Wednesday, 31 October 2007

holiday time here

Thursday and Friday is a holiday here, even the tourney that we have been playing is suspended tomorrow.

This week is one of the biggest holiday weeks of the year here in the Philippines. Probably the only week with more holidays than this week is Holy Week (the week before Easter). Out of the normal 5 day week, there are 3 holidays this week! That’s right. Monday was election day for Barangay and SK elections here in the Philippines, and election day is an official holiday, so there was no school, and most businesses were closed. Tuesday and Wednesday are normal work days. All Saint’s Day is Thursday, November 1. Friday, November 2 is All Soul’s Day. Both Thursday and Friday are National Holidays, and virtually every store will be closed during this time. On Wednesday, as the eve of All Saint’s Day, many workers will work only a half day.

For All Saint’s and All Soul’s Days, many Filipinos will travel back to the Province where they came from. Starting on November 1, Filipino families will head to the cemeteries around the country to grieve for family members who have passed on ahead of them. Actually, grieve may be the wrong word for this, because it is really more of a celebration or a party. I can’t say that I fully understand the ritual, although I am aware of the goings on. People will actually bring chairs, tables, tents and such to the cemetery and they will “camp out” there for a couple of days. They will bring lots of food too - no celebration or holiday in the Philippines is complete without food! Plenty of people will bring beer or other types of drinks to the cemetery too, although I am not sure if that is really accepted. Whether drinking during this occasion is acceptable or not, lots of people do it. People will also bring boom boxes to play tunes at the cemetery. They will sing, dance and party the time away, right there at the grave sites of their ancestors.

Another ritual that I find interesting is that people will also “feed the dead.” What I mean is that they will get a plate, fill it with food, and leave it on the grave, so that the dead can also enjoy the party. It is very strange to me, but I know that this happens. I am quite sure that there are many other rituals that will be done as well, things that I have no idea about.

So if anything happens to me over here, you will all have to traipse over here every year to have a party at my graveside..... I can hear some of you say..... yes I've always wanted to dance on his grave !! Don't forget to leave some KFC for me though !!!!

The weather in the Uk doesn't look too good but neither does Toronto either, looks like your temp is about 15*, here in Manila it was 31* with only 70% humidity. I wonder if the sun will shine here tomorrow............. is the pope a Catholic !! ;-)

Hope you all have a great Wednesday

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Yes itis my birthday......

Yes bad news as another birthday comes around. But I suppose that's life. At least I will be spending it somewhere different, tonight I have 30 guests joining me for a meal in a very nice Italian Restaurant here in Greenbelt. It should be a good night. Video will appear shortly.... edited !!

I received a phone call at midnight just as my birthday started, a friend sang Happy birthday to me from the UK, a thoughtful touch and appreciated, I won't name them in case of embarrassment.

I haven't done so well this year as of yet I have received 2 cards !! But then I always forget birthdays so what can I expect !!!

It was a very hot day today over 30* with 89% humidity....... and sticky.

We had a good day at the tourney especially with 2 players that I have been working closely with in mixed doubles. I have had to change their game somewhat and in the first tourney it didn't work too well so I improvised the european style with the asian style that they are used to playing, today they looked more comfortable and beat a good pair to go through to the next round, they did lose the first, won the 2nd easily after I spoke to them and then won the 3rd. Winning after losing the first always makes the coach look good as if something that I said worked a magic spell, though I suppose it did make some difference. It's like Alex Ferguson making a substitute and he then scores as soon as he comes on... mostly just luck !!

Hope your day/evening is as much fun as mine should be..... will tell you tomorrow !!

Monday, 29 October 2007

Monday 7pm

Today went well most went through to the next round tomorrow.

I've booked a nice Italian restaurant for my birthday bash tomorrow night, chose the menu now just have to buy some decent wine.

I only brought 1 good pair of trousers with me and I just realised that the clip is broken !!!!! had to pop into the tailors for a repair..... 3 days he says... yea right I need them for tomorrow so how about express service... OK tomorrow but cost 125 pesos (£1.30) ok I can handle that.... good deal in my opinion.
Service over here can be a bit of a pain most of the time. I lost my Internet service for 7 days, considering that the company insist that you will have a technician within 24 hours that's not very good. Whenever I phone up to complain, I get " we are very sorry sir, I will make sure that it is done today" and that's what I heard every day for 7 days. When you ask "why wasn't it done yesterday as promised".......... the reply will totally ignore that question and just say " sorry about that sir, I will make sure personally that it gets done today" and so the circle continues.

You really need to have the patience of a saint over here sometimes, luckily I was forewarned about this so haven't been taken by surprise. If I lived here I would have to really learn to be even more laid back regarding ever getting anything done, you have to learn to request something and then simply wait until someone eventually gets round to doing whatever it is you asked. The only other way is to get stressed out by trying to get them to do things your way which simply will not happen, some can be very thick skinned, when I have spoken to someone that has promised to do something and haven't, I ask them why and they will simply lie to your face no matter what evidence you have to the contrary.... it's to do with losing face and to avoid confrontations of any kind. Filipinos just absolutely hate confrontation !!!! It's easier just to lie.

Yet the opposite is true in the big department stores, there are staff everywhere you just wouldn't believe it, as labour is so cheap there is a salesgirl for every little aisle and I mean little, you could have one employee looking after 1 small row of handbags 4 yds long, if you dare go near them... straight away it's.............. hi Sir would you.......... I'm 5 yards away before the sentence finishes. It's annoying sometimes when you just want to browse, I was looking at some sports shirts the other day, the girl gives me the usual...Hi sir........ I say I just want to browse..... OK sir she says then she proceeds to follow right behind you wherever you go in her area, I mean directly behind you, anything you may show the slightest interest in she's there... would sir like to... Oh just forget it and I walk away. An amusing poster on a Filipino site that I visit suggests to get rid of them you should say something rude, like... how would you like to go into the fitting room and make mad passionate love with me. If you did I'm sure they would reply with....thank you sir but that's against company policy.... would you be interested in this shirt/pants/shoes or whatever !!

The UK is now 8 hours behind Manila.

Hope you have stressful free day wherever you are.................

Sunday, 28 October 2007

Sunday 6pm.

I posted about Saturday actually on Saturday for a change !!!

Today (Sunday) just the usual thing at the mo, most of the kids went through to the next round so that's good.

