The Tourist

>> Sunday, October 26, 2008

How to spot a tourist: a map, a camera, a bottle of water, cargo shorts, rubber shoes, big backpack (or worse, a belt bag), possibly loads of shopping bags, overly giddy smiles, and a whiff of designer perfume with base notes of sweat and confusion. These things I try to avoid when I go to Kowloon , Hong Kong . The last thing I want is to be labeled a tourist, I don’t know with you but “tourist” does not sound too positive to me, i.e. a poser. Besides, I’m part of the ‘local’ crowd now—legal aliens marooned indefinitely for the promise of a brighter future. How to spot a ‘local’: settled and bored.

I’m on the routine now. Spend six months on the territory and you’re bound to know the tourist spots (and try to avoid it or at least go there discreetly), know which buses to take and which trains to transfer, where to shop cheaply, and know a few Cantonese sentences to get you by through the day and perhaps get you hooked one lonely night in a bar.

Culture shock here is not when you see a bunch of old Chinese folks doing flawless Tai Chi every morning at the park or being amazed (or nervous) around a gang of tattoo-clad kids with extreme fashion-forward `dos. Culture shock here is when you see a flood of Filipina domestic helpers along sidewalks at Central on a Sunday. One is guaranteed of this tear-jerking moment as random flashbacks of Milan , Anak and Caregiver overwhelm the first-time visitor. I’m used to the sight though. Like me, they’re already ‘local’.

Urban legend has it that Filipinos are more hard-working abroad. After more than a year as an OFW I’ve completely dispelled myths that Flips are lazy. Take away the trisikad, tricycle, trisiboat, multicab, jeepney and the occasional habal-habal and see the Pinoy walk. Here in HK, Filipinos adapt to the system without much qualms. We walk, we fall in line, we alight on designated bus stops and we don’t complain. This energetic and disciplined lifestyle reflects on one’s performance at work. At the end of the day, I’m tired but proud of myself for surviving yet another day without the usual conveniences.

So I get used to the absence of a nearby sari-sari store, tipid packs, and E-load and embrace a culture that has been perfected through centuries. Start the fireworks and throw the confetti, I’m a `local’.

And as part of the routine, when the work is done, the `local’ goes back to his quarters through a sea of lonely, weary workers on crowded walkways and trains, opens the door to his apartment, throws his bag on a corner, collapses on the bed, picks up the phone, and calls someone back home.

How to spot a tourist: a long face, phone cards and two mobile phones.

10 responses:

Gypsy 26 October, 2008  


Welcome back!! Na miss ko blog posts mo, sorry ha, unintentional yong pagtanggal ng links, actually I am just slowly putting them back in since I accidentally erased all the links when I changed to blogger beta--yan ang problema sa mga low tech eh. Hehe..

Can identify with your post, I also would rather blend with the crowd and avoid tourist-y places (with their tourist-y prices).

jayclops 29 October, 2008  

kanus-a pud kaya ko maging "the other local" hahaha. More spiders? Hehehe.

Jap 02 November, 2008  

JAY, it all starts with a passport hehehe

GYPSY, no prob, as you can see, it happened to me, too. When I changed my template, all my widgets were deleted including the links list. Anyway, much as we want to blend with the crowd (to avoid being conned hehehe) we still stand out like a sore thumb. =)

Simply Me 24 November, 2008  

Agi lang ko...baktas lang sad q ky alay sikad dinhing dapita...

Anonymous 09 December, 2008  

mr. local principal...

take care.


(my word verification: wagista...kaw na to!)

Eem Eem 04 March, 2009  

O.M.G. That was me, down to the uniform (minus the fanny pack) when I last saw you!

ur friend from d-town lol 10 March, 2009  

well written, haha.

Anonymous 02 February, 2010  

Hi Jap. How have you been. I have been blogging off and on and have been visiting friends off and off. hahaha. Hey, how would you like to blog for some pay (peanuts for someone earning dollars) --hahaha. But since you blog for the heck of it ... maybe you might be interested. I have been asked to be channel editor for "Buhay Pinoy" by the Phil. Online Chronicles. And one of the regular sections that should be featured is OFW life -- mala-"A DAY IN THE LIFE OF AN OFW." Interested. Can you commit yourself to writing a minimum of 500 words a week (at P1 per word .. blush). I will let you know the details as soon as you confirm. And let me know your email please. Ty very very much. - annamanila

Anonymous 02 February, 2010  

Its me again,Jap.

Forgot to tell you that if you know of another OFW who's willing to blog under those broad terms, lemme know. Maybe, between the two of you, you can handle the regular section on OFWS. Puede kase dun maski twice a week. ty ty - annamanila

tndcallphilippines 13 October, 2011  

hope you're past the loneliness by now. :) nice blog. and, Filipinos are known to be pretty hard workers, i agree.

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