Riding a Bus
I often ride in a bus going back and forth to the city of Manila and to our province, Camarines Sur in Bicol, Philippines. The fare is cheaper than riding in an airplane. It's only P400.00+ pesos for ordinary buses but around P600.00+ for air conditioned buses. It's around ten dollars for the ordinary fare and 14 dollars for special fare. The normal fare for airplanes going to Bicol is P7,000.00++pesos or around 150 dollars. Although it will take me more than ten hours riding in a bus than a 45-minute ride in an airplane, it is more enjoyable because you will be able to see different places, eat exotic foods from different cities or town in every bus stop and mingle with other people or passengers.
Bus Experiences In Some Parts of the World
My first long ride in a bus outside Philippines was in Yokaichi (1st Avenue), Osaka, Japan (year 2001). It was also my first time working outside the country as a seafarer. Workers who were going ashore rode the service bus to the city's downtown. Buses in Japan have GPS (Global Positioning System) and have buzzer that you can use when you reach your destination. Drivers seldom honk other drivers. They diligently follow road signals and precautions. Our driver courteously drove us back to the tanker terminal later at night.
Unlike in the Philippines, traffic congestion is a daily problem due to the buses that seldom follow traffic rules. But when you reach Makati City, bus drivers cautiously follow the rules of the road, but in EDSA (Efipanio de los Santos Avenue), drivers are racing to get prospective passengers along the highway that can cause road accidents.
In 2002, my colleagues and I rode a bus in Salerno (Salt City), Sicily, Italy. The driver knowing that were seafarers gave us a free ride to the city until we reached the plaza. He knew that we don't have euro money for the fare because we went first to a money changer to change our dollar to euro. Banks were closed because we always went ashore after dinner (that's 5 pm on board ship).
I rode a bus in Savannah, Georgia, USA along with my co-seafarers in 2005. Well, we paid our fares because were using US dollars.
The buses in Venezuela are like in the Philippines. Most of them are rickety and often emit dark poisonous carbon monoxide. We rode a bus (February 2009), back and forth when we went to Macuto beach in the municipality of Vargas, Venezuela. We don't have any problem about paying because we already changed our dollars to bolivares (Venezuelan money).
No Flat Rate
It is more cheaper to ride a bus than taxi cab. There's no flat rate of P30.00 pesos or 75 cents in US dollars (exchange rate is USD 1 = P46.++). If you're not in a hurry and have no budget to afford a taxi ride, you can either enjoy a bus ride (aside from jeepney ride).
The good thing is that almost all buses in the Philippines have television sets that passengers can enjoy. Some street hawkers or vendors frequent the buses when the traffic is so slow. They often sell peanuts (roasted, boiled, etc.), fish crackers, boiled fresh corns, other native delicacies and of course, bottled mineral water or iced tea to quench your thirst.
Pearl of the Orient Bus Ride
Although, there are still flaws in the rules of the road in the country, still the bus is the most convenient ride you can afford to travel the archipelago.
There are package tours that you can easily afford if you want to be a local tourist in a weeks time. The main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao have tour buses that can give you a package deal for a good ride around the archipelago's beautiful tourist spots. There are travel agents in the internet that can give you much needed help and information regarding your bus travel.
With just a hundred dollars in hand (around P4, 600.00 pesos), you can now tour the beautiful tourist spots in the Philippines. You can start in Luzon, then the bus will ferried to Visayan key cities then to safe places in Mindanao. Isn't it amazing?
You can now have a memorable account of the Philippines by just riding a bus. Any takers?