I just got home so am just about to shower again and rest. I do have to visit a nice restaurent in Greenbelt as I have invited a lot of my friends to celebrate my birthday with me, I just have to pick the menu etc. I don't really bother with birthdays but thought it a good excuse to have a nice meal with friends that have been so kind to me.

Thanks to Maurice and Janice for the birthday card.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Saturday 7pm

On Friday we had 3 semi finalists, they were all knocked out, I felt the most for a 10 year old girl called Amy, she was playing in the under 12's and put up a superb fight against a bigger and more mature girl, she was playing up a group age for the experience but managed after 5 days to reach the semis, she was heartbroken not to reach the final but we all have to learn about disappointment in life.
Afterwards I again walked along the slum areas, I was more bolder this time and managed to get some photos and video too !! I will put them together as soon as I have time.

I got home about 7pm and just rested as it was a hard day.

I had to get this morning (Saturday) at 6am as the next tourney started today at 8am, there was lots of activities before the matches start at 1pm, I didn't realise this or would have stayed in bed. But it was a lot fun, there was a big crowd of us and we were at the front as the presenter was doing his thing, introducing all the big shots and giving out prizes for this and that, one was given for the team that had traveled the most to be part of the day, a team from Mindaneo won that but all the ladies on my team shouted that I came from the UK and deserved a prize, he asked them what my name was and they all screamed " GERRY MCGUIRE", so I had to go up and receive my prize and a photo shoot !!! Shucks this fame thing could go to my head !!! I have it all on video.

Anyway the tourney went well for us today most of the players went through to the next round. Filipinos are not as reserved as us in the UK when watching matches, they all stand round the court right on the lines shouting for their player, you can really get caught up in it as it is so exciting, one of kids won a very tight game in the 3rd, when he won the final point he fell to the floor screaming and was jumped upon by all his team mates and the adults were dancing on the court.... not quite British you know. It was bedlam, very like when you see a world boxing fight when the ring is crowded by people. It gobsmacked me !!

It's now just after 7pm, the games finished at 5pm and then 3 of us coaches went for a bite to eat. I will now just stay in and rest this evening as we have to do it all again tomorrow.

Sorry to all for this blog to be so much about badminton at the mo but thats what I am involved in for the time being especially with having these 2 tourneys back to back.

Friday, 26 October 2007

Friday 7am

Well yesterday was busy with badminton as it was quarter finals day, I watched some incredible play especially from the young ones, 3 of our under 10's have reached the semis, 2 in the girls and 1 in the boys. Remember this is a National tournament. We will have to attend today after all.
You would think that as they are all under 10 that their play would be at a low level, believe me these kids are excellent, in Middlesex we have the No 1 under 11 in England and these kids would beat him...including the girls. Kian.. a boy that I have a soft spot for.... he always makes me laugh.... just turned 9 in September, he played the winner from last year, a boy of 10 that now plays for the Philippines under 11's. Kian won the first and was winning 20-17 in the 2nd ( for non badminton people, games are to 21 and the best of 3) he just needed 1 more point for victory but just couldn't manage it, he lost the 2nd 23-21 and 21-19 in the decider but what an effort. Anyone that is involved in junior sport will realise the advantage that being a year older has so Kian did exceptionally well.

The matches finished at 3pm, I then decided that I wanted to walk the road from Mandaluyong to Makati as the first 2 miles is a slum area. The heat was extreme yesterday but I persevered, I walked along the front road of the slum area which is safest, they all have their small "shops", not quite the right term but is the best to describe it as we would understand. I wanted to video it so you could all see what I see but it would have been difficult as it would have attracted even more attention to me that I was already getting, believe me I got a lot of attention...... but it's really OK, you don't see many westerners walking in this area.... I never see any other than me so obviously you are going to attract attention. There was a brief moment when I had cover and managed to video for a few seconds in a quiet area but a young girl spotted me and came over to ask for some money !.... cover blown !!

People are just generally friendly at that time of day, I get lots of shouts of " hey Joe" but I just smile and say hello, some teen boys just want to give you a high 5 as you pass to be bold in front of their friends but that's OK too. Lots of people just make comments to you for a reply, young children just stare, everyone does something, from a stare to a smile or a high 5 but it's just friendly banter which I enjoy.
I walked past some real hovels, "homes" where the sewage runs underneath your floor but you can see it !!! This makes 17 Stoneyhurst St look like a 5 start hotel in Chelsea !! I could see down some of the little alleys that obviously take you further into the complex maze of corrugated homes and I wanted so much to take a walk down there but I would definitely stand out even more. Some had a sort of street ( not wide enough for a car) that looked easier to walk down and I hope to do so one of these days, just won't be able to take my camcorder with me as I would be conscious of having it on my person.
When I look down these "streets" there is a hive of activity, lots of children running around, adults making something (I don't know what) people strolling, some sitting and drinking outside their homes. It sort of reminds me of photos of Victorian London and the East End where the waifs were playing in the streets and the mothers were washing clothes or doing something similar. I am so intrigued by these areas and can't wait to meet one of the people there that may be able and willing to accompany me around. Part of me feels like I'm intruding which I probably am but my inquisitiveness is overwhelming.

I walked for about 2 and a half hours all the way home in that heat, for the last mile I was going to get a cab but the traffic was so busy that it was quicker for me to walk, my only thoughts were... not long to go before my cold shower..... every 100 yds or so that's all I was thinking about. When you get indoors.... aircon on to it's max..... fan on at it's highest.... peel off the shirt that is sticking to your back and everything else that is too...... stand under cold shower and relax..... what a feeling.......... beauuuuuuuutifoooooooooooooool !!!!!!!!!!!

Thank you to Mary for the birthday card that I received as I got home.

Hope the temperature is comfortable wherever you are in the world

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Thuesday 7am

I was up at 6am today, just can't sleep well at the mo. Even though I am tired just can't sleep.

Yesterday 2 more went through, we have the quarter finals today, I don't expect any to go through to the semis but it would be great if they did. I have seen the competition and they are very strong, they are national players and have been playing longer than ours and train at least 4 times per week. So if they all get knocked out today that means tomorrow (Friday) we will have a rest from attending the tourney, in saying that there is another tourney starting on Saturday !!!!!!!! If any of out players got through to the finals this Saturday we would be involved in 2 tourneys on the same day !!!

