The Great Mall Adventure

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A Classic “jeepney”

My weeks in the Philippines have been pretty chill. Jake goes to the university hospital down the street and I hang out in our condo with the kids. Sometimes I walk to the local mall or go down to the 10th floor to use the internet, but half the elevators in our building are broken and the ones still clinging to life are slooooooow. So, usually I reserve outings for the weekends when Jake is home and we can do something big.

On our second weekend in Manila our nanny suggested we go see the Mall of Asia. We’d heard people talk about it, so we knew it was supposed to be cool. But, you know, a mall is a mall, right?

Little did I know that getting there would be half the adventure. Luckily one of the train lines runs right next to our house and it’s a short walk to the train station. The trains here are super crowded and it took me a while to learn how to grip the bar and bend my knees just right, so I wouldn’t go flying into the 5 people next to me every time the train started and stopped.

This is where it’s nice to be in a place where everyone thinks your kids are adorable. Oh, you’re annoyed by my ignorant, small town, American ways? Look at this cute baby!

One lady called my kid “guapo”, and was surprised when I understood her. That’s my “Three Amigos” education hard at work.

When we got off the train our nanny led us through the gate, down a bunch of stairs, and across a street. All of these places were lined with people selling stuff, like cell phone cases and grilled chicken hearts.
She also tracked down the right jeepney. Jeepneys are everywhere here. They have street names hand painted on their sides, which, and a sign in the window that says where they’re headed. There are two benches inside where passengers sit, facing each other.

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Joe getting set for his first jeepney ride

This was my first jeepney ride. I was actually pretty excited about it. I had already ridden a tricy, so I was ready to round out my Filipino transportation experience.

We crowded in with the other passengers, holding our kids, and trying to keep them from falling out the windows. I quickly learned to hold onto the metal bar on the ceiling, to keep from having a repeat of the train experience.

Of course, the kids loved it. The train, the jeepney. Who needs Disneyland when you have this kind of entertainment! 

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The back of a jeepney. No doors, just hop on and off. I’ve also seen kids jump on the bumper and hold onto the rails without waiting for it to stop.

After twisting through the maze of streets that is Manila our nanny motioned to us to get ready to get off. The jeepneys don’t stop for long, so you have to pay attention. We managed to crouch-walk down the narrow aisle, and out into the sunshine.

That’s when I saw the mall.

This mall is basically it’s own city. Not only does it have a giant ferris wheel, movie theater, huge children’s museum, and an ice skating rink, it also has over 400 restaurants. 400. And all of that is on top of the regular retail stores.

We walked past the stores and let our mouths water over the restaurant posters for a while, then headed outside.

The mall is right next to the bay, with a carnival area and boardwalks lining the water. Luckily the ferris wheel wasn’t running that day, or Jake would have used his weird mind trick to convince my fear of heights to take a back seat. Instead we walked along the sidewalk and took in the views.

We topped off our visit by letting the boys play in the giant bouncy house and getting McDonalds ice cream to remind us of home.

Then it was time to head back. I felt more confident going into the commute this time, knowing what to expect. Basically, I held onto my kids and let myself be guided through the crazy whirlwind that is public transportation in the Philippines. I’m just grateful for our nanny. Without her there’s a good chance I would never have experienced it.

It was a great day that proved the old saying, getting there is half the fun.

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