...because you thought Sweden was Switzerland!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Metro shopping fun a.k.a. Philippines 2010, part 2

When I wasn't meeting friends in the Philippines, I did what most Filipinos do on their home journey: shop. Since this trip was limited to two weeks, and limited to Manila and Quezon City, shopping was, I guess, a must. It's the local Manileño pastime! Everyone goes to the mall, even just to kill time and even if they aren't buying anything. One obvious reason is the airconditioning. Another, sadly, is the lack of free recreational activities in the city that does not require one to have a car. But malls are also all-in-one places. Folk meet, eat, read, study, watch movies, exercise, watch concerts, go to conventions — and nowadays, even see their doctors in malls. Little wonder that malls are everywhere in Metro Manila. Our newfound favorite was one called TriNoma, just across SM City, my old favorite (Sorry SM!).

What I found out was that, generally, branded items costed just a little more than half of what they would be sold for in Sweden. For another, no-brand basic items (undershirts, socks, underwear, jeans) were not only cheaper, but of better quality than the mid-range no-brand stuff in the Swedish malls. Books were only slightly cheaper than they are here, but eyeglasses were a pure steal — titanium frames, multicoated lenses and a cleaner spray for a price of basic steel frames! Mall competition meant a wider array of choices, in both food and clothes, in all price classes. Shopping was a joy. It was also a reward, since I more or less abstain from shopping here. The last time we bought the bulk of our clothes and underwear was four years ago on our last Philippines trip. That should be a testament that those stuff last long!

As far as we observed, only two items were more expensive in the Philippines than in Sweden: pizza (costed at least a third more), and oatmeal (seven times more expensive). Oh, need I mention that alcohol is, in comparison, dirt cheap in the Philippines? Rum and brandy are also available at any drug store, which in the Swedish alcohol-monopoly point of view, is beyond bizzare.

Itinerary! Meeting friends! Shopping!

A recap of days 5 to 9. Little digestible bits do the trick!

Feb 15, Day 5: After the Chinatown trip the day before and hanging out at my brother's place the previous evening, it was time to... Guess what! Go shopping. We needed some more clothes for our stay. We met my gradeschool friend Cheryl at TriNoma, where she treated us to Greek food at Cyma, at the top floor. Listen, Cheryl! Marcus thanks you for the best restaurant food he has ever had (Lamb souvlaki)! He describes it as perfectly seasoned, juicy, with a good balance of meat and vegetables. He even forgives Cyma for serving healthy pita bread, heheh! I would definitely eat there again myself. (Next time, Cheryl, I can treat you to that lamb souvlaki). Cheryl was, otherwise, also a great resource to ask about which clothes botiques to buy from, and which botiques not to buy from. You kinda lose that skill if you're away from the scene for some years, you know. Thanks!

The praised lamb souvlaki (450 PHP). If pictures could spring out of the screen, I'd grab this.


Feb 16, Day 6: A visit to the eye doctor to get a new glasses perscription for Marcus, and thereafter to... Guess what again! Go shopping! Actually, we did have a shopping budget (and stuck to it!) as well as a shopping list (which we also stuck to!), but honestly, a day or two simply isn't enough to browse, fit, look for shops, compare prices, and decide on purchases. That's not to mention that walking for hours (albeit indoors in and between shops) can be quite demanding, especially if you're carrying shopping bags, too. We simply couldn't shop for everything in our list in one go. Good thing that in a mall, you're never really far from someplace to sit and eat. Or a taxi line to catch a taxi home. Taxis are the most convenient means of transport in the Metro, and save you the hassle of driving in that chaos yourself. We never spent more than 200 pesos on a taxi anywhere we went. Distances in the Metro aren't actually that great; it's just the traffic that slows you down.

The view of Quezon City from the eye doctor's office's 16th floor corridor. Actually, it's floor 15, since buildings don't have the "unlucky" 13th floor. Elevator buttons skip right up to 14 from 12.