I do miss M & S and Sainsburys, I go shopping here once per week to the supermarket but usually come out with the same items, milk, bread, cornflakes and corn beef ! I always spend time looking for something different that I can take home to eat. There is no cooked meat counter, no prepared meals like I usually buy in M&S or even any frozen meals.......... so I am lost !!! I can't even find biscuits that look similar to ours at home except kit kats, I suppose that is not a bad thing... no biccies is good for me. I have to eat out all the time which isn't too bad especially as I only have a microwave to cook on. I do try and eat in places where I can get vegetables and some decent stuff but also a lot of times it is just a case of grab whatever you can wherever I am.
If I lived here I would have to find myself a cook that could also do the shopping as well, I wouldn't have a clue what or where to buy.

As soon as these tourneys are over I will be adding a video to the site, it just takes a bit of time to edit and publish videos.

If anyone is having shepherds pie or similar, save a piece for me !!! I'd kill for some fish and chips or even the morsels from Paul Withams plate (he always has nice food for lunch in school). Maybe Sally Clargo could send me an emergency food supply .... she normally cooks my Xmas dinner... Sally you can still send it to me or Paul can deliver as usual. Or my sister Anne could send me the leftovers from any of her meals as they would be better than anything that I'm eating at the mo !!

I hope that you eat well today wherever you are viewing from.

Wednesday, 24 October 2007

Wed 8am

So it is school half term in the UK which means that the clocks go back 1 hour. So Manila will now be 8 hours in front of the UK, when I write this in the morning most of you will just be going to bed the previous day !!

I've cut down on the rice and iced tea because I still don't understand why I am putting on weight !!! so much more exercise, perspiring all day and not eating as much as before.... beats me !!!

I'm learning a few words of Tagalog which is the dialect used in Luzon where Manila is located. So many dialects here that they may as well be different countries, someone in Manila may not be able to understand someone from Leyte or Cebu, they are only an hours flight from each other and in the same country.
My words are mainly for badminton at the moment so that I can shout instructions during games in this tourney. All the people here mostly understand English even the 9 year olds speak it, considering that its not their native tongue I find that quite amazing. I try and speak slower to make it a little bit easier for them.

We had another 2 players go through yesterday and 3 were knocked out, I will be there again this morning.
Yesterday was a tiring day, we as coaches are all begining to feel it, we are all feeling tired and drained as you have to put so much in mentally during the day. It is also so hot in the hall as there is obviously no aircon, of course the players feel the heat even more.
I got home at 4pm and have just rested and slept til this morning.

I have managed to take some video of badminton and some of my travels around some areas, I will save the badminton for my sports friends but will post the other video as sooon as I can.

Manila is overcast this morning which makes a change as it is cool but the sun will come out later, you can be sure of that !!

Hope your day is restful, though it probably won't be if you live in the Uk and have children...... enjoy your half term.

Tuesday, 23 October 2007

It's Tuesday 8am here

Monday was a busy day, 2 players went through to the next round, 1 was an incredible match that I got on video. The standard here is so high especially with this heat, it was a great day to watch our players as they worked so hard.

In the afternoon I went for another one of my walks, just a small one as I didn't have the time.

I coached in the afternoon at my new session in Makati, they worked hard and I think they were surprised at how much work I wanted them to do.

Afterwards I went to watch Coach William play in the national doubles tourney, he was knocked out but it was a brilliant game, the speed of the Asians is so superior to us Europeans that's why they are the best in the world at this game.

Because I am a westerner, this team get a lot of kudos, in the UK if you have an asian coach everyone is impressed, it's the reverse here, so when I am in the coaches chair during tournement matches people have been asking how this team can afford to have me on their side.
The coaches and parents have told me that it gives our players confidence and the opposition feel worried when they see me as their coach. It may wear off as a lot of our players have been knocked out !!! No actually it won't as it's a cultural thing, westerners are held in high regard here... too much actually to the detriment of themselves.

At the end of the evening we went for a meal, 14 of us including kids, it was nice to part of group on foreign soil. Looking round the restaurant and to the world outside it sometimes feel strange when I realise that I am with a different culture and people... but really enjoyable.
14 people.....the bill was just over £40 paid by one of the parents... Thanks !!

When people are addressing you here there is always a title put before your name, I am known as coach gerry, outside of sport if someone knows you to show respect they may call me Kuya Gerry (if they are younger), if they don't know me personally but know my name they will call me Sir Gerry.... knighted and I have only been here 6 weeks !!!! There are other titles for females and some that I don't understand what they mean yet. Very interesting and respectful though.

There was a fire in Glorietta that some people thought was another bomb, it was just a small incident but Glorietta was evacuated just in case.

Monday, 22 October 2007

Monday 8am

The tourney didn't go so well today (Sun) 5 played and all got knocked out, all very close games and most went to the 3rd but when the big points were up for grabs at 19 all, the opposition were more prepared and up for it.

Had another walk around Mandeluyong, it's just so fascinating to see these "slum" areas, I really want to have a good look down there. These people have it difficult and probably in different circumstances would do well in life, there are a lot of people in the UK, especially those that intentionally live on benefits that could learn a lot from them about hard work. The "don't work...don't eat" reality of here would serve some of them well in the UK.

I have a busy day today with badminton, 9 am is the start of the 3rd day of the tourney then at 4pm I am coaching, then it's back to the tourney straight afterwards for the adults games. Coach William is playing as it is a national tourney.

Hope your day isn't too busy and you have time to rest your weary soul

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Sunday 4pm

Saturday was taken up with badminton, we had 5 players play in the tourney, 4 won and go through to the next round.
Then in the afternoon I went to las pinas to coach... and that I'm afraid is about that for Saturday.

I had a text 5 mins ago to say that Glorietta mall has been bombed again according to the radio but I didn't find any confirmation on the net so it may just be a rumour.
It is now being suggested that it wasn't done by terrorists but by the military themselves, a bid to depose the present government and the president, it is being suggested that the vice president is involved.

A big thank you to Paul Clargo for giving me a complete update on what's happening in Uxbridge.
Yes Paul it is same mall as in my photos. Sounds like you are having some exciting times there too.

I did have a walk round Manaluyong before getting a taxi home.... it was just too hot to keep walking, I would love to walk down into some of these alleys they have in the barangays, they look as though they would take you into the the bowels of the earth. Whilst walking round these areas as long as you look confident and just say Hi when someone shouts "hey Joe" and smile I feel that you will be ok. These alleys are only 3' wide and go downstairs, when I peep I can usually see someone sitting down there or at least some sort of human activity like washing hanging up. They seem to go so far in as I can just about see lights on, even though it's sunny, down there seems so dark and decrepid...... but so so interesting. One day when I have enough courage I'm going to chat to some of these guys and see if I can have a walk around down there.... maybe even video it but I think I may be pushing it if I tried that.

