Cleaning, Cleaning, and more Cleaning

After arriving here on Wednesday we’ve spent the last 5 days cleaning for about 5 hours a day and the end is nowhere in sight.  I’m something of a clean freak to start with, but just getting things to a level of basic sanitation and orderliness is my current goal.

For the first few months of my stay in the Philippines I’ll be living out of my in-law’s house, which is a bit north of Manila in a surrounding town.  The house has been mostly derelict for about six months, with only an occasional visit to make sure it’s still standing.  My in-laws were both living out of other houses in other provinces until just recently.  So, the place is a disaster area.  Besides the accumulation of junk from decades of things being left here as a store-and-forget drop off spot, there’s dust, cobwebs and the buildup of grime to deal with.  So, there’s quite a bit of work to be done to get this place into a condition that’s suitable for living in.

I wish I could just throw money at the problem and make it go away, and for some parts I can, but most of it is just going to require hard work.  I have to haul stuff out of the house to the curb and do quite a bit of scrubbing, wiping, dusting, and brushing.

I didn’t realize just how much work it would be.  We spent 7 hours on just one room today.  It was the worst room, though.  It had been unoccupied the longest, so it was full of bags of junk, sometimes literally.

I suppose when you have more than one house, you can’t quite keep up with what all you’ve left where, so arranging it, sorting out what needs to be saved and what can go, and then doing basic cleaning can be a long, long process.

The goal that I keep in mind is that once it’s all done, I’ll be able to relax and enjoy life here.  Hopefully with another week of work we’ll have everything wrapped up and ready to go.

Eating At Home Vs Eating At A Hawker

Over dinner, my wife and I made an observation about the food we were eating.  It was heavy on vegetables and we liked it that way.  It was a home cooked meal of pork chops, broccoli, and a sinigang based soup with radish and a green, leafy vegetable.

It’s really easy to get roped into the habit of eating at the hawker all the time.  The food is good and it’s well priced.  Depending on what country you come from, you might even say it’s dirt cheap.  When you can eat a tasty, filling meal for a good price it’s hard to make yourself get into the kitchen and break out the pots and pans.

The problem with that is hawker food isn’t the healthiest choice more often than not.  Hawker dishes tend to be heavy on rice, a staple food, and light on vegetables which are necessary for a balanced diet.

Here are a few example dishes:

On top of that, most hawker food will be loaded with MSG.  MSG in small doses probably won’t do much harm, but if you fall into the habit of eating all of your meals at the hawker, or even eating there multiple times in one day, it can cause health issues.  Here’s a list of what you experience from too much MSG:

  • Headaches/migraines
  • Lethargy
  • Sleepiness
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mental confusion/disorientation
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach cramps
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Bloating
  • Asthma attacks
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Runny nose/sneezing
  • Extreme dryness of the mouth
  • Hives or rash
  • Palpitations
  • Flushing
  • Mouth lesions

Please follow through on this link for additional information about the hazards associated with MSG, along with who should avoid MSG.  I’ve had an MSG induced migraine on more than one occasion and it is NOT fun.

Hawker food can also have other health consequences, like higher risks of food poisoning and even death, as reported in a recent case where 152 people fell ill and 2 died from food contamination at an Indian Rojak stall at the Geylang Serai Temporary Market.

By all means, enjoy Singapore’s food culture, which is most prevalent in the country’s numerous hawkers, but be aware of the health risks and remember to eat at home more often than you eat out.  When you do the math you’re not going to pay much more, and often it’ll be less, and you’ll have more peace of mind that your body is getting what it needs.

Home From Phuket

Last night my wife and I got in from Phuket, Thailand, safe and sound.  Somehow I was both relieved and dismayed to be back.  It’s always sad when a vacation is over!

The trip was only three days long, but those three days were very full!  We did quite a bit, some unexpected, and we also didn’t get to do a few of the things we were hoping for.

Without going into the details (yet), I will say that we’re planning on making a repeat visit sometime soon, after we swing by Bangkok.

Over the next few days I’ll be posting stuff about our trip, including the accommodations, food, scenery, the beach, and… even some ladyboys.  There are some pretty good photos, so keep checking back!