Feb 17, Day 7: We didn't have any plans for this day, so mom and dad took us to La Mesa Ecopark, a relatively newly developed park by La Mesa dam, a protected area where the Metro gets its tap water. There's an entrance fee of 20 pesos for Quezon City citizens and 30 pesos for non-QC residents, but it's all fine once you're inside. The park wasn't particularly large nor wild nor away from traffic, but for residents of the bustling city, this is probably as much green and wild as you can get without leaving the Metro, so it's a very welcome public space. Trees grew much taller in La Mesa Ecopark than I usually see them in the city, and the foliage denser. Pretty cool. It was Marcus' first time to see an acacia tree. If you you have a car to get to the La Mesa area and some picnic food in the car trunk, the place can be an alternative to passing time in a mall (they have a swimming pool by the way, which one can use for a fee). The sun though, was blazing hot, so if you ever go there, don't forget a hat and an umbrella!

Dense foliage and tall trees in La Mesa Eco Park.

Picnic! You're guaranteed never to go hungry with mom and dad

Siesta! Knocked down by the food and the heat

Feb 18, Day 8: Mom cooked a really good lunch with steamed shrimp (bought alive, with their legs still moving when they got home), mussels with vinegar dip, and a meat-and-vegetable stew. As usual in our household, there's a lot to eat! For dessert, there were bananas in syrup, fresh pineapples and ripe mangoes. I ate to my heart's content, especially since some vegetables are hard to come by here. But there was a limit to my stomach, after all, which I hit after the third or fourth serving. In the evening, there was more — you guessed it! — malling in TriNoma before going home to freshen up and having dinner with PJ and Kapi in Gateway (another shopping mall, this time in Cubao where the two metro train lines meet).

The now-cooked shrimp and a vegetable stew. In our household, people usually fight over the veggies and the meat sometimes gets left over for the cats!

From the top floor of TriNoma, an artificial park. Mall designs are incorporating more gardens lately


Feb 19, Day 9: No pictures. The shopping is tapering at this point, and we were only in TriNoma this day to get Marcus another pair of glasses made. We had problems with the lenses they made at the first store, Sarabia (first, their machine scratched the lenses; then, when they cut the lens manually to prevent this problem, the unpolished edges let in light, which created a dizzying effect). We found a seemingly more professional store in the same mall, called Vision Express. It's a bit more hard to locate, but had undoubtedly superior service to Sarabia. Mom took the chance to buy a discounted pair of snazzy frames at Vision Express (Hey mom, I hope you wear them soon! You deserve the update!). Then we went to Yellow Cab Co., also in the mall, to eat my dad's favorite fastfood: pizza. An 18" NY Classic, which only has salami ("pepperoni") and cheese.

I think the next and last part will be dedicated to friends, since I mostly did catch-up stuff in the next days in Quezon City.

Until then...

6 Comments:

Blogger meowok said...

Sarrrrraaaappp ng food! So how was it, I mean tasting Filipino food again back at home after being away for quite a while?

3:26 AM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

Masarap! I love and missed ampalaya. And Filipino vegetables in general, which I unfortunately can't take on the flight, I think (besides, it's just better to eat them with the whole Filipino ambiance!). Maybe next time if we don't buy so much clothes, I can reserve a bag for kitchen stuff and food items. I was a bit afraid that bottles (like a bottle of tuyo my mom offered me) would break in the bags and run into the clothes! Dilemmas...

10:58 AM

 
Blogger iamvix said...

JOY!!!! please tell marcus he's welcome! :D i'm suuuuuper glad patok sa kanya yung food, and that *gasp* it's the best restaurant food he's eaten. waw! :D

please mention yung pancit prepared by your mom when you get around to writing it. ang sarap nun e. hahaha

5:37 PM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

Naku, sayang walang picture nung pancit na yun! Pero sige, ispe-special mention ko, hehehe!

8:21 PM

 
Blogger Ahoy! said...

BTW Cheryl, that tells you something about the quality of the restaurant food around here, huh!

8:22 PM

 
Blogger Francesca said...

ang sarap naman ng bakasyon mo, sarap din ng fud, sus makauwi nga this summer...

8:54 AM

 

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