I hope the sun is shining in your heart at least on this restful Sunday

Saturday, 20 October 2007

Saturday 8am

Well everything is quet now after the fuss about the bomb yesterday.

I left Glorietta at 12.30pm an hour before the bomb went off, I went for another walk around a busier area of Pasay, I then walked upto Manila bay in Malate and took some video which I will add at a later date.

This morning the Yonex week long tournament starts at 9am so I have to leave my condo in 5 mins to attend as part of the coaching team.

Hope you all have a great day, that's to the both of you that read this blog !!!!!!

Friday, 19 October 2007

2nd post Friday.....Explosion

It probably hasn't been reported in the UK (and probably won't be) but there was an explosion today in Glorietta shopping mall, luckily I left there at 12.30pm to go for another walk which I will report on later.

This is just in case you read of anything regarding this and maybe wondering if I was involved, it was first thought that it was a gas exposion but is now thought to be have been a bomb.
The army are on the streets and security has been stepped up everywhere especially in public areas.

This is the current report below:

Arroyo calls for vigilance after blast, warns destab plotters

President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo on Friday urged Filipinos to remain vigilant following the blast that hit the Glorietta 2 mall in Makati and killed at least eight people.

In her statement, the President also warned groups against exploiting the deadly blast for political gain.

Her full statement:

“At around 1:30 this afternoon the Makati area was rocked by a powerful explosion which so far resulted in 8 killed and at least 70 persons wounded. Initial investigations indicate that the explosion could not have been caused by a LPG accident as earlier reported. Circumstances indicate it is highly probable that it was caused by an explosive device.

“We assure everyone that a full blown investigation is now underway. The Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines are on highest alert and are fielding an additional 2000 personnel to secure our public places and to prevent a possible similar occurrence.

“I warn those who seek to exploit this incident to destabilize our government for their selfish political motives.

“Meanwhile, we urge all sectors to remain vigilant as the government steps up security measures to protect our people.

A 5 hour walk around Pasay

I wanted to visit an area that looked really interesting, I had spotted it when I have been in a cab driving home from Las Pinas, I never really knew where the area was except that there was a huge bus terminal called "5 star". Anyway I asked at reception if they knew where it was but they didn't, we tried the cab firms but no cabs were available to take me there. So I told them that I would buy a map and walk there, they thought that I was mad, they were saying that it would take me 5/6 hours to get there and it wasn't a good idea. I know that Filipinos are not very good when it comes to walking anywhere they prefer to take a cab, Jeepney or trycicle.

I looked at the map and it didn't look that far so off I went, I was right within 90 mins I was approaching Pasay. I wasn't sure which way to go so just kept walking, the main roads started to fade and I found myself walking along small roads and dirt tracks, have you ever had that feeling as you walk along that says...... I don't think I should be walking along here and you say to yourself, no problem there will be a main road here shortly but as you walk you just keep getting deeper and deeper into an area that makes you feel uncomfortable. I didn't really feel unsafe as it was only the afternoon but people round here don't see many Caucasians as people were stopping whatever they were doing to look at me. I wanted to take some photos but couldn't as I would've felt like a bit stupid as everyone was just looking at me, I also had my camcorder with me hidden in a shoulder bag, I must stress I didn't feel that unsafe just uncomfortable. I continued to walk.. looking as confident as I could and smiling at anyone that took my gaze. I eventually ended up in this village selling all sorts of things, I would've liked to have looked and strolled around but it's not so easy when everyone is looking at YOU !!

Eventually I hit a main road.... my comfort zone returned...... I'm near the Skyway with a freeway beneath, alongside all of that is this area of corrugated huts and dwellings, I took a lot of photos here, people were living under part of the bridge and even had some sort of meeting which I took a pic of. I follow these homes around the freeway wall, there were some friendly children there that came to talk to me but they didn't speak English and I don't speak Tagalog, so it was just....... where (you) from......... uk.... strange looks, obviously don't attend school so probably don't know what I'm talking about, but they were sweet kids and I got a nice pic of them.
I continued along the freeway as it heads towards Makati where I live, the pavement is only 18" wide, I suppose it's not meant for people to walk along. I just kept walking............... for 2 MILES.... I couldn't get off it, fumes were choking me, people driving past must have thought what a plonker !! Anyway eventually it splits going into 2 directions but neither have a pavement ??......... there was 3 ladies cleaning an area alongside the freeway, I asked them is there a way I can get off here........... no problem they simply walked on the freeway with their brooms and stopped all 4 lanes of traffic for me........... only in the Philippines !!! I was grateful to be off it and popped straight into the first mart to get a drink of orange as I was so dry. I then just walked the rest of the way home, though I was tiring near the end with the heat and humidity I refused to get a cab for the last mile, when I reached Lagaspi village where I live, I popped into Starbucks and proceeded to spill a very large cup of coffee all over myself which looked as though I had just wet myself, so with my bag trying to cover me I retreated to my condo for a shower, change of clothes and a restful evening. There is still places that I want to visit in the evening, this time I am going to try and look less like a tourist.

Hope your day is as stress free as mine will be.

Thursday, 18 October 2007

Thursday 11am

Well last night was a lot of fun, I did the guest speaker thing, I was fully prepared for it with my cards, glasses etc, I didn't realise that I would have to use a hand held mike so the only small problem that I had was the mike and the cards were both under my nose !!!! But it went down well. Amazingly of all the people there no-one drunk any alcohol at all, I was eyeing a bottle of beer but thought I would wait until I seen someone else drink one too but they never did, I thought they were Christians here not Mormons !!!!

I was supposed to be there at 6.30 so I left my condo at 5.15pm for the 45 minute ride, the first cabbie as usual asked for 500p with no meter when it should only be about 170p so I told him to take a hike, the best deal that I could get was 100p above the meter price so it ended costing me the 270... these cabbies are a pain.... they keep saying it's because of the traffic.... hey it's Manila there is traffic every day, I've told them that if they are concerned about traffic maybe they should do something else. It's like me saying that there is a lot of kids around today..... It's a SCHOOL what should I expect !!!!
Anyway the upshot of it all was that I didn't get there until 7pm, I didn't realise that there is an expressway but the cabbies don't use it because of the extra charge for the toll, I used it on the way back and told the cabbie that I would pay the 48p toll..... I was back in my condo in 30 mins!! Lesson learned...... ask for the expressway.

