So it’s just two (2) days before the national elections in the Philippines, and people are still actively exchanging views on social media in support of their candidates and to attack other runners, and thoughts are swirling in my head.
But instead of writing them down, I thought of writing something petty on a Saturday, something different from the reports I read and the communications I write, on miscellaneous subjects.
I once swore not to ever stay again in a certain line of hotels in Paris just because I wasn’t able to get back two (2) bathing implements–my favorite facial wash which I bought in Myeongdong, South Korea and my guava-scented intimate wash from Manila. The bottles were newly-opened and I unintentionally left them in the bathroom after brushing my teeth, because I had to check out my things early in the morning before I left for work. It was my last day in the hotel.
I emailed the hotel as soon as I discovered that I left my floral pouch where I kept my bathing essentials. However, I was informed that they did not see the items I was looking for. I had been in Paris for but a few days that time so I wasn’t happy. I guess, I would have been less upset if I left a piece of clothing or my lipstick than those items which is for my favorite activity of the day–bath time.
Most of the drivers in Paris are honest. However, I had the misfortune of encountering one who is not. I just got back to CDG Airport from Vienna around 8p.m. It was the last day of the year. I still wanted to walk around and check any open church in the area so I thought, I’m gonna take the first available transportation to go home! So, there’s this guy who was offering a cab and I hopped in the car of his driver/acquaintance. As the driver went way, that guy at the airport still kept on looking until I lost sight of him. I felt a bit uneasy but I brushed it off. The driver and I agreed on a 70EUR fare (this is even more than the usual Grab rate but it was the Holiday Season so…) but a few minutes into the ride, he started explaining that the ride will take longer and he had to take a different route so I had to add to the fee. I told him we agreed on a price, but he protested and mumbled. We were wordless until I was near my place.
I was assessing the situation, looking at the back of his head, blaming myself for not booking a Grab or an official airport taxi, thinking whether to take a video of him secretly then complain to authorities the next day, but I just decided just to wait until I arrive in front of my building, pay, and leave fast. I told him that the most I can give is a 100 EUR, got off the car quickly, and got in my apartment building. I was just glad no harm came to me and I was still able to take my evening walk after putting my luggage upstairs and freshening up.
Prices of exactly the same Paris souvenirs vary depending on the area, even if they are not sold by official sellers. Fridge magnets, pouch, postcards, and other are more lower-priced around the Notre Dame and Latin Quarter area than around the Eiffel tower and along the Avenue Champs Elysees.
So don’t be in a rush to buy the souvenir if you have options of other places to visit. You could get more items for your pasalubong back home if you find more reasonably-priced items.
Locked in the Fitting Room
I was in Barcelona once. During the stroll in my last afternoon prior to my evening flight, I walked around the La Sagrada Familia area. A dress caught my eye and I went in the shop. The vendor accompanied me to the fitting area and pushed the door shot. I was so excited to try the dress on and didn’t notice that the fitting room lock is outside. After trying on the dress and putting back my clothes, I realized I couldn’t open the door. Then I looked around.
My eyes got fixed on the area leading to the sidewalk. The floor was not completely cemented and there was a bit of plywood covering the floor. I don’t know why for a moment I imagined the wood sliding a bit. I knocked vigorously on the door and called my friend who was outside. Thankfully, the door opened after a minute or so showing the poker-faced vendor.
Online shopping woes
In my last two (2) weeks in France prior to my flight home, I signed up in leboncoin. A friend suggested that I may find some good items without spending too much. I did find several–purse, antique items, bags. I was unlucky with my second to the last purchase, however. Because I was in a rush to get the item, I deposited directly to a legitimate CDN bank account provided by a seller named Lisa. I even added 5EUR for a faster delivery since I was leaving soon.
However, as soon as I deposited the money, the seller stopped communicating and never responded to my messages until my last day in Paris. I was duped. I was sad of course, not so much because of the lost money but because I trusted the seller. Added to that, my French friend emphasized that I shouldn’t have deposited directly to the bank account but through the App. Again, I thought of reporting to CDN since I have the person’s complete name and bank account details but I figured that the money lost is not worth the trouble and my peace of mind.
Brocantes are common in Paris. And it’s a treat when I unexpectedly pass by an area where there is one although I have no plan to buy anything. I don’t know, but there’s a certain thrill of finding a “treasure.” I have found nice books in such stalls. Or a brooch, or a house decor.
In Belgium, my companion and I chanced upon a similar shop. I got two (2) small calming paintings of flowers for only 5EUR. How nice is that?
However, time spent in these areas must be planned too. Otherwise, you could get lost in the stalls, spending precious time on items you wouldn’t really buy. For example, in Saint-Ouen-sur-Seine (I searched this place online), I was expecting to see a vast area with a wide array of antique items plus other secondhand items that would fancy me. Well, I found books (again) and a unique vase. But some shops had these huge animal figurines, big cabinets, with hand carvings. They looked too bulky, heavy and expensive, so I didn’t venture in. Also, a big area seemed like Divisoria in the Philippines, selling cheap clothes, shoes and other trinkets. The best part? Chatting with the stall owner. His place could be improved by extra pairs of hands. The items were not properly arranged. The shelves was dusty. But in broken English, he demonstrated how an ancient camera worked and he even temporarily closed his shop so I could get a photo of the complete design. It was still a good visit. 🙂
Is lending money okay?
Have you ever lent money to someone? Unless you’re a loan shark or a bank that charges high interest for loans, then you probably did it because the other person really needed it or told a pitiful story or because you cared for that person or believed that person’s character.
Some have expressed the view that you should only lend money that you can afford to lose. That is, to avoid disappointment or destroying relationships and trust because of unpaid loans.
I’ve had many experiences on this. But one stood out and I’m sad of the outcome because the person involved used to be my friend. After several loans, some of which were unpaid and many partly paid (one such case involved 5k and I got 30% in a year, with each time it was I asking for even a partial fee of 500 which she was reluctant to give, and the rest I told her I will just give as a gift because I got tired requesting for the payment), and I lent her an amount worth over 100 hours of work in a part-time job (evenings and weekends classes), relying on a promise to pay after a month. But months turned into years, and it was tiring to ask for even small amounts paid by installments. That time, I was sending siblings to school and I really needed the money too. So I stopped not just asking for the fee but also messaging her and responding to her messages. In one of my last messages, I told her that she could just tell me that she’s sorry that she is unable to pay because of certain reasons and I would understand. She didn’t and I felt betrayed.