Caught (up) in traffic

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Grab tours?

One of my former students who did research on ridesharing showed me a new feature on the Grab app. There is a vehicle for rent option now in the app as shown in the screen capture below:

 

Booking by the hour means you get to set the duration of service. The conventional service is point-to-point (i.e., taxi).

Choosing “booking by the hour” will lead to a selection of vehicles and the number of hours corresponding to a type of rental.

We showed these to our suking van rental in Cebu and our driver commented that these were expensive. Still, we thought this was a good way to go around the province (not just Cebu City). Of course, such rentals may be more applicable for those who like set pieces when they travel or go on tour. If you’re the more adventurous type, then perhaps you will consider public transportation and walking. It will certainly be less expensive and give a more memorable experience however it goes.

The busy Chao Phraya

The Chao Phraya is a very busy river as traffic along this body of water is quite heavy. There are lots of vessels including those used for commuting and tourism. Here are a few photos I took from my hotel room.

A couple of commuter boats going on opposite directions

A river cruise vessel that’s popular with tourists. They serve meals on the upper deck and there is entertainment as well as a guided tour of the attractions along the Chao Phraya.

River traffic is heavy even during night time. Attractions such a the Grand Palace are nicely illuminated at night so these make for impressive sights. Perfect backgrounds while having dinner or perfect subjects if you’re into photography.

The Chao Phraya Princess (one of many princesses) docking at the Shangri-la

I wonder if the Pasig River can be developed to this level in terms of commuter and tourist traffic.

Traffic congestion in Tagaytay

We got to see first-hand last weekend how terrible the traffic congestion in Tagaytay has become. Last year it was already bad but last weekend’s traffic was really awful. To be fair, not counted in the traffic jams mentioned here are roadworks (i.e., widening) currently being conducted by the DPWH along the Sta. Rosa – Tagaytay Road that have also contributed to the longer travel times to and from Tagaytay. The severe congestion is due to the intense developments in the city including high density residential and commercial developments in a city where transportation, including the road network, is not built to be able to handle the trips generated by such developments.

My brother took the following photos as we drove back to Manila:

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The photos pretty much describe how congested roads are. All two lanes are full with what is basically bumper-to-bumper traffic. The last photo was taken in front of the Estancia Hotel, which is about 1.4 km from the rotonda, and the queue appears to continue well beyond this area (i.e., past Starbucks). This is a result of the traffic management at the Tagaytay rotonda where, instead of allowing vehicles to move freely (which is how rotondas are supposed to function), traffic enforcers instead stop movements from the 3 legs one at a time. The problem here is that the congestion due to the Serin mall often reaches the rotonda, and so vehicles could not proceed to exit on that leg of the intersection. This condition affects traffic from all legs and results in long queues along the Aguinaldo Highway as well as both the rotonda-bound sides of the Tagaytay-Nasugbu Highway. Vehicles cannot make left turns to Serin or the Lourdes Church because of the median barrier set-up along the highway so all have to go around the rotonda. Quite frankly, I see very little or no options in as far as solutions go. The traffic is simply too much for the roads to handle.

Roadside views of the Pillila, Rizal Wind Farm

A highlight of our recent road trip to and from Lucena, Quezon via the Rizal – Laguna – Quezon route is the impressive roadside views of the new Pillila Wind Farm. The array consists of 27 turbines, more than the number in Bangui, Ilocos Norte. Following are a few photos of the turbines of the farm which has a total capacity of 5.2 Megawatts. I noticed though that many of the turbines were not running so the capacity is likely not reached and the output highly varies depending on the season and time of day.

There are two access points from the national highway to the wind farm. Via these access roads, one can get near the wind turbines to get photos including ‘selfies’ with the turbines as background, just like those trending photos posted on social media taken at the Bangui Wind Farm.

The Philippines needs more of these clean energy sources. The promotion and spread of such types of energy generation should be able to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. This would be good in the long run and also for transportation since there are already many initiatives for electric vehicles. E-vehicles are not necessarily zero contributors to air quality and ultimately to climate change if we consider the sources of electricity when these vehicles re-charge their batteries.

Travel the Philippines 2015: 20 Photos that will make you pack your bags and go – @Just1WayTicket

I saw this article being shared around social media about tourism spots in the Philippines. Given the push for more visitors, local and foreign, the government and its partners in the private sector have exerted a lot of effort and allocated much resources to improving the tourism in the country. This includes improvements to infrastructure as well as to the tourism industry itself. There are many nice places around the country including those off the beaten track. I think the following article does a great job of featuring a lot of the more popular spots as well as many that are not usually in the typical itinerary of travel agencies:

Travel the Philippines 2015: 20 Photos that will make you pack your bags and go – @Just1WayTicket.

Daang Bakal and Antipolo’s attractions

I recently wrote about the old railway line that used to run between Manila and Antipolo via a route passing through the town of Cainta that used what was probably the gentlest slope at the time – through what is now Valley Golf, Victoria Valley and Fairmont Subdivisions. Here are some more photos along Daang Bakal, the old Manila Rail Road line that is now a road.

IMG08002-20140417-0940Daang Bakal is a scenic route and one can only imagine how this place looked like when it was still a railway line and the areas along it were still undeveloped.

IMG08003-20140417-0941Hinulugang Taktak has been designated as a National Park and the areas along Daang Bakal at least have been preserved. Users of this road are quite limited to residents of exclusive subdivisions with gates along the road and trips generated by the Immaculate Heart Parish near the Fairmont gate. Public transportation is provided by tricycles that have a terminal at the intersection of Daang Bakal and Taktak Road.

IMG08005-20140417-0942The temporary fence that was made out of tarpaulin material is now in tatters. There is road construction work ongoing though but mainly for the access roads connecting to Pinagmisahan. The concreted area at the right side of the road in the photo seems to be for parking rather than road widening. Traffic is low along Daang Bakal and will probably not require road widening for the foreseeable future.

IMG08004-20140417-0941The main entrance and facilities for Hinulugang Taktak are still closed and there seems to be no activity to indicate that the rehabilitation project is not moving at all.