I have a couple of quiet days coming up today and tomorrow, I am going to visit the areas that I really find interesting but am not supposed to visit. Early evening should be ok, I will have to buy a new camera as it refused to work last night which was as shame as I would've liked some pics from the dinner.

It is overcast again this morning but the sun did come out yesterday, we did have 30 mins of rain also but considering this is the rainy season that's the only rain we've had in a week.

Hope you have a great day wherever in the world you are visiting from.

Wednesday, 17 October 2007

Big day today

It's actually a big evening really, the club that I coach at Las Pinas has a formal dinner tonight in Paranaque. I am the official guest speaker......oops !! The 53 players will be there with their parents so I'd better make it interesting.

I played last night in a new place, a doctor that I know invited me there, it's in an area called Sucat not far from Las Pinas actually, it was nice to meet new people. These are some of the professionals of Manila, the Doctor actually has a clinic of 3 floors with over 20 staff so is well off and the other players were dentists and the like, a really nice, friendly and helpful group and as it was Joey's (the doc) birthday, pizza was delivered to the court after playing....mmmmmm !!!

I met the doc at his surgery, as we were leaving by the back stairs to get to his vehicle, we were escorted by his armed guards with rifles and all !!! It was only 5pm, I think this security thing here is exaggerated although maybe he is worried about kidnapping as he is considered rich here, which I suppose he actually is.

I was awake at 4am this morning so decided to try and contact Maurice via skype, after a few tries and a bit of configuration at his end we managed to speak for a while, though the call was ended abruptly, I presume that we got cut off or Maurice got bored !! ;-)

Well the sun isn't shining here in Manila this morning, it's overcast but still very warm.

I hope that you have a great day today wherever you are in the world

Tuesday, 16 October 2007


As you can see from my photos, Makati... at least the part where I live is similar to any major city, but if you walk a few minutes away from the main street and malls, you will have a very different view. A few minutes walk from my condo is Makati Medical centre and directly opposite it is a squatters area, using the word "squatters" sounds negative but these are people that simply don't have many choices in life. Remember there is no benefit system here, to eat on a daily basis you have to work or find some other way to obtain money to buy food.

Every little space along the roads can be made into a business, it may only be selling little home made sweets or cigarettes, some sell refreshments. This is just one person standing by himself with a cardboard box of sweets/cigarettes but selling enough will mean that he can eat for that day.
Taxi drivers, as much as I dislike them at times don't have it easy either. Their cab rental cost per day is 1500 pesos then gas is another 750 p per day, that's 2250 pesos that they have to make per day just to break even. On average in Makati that is 45/50 pick ups per day before they make any profit. They all work in 24 hours shifts (the cab rental time ) they grab sleep during quiet times, I sometimes worry when a cabbie drives me home is just about falling asleep as it may be nearing the end of his 24 hours in this cab.
As the saying goes.... needs must, I think that is one of the things that I admire most about Filipinos is that they are prepared... you could say that they have no choice.... to do whatever is necessary to eek out a living in difficult circumstances.

One of the negative sides of that is, they become used to only planning for today. If one comes into some money, instead of saying that's great I can eat well today and save the rest and eat well for the next few weeks. They may have a party or give family and friends a hand out but it inevitably it means that they are back to square one. At the lower level of society some workers will work for you but then when they get paid you won't see them again until their money runs out, so instead of working continious and saving some money for the difficult times, they just live for today.. eat today then worry about tomorrow. Who am I to argue with that.

I hope you have a positive day today wherever you are viewing from. And can you believe it..... the sun is shining here in Manila !!!

Monday, 15 October 2007


I have just added some photos today. Just click on " A walk in Manila" under the photos link.

Weekend is over... ;-(

Ah... the weekend is over so it's back to the................. no it's not......... every day is a weekend for me !!!!!!

Sunday was another quiet day, some shopping, lunch then played for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Stayed at home last night as I was feeling tired, I only played 8 games but my legs felt like concrete.... very stiff. I didn't play at all last week so those games were tiring for me.

I am coaching this afternoon, this is a new session that I am starting for a new group. 3 hours of exercise in the heat of the afternoon, I won't be playing but my shirt will still be soaked through with perspiration..... you really wanted to know that.... didn't you !!

I have lots of photos that I have taken round the Manila area and hope to have them on this site very soon. I will also be taking some video when I have more time.... more time I hear you say.. well there is always something I have to do, eat brekkie, go for a walk, rest, maybe an afternoon nap, play sports, meet friends for lunch etc. You don't realise the pressures that I'm under :-)

I spoke too soon about the mozzies the other day, I have been bitten quite a lot over the past few days. Strange though that all the bites are below the knee mostly around the top of the sock area, this must be were the juiciest blood is as I never get bitten on my arms or torso. There is a lot of dengue fever going around at the moment in Manila which is contracted from mozzies, there is no prevention but there is a cure. Luckily I have a doctor in one of my groups so he keeps me informed.

Last night when I finished playing I decided to walk home, I also wanted to try and find a different route home as I believed there must be a quicker way. Usually at that time (8pm) the streets are very busy with people and cars but I presume as it was a Sunday the streets were deserted. Normally Makati is bustling with people and cars at that time but not yesterday, I did find another way home but got lost a few times, when I asked for directions people were surprised that I wanted to walk, they all said take a cab and looked at me as though I was mad. Anyway walking down some of these back streets was interesting though at times I had to keep my wits about me as you do see people in the shadows just talking with their friends, probably totally innocent but when you are alone in a strange place your defences are heightened.

It's 8.30am (Monday) as I type this, outside of my window over Manila the sun is shining as usual. My day is just beginning as all of those in the UK are tucked up in bed.

I hope the sun is shining wherever you are.

Saturday, 13 October 2007


After feeling bad on friday I woke up on saturday feeling good. I went to Las Pinas in the afternoon and had a really enjoyable but hard session. Today was the last day that I could put them through a really hard session as they have to rest and only train to a level that will keep them ready for the tourney on Saturday. They worked hard and enjoyed the session, I really have bonded with these players although it's only been 3 weeks. I look forward to watching them play in this national tourney next saturday, I can't expect too much as I have only had 3 weeks with them.

