More Typhoon Pics

One more round of pictures….at the risk of overdoing it….its of course been a bit deal here….  These photos are special because they aren’t off a news reel somewhere.  Robert took them as he paddled around ankle- knee- or waist-deep in what was essentially sewage water.  The heaviest rains hit at high tide, and the Embassy is right on the water.   Heavy rains brought in huge waves which, added to ten hours of heavy rain, produced literally rivers of water down side streets. Roxas Boulevard, the main street that runs along the ocean, literally merged with the ocean and all the ocean side buildings were very badly flooded.

Ropes seem to be standard protocol for getting pedestrians across raging river streets…

When the winds blew really hard, they had to take shelter in doorways to stop being blown over…
Can you even imagine trying to cross the street here?

Walking along hidden sidewalks was particularly dangerous, especially near construction sites.  You had no idea where the curb was, or any other obstacles such as hydrants or gutters.  Lots of reports of cut feet and legs.  Bedlam!  So glad he got home safe and sound.

High Tea

The British Women’s Association do a High Tea each year here in Manila at the British Ambassador’s house. And a very good job they do too. Anyone who has read Carla and my blog from our walk may remember Carla’s post on learning British terminology. “Cream Teas” were part of her new lexicon, and High Tea is essentially the same thing. Lots of ladies in beautiful dresses, and fancy hats, drinking Pimms and tea.

They serve sandwiches with the crusts cut off (cucumber and salmon sandwiches, of course) and variety of different cakes.  Of course there are also scones, jam and cream.  It really was very pretty with roses on the table and colourful bunting.

Sourcing some of this stuff in Manila can prove a little challenging.  For example, you can’t find clotted cream anywhere outside of England and UHT whipped cream isn’t really the same.  Finding tea pots was tricky too, so we all dunked our tea bags in the china cups, but who’s cares…. it was an elegant afternoon!

Sorry about the lack of hat. I was one of about five people who didn’t wear one. I simply didn’t own one and didn’t have the time to track one down here. I’ll try better next year!

Philippino Ingenuity

Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best.  Take a look at this ingenious solution to lighting the inside of windowless rooms in poor Philippino neighbourhoods, and remember this the next time you are in a big box megastore where they choose to pay for electricity rather than pay to clean windows, because they think its “cheaper”.  Surely we could do better:

Sign Language: How much to spend a penny?

My favourite sign so far….located outside a Filipino public toilet.  Price varied with intention!  No 1 and No 2 are self-explanatory (pun spotted!)  … 3. is shower and 4. is wash.  Not sure how you can do one without the other….

For other signs along the way see:


Learning Filipino

I’ve always liked watching commercials in foreign languages.  The repetition and limited vocabulary of many (buy now, delicious, new and improved….) can make them a really good way to learn a language.  I picked the ad above to share as it doesn’t really need any Tagalog comprehension, but I enjoy the challenge of figuring it what’s being said anyway.

You certainly don’t need a word of Tagalog here.  Everyone speaks enough English to get by…but having just a little of the local language really does add so much to the experience of where you are.  So, despite the fact that I probably never use it again once I leave the Philippines, I signed up for Tagalog lessons this month.  And I’m really enjoying it.  The teacher is great and the lessons are really practical for the level of language that I want to learn.  There’s enough grammar so that I’m not mindlessly learning phrases without any structural comprehension.  But I’m not learning reams of useless stuff that I’ll never really use.  My goal at the end of this course is to have enough taxi Tagalog that I can use it with drivers who get confused between “go straight” and “go right” and be brave enough to use for simple greetings and requests with Philippinos.  They giggle when you try.  Our teacher encouraged us not to worry.  Its not a judgement of how bad your attempt is… it just the Philippino way of showing how surprised they are that you’re trying to speak their language.  Ummm….not sure I buy that…..but promise to keep trying anyway…. til later:   Aalis na ako.  Paalam.

When I’m Cleaning Windows….

Everyone’s been complaining about the increasingly dirty windows recently.  We were wondering how often they actually got cleaned and have learnt that the answer is “barely ever”.  So it was exciting to see a notice in the lobby a week ago saying that the window cleaning would start this week.  Why they picked the rainy season, I’m not sure…?

Anyway, while working in the kitchen today, I watched this cage lower itself down….

And three guys step out with a cloth and one bucket of very dirty water.  They hung out on the precarious metal “architectural feature” that runs down the building and smoked cigarettes and texted for a while.  I guess they were on break.  It was really weird to have three guys hanging OUTSIDE my dining room twenty floors in the air. I didn’t want to photograph them in case they thought I was going to get them in trouble or something.  I waited until they started work.  Here they are once the action got going:

The precarious ledge sans workers. (Yes they did have harnesses, but it still looked pretty dangerous to me):

The result?  Eh…a bit better.  Not exactly smudgefree.  But I’m not sure I could have done better with only one bucket of water, 50 floors and no squeegee…  Until next year then….


Construction Update

For everyone dying to know the growth rate on that giant building across the street….an update….

We have gone from this in December…

To the last update in February….

To this in September…..

and according to their publicly posted plans they have another 7 floors to go…. Goodbye view of the mountains…goodbye 50% of my view altogether!  Note how there’s another building sneaking in on the right hand side which is working away at removing 25% of the remaining view.  That’s going to be a tall one too – a bank I think.  Every day and every night the building goes on and on and on…….

Its the rainy season and …guess what…its raining!

Fish eye view of raindrops


The rainy season goes here from June to about November.  Its cloudier than usual although the temperatures are usually in the mid-80s.  We get heavy rain every day for a short while, or at least the threat of it.  (The gloomy clouds gather above me as I type.)  But its kind of refreshing to be out of the heavy sun for a while and a cloudy 85 degrees is feeling pretty reasonable these days…so I don’t mind it most of the time.  That may be because I’ve missed 2 typhoons and one flood by sheer luck and good timing with trips abroad, so the rainy season is just feeling a bit wet right now, rather than threatening.

We had a heavy downpour last weekend and decided to go down to the pool for a swim anyway, with the camera…and have some fun with photos:

Japanese Jacuzzi?

Meet one of Japan’s more bizarre inventions – the Japanese toilet bidet.

Looks like a regular toilet, right?  It does function as a normal toilet but has the added features of a heated seat; extract fan; rear, front, and “female” rinsing (with selective adjustments of oscillate and pulsate) and a deodorizer and dryer.

Pretty kinky stuff!  But also rather practical….  Most Americans seem to have a bidet phobia,  and I must admit it’s a pretty scary experience the first time you try…But once you experience a nether region “wash and blow dry”… you may just understand the attraction!