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Planes, Taxis, Jeepneys and Trikes

Traveling around a foreign country can be a little daunting.

The public transit system is confusing and intimidating. Even the airports are a bit unfamiliar.

People wait at a terminal in the Ninoy Aquino International Aiport

People wait at a terminal within the Ninoy Aquino International Airport for flights heading to Tacloban City. (Photo by Neil Bedi)

For me, a person who gets lost driving from UCLA to Beverly Hills to visit the Ice Cream Lab, getting around with minimal guidance and no Google Maps directions chirping in my ear seemed like the most difficult thing I’d have to do on this trip.

But mostly, I’ve discovered a penchant for finding my way that I never knew I had. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention in America.

We found our way through Olongapo on color-coded jeepneys that run on lines in exactly the same way that buses run in the United States. Yellow jeepneys took us to the market. Brown jeepneys took us to the outskirts of the city. Anytime we had to go somewhere a jeepney line didn’t run, we’d take a trike.

We only got on a jeepney going in the wrong direction and missed our stop once.

Jeepney driver

A jeepney driver calls out to pedestrians, searching for new passengers. (Photo by Neil Bedi)

But not all of our travel has worked out so smoothly.

Our first major snafu was riding in an unmetered taxi when we arrived in Olongapo. While taxis in Manila cost us about 150 Philippine pesos, this ride ran us 1,500 PHP.

A few days ago, we read an online article claiming all large flights coming into the Tacloban airport had been cancelled. The news was a little disconcerting, considering that we were scheduled to fly into Tacloban in two days.

But we managed to fight back the instinct to panic and wait until we could call the airport in the morning.

Turns out, the airport is undergoing renovations to repair damages from the typhoon last year, and with runways under construction, it cannot support some aircraft until the repairs are finished.

Neil managed to get us a new flight from Manila to Tacloban with a connection in Cebu. So now, we get to briefly add a fifth city to our itinerary.

Arial view of Manila

Above is an aerial view of Manila from our plane en route to Cebu City. (Photo by Neil Bedi)

We did lose a day of reporting to travel, though.

Meanwhile, with the extra day we had to stay in Manila, Byron put together a map that shows our location as we move through the country in our “current location” tab.

Even with the minor hiccups in our travel, the trip has already afforded us some incredible reporting that we never would have been able to get in the United States.

I don’t think I really understood the magnitude of Typhoon Yolanda until I started traveling — with some good luck and some bad — through the Philippines.