I'm still sick, but went to the SM Mall of Asia today for a few reasons:
- The Manila International Book Fair is held at the adjacent convention center. It ends tomorrow, and I was hoping to pick up a couple of hard-to-find books on gender, sexuality, and progressive social movements in the Philippines and was told this was my best bet.
- It's on Manila Bay, and supposed to be one of the best places to take in the supernatural, pollution-amplified beauty of a sunset in Manila.
- It's the third largest mall in the world, and I feel strangely obligated to visit any of the malls that displace the Mall of America for sheer bulk and excess.
- Today was my last opportunity - either the research group I'm working with pulls through with three days of interviews tomorrow, Wednesday, or Thursday, or I frantically pull out all the stops trying to find 30 people to interview in that period. Either way, it's going to be busy.
And it's probably for the best that I didn't visit earlier, because I'm going to go ahead and sacrifice most of my anthropological integrity and say that I probably would have returned every time I felt badly or needed comfort, possibly scrapping my fieldwork in the meantime. Malls are ubiquitous in Manila, but they're usually busy and crowded, and aside from the people at the front of every store who call out to you, I usually end up brushing off people who come up offering 1) knock-off merchandise, 2) currency exchange at discount rates, or 3) sex, and that gets exhausting and usually I leave with a headache, in a bad mood.
The Mall of Asia is different. It's like the Disney version of those malls. It's all spacious and naturally lit, with outdoor walkways lofted amid palm trees and spotless courtyards with cafe tables scattered all around. I don't know how to describe it, except that it's incredibly serene. It feels like a village, with covers of Burt Bacharach being piped through and air conditioning in spaces that are ostensibly outdoors. I found a place with frozen yogurt that's some sort of weird Italian hybrid of Tasti DeLite and Pinkberry, and got frozen yogurt with granola and coffee-flavored cookies for lunch and it was magic. Then I picked up two of the books I was hunting at the book fair, and now I'm off to watch the sun allegedly set around 5:57pm. After that, I'll probably stay for dinner. And maybe Wall-E. Basically, I don't want to leave. (And in a place that doesn't have a supermarket, but a HYPERMARKET, that's totally plausible.)