I have only been here for 5 weeks but I really do enjoy it here, ok maybe not working at all may be part of it but I feel that it's much more than that. I really enjoy the community spirit here and have made many friendships in the 5 short weeks that I've been here. I will be able to give a more balanced opinion by this time in April next year. The thought of returning to London at the mo isn't very appealing, I wouldn't feel that I am returning home, I would feel that I am leaving home.... as home to me feels like the Philippines. The future will answer that question.

The society here isn't ruled by 18 - 30 year olds, there is no graffitti, people behave themselves in the streets, I never see any drunks anywhere. people are polite and friendly and really welcoming. For example I was coaching badminton tonight, the parents always made sure that I had enough liquid to keep me hydrated and whenever I had a break, food was put in front of me to keep me going without me giving any indication that I needed any nourishment. The main thing though is that they always have a smile on their faces which is contagious !!!!!

I wondered why the players here especially at under 11 level are so advanced from players in the UK, after watching the training I can only guess that there is a difference in culture, the young players here aged 8-11 train really hard, as hard as I train my 12-17 years old. I couldn't train my young players that hard as they physically couldn't do the same training as they do here especially with the heat. Also the parents in the Uk have complained to me that we push their children too hard............ my goodness if they could see how the children train here they would be gobsmacked. In the UK in my group I have the No 1 under 11 player in the UK, but here in this small group I have found 4 or 5 players that are equal or better than him and they have no sponsorship or help from any sporting body. There is at least 6 players that I would love to have in my group at home and they would all be sponsored as they are that good. There is one 8 year old boy here that is better than anyone that I have ever seen in my life as a coach, remembering that I have seen young players years ago that now play at the highest levels.

The weekend is here

I was up bright and early Friday at 6.30am as I had to be in Las pinas for 9 am. It takes an hour to get there by cab, if we used the meter it would only cost about 200 pesos (£2) but this is one instance when I do understand the cabbie not wanting to use the meter and just have an agreed fixed price, he has to go out of town and the chances of him getting a fare back to Makati are slim, so we agree a fare of either 300 or 400 pesos depends on how much of a hurry I am in. If I have the time then I do the barter game... you know.. he says 500.. I gasp audibly and walk away... he either drives away or calls me back to agree a low price.... usually i can get them down to 300 and if he is friendly and a good driver I will give him 400 anyway.

It was a very hot morning in Las Pinas, so much so that after 3 hours I was beginning to feel faint, some of the other coaches asked if I was ok because my face was red and blotchy. I went to the comfort room and they were right I didn't look very good ( not that I ever do... thought I'd get that in before someone made a clever comment !!) and I didn't feel very well. I then just went home and rested and slept the rest of the afternoon. By 7pm I felt better (sleep and aircon work wonders) but felt very hungry so popped into Greenbelt and had 2 meals and 2 pints of beer, their meals are so small that 2 equals a normal one for westerners, though in saying that I have got used to their portions but yesterday I was exceptionally hungry.

I'm off to Las Pinas again today (Sat)to coach as they prepare for their big Tourney next Saturday.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are,

Friday, 12 October 2007

BB.......... yes at last

Globe surprisingly did come yesterday at 1pm as promised, it really did surprise me as I thought that they would at least be late, but there you go when you least expect it.
So I am all up and running and ready for action on the internet front. Pics will follow very soon.

Stayed at home last night as I didn't feel too good, also had an early night as I had badminton coaching at 9am this morning in Las Pinas.

I used my skype phone to speak to a friend at home in the UK, it was excellent, clear as a bell over the 7000 miles and best of all is that it is free !! So if you have skype or any other voip phone, feel free to call me.

Thanks for the message Anne. Yes there are lots of skyscrapers here, I think your perception of Manila may change when you see some photos later. Yes I do see quite a few white guys particularly here in Makati but there seems to be an unwritten law that we don't make eye contact. I have spoken to an American here at my condo but no-one else, sometimes a nod of acknowledgement is given. But then again why should be try and be friends just because we are the same colour.

Thursday, 11 October 2007

BB............... the legend

Well as usual... no BB, it may be today !!!! ;-)

I have managed to get online at home though, if I kneel on the sofa with my laptop pressed against the window I can piggyback an unsecured network, which is what I'm doing now. Of course it drops a lot but beggars can't be choosers.

The weather was great yesterday, very hot but little humidity which was a nice change.

I am up on the 18th floor, mozzies are not supposed to fly very high, they say if you live above the 7th floor that you won't see them. Well pardner they sure fly to my condo !! I reckon there's a mozzie somewhere near the ground that tells all his mates that there is a juicy foreigner on the 18th and it's worth the effort. All my windows are closed so I can only presume that they get in via the aircon. I must admit though that I don't get bitten as much as I did the first 2 weeks.

As you would expect there is a lot of begging over here but not always what you would expect, of course you have the street kids and you have the blind ones being guided around by a helper, but there is another kind too. The hard luck story ones, I'm not saying that they are lying but then again every one here can tell you a hard luck story. They are usually quite well dressed young ladies maybe even mums with their children but always about to tell you their story if you listen but it will always have the same ending.... can you give me some money. You have to be firm as I am and just say "no thanks" and carry on walking. You can always see someone about to approach you, it's like a radar for them but also for me too, I keep my peripheral vision wide, so that I can see when anyone is going to accost me then I speed up to give them a body swerve.

You also have the "hotel employee", this is usually a guy, you may just be walking down the street and he will walk alongside you and say "hi sir, do you remember me I work in your hotel" of course most foreigners stay in hotels as they are tourists, this is their get your attention icebreaker, they may walk with you for a while using friendly talk then they will give you their hard luck story, "need money for a sick child...mother....grandma...caribou...whatever. I got clever to this on a previous trip and I used to say " which hotel", this caught a few of them out. In my first week here on this trip I got one H.E walk with me, I asked him which hotel but he did know where I was staying, I think he followed me when I left my hotel to sound more truthful. Unfortunately I simply ignore everyone that is about to approach me, they rarely get past "excuse me sir" before I am about 5 yards away of them.

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

BB.... the next episode...........

Yesterday (Tuesday) as you can guess I was getting a bit fed up with the waiting, I had to get a bit angry with people to get things done. Shame that I had to resort to that but I can't wait forever. I contacted Globe myself as mentioned in my previous post, they say no application has been received so someone is lying to me. I contacted the broker he assures me the application is being processed but I still give him a bit of stress, he obviously contacted the owner who then rang me, I gave her a bit of stress too. The upsurge of all this is that my BB is being installed today at 1pm...... we shall see. I think what has happened is either the application was lost or held up or more probable it wasn't put in to Globe in the first place by the owner, but Filipinos don't like to lose face by saying that they messed up so they will just pay you lip service until things work out.

