It is official … for the first time in my traveling life, I am a little overwhelmed by options and hazards in a traveling destination – just because I have NOT fully scoped out the following:
- Taxis/Scams/Danger : After 60+ countries of bouncing around, and not taking heed to obvious dangers, I have to say that the couple weeks that I have to be in Manila is causing me some stress. Normally, danger and caution are constructs of hyperbole – people talk about crime and danger, but even in Latin America/South East Asia (continent) .. where there is extreme poverty, I’ve never been so strongly warned by natives and bloggers alike about the apparent dangers/scams etc. For instance, word of mouth from friends who’ve travelled there isn’t good about Manila. In fact, I get the sense that nothing is good about Manila, unless you have an extended network of friends and people who will take you around. Thankfully, I think I have this covered through work colleagues, family of Canadian friends and travel bloggers, who have offered to help my trip planning.As for taxi scams – which to be honest, unless you’re in North America, airport taxis are notorious for attempting to rip people off, as those people are the perfect prey because tourists :
- Don’t know where they’re are going
- Don’t know how much the trip should cost
- Have never seen the hotel they are going to
A quick Google search on Taxi Scams in Manila reveals this to be a popular topic … “How did people get around before the Internet, I’ll never know … did we really have to trust people then?”. Here is an awesome article I found on “I Hate Taxis” – which deals with transport from MNL to Manila/Makati. As for travelling in Makati … it seems that many taxis might attempt to rip you off.
One Tip : To complain about any taxi, bus or jeepney send a txt to the LTFRB 0921 448 7777 giving the plate number of the vehicle, date time and place and brief details of the offence.When they text you back, call the telephone number to follow up the action.They can and do take action against erring drivers and if it is the owner of a taxi, he can lose his franchise.
Yet another forum on taxi scammers in Manila is the following Lonely Planet thread …. that being said … after reading the forums/blogs, I’m a bit more relieved – not because there are less scams – there are actually more, but at least I’m prewarned and I know how to have my defenses up.
- Lack of prep time : Unlike all other trips where I had enough time to research and get a sense of what to expect in terms of culture and customs, I have had about 48 hours of total notification and preparation time. This lack of prep time is also creating a small sense of panic within me. Once again, I’m comforted by business hotels and their attention to detail. My accomodation choices through work are the Shangri-La Makati and the Intercontinental (not the worst choices in Makati, whatsoever – in the end, I’ve decided to go with the Intercontinental, since they matched my Marriott/SPG Platinum status)
After the last two hours of researching and reading and writing this post, I’m a lot better with my nerves. Trip planning will be challenging, especially figuring out how to get from Manila to Banaue/Batad on Friday, but it’s an adventure which I’m looking forward to.