I’m really struggling with the Philippines at the moment.
You might ask me, “You’ve been living there for three years, you were traveling there regularly for almost 20 years before you moved there, why now?”
I know the answer to that. It’s because I haven’t left the Philippines in over three months. For most of my time based here, I was traveling an average of once a month. No more.
And since my return from 6 weeks in the U.S. last year, I’ve started doing something I hadn’t done before – commuting to an office 4 days per week. 6 miles, 10 kilometers, up to 2 hours each way.
As a result, lots of little things are starting to pile up and wear me down. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’m looking forward to next week, which I’m taking off, and for which I’m mostly planning to stay home.
One of those little things is how much shopping can actually suck here. I used to love shopping here because the shopping malls are so huge. But I didn’t “need” them then – they were a way to kill time when visiting here.
Now I have to face the fact that most shops appear to manage their supply chain as if it was 1968 instead of 2018. And how imported goods are more expensive here than in Hong Kong. And how a lot of stuff that one could find in three seconds in Hong Kong can’t be found here at all. It’s a combination of ridiculously high customs fees on imported goods, VAT on all sales, and unreliable logistics companies. Major brands can’t be bothered to offer their higher end products here because they perceive there is no market for them – maybe they’re right.
Three months back I was looking for a simple USB cable that I knew every store in the Wanchai Computer Centre would have in stock. No one in the SM Mega Mall Cyber Mall had it. I could have ordered it online from Lazada and then wait three weeks for it to be shipped here.
When I wanted to buy a soundbar for the bedroom, I discovered that not one of the then-top-rated models was sold in this country. When I needed a new computer monitor, ditto. Criterion DVDs and Blu-Rays are not sold here (I save a lot of money as a result).
Yesterday, there was this on Twitter:
Tom Colicchio, in case you don’t know the name, is a big name chef from NYC, with a chain of restaurants that mostly have “Craft” in the name. He’s also the head judge on Top Chef, a show I’m hopelessly addicted to.
Eric Ripert is a French chef living in the U.S. He’s the executive chef at Le Bernardin, one of the most famous restaurants in the world.
The waffle maker shown in the photo is a “smart” waffle maker from Breville. You pour in the batter, dial up what you want to make, and the appliance figures out when it’s finished on its own.
Not that I’m that big on waffles, but I was curious. Breville does distribute some of their products in the Philippines, so I checked it out and, not really surprised, they don’t offer it here.
So I looked a bit futher. The Breville BWM640XL, the four slice version, retails for US$350 and is selling on Amazon for US$218.
You can find it on Lazada, for prices ranging from US$540 to US$700. The smaller, two slice version, is being sold for US$420 and up.
Luckily I can live without having waffles at home, or if I had to have them, I could settle for a “dumb” waffle maker. And this country has a ton of problems far more serious than my being able to find decent home appliances. It’s just the whole principle of the thing that cheeses me off.