I’m not an expert at much, but sometimes I think I’m an expert at doing nothing.
Somehow in Manila it’s much easier to be busy doing nothing. One errand can take up a “whole day.” Take, grocery shopping, for example. Let’s say you want to go on a big shopping trip. You have a long list of things you want including local and imported ingredients.
You obviously don’t want to have perishable items sitting in the car for a long time, so you are going to hit up one of the regular grocery stores first. You can try Landmark Makati, Rustan’s Fresh Makati, or SM Aura. Those are my favorite grocery stores here. You’ll spend probably sixty to ninety minutes gathering things.
It takes a long time to shop here because even after you’ve been here for a year you still have to look at all your options and make sure a couple of things: 1. you’re getting the product you actually want 2. you’re not paying too much money for it.
Then you’ll spend twenty to thirty minutes in the check out lane. Once all the groceries are packed in the car (if you have a driver this is an easier task, I do not have a driver), you can head out in traffic to the next stop.
The next stop is S&R. This is the warehouse shopping that we have in the Philippines. It feels just like home, and I love shopping here (I do all of my “basic” stuff here). You can also get fairly decent perishable items. The pricing is only a little higher than the other stores, if at all (that isn’t to speak of how most of the stuff costs vs. the U.S., the stuff is much more expensive here). Just avoid the meat at S&R. Every time we bought chicken there it was bad in a day or two. We now buy meat at the other places.
I get my sour cream, cheese, fresh orange juice (expensively imported from Australia), eggs, bread, cereal, some produce (it’s sometimes cheaper here than the other places), charcoal, toilet paper, paper towels, crackers, chips, shampoo, soap, toothbrushes, and more here. If you’re lucky (and you get there early in the day) then you might not have to wait in line, or your wait will be short. I’ve waited thirty minutes in line, though.
By the time you’ve left and get home you’ve been grocery shopping for four and a half hours (including travel time – about 30 minutes to/from each place). That’s more than your whole morning, because the first grocery store didn’t open until 10:00 a.m.
You’re exhausted from walking around for hours, plus the extended periods of head math for conversion (this is especially exhausting if you’re bad at math…ahem.), the stress of traffic and parking, and not being able to find the key ingredients for two of the meals you were planning.
You decide to take your lunch in your room and nap the afternoon away.
When your husband asks what you did that day you shrug and reply “not much.”