there are many, very different ways to view manila. you can walk, ride a bici-taxi (a small carriage with a bicycle attached to the side), take a real taxi, go on a calesa (horse-drawn carriage), take the light-train (like a subway, but above ground), hire a driver, or go with someone. most of the transportation we’ve taken lately has been along the lines of clean, aircon-ed vehicles of family and family friends.
by far the most interesting way to get around town, however, is the one we took today: jeepney. it’s really an experience unto itself. jeepneys are the way that most filipinos get around in everyday life. like the name suggests, it looks like a jeep, only longer, and with a shelled out interior that holds two padded bench seats. unlike what you might typically think of when you conjure up an image of a bus, the jeepney stops at any time, for anyone, at any location. they have “routes” – meaning simply, they have general destinations. but any point along that route can be a stop, whether it’s on the sidewalk or in the middle of the street (which is the norm). when you’re driving around town, people are jumping out of and hopping onto jeepneys at every glance. and the ride from inside is pretty damn cool: because of the lowness of the vehicle, the long narrow windows, and the open back (where people get on and off), riding a jeepney is unlike any other experience of transportation in manila, and an embodiment of filipino life.
it’s also dirty, dirty, dirty. the city is polluted, due to a number of factors, but mainly because of the diesel-powered vehicles running about town. it creates a suffocating atmosphere, so it’s no wonder that most people walk (and ride) around with pieces of cloth pressed to their faces to filter out the dirt. unfortunately, we didn’t have that today, so now my lungs (and nostrils) are as black as if i had smoked a pack of cigarettes. oh well, such experiences aren’t to be had everyday.
i didn’t have my camera on me today, so i don’t have any shots of riding around in the jeepney. but i have taken some pictures around town. here’s a sampling: