Posted by: Moni | January 15, 2008

Adventures in Traffic-sitting!

Tonight’s harrowing tale will be about the journey that took place after a very long and arduous day at work. Ahem.

The afternoon started innocently enough. Ominously enough, actually now what I think about it. My site team and I finished up our work after a VERY long and challenging day, and decided to go back to the hotel to beat traffic. Well. Steve, Ramesh and I were apparently too early to catch a taxi (though I did warn the group that traffic would be murder if we left any later), and after about 10 minutes all decided to go back into Eastwood for some food. We headed to a restaurant called “Heaven’n’Eggs” and had some breakfast food for dinner. I had never introduced a 32 year old to Pancakes before, but that’s a story for another day.

After that, three of us went to catch a taxi to get to our two hotels. The first taxi I stopped rejected us – mostly because we were going to Makati and traffic is bad going into the city. The second one looked relatively safe, and took us up for a flat yet raised rate, with the disclaimer that it could take us 40 minutes to get back. We all got into the taxi and started chit-chatting with the taxi driver, who promptly took us a different way than I was used to going home since our co-worker as at a different hotel. No biggie, right?

Well, we get a good ways down, and then ran into a patch of congested traffic while heading towards the Ortegas district. Our driver took it upon himself to jump the line and begin to drive in the wrong lane to get us to the front of the line. At that point, the traffic controller switched, and suddenly we had a whole line of cars coming head-on towards us!! He seemed to be an experienced driver and tried to weasel his way into the correct lane, but ended up being so close to both sides that the righthand review mirror was almost rubbing up against our side of traffic, and oncoming traffic had to jump a curb not to hit us. Motorcyclists were knocking on the windows to curse him out.

Ok. Not too bad. We make it through, and then HE DOES IT AGAIN…. only this time, it works. We got onto the main highway with no problems. Until… he decided to take a shortcut. Now, he had very good (and distracting) conversationalist skills, and we all learned about the direction of Saudi law enforcement and the prices of LPC fuel today compared to 3 months ago. We also got a lecture about the level of skill it requires to drive in Manila. This was appropriate, especially since he had just taken a “shortcut” through a crowded pedestrian shopping center. After about 10 minutes of bumper-to-bumper traffic (in which I saw such interesting bumper sticker saying “Bring God back into Politics!”), we finally made it through to Ramesh’s hotel. We dropped him off, and took off to head around Ortegas, towards Makati. He decided to skip traffic through a small plaza of hotels, and we were doing the typical close swerve of traffic to get onto the street… until, he side-swiped a car on its way out from Starbucks.

At this point, I’m looking around to see what happens next. The driver of the other car JUMPS out and starts cussing out our driver, who immediately gets out and starts pointing at his right review mirror to show that he just swiped the car a little bit. They sit there yelling at each other for a good five minutes, all the while I’m glancing out the window at the center’s security guards looking towards us. It escalates a little bit, and the guards (who by the way, wear long-ass rifles as their arsenal) walk over to help settle the matter. The other driver asks Steve and I if we saw anything and we elect to stay out of it as we’re looking for other taxis that may be around to take us home. I decide staying still is a better option, and after about ten more minutes the other angry driver takes off. Our driver chit-chats to the officers, and we take off 2 minutes later. HOLY CRAP.

At that point, I knew exactly where I was. I saw where we were in relation to Edsa, and could see the familiar Makati City skyline from the car. Light at the end of the tunnel!!

Then, he unexpectedly took a detour through a relatively safe street. I could see the MegaMall from there, and still had a pretty good idea of where we were. We ended up on the highway for about five seconds before he took a third detour through the side in attempts to get closer to Makati.

THIS detour actually scared the crap out of me. We were suddenly in a side district full of markets, pedestrians, and shantis. I don’t think I would have been too nervous if there wasn’t a van edging up and looking down at us the entire time. However, this wasn’t still wasn’t TOO bad, and I didn’t actually feel like locking the door until we took a left onto the slightly more industrial road. When we got to the area that was full of garages, auto shops and abandoned jeepneys, I decided that I couldn’t make heads or tails of my surroundings. THEN I locked the doors. We zig-zagged down a couple of more streets, and we went down another road to where we were suddenly in Rockwood. I recognized Rockwood and the PowerPlant mall, and felt slightly better knowing that we were at least… 10 (really??? 10?? its been 60!!) minutes away from home.

At this point, the driver could probably sense my impatience and growing ebbs and flows of anxiety based upon location. He had a few more near-misses and gave us the sense we were playing bumper cars through the business district, until we ended up on the main drag down Ayala down to the hotel. Two more turns, and I knew the neighborhood enough to jump out of there and walk back, but elected not to since he had tried so hard to get us back. After being in that car for 90 minutes, I was entirely ready to be back. We try to get him to leave us off across the street, but no such luck. He stalled until we got back to the rotunda, where we generously tipped him and got OUT OF THE CAR!!

Steve and I walked through hotel security, with me cussing a bit about how that was my worst ride of all time here. Oddly enough, I wished I had photo-documented it…



  1. But I think the real question here is…Does he feel that god needs to be in politics?

  2. cabs are always fun

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