just paying for 'the name' of the school or do you really get much better education from school #1 to #2?" "Yes, you are definitel do". People travel to the Philippines to take better education and cheaper compared to their home country, students are head hunted direcly from schools to other countries.
Again - this is for the wealthy population who can afford the private schools.
Devoution to Catholicism is very clear, all over you see pictures and statues, unlike back home (in the land of protestants).
It's a warm country, in people's hearts and of course the temperature all year long. It's great for diving! We both took the "license to dive" here and recently we got the advanced license + nitrox license, much better taking this education in warm clear water than back home :-D
They Loooove videoke! (Karaoke), you find them "everywhere", bars, resaurants and resorts etc.
Right now it's our last day here, we have rented a videoke machine and everyone is singing :-)

Ok better end this so I can pack the computer and join the videoke fun :-)

Friday, January 11, 2008

A typical frustrated shopping event

It's not always easy!

So I'm out looking for "Silica Gel" (the small bags that absorb mousture that you may find a box of new shoes).
I'm prepared this time - bringing an example so I don't have to go through the painstaking process of trying to explain what/the purpose of what I need (As I didn't realize it was called "Silica Gel") "Small pellet that absorb moisture".
After my helper saw the example he let me straight to it :-) ("Wow this was easy" I'm thinking.)
Tip no 1: Bring an example or photo of what you need.
Not sure how many I need I dare to ask a girl passing how "effective" they are... Ok that's not an easy question, how can you meassure that... but after giggling in Taglish with some co-workers I get the answer (while she's trying to seem realy interrested in the product) "It's effective Sir".
-?
Eh ok! Hehe so I grab 1 pack and hope it's effective "enough" :)

Now I need some Duct tape, I've bought this before and know were it's located but this time I take my time looking at all the 15+ types of tape available as I realy want the best one this time.
So I'm standing there with 2 types, one perhaps local brand and one of "Scotch", the latter 3 times more expensive and less tape.
This is just too strange to me so I again dare to ask the staff nearby.
(Warning the following reminds me about India.)
"Excuse me, can you tell me the difference between these two tapes, is it only the brand?"
- "...(looking)... Different brand Sir"
Tip no 2: Never ask more than 1 question in the same sentence! :D
(Starting to get fired up)
"Yes I'm telling you that, but I'm asking if there is any other difference, like the quality"
- ... "this one is better Sir" (says staff member nr 2)
"Why? Will this tear less easy than this one (and pointing at the cheap tape!)?"
- Yes Sir"
"Ok, so you're saying that the expensive tape is of less quality than the cheaper one?"
- ..."This one is 10% "off" Sir" (pointing at the expensive one)
Tip no 3: Don't always expect staff members to understand their own misstakes.

(I ended up getting the cheap tape, marked "Extra strength")

This was from "Ace Hardware" and in general this describes that staff's knowledge, some people has the knowledge they should while there are too many young people that work as "decoration" among the shelves.