Traveling to a new part of the world is always fun to me because of all the little rules and quirks and differences you encounter. For instance, most restaurants I’ve visited outside the US will not bring the check until you ask for it. In South America you likely won’t get more than a small square of single ply for a napkin when you eat. In Germany pouring beer with a thick, frothy head is an art.
I was curious what quirks I’d encounter and what lessons I would learn in the Philippines. It’s really been quite a study. For instance, I now know that it is simply bad form to stand on top of the toilet seat and squat to take a dump. Apparently, the seat exists for a reason…to comfortably cradle your ass while you make your deposit. There’s even signs posted in just about every stall to remind you.
Some of my lessons have related to food. I am now well aware that not all pork adobo is equal. Sometimes it’s a delicious dish of salty shredded and crispy pork on a bed of garlic rice. Other times it’s masses of gelatinous pork marrow cubes jiggling on a plate before you.
I’ve also learned that “left of way” rules the roads. Cars traveling straight through an uncontrolled intersection will yield to the cars turning left against them. Hell, who am I kidding…this is the rule even if the intersection is controlled and the car turning left is doing so against a red light. For some reason, they all just yield to cars turning left. All bets are off if you’re a pedestrian because you’re out of luck and going to end up in hospital. Or maybe in the morgue.
Finally, if you’re tall and white you will no longer have to open a door. I have yet to touch a door handle in Manila. Everywhere I go, I am greeted with a “Hi Sir” and someone falling over himself to open the door for me. In the office, one attendant actually follows me down the hall to my group’s area to open at least three doors between me and my desk.
I could live without that rule.