So if I do get BB installed today it means that I can upload some pics in the next few days. Then I can start to make some videos too.

Friday is a holiday here, I am going to Las Pinas Friday and Saturday to coach the players that are taking part in the national tourney on the 20th. I haven't had much time to help them but I think it will have made a difference especially in the mixed doubles.

The last few days have been quite cool with some rain showers, I like the rain as it isn't cold, I can still walk around in shorts, get wet and be dry again once the sun returns.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are....

Tuesday, 9 October 2007


As you can probably guess my BB wasn't installed yesterday (Monday), the broker that is dealing with it went to the Globe office and they now say that it will get done on Friday... yea OK.
I'm tired of this so am visiting the office myself this morning. I phoned their customer services last night, they asked which name was the application filed, I guessed the owners name... NO nothing under that name... well maybe my name......... No nothing there either......... I ask, can you find it under the address.......... No sir that is not possible... OK bye. I then contacted the broker he says that the owner filed it under her friends name in New York........ well that's helpful isn't it !! I ring them again with the new name.......... sorry sir nothing under that name either !!! Apparently the call centres here don't actually have the info that the office has....... again that's helpful isn't it. So I am going to the office myself though I know it won't make the slightest bit of difference, I feel that I must try to do something rather than constantly going through a 3rd party.

Other than that Monday was a restful day as will today (Tuesday) be. The sun is shining again... surprise !! and there is a cool breeze which is really nice.

One thing that you see a lot of here which is quite quaint, is that a lot of people, guy with guy, woman with woman, husband/wife or any other combination walk along together with an arm on their friends shoulder, at first I thought they were probably "good" friends but no, I have seen a lot guys I know do it with their mates and I know that they are not "good" friends. It just seems to be an accepted way of showing friendship, it's not around the shoulder but actually on the shoulder like the way a blind person may put their hand on your shoulder for you to guide them. It's quite cute but I can't imagine doing it along Uxbridge High St as I may get some queer looks... pardon the pun !!

Monday, 8 October 2007


It's Monday morning and my broadband is supposed to be installed............... I won't hold my breath. It would be great if it was installed as I have some pics that I want to upload.... I'll just have to wait and see.

I'm afraid things are very quiet here at the mo, after Saturday I was feeling a bit stiff in my legs so have taken Anne's advice and decided to have a few days rest from playing. I won't play again until wednesday.

This will give me time to do some walking around some other areas early evening.

If I get BB installed I can do some uploading in the evenings and have some fun surfing again.
Anyone got Skype installed......... fancy a chat sometime ??

My first month has passed and I have enjoyed every minute so far.

Any visitors from St.Andrews that can update me on what's happening there ?

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are in the world

Sunday, 7 October 2007


Yesterday (Sat) I went to Las Pinas to do some coaching, it was a really enjoyable day. I coached some superb players mixed doubles tactics, they found it difficult at the beginning but soon got to grips with the basics, they have a National tournament in 2 weeks time and I'm hoping this pair will do well in the mixed doubles.

They have 53 players playing in this tourney !!!!! I have been given the honour of being part of the coaching team to attend, they presented me with the Tourney shirt with my name on the back. I stayed on and helped with coaching some adults and played some games also.

On the way home by cab we passed through the "rough" areas, they look so interesting and really these are the places that I would love to walk through to look around. There are so many people doing so many things, so different from home. I'm constantly told that I shouldn't go there by people, which I abide by but I don't think it is as bad as people say. Sure I would get a lot of looks but that is normal..... a white face amongst a background of brown faces does stand out and gets you a lot of attention at times.

I got home at 11pm but was hungry so went out to the local bar/grill for a snack and a beer. I walked home just after midnight and as usual got accosted by some street children selling flowers, I never buy because I know that it is just a ploy to attain some cash, not even for the kids, somewhere in the street will be someone that is organising them. It may be their parents or a "minder" of sorts but at a guess he/she is the one that gets the cash.
Anyway I refused as usual, there was 3 of them, a 12/13 year old girl and 2 boys about 8/9 all streetwise of course. They asked if I could buy them something to eat as they were very hungry, they did look it and didn't look in the best of shape with teeth missing and poorly dressed. So as it pulled at the heartstrings and I wasn't giving them money I thought OK I will help this time, they knew exactly where a mini mart was, just 50 yds from my condo. Anyway we go inside, the employees know the situation as I am obviously not the first sucker (tourist) to go along with this, they try for some expensive sweets............ NO you will have the basics.. chicken and rice..... so they are happy, then they ask for a drink............... OK no problem.
An adult of the same ilk entered and spoke to them... mother I would guess, anyway that is it I pay and we all go our own way.
I have seen these kids many times selling rubbish flowers or begging, it is so sad but it is difficult with so many of them around. I wonder if they eat the food or is it then shared with the adults.... probably.
So instead of giving them a few pesos I ended up spending 300 pesos on food, did I do the right thing... probably yes, did I help overall.... probably no. Would I do it again... probably yes but next time I would insist that they sit down in the mart so I can see that they actually get to eat the food.

Wherever you are in the world I hope you and your children eat well today and are healthy.

Saturday, 6 October 2007

Saturday 10am

Friday was pretty quiet, I had a few things to do during the, change some currency, speak to my landlord about my lease.... just boring things as we all have to do at times.

Played badminton last night but only for 2 hours as I'm getting a bit used to these players now, I'm getting frustrated by their lack of knowledge of positional play and tactics during play so have agreed to coach 1 day per week for now to help them, I was asked to do 3 days but I want to keep my options open for when I do some travelling around the islands.

Today I am traveling to Las Pinas about 30/35k away... if I can get a cab to take me that is..... I am going to coach some really very good young players between 1-5pm then some adults between 6-8pm.

I hope all is well with you and your family wherever you are in the world.

Friday, 5 October 2007

Friday 11am

My broadband installation has now been changed to Monday !!! It probably won't be done that day either, this is similar service to what we get at home. So I have to keep on visiting internet cafes for the time being.
Once I get BB installed then I can start publishing photos and videos so friends/family can see a bit of Filipino life here in Manila.

