I am a giant! I am a hulking mass of muscle. I duck to get in through some doorways… and where I walk, I am the tallest of the tall. Some homes I am forced to watch my head so I do not cut it on the edge of the tin roof (honestly).
The truth is I am only 5-9. But I am in a country where the maximum height for things is 5-7 (I think). The chairs, the cars, the toilets, showers, tables… all have been made for someone smaller than I. The Jeepneys force me to bend over, and sometimes I crawl… because my legs are too long to comfortably move around inside one of the famous Philippine taxis. How did this happen? In America, I am barely above average for my height.
I can feel it in my knees when I sit at a chair made for someone slightly smaller. I feel it in my back when I walk in a door and duck to avoid the tin roof.
In the Philippines I am a mighty tower. This is all so very strange because in high school I was one of the shortest kids in my graduating class (boy or girl) at 5′-6″.
I do not feel taller or more powerful as I walk down the streets of the Philippines. But it is definitely different at 5-9 to be a giant.
Now I know how NBA basketball players feel in America… because nearly everything here feels made for someone smaller than I.
Today I rode in a Jeepney in Bacolod City.
For people who are not familiar, Jeepneys are approximately a cross between rugged army jeeps and mini school buses. There are two bench seats on either side which extend from behind the driver’s seat to the back bumper.
I am 5-9, and I felt overly tall in it… like a man riding in a dwarf car. The reason I felt overly tall is because I had to bend over to walk inside of it. When I was bent over, with my knees bent, my back still kept hitting the roof of the Jeepney. The price was really reasonable. For three of us it cost 20PH, or 50 cents in America. So now the thrill is gone. I have finally ridden in a Jeepney.
So my wife and I arrived to the Philippines late last night. My computer clock, still set on US time, says it is 11:07 p.m. Wednesday on the west coast. However, we arrived in the Philippines at 9 p.m. Wednesday. So, my wife and I are a little loopy but seem to be adjusting to the time differences just fine.
We are keeping an eye on the issue between China and the Philippines regarding fishing rights territory, but we are not concerned about war breaking out while we are here.
Our luggage is still in transit… which is a little annoying but not surprising. We were delayed over 2 hours because of weather in San Francisco, which threw off our transitioning to other flights. For the second leg of our flight marathon we had to run and arrived at the gate when they were closing it, but they still let us on. A little too close. Anyway, we expect/hope our luggage will arrive tonight or tomorrow morning.
My first observation on this research trip was the jeepney. Jeepneys are the most popular form of public transportation in the Philippines. I think they look really cool, but my wife informed me they are not “safe” for tourists because of an increased mugging potential that she had read about. Bummer. Because I think they look really cool. I would describe the jeepney as a combination of Jeep Wrangler and short school bus. I love how each one appears to be uniquely customized.
I may ride one anyway at some point, but just make sure that I am not carrying much money when I do. Or perhaps do it in a distinctly safe area of Manila. Have you ever traveled in the Philippines and taken a ride on a jeepney? What was it like?