Asia is known for having cheap electronics, particularly cameras. Hong Kong, as my mom said, is one giant camera store. I wanted to get a Canon digital SLR camera there on Stanley Street, and I asked for a lot of advice from my friend Victoria, but I thought it might be easier to pick up a camera here in Manila instead for a number of reasons. For one, my mom speaks the language here and also it's easier for us to pay here since we have pesos in the bank. I was right and wrong. First the wrong. Apparently Manila only carries two models of Canon SLRs: a 450D and a 1000D. Strangely, the 1000D is cheaper. And they were both out of my budgeted price range. We went from store to store over three days, and I couldn't find anything else. We did see a few cheaper cameras at the tech bazaar area in Green Hills, but my mom was resistant to buying the camera there since its a series of stalls, not real stores (this is also the place to go for really good designer knock-offs).
Now the right. Since my mom speaks Tagalog, all of the salespeople we talked to were incredibly nice and helpful. (Buying anything in English here is a totally different situation.) This kind of courtesy and customer service just doesn't exist many other places. Additionally, my mom is able to pay for the camera here in pesos on her local debit card, making the transaction more secure. We finally settled yesterday on the 1000D model at the Shoe Mart (that's the local department store chain) in Makati. We even got a free Batman: The Dark Knight backpack, which I'm not sure what we're going to do with. I spent more than I planned, but I know I can return this easily should anything go wrong.
On the way home as I was ogling my new camera, my mom suggested that we should buy a gun to go with it around here. I looked back at her slightly stunned as she just giggled slyly, looking out the window over the polluted Pasig River.
On a side note, only in the Philippines have I ever experienced the awkwardness of being taller than everyone else. But never have I been taller than my bed. Every single night here, I keep hitting my toes against the iron rods at the front of the bed. I've always dreamed of being taller. Now I'm happy at 5'3".