It's a sad day today as I am on my last Sainsburys tea bag, I brought a lot with me but have finally run out of that little reminder of home. Although I drink iced tea all day when I'm out, in the morning before I leave my condo I usually have a cup of English tea, it's not quite as good as at home because there is no fresh milk here so I have to use the long life that they sell.
I don't drink the normal tea or coffee when out as they use those sachets of powdered milk... yuk!!

Im playing again this evening and then tomorrow I'm going to Las Pinas to work with some good players again.

Ths sun is shining again today....... surprise surprise !!!! Thankfully it's not too hot or humid though it is still around 80*, the one thing about it always being hot here is the electric bills. When you are at home the aircon and fans have to be on most of the time, there is nothing better (other than a cold shower) than when you get home feeling extremely hot and your shirt is sticking to your back, to turn on the AC full blast with the fans on also...... after about 20 mins you start to feel comfortable again. Long live aircon !!!

Thanks Anne, yes in Rome do as the Romans do, I am sure they made some complaints also ! ;-)
I understand about the age thing and hope you have a great weekend.

I hope that you have a great day wherever you are.............. enjoy !

Thursday, 4 October 2007

9am Thursday

I'm beginning to dislike taxi drivers even more, last night I was going to play badminton at 6pm, it was raining so the first 3 cabs that I managed to stop all wanted to forget using the meter and just charge me a straight 100 pesos, now I know 100 pesos is only just over a pound but it's the principle. The next taxi that stopped I jumped in and told him my destination and we drove off, he had the meter covered with a cloth so I insisted that he put the meter on, he ignored me so I kept repeating that, he pretended not to understand, after 100 yds he finally relented, removed the cloth to uncover the meter and switched it on, I relaxed, McGuire 1 taxi scammer 0................after another 100 yds he changed his mind and threw me out of the cab !!! well actually he pretended that there was something wrong with the vehicle and told me to get out. taxi scammer 1 McGuire 0. Or is it a draw as he didn't get his 100 pesos.

I was so annoyed that I just walked the 45 mins to my destination in the rain, yes I can be stubborn but what would you do. These are the same drivers that when things are quiet they toot you in the street pleading with you to use them, during these times now I feel like shouting .... YES but what about last night when it was raining you so and so !!!! ;-)

For the sake of any Filipinos reading my blogs I know a lot of posts may sound negative towards the Phils which they are but conversely there are a lot of positive things about here also which is why I'm here. Hopefully I have posts about them also along my way. There is always negative things to complain about wherever you live.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007


Just a quick reminder how "comments" work.

If you leave a comment (please do) under a post, after typing then please click on "other" then just add a name so I know who you are. Or you can just click "anonymous" typing your name in the main body of the comments. You then must click on "Publish". At the top of the page it will read "Your comment has been saved and will be visible after blog owner approval"

The comment then comes to my mailbox for me to moderate ( to avoid anyone I don't know publishing anything rude) I will then ok the comment and also reply to it at the same time.

If you want to read my reply you MUST go back to that particular post, therefore it is best to comment on the newest post, it makes it easier to find my reply.

Hope that clears things up for all.

Today (Wednesday) is a beautiful day here in Manila, the sun is shining and it is not too hot.

I went out for a meal with a friend last night. I just asked her to join me for the company, she texted me later that day to ask... can my mum come too..... Yes sure I say........... another text... can my aunt also come........ ok why not............... at the meet up they are all there plus her nephew....... I was looking to see if her dog or cat was coming too :-) Luckily I knew that this is how things work in the Philippines so I was just amused. It was a pleasant few hours and her mum enjoyed her first time in a smart restaurant. So I made someone's day. No I won't be doing it again :-)

PS No-one commented on "my secret addiction" did you all miss it as it was my 2nd post that day.............................. go back to yesterday to read it.

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

2nd post today

I woke up yesterday morning with backache so took it easy all day ( as I usually do anyway !) I did play badminton last night but just played easy games. This morning is the same so I might have to have a massage (genuine sports) to see if it helps, if it doesn't help my back at least it will brighten up my day and keep me away from the rice.

I'm hoping to be online by the end of this week, it was supposed to be working by last Friday but that is Filipino time so if I get it by the weekend I will be happy but also lucky.

If anyone else is reading this other than my sister Anne, please remember you can leave a message under "comments", it will give Anne a break from having to keep doing the comments.

Hope your day will be as rich in enjoyment as mine will be.

My secret addiction

I have this secret addiction, it's something that I have to satisfy every day, sometimes late at night I have to creep down to the back alleys of Manila to get my fix, it only started to be a problem here in Manila and I don't know how I will cope with it in the future.

I just can't stop this addiction so please can someone help me.............. to stop eating rice and iced tea !!!
I just love my daily portion of rice and I normally have iced tea 2 or 3 times each day. It's lunchtime and my first meal of the day ( I didn't rise til 11am) was... you guessed it rice and iced tea, I just couldn't wait to get it. I'm now thinking of my afternoon snack can I buy something other than rice and iced tea !! Once you start it is hard to stop, I'm ashamed to admit that the other day I even had a family size portion of rice all to myself with of course... iced tea, no meat or any other extras just my necessities, fried or boiled I just don't care how it comes.

If you can help me to overcome this nightmare please put this wretched soul out of his misery by letting me know how I can face the future without them !!!!

Monday, 1 October 2007

October 1st

Hi it's October already !!!! My oh my, my holiday is rushing by.......... not !!!

Had a very quiet day yesterday, didn't play after all, I just rested the whole day as I was very tired from Saturday. Just did some shopping for items that I needed for home.

One thing that I have noticed being here is due to the differance of heights between Europeans and Asians.
The average caucasian male is about 5' 8" -9", females 5'2"-3", the average asian male is about 5'5' and the female 5'- 5'1". So when anything is being built or manufactured they obviously take this into consideration. I found that walking up and down stairs can be difficult as they have smaller steps, I find that walking upstairs I have to kind of walk on my toes with small steps but going downstairs is even worse, I can't seem to do it easily at all, the length of step is so short that I have to hold on to the rail to make it easier.

Their loos are even worse, the bowls are so low to sit on, for those in St.Andrews it is the same height as the new bowls in the nursery/reception area, sit on them and you will see what I mean !! My knees are up by my chin.... not a pretty sight !! (poetic exaggeration here ;-)

Enough asian education for today

Hope you are happy wherever you are reading this.....