Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Being a Filipino and a Chinese in Madrid

I have been in Madrid for exactly 2 hours and 4 minutes and yet I have been overwhelmed with so much thoughts and emotions.  My flight arrived at 11PM and baggage did not come out 30 minutes later, thankfully there is always free wifi in the airports,  so I google mapped how to get to my hostel, which is in the city center.

I go to the ticket booth, and as usual, even if the menu is in English, you can never understand it the first time you use it.  I eventually managed to get a ticket and tried to use my never-been-used Spanish on a man who was working at the train, asking whether or not the directions I got from the internet was correct.  After 4 unsuccessful sentences, he referred me to a woman who spoke English that eventually pointed me to the right way.

I understand train station maps and do not have a hard time navigating the subways.  As I reached my second train, knowing that I need to change to another train, a man who was trying to be "helpful" told me that the train ends at that station where it stopped.  He was assuming, that I was Chinese holding a metro map and fresh off the airport, that I did not speak any Spanish.  He said I have to get down at this station because it is the last stop and that I can walk to my destination.  I instantly felt and knew he was lying when I saw other passengers did not get off the train (not to mention I did not hear any advisory).  So I got back to the train and moved on with my journey.

It's so unbelievable I thought, is this how dangerous my travel around Spain is going to be?  That within an hour outside the airport, someone was already trying to scam me?  As I changed to the next train, I spot 2 Filipinos seated and speaking in Tagalog and I immediately felt safer, knowing that once I spoke in Tagalog, any Filipino will come and help me if I were in trouble. I was trying to make eye contact, hoping that they would talk to me but they will never recognize and see me as a Filipino.  I thought it was kinda sad when you feel this "connection" and the other party does not realize it.  I was half expecting a "Pinay?" or "kababayan?" but of course, my Chinese features get in the way haha.

So I get off the train, not 100% positive that the woman from the station sent me to the right place but I wasn't worried or scared because when I came out of the train station, there were even more Filipino people, and I could immediately spot them with the kind of clothes they wear, the type of shoes, etc. (and of course, overhearing conversations).  It could be a talent, because I can tell the difference between Koreans, Japanese and Chinese people too, just by looking at their clothes and shoes.  Anyway, I eneded up asking a train personnel who confirmed that I was where I wanted to be.


The walk from the station to my hostel is about 250m or 5-minute walk.  I came out and heard people cheering at a street performer, as I walked closer to check it out, I heard Oppa Gangnam Style!  I was so excited haha and I peeked and saw that the dancer asked 5 random Asian men they could pull from the crowd to dance Oppa Gangnam Style haha so funny.

As I walked further down, I saw Japanese restaurants and I felt some feeling of "home" to be seeing a little bit more familiar food to me.  Although I've enjoyed everything that I have eaten in Europe so far, you can't help but miss the food you eat back home; be it Filipino adobo, Chinese hakaw shrimp dumpling, Japanese Ramen or Korean bibimbap!  Yum.

Tired, I realized I haven't drank a single drop of water for almost 3 hours and so I headed into a 24 hour store. I saw a bunch of teenagers that were being ushered out by a Chinese woman (owner). I got a bottle of water and went to pay.  The woman spoke to me in her Chinese Spanish, telling me that she saw the kid was putting a can of beer into his pocket and so she just asked them to leave because they were trouble. I continued to reply to her in Spanish until I finally asked her "eres China?" (are you Chinese?) and she said, "si, soy China" (yes, I'm Chinese), and I said "yo tambien, China" (I am Chinese too) haha. and she said to me in Chinese, 你是中國人? (you're Chinese!) and I said, 我是菲律賓華僑 (I am Filipino-Chinese!) OHHH! and the conversation went on in Chinese and telling me again how kids were trying to steal beer and causing trouble and that someone took a plate of sushi and ate it then just left without paying. We did some small talk she asked me if I were traveling and I asked about safety in Madrid and she said it's not that bad. She then recommended me to try the sushi, she said it's really good. So I got a pack of California Maki (yum! with avocados instead of mangoes) for €6.50 and she told me, ok, I give discount for you Chinese, only €5 hahaha! So cool.  Side note, when I was in Tomar, Portugal, I went into a store and saw a sweater that I liked, it was €12.  When I was about to pay, I saw a Chinese woman sitting at the counter, watching a Chinese soap opera, and when she told me "doce euros," I said 可以 €10嗎? haha she agreed.

So I was so happy, walking, just a few steps away from the hostel, with Cali Maki in my bag as I checked in the hotel I smell the fresh sheets and towels, I was so excited to rest.  I am so happy that I didn't mind that the room was a bit hot and did not have an electric fan around.  I was so excited to write my emotions down into this blog that it didn't matter and I opened the window.  As I took out my laptop, and plugging it in, guess what I saw??!!  AN AIRCON REMOTE CONTROL!!! OMG!!!  I totally forgot that I booked an airconditioned room, and when I looked up, I HAVE A TV TOO!! hahaha I almost cried hahaha.

Just a few hours in and Madrid has already given me so much emotions, I can't wait for the next few days! :D


7 comments:

  1. Interesting reads about your travel adventures! Keep them coming! Enjoy and have fun ������ take care ��

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  2. Good luck throughout the rest of your trip Candie. Enjoy Spain. - Prof de Leon

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  3. Love love love the way you write, i can actually imagine everything as i was reading through it :) can't wait for your next blog!

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