Saturday, February 09, 2008

Riding Around

Spent another day kicking around Naga city. Walked through a couple open-air malls (and closed-air malls, I'm developing a new appreciation for air-conditioning), and did some shopping for souvenirs.

On our way in to Naga today, I borrowed Raoul's motorcycle and got a little taste of riding in third world free-for-all traffic. The area I rode in didn't have much traffic, so nothing was really hairy until I had to drive across a street full of tricycles. All intersections in Naga are uncontrolled, so the only way to cross a stream of traffic is to stick your nose out and kind of shove your way through. Takes some getting used to.

Speaking of tricycles, the tricycle and the jeepney are the two dominant forms of transportation here. A tricycle starts its life out as one of a variety of stock motorcycles, and then has a sidecar and a roof welded on, the driver's seat extended to form a large bench, and a number of handholds welded on. You can cram at least 8-9 people on a tricycle, which then crawls along as a poor, suffering 125cc motor tries to move its load. Tricycles operate like taxis in urban areas, but if you want to leave the city and go to a rural area, the tricycle won't leave until it has a full load.

A jeepney is the tricycle's big brother. The original jeepneys started their life as a surplus U.S. army jeep, which was then extended in every direction to create a small bus that can haul 20 or more people. Jeepneys take the place of local bus routes, and run everywhere.

Tonight we're going to Shakey's Pizza for a group dinner. Although Shakey's is almost unknown now in the states, in the Philippines it is a popular chain of higher-end restaurants -- like a nicer Chili's.

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