My first jeepney ride

Trip Start Apr 30, 2006
1
4
7
Trip End May 16, 2006


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Flag of Philippines  ,
Thursday, May 4, 2006

Finally, I got to ride in a jeepney and experience the real mode of Filipino transportation.

The trip back to Puerto Princesa
When I got to the pier at Sabang, I must admit that I was a little disappointed that the next jeepney bound for Puerto Princesa wasn't a wildy painted and chromed specimen. It had a boring flat grey paintjob and there was no chrome to be seen, only rust.

My backpack was thrown on top with light toss. I'm quite proud of the fact that my backpack only weighs 12.8kg and has stacks of room left in it. This is a stark contrast to the 24kg it clocked in Brazil. It is so much easier to travel when your luggage is light.

Anyways, they were loading the roof of the jeepney with big heavy sacks of some rock/snail looking things. The driver sort of did a weightlifting throw of one of the sacks up to the roof, but it wasn't caught and just smacked him on the back of the neck. It then took 2 guys to get it up there. After about 20 sacks had gone on the roof I was glad to see that they threw 3 more in the back of the jeepney for ballast. These sacks weren't the only cargo, with even heavier crates of the catch of the day being manoeuvred up there, some requiring all the heft of 6 men.

We left 40 minutes, late, but I think that is pretty much standard in the Philippines. I was glad of the rain from the previous two days as it made the roads less dusty and I could enjoy the sweet smell and view of the jungle and not be choked or blinded. I had been worried though, that we might get bogged, as the new roads weren't yet in action, but our jeepney just ploughed through the puddles and got us to the tops of the hills, or most anyway...

As we were ascending a particularly long incline, there was a loud bang under my foot and a squirt of air and sand on my ankle. It frightened me a little, but when I looked out the window at the tyre it still looked okay, which was good as we had already dropped the spare tyre off at a tyre repair stall. The driver wasn't too concerned and kept ploughing up the hill until he got to a small flat section where he stopped and checked the tyre. He was convinced that we had enough pressure left in it to get to the top of the hill, so we pressed on.

At the top we stopped and the conductor came down off the roof with a jack and pumping pole. All the men got out of the jeepney to watch the activity which I would say is pretty typical worldwide, they all wanted to add their 2 pesos worth. I would have loved to get off and take a picture, but I took my cue from the women in the jeepney who just kept sleeping or looking at their fingernails. I did do the guys the courtesy of moving over to the middle of the jeepney. Whilst they were already jacking up a few tonnes, they didn't need an extra 75kg right over the wheel.

It took only 10 minutes and we were on our way again, with nothing more to note until the public market where I stayed in the jeepney until I was told by the conductor that I had to get off and take a trike to the city. Then I had to go through the processes of "No I don't want to a special ride" which was going to be 80 pesos for me and my backpack only to the city as the minimum is usuall 4 people. I ended up sharing and spent the whole ride perched on the edge of the seat trying not to squash the lady with the baby.

The Butterfly Garden - whoopdedoo
I was looking for something to do in the afternoon, so my Jens Peters guidebook recommended the Butterfly Garden and after having seen a beautiful butterfly the size of my hand in Sabang I thought it could be cool.

I negotiated a crapola trike fare with Alan, 70 pesos one way and then he did the old hang around and wait, but with a twist, he came in with me and pointed out butterflies like the Underground River guide had done. This was quite annoying, but after a little while he went and sat down and left me in peace. He had also stopped for petrol on the way there and all the petrol attendants came over to ogle me and Alan told me that they wanted to know if I was single.

The Butterfly Garden wasn't what I expected. It wasn't half of what I expected. I thought there would be thousands of fluttering butterflies in all kinds of liveries, but it was small and there were probably about 7 different types of butterflies. One got quite friendly and decided it liked my ankle and that was really the highlight of the Butterfly Garden.

Despite Alan wanting to take me to the crocodile farm I made him take me back to the city and then handed over 140 pesos, about $4, which I deemed a fleecing.

The day brightened when I purchased a pair of blue wedges with a silver ankle chain for 480 pesos. They screamed at me through the shop window and they made my foot look really good. Pair number one sorted.

Things I Learned
* I negotiate like a dumb foreigner.
* I will find shoes that fit.
* There's nothing to do in Puerto Princesa.

Shoe Count: 1
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