We were on a street in the heart of Binondo, Manila‘s absolutely massive Chinatown. There were markets literally everywhere, and people were swarming the spaces. To the left was a vendor selling reams of colorful fabrics. To the right, someone was selling “big booty” spandex, Spongebob Squarepants PJ sets, and tupperware containers. A natural pairing for one stall, if I may say so myself. It was overwhelming and confusing and hilarious all at the same time.
At the end of the street, we reached the river. Left or right? We went left. Welcome to Christmas street. There were fake trees galore, kitschy ornaments, and Santas coming out of every corner. Christmas begins in September, or the “ber” months, in the Philippines, so the hype of the holiday was in full swing by the time we got there in mid-November.
And as I gawked at the tackily entertaining ornamentation and contemplated the practicalities of carrying on one of them for my Christmas tree back in Shanghai, I saw him running towards me in slow motion.
A fury of yellow and red had run into me. And not just straight into my body. No. Straight into my face. My nose was smashed down. The DHL man must have been in a hurry to get some package to someone. “QUICK! MORE SANTAS HAVE ARRIVED! I MUST DART THROUGH THIS OPEN SPACE BETWEEN THESE TWO CARS!!”
He looked up and poor dude, realized he had just run into some white girl that was about foot taller than everyone else around her. He apologized profusely, but then was quickly on his way, back on his mission to get his clients their DHL packages. I rubbed my nose, curious as to how on Earth he had just done that. Sure, I’ve had my fair share of bump-ins on the street, but never an accidental bump-in to the middle of my face. Ouch! Praying I hadn’t just broken my nose, I kept quiet, and turned down another street to more stalls, more organized chaos, and more true Manila culture.
While the city might not have the infrastructure that some other cities in China I have traveled to have possessed, leading to run-ins of the personal kind with DHL employees, I was so impressed by the kindness, generosity, and polite nature of the people I met in the Philippines. It was a truly beautiful country and I was so glad to have seen it for a few days, DHL run-ins and all.
- DHL Helps Protect Africa’s Endangered Leopards (prnewswire.com)