A week after we arrived in Manila, my husband became unwell; so much so he could do nothing but spend a day in bed, leaving me to roam around a nearby shopping mall by myself.

It was a short 6-7 minutes’ walk from the hotel we were staying at. In a lot of ways, Philippines remind me of my own hometown. Both are tropic countries, which means that there are only two kinds of weather; hot, and hotter!!! Even during rainy seasons, the day would start being very humid, with rain (usually in the evenings) a cool respite. Both countries have extensive traffic jams; no driver in the Philippines obey the road lines separating one lane from the other. It’s all about trying to get to their destinations as quickly as they can, squeezing in-between any available gap they could fit into, all in the name of gaining those precious few metres.

Manila Traffic

See this guy? That was me, trying to cross a busy road…

As soon as I stepped out of the hotel, I was greeted by a scorching temperature; the kind that, had you been a vampire, would have sizzled and evaporated your skin and body on the spot. As I reached the first intersection, my sense of smell was greeted by a rancid smell of a sewer, overflowed from the previous night’s heavy rain. As I battled my way to cross the road (because here, no car would voluntarily stop and give way to pedestrians, zebra crossing or not), the sound of tooting horns and strong smell of exhaust fumes were inescapable.

Growing up, these were the things I took for granted. No, let me rephrase that. Back in my hometown, these were the things I had complained endlessly about, and wrinkled my nose at. But having lived so far away for so long, these things suddenly reminded me of home. And so amongst the heat, the traffic, and all of the unsavoury smells, I found a spring in my step; I strutted all the way to the mall and back home like Carrie Bradshaw did along 5th Avenue in Sex and the City.

What smell/taste/sound remind you of home? Comment below – would love to hear about your experiences.