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...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

8 November 2018

Transit

The ubiquitous trike

The ubiquitous trike

5 November 2018

We’ve used quite a few forms of transport in our time. By air we’ve flown in a seaplane, a helicopter, a glider, six-seaters, hot air balloons and of course many air liners. By water we’ve been on a jet boat, a schooner, longtails, bangkas, ferries, kayaks, canoes, rubber dinghies and speedboats. By land we’ve been on the roof of buses, on the back of motorbikes, in songthaews, chicken buses, taxis, coaches, cars, on horseback, camel-back, elephant-back, and today we’ve added a new one: trikes. The ubiquitous motorbike + rickety sidecar combo that performs the job of taxi and/or courier service across the whole of the Philippines.

In fact the trikes were the only good part of today’s transit tale. We left Vigan on our first trike (which even had a TV screen fitted in the sidecar!!!) at 3pm to take us to the main road where we needed to wait in the sun for the 4pm air-conditioned bus we had booked for the 2 hour drive to Laoag. The bus was fine, but the conductor refused to accept the online travel voucher on our phone: he needed a physical piece of paper or he wasn’t gonna play. So in the event we had to pay for the bus journey twice. Grrr! Share our outrage!

Our high tech trike

Our high tech trike

Okay, so the fare was actually £3.20 for both of us. But still, the principle!

We were terribly early for our 9:10pm flight and Laoag airport was short on distractions, beyond a char sui bun and a can of mango juice. And then of course the flight was terribly late too. Didn’t take off until past 10:30, which meant we didn’t arrive in Manila until basically midnight.

So then we walked past all the taxi touts, like the clever well-travelled tourists we are, and queued up for a metered yellow taxi. The sign said it was 40 pesos per trip, plus 12 pesos per km. I made that around 100 pesos to get to our hotel. So we were a bit startled after we’d got going when the taxi driver said “so, 500 pesos”. Then we did a double-take… no meter! So what exactly was the bloody attendant at the metered taxi rank doing, if not checking that the taxis were metered ones?!?!

Trikes - also good for frieght

Trikes – also good for frieght

Well, I wretchedly haggled him down to 300. He didn’t even recognise the little hotel we’d booked, so we had to ask to be taken to a bigger hotel one block away. When he got us there, he had no change for a 1000 peso note. Bit annoying, as I only had those and 160 pesos in small notes. So Maureen had to troop into the hotel reception to get change for a 1000 note. Heheh.

As luck would have it, the receptionist was so slow and useless that Maureen was still waiting 5 minutes later when the taxi driver gave up in disgust and took the 160 pesos in exchange for getting rid of me. Bitter sweet victory! And we found our hotel, and the room is superb and great value for £30 a night with breakfast included. In fact it’s the nicest room we’ve stayed in so far! The fact that you can also book this hotel by the hour and there are mirrors on the ceiling is totally beside the point.

Random aside. Hotel receptionists have been uniformly useless here, and it’s a clear memory I have from our travels around SE Asia before too. I don’t know why this should be. They are perfectly good at smiling and saying “thank you, sir” and doing the basics, but as soon as anything requiring initiative or intellect is needed they are essentially useless. Example: the correct answer to my question “when do buses go to Laoag?” would actually have been: “there are cheap crowded buses and there are more comfortable air-conditioned buses, though even those are still only about 120 pesos each. Lots of companies operate, so there are several going every hour. Would you like me to book you on an air-con bus? What time?” whereas the answer I got was: “buses leave roughly one every two hours, but at no set time.” Grrrr…eat. Luckily Maureen got a more useful answer from the internet.

Victoria Court sexy hotel

Victoria Court sexy hotel


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