Driving in Manila

I’d have a hard time calculating the number of hours that I’ve spent in a taxi over the last month, but it would be fair to say that it would be well over a hundred hours.  To and from meetings all over Manila.


There are far worse and more aggressive drivers, but Manila brings a special breed of drivers. It is hard to describe the distinct manner of lurching that occurs with the typical driver, but essentially whether you are moving in traffic, inching along, or in gridlock, the drivers are constantly going from gas to brake.  Then when they are really serious they slam on the e-brake.  As if that is necessary in gridlock.  If you can manage not to get carsick in Manila, you are doing well, particularly with the fumes that abound as well.

Surprising to the level of English otherwise, the level for taxi drivers is pretty low.  I typically love to chat with taxi drivers and learn more about wherever I am.  Thus far I’ve only found a couple of taxi drivers able to converse more than very shaky conversations about directions.

Aside from driving, there is the art of finding a taxi in Manila.  This is a task.  This morning I waited 50 minutes to find a taxi to driver me an hour to my morning meeting.  Last Friday night I waited an hour and a half for a taxi; I was at the front of the queue for 40 minutes!  My colleagues got so fed up they took a train just to find a taxi, in an area where few people take taxis.

The condition of taxis varies from bad to worse.  Most are in some form of disrepair.  But worse has been the numerous spottings of cock roaches in taxis.  But given the hassle of getting a taxi, and the odds of finding another one just as bad, you view you fellow passenger and hold your bag a bit closer.

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I haven’t taken any videos, but I found this video that is fun and gives a picture of what the roads look like.  Honestly the traffic they are in doesn’t compare to what I’ve experienced, but it gives a good visual.



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