This little line jogged a thought, in the last few weeks; myself and Mike have been on such a journey, with such diverse methods of transport.
In fact Trains is probably the only thing missing. We flew into Manila on a plane….. one of those monster ones! An airbus, it was the warmest flight I have ever been on putting most people to sleep. A ploy by the cabin crew perhaps? After all it was a 13 hour flight.
Manila airport to the hotel was with what seemed like a demented Taxi driver as he swerved from lane to lane, cutting in at random, signals, what’s that? As we found out later this is how they drive in Manila…….. he was just able to do it faster as it was late with less traffic.
The next morning was a first for me, a Tricycle ride, the only way to get around as far as I am concerned. A bike motorized or pedal power with cab attached. The variations on design are endless………. the aim is to be able to squeeze as any people in as possible. Even if they do have to be perched in front of the driver, like this little guy!
Then there were the Jeepneys…… a van or is it a bus? At the end of World War II, hundreds of surplus army jeeps were left behind. The Filipinos being the creative, enterprising geniuses they are, stripped them down, added as much seating as they could, stuck a roof on top and a lot of bling! The Jeepney with its bright paint work, gleaming chrome hood and roof embellishments are a integral part of this culture. The owners give them names “Bad Boy” “Marlon” & “About last Night”? Mmmh! We also saw the strong presence of their faith, in lines such as “Jesus Loves” & “May the Lord have Mercy on you”
The Jeepney is undoubtedly the best way to get around between towns; each has a regular route (painted on the side, for instance Dauin-Dumaguette). The drivers, like a full load and will wait patiently until enough people have crowded in before setting off. Try to sit in the middle of the long benches as a extra stool is sometimes implemented at either end, making it very cosy. Additional passengers picked up enroute get to hang off the back or sit on the roof.
In the bigger towns and cities they also have larger buses, basically ranging from large Jeepney types, to more luxurious air con tourist type buses. I prefer to pass up the air con and mingle shoulder to shoulder with your fellow passengers. These Jeepney rides are inexpensive and should not cost more than a few Pesos per passenger.
In Intramuros we went back in time and did exploring with horse and cart….. check out our previous post on Intramuros for more details on Teddy and Rambo!
Then there are the Habal, habal! Enterprising young men with sooped up motorbikes that will transport anybody and anything anywhere…… They pack a lot on their saddles and are famous for being able to transport “a family of 5 plus the pig”, for more info visit “Risking Life and Limb”
Then there was the water transport……… boats are a integral part of life for any Filipino who lives near water. The banka is “The” boat in the Philippines a central hull with 2 outriggers made from bamboo and secured with fishing line. Coral Cay Conservations boat the Banakan is surprisingly stable, with lots of room. Sit and watch the ever changing coastline go by or catch up on some sleep. Shade is provided with typical Filipino ingenuity; a tarp is draped across a central beam, secured to the outriggers with nylon line and propped up with bamboo poles. It can be quickly dismantled as needed; squalls do blow in fast…… and disappear as quickly. The smaller ones owned by every family were a very common rainbow coloured sight.
I gained new respect for these versatile little boats when it was time to leave Coral Cays base camp……… Our next port of call had agreed to pick us up from base as they dove Napantoa regularly.
OK we can swim out to the Kermit from here, how are we going to get our gear out there? Local fisherman to the rescue………. he piled not one but all of our luggage onto his little boat, with the top large one containing all our “dry” clothes perched precariously on top!
I watched with trepidation as this tiny, heavily laden boat, was paddled out, with both our dive gear, clothes, cameras etc. fingers and toes were crossed as I watched anxiously to make sure it arrived safe and dry………… The canoe disappeared behind the boat and luggage was gone from view! Well no splash and sure enough when we got onboard it was all safe, sound and dry!
Travelling no matter what the vehicle was always guaranteed to be interesting and often downright entertaining.