Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three weeks in Bayawan



Have you ever spent time in a tropical third world country? My husband and I recently visited my brother who lives in Bayawan on Negros Island in the Philippines. You won’t find this city listed in any tour book. It’s off the beaten path with the closest airport over two hours away in Dumaguete City, the capital of Negros Oriental.

I took copious notes and photographs and plan to use our experiences in a future story. In this blog I’ll share how we got around the city of Bayawan. That was an adventure in itself.

Cars are expensive to operate so you see few on the streets of Bayawan. The common type of transportation choices if you don’t own a motorcycle are riding in pot-pots (pronounced
put puts) or tricycles. I’ll describe both. Here is a typical pot-pot looking for passengers.


Believe me when I say that padded narrow seat is designed to fit narrow-hipped Filipinos, not two broad Americano behinds! After several rides my husband and I learned how to wedge in nicely. Admittedly they aren’t comfortable but definitely very cheap. Cost: five Philippine pesos per person anywhere in town. The currency exchange rate is approximately 42 pesos to a U.S. dollar.




Tricycles are motorcycles with semi-enclosed sidecars which can carry up to seven people. It’s a wonder the bike’s gears don’t fail carrying these heavy burdens through town. You load people until there isn’t an inch of space left, and you can side sideways behind the driver too!




Bayawan is basically flat, has no stop signs, many four way intersections and pedestrians do not have the right of way. The ballet of pot-pots, tricycles, motorbikes and cars at intersections is amazing to watch and an unforgettable experience. Pot-pots have small bike horns they squeeze at intersections and when they want to pass or alert someone. Every time we crossed the busier highway riding in a pot-pot I closed my eyes and waited. Why see what you can't avoid? In my next blog I’ll discuss the exotic foods we ate in Bayawan such as buko, jackfruit, dinuguan, sisig, and biko.

What has been your most frightening ground travel experience?

14 comments:

Mona Risk said...

What a fantastic experience. Thank you Sheila for sharing these amazing pictures. I am a world traveller but you managed to impress me.

Dawn Marie Hamilton said...

Wow! What an experience you had, Sheila. My most frightening ground travel issue was in Kuala Lumpur while on a business trip. We were in car crashes, three monings in a row, on our way to the office. No one was hurt. But still--

Wonderful post, Sheila. Thanks for sharing.

Sheila Tenold said...

Thanks, Mona. After living in Bayawan you come to appreciate so many little things which aren't available. Such as toilet paper in public bathrooms. You must always carry a supply! Glad you stopped by.

Sheila Tenold said...

Three car crashes, Dawn? Sounds like Kuala Lumpur drivers need retraining. Where did you get the courage to ride for a third time? I'm happy there were no injuries. Thank you for stopping by.

Vicki Batman, said...

Hi, Sheila! I've been waiting to read about your adventures. This post on transportation is very interesting. Wish we had more of it here!

Can't wait to read other posts and soon, my friend!

Sheila Tenold said...

Hi Vicki, glad you stopped by. I'll be writing about our adventures for a very long time. One we'll never forget. Having to go to a third world emergency room hospital when my husband was in need of care.

Vonnie Davis said...

I can't wait to show these pictures to Calvin. We so often joke about taxi rides in Paris, especially one where the driver slammed his taxi in reverse and sped backwards down a narrow street ON the sidewalk. I nearly wet my pants. Thanks for sharing such interesting photos and tidbits of your trip.

Sheila Tenold said...

Whoa! A taxi speeding backwards on the sidewalk? I think you're running neck and neck with Dawn's 3 car accidents in a row. Glad all you had was damp panties.

Paisley Kirkpatrick said...

I have a sister-in-law from the Philippines and have learned a lot from her, but never heard about the transportation. Very interesting.

Our only exciting, not too scary, ride in a taxi in Copenhagen, Denmark. We were late coming in by bus and our exchange daughter and her mother met us. They had the ship captain holding the boat. The Taxi ran red lights, drove over sidewalks, and only God knows how fast he was driving. He hung on and never did a harbor ever look so beautiful as when we arrived intact and boarded the ferry to cross to Malmo, Sweden. I don't remember if we were crying or laughing...

Ana Morgan said...

One harrowing experience was in Asmara, Ethiopia. My dad was teaching me to drive a stick shift. My two older brothers were in the back seat. I had to stop on a hill in traffic. The light changed and I killed the car over and over. Horns were honking, my brothers were hooting, cars passed around me, their drivers giving the universal hand salute. It was horrible. But I learned to work first gear.

Your pictures and descriptions are amazing, Shiela. I'm looking forward to more!

Sheila Tenold said...

Wow, Paisley. Both Vonnie and you had wild rides in Europe. I too had a crazy ride in Italy. We were running late to reboard our cruise ship. When our Italian guide ran a red light we four passengers gasped. Her words, "It's okay, I'm Italian," make me chuckle every time I recall that day.

Sheila Tenold said...

Ana, Ethopia has to be one of the most unusual places to learn to drive a stick shift. I'm sure your brothers love to tell that story about their sister too! Bravo for keeping your cool.

Josie said...

I don't have any travel experiences that compare to this one, Sheila. What an amazing and enlightening trip. Thanks for sharing, and looking forward to your next blog about the food.

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