Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back in Manila

Back in Manila with the traffic, exhaust, and chaotic driving, we spent today shopping at Tiendesita for gifts for family and friends.  Tiendesita’s is a large, covered outdoor market with individual booths selling everything; clothes, furniture, dogs, fruits and vegetables, baskets, I mean everything.  We wander from stall to stall looking for just the right things with Filipina’s calling “Yes ma’am” or “Sir, Ma’am” (pronounced mah’m—at first I thought they were saying “mom”) as we pass.  Mari helps with negotiating good prices; eventhough prices are already low by American standards, it is expected that you will haggle for a better deal.   

Lunch is at the huge outdoor food court.  This is unlike anything in the States; all kinds of fish and seafood, rice, and local specialties out on display.  We settle on grilled Tilapia and Bangus (Milk fish), a spicy seafood stew, fried calamari, yang chow (a yellow fried ice), and Laing (a green cooked with coconut milk).  Everything is delicious and we eat until we are full.  Only Bob and Mr. Man have room for Suman sa ibos (sweet rice in banana leaves). 

After lunch Mari has arranged for the two of us to have facials, and we walk to Shangri-La Mall for a manicure/pedicure before our treatments.  The nail spa is lovely; white couches with footrests and loungers, with lots of pillows.  The white uniformed attendants bring individual foot baths to you for a soak—they lift your feet into and out of the baths—and then lay your feet on white towels on the footrest.  Nail polish colors are presented to you from a tray and they are “happy” to try different colors for you.  While one attendant gives you a pedicure, another does your manicure, accompanied by a hand/arm and foot/leg massage.  Not once do we feel rushed; it quiet, calm and serene.  So unlike what I’m used to (where the attendants chat to each other in Vietnamese—don’t you sometimes get the impression they are talking about you?—and seem in a hurry to get you finished so they can get to the next customer).  All this takes about an hour-and-a-half and we are late for our facials.

At the spa facility I’m shown to a very small, cramped room at the back and asked to remove my top and don a robe.  My technician puts on latex gloves to apply the cleanser (I have never had a facial with gloves before, and must admit I didn’t like the feel of the gloves on my face) and a scrub.  Next is a diamond peel; a small suctioning instrument with an abrasive padding is drawn across your face which removes dead skin cells, after which a mask is applied to your face for 20-30 minutes.  During this I’m left alone in the dark room to relax; except there is no blanket and it is cold.  I’m happy when the time is up, the mask is removed, and it is time to leave with instructions not to wash my face for at least four hours.

We meet Mr. Man, Bob and the kids for sushi at Samu Sam’s, where a hot cup of tea is just the thing to warm us up.  Dinner is ended with a visit to Golden Spoon for frozen yogurt.

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