I must have missed the call to occupy Divisoria but was there nonetheless last Sunday, just 35(?) days before Christmas. It looked like 99% of the population converged in the famous congested market. I knew it was sheer madness to come there on a weekend with Christmas just a few weeks away, but what can I say, I had a budget to uphold.
There were new buildings up like the 999 Mall and I could see a few more popping up. Surprisingly, there were areas where the herd of people thinned out. I found that haven of space (where I saw a man on a wheelchair cruising without hitting shoppers) at the back of 999 Mall. There were still a few vacant spots where future shops would open so that’s probably why there were only a few people around. Most of the herd likes to press themselves up against each other.
I looked around the 999 Mall but found nothing of interest so I went next door to the trusty 168 mall, which appeared to have doubled the last time I was there. By the way, good luck on navigating through the Tutuban area going to 168 Mall. It’s were the thick of the vendor action is. The four(?) lane street is covered with vendors and some stupid official decided to put up yellow barricades between the islands.
Here are just some of my tips for surviving Divisoria during the Christmas Season:
- Tutuban area is practically covered with people and their goods(If this was the zombie apocalypse, even cardio won’t save you), go through the other way — from Juan Luna where the T-shirts area is. There is more space there to walk. expect a bottle neck on streets leading up to 168.
- Go on weekdays! For god sake don’t go on weekends…
- Bring a bottle of water and face towel
- Don’t bring your kids unless you hate them and want to get rid of them
- Do bring someone to hang your purchases on.
- Unless you hate your jewels, don’t bring them
- Keep your wallet and phone safely in front of you (messenger bags work well)
- Keep your game face on (show you can pummel with a glare – earns respect and criminals would keep away from you)
And finally, do have fun at bargaining! Earn street cred with your bargaining techniques. Chinese traders will be impressed!