Philippines Day Two – Looking for the “Bideo” Store

The road we walked down was narrow, dark, and dirty and most of the paving was broken or missing. We limped along as best we could, trying to avoid the traffic by using what path there was and walking single file. Passing under a crumbling archway, the stench of raw sewage hit us, intensified by the warm and damp air.

It was our first night in the Philippines and my husband and I had arrived at our hostel without enough cash and they didn’t take cards. We were now on a mission to walk back to the cash machine we had visited on the way in.

At my earlier visit to the cash machine, I had planned to withdraw ten thousand Pesos but each time I had entered the amount, I got scared I would have to re-mortgage the house to pay for it. I cancelled the transaction and withdrew just one thousand Pesos and came away with the equivalent of twenty five Australian dollars. 

Now we had to go back to the ATM even though it was after ten o’clock at night so we could pay for the hostel we had already moved into.

A Colourful Filipino Jeepney
Strange speeding vehicles passed within inches or weaved confidently around us. Most were the local buses (or Jeepneys) with their pretentious names and ostentatious paint jobs or brightly decorated motorbikes with sidecars that the locals use as taxis. Either would have cost us less than a dollar to hire but we decided to save ourselves the embarrassment of fumbling with unfamiliar currency in the dark and kept walking.

Filipino Taxi

It was less than five minutes to the shopping centre, but as we reached it, security guards closed the doors for the night, effectively blocking off access to the ATM.
So there we were, standing on a street corner in an unfamiliar city in the dark, with no money and no idea where to get some.

With the attitude that if you need help ask a policeman, we headed over to ask an armed security guard at the nearby brightly lit Seven Eleven for some help. The store didn’t give out cash but the guard pointed to a shop further down the road and said there was a machine at the “bideo” store.

We could see the neon sign of a video shop and so we headed for it. Inside I asked for the ATM and the confused shop owner said that they only hired videos and only for a week as if that explained the absence of an ATM. I looked around and could see why he thought we were crazy. It was a tiny room packed with grey boxed shelves and was clearly just a video store.

We headed back to the Seven Eleven, dodging an obstacle course of vehicles parked willy-nilly across the intersection at a red light.

Back at the Seven Eleven, the guard pointed at the “bideo” store again. Confused I asked if it was the yellow one we could see. He said it was white. We decided it must be further up and headed out a second time to try to find the other store.

The buildings here were old with grey imposing facades as if we were on the site of a badly filmed western. Pieces of the buildings were broken or missing and the shops were not much more than dark shanties. If this was a movie, it would be the scene of a gang fight or a hold-up. We wondered if we were wise to walk around an unfamiliar city this late at night, especially since the Seven Eleven guard obviously felt he needed the guns he was carrying.

We had almost given up when we spotted a bank with an outside ATM. We were confused until we read the name of the bank out loud. It was called BDO. Not bideo  and certainly not video. So much for our listening skills.

We were pleased (and surprised?) to get our money without being beaten, robbed, or otherwise molested and started back.

Suddenly my husband pulled my hand. Tripping lightly across the cracked and dirty footpath and sashaying into a dimly lit digital copy store was a very happy looking rat. He was totally unconcerned by our presence and looked quite at home among the litter at street level. We just shook our heads in wonder.

When we finally made it back to the hostel I think the staff were as relieved as we were.

Dodging the rats, and the rubble, and the traffic had been quite an adventure, but it was just the start. The next day we had to join the crazy mix of vehicles on the road.

I will write about it in my next post.

Until then Paalam na

To learn more about house sitting, along with fun house sitting stories and tales of my adventures around Australia, go to www.nikkiiahwong.com or visit any good online store including Amazon.com.

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