When asked what I like best about travelling, I would say commuting, riding the MRT or the bus or simply the walk. Other countries have walkable cities, making it very convenient to go to one place to another. You don’t need to drive a car (which we learned twice and still not allowed to drive to places), or a driver to bring you. You get to estimate your time of travel and don’t have to bother anyone to take you. You don’t have to squeeze into other people’s schedule, trouble them or anything at all. We are discouraged from commuting in our own country (given the type of public transportations we have seemed to be hazardous). My sister’s officemate who is a commuter herself got pushed and her foot fell on the gap. She attained bruises when she got to the office. Tales of: being squished as in a can of sardines; people sliding in the closing doors of a train forcing the train to open its doors; it would be very much helpful to have a weapon (perhaps a filecase, where you can push through your way in or your way out; you have to endure body odors, as well as people slashing bags to get the wallets (there are many victims of this already), and a lot more stories I don’t know about.
In countries like Hong Kong, Taiwan and Singapore, they have a card that you can use for riding the mass transit or other public transportations. Also, you could use the same card for buying things at the convenience stores, department stores and supermarkets. For Hong Kong, it’s the octopus card (八達通), Taiwan has Easy Card (悠遊卡) and Singapore has EZ Link. Japan and Korea have their own cards as well. Also in Japan, they even use their mobile phones when riding the MTR. In our country, we have our own version for riding the LRT and MRT but not as advanced as theirs. Globe and Smart telecommunications have worked with the MetroSystem to use G-Cash and SmartPay for the convenience of the commuters. Our bus still sells tickets in cash basis. Tokyo Metro and Toei Lines uses Passnet with values 1000, 3000 and 5000 that the commuter can choose from, while Japan Railway (JR) has a Suika card, a rechargeable smart card, which can also be used in convenience stores. South Korea has a UPass (prepaid) and T-Money card (smart card).
A Walkable City
Other countries we visited have a friendlier environment both for motorists and pedestrians. You have a sidewalk you can walk. Whereas, in our city, the sidewalks are getting narrower because they are occupied by vendors, you swarm your way through horse and dogs poops, and to add to that a special formula of gust of wind of air that is bound to suffocate you. My sister’s officemate told her that when she came to Manila, she stopped smoking. In China, it’s a social thing to smoke. But in this country, you wouldn’t want to smoke when you’ve experienced the smog you inhale everyday. I thought about Singapore and acknowledged the fact that it is a tropical country, very hot and at times rain would suddenly pour in the afternoon. My dad said that kind of rain is called “Sai Pak Ho” (Northwest Monsoon). What is nice in their country is you can travel underground without getting too much of the heat or getting drenched in the rain; well unless you are living in the suburbs area where you have to ride the bus like my cousin does. And she said, it rains when it’s time to go home from school. In our country, we have a very hot weather and yes lots of rains from May onwards. If you consider the weather conditions plus the smoke belching vehicles like buses, jeepneys and trucks, this might be an exaggeration but you might attain a darker skin tone because of the smoke. We used to stand at a big avenue to wait for our dad and when we got home we used wet tissues to wipe our face and it is evident that we’ve wiped off dirt from our faces. Another thing that adds to the list of the disadvantages of walking in our city, there are fears of getting mobbed by robbers and snatchers. Just yesterday, we heard a lady yelped and saw someone run fiercely across the main road. No one reached out to help because first, from across the road you have a vague idea on what happened, and second, even if you did realize it, it might be too late or you are afraid to chase after the offender as well. We did witness once at the curb where a man riding the motorcycle fell with the bike. His legs got stuck in the wheels. The people who were passing by saw it and led by a middle-aged lady tried to help the man get untangled from the bike. It’s nice to know that there are still people who are willing to help.
Mostly, I like it best when commuting in other countries. Everyone seems to mind their own business. Their construction of the MRT is very convenient for the people. The establishments are connected to the MRT so it’s easy to go to one place to another. And yes, the walk, I like walking, sometimes endlessly. I could go distances and not get tired easily. The walk is always refreshing and revitalizing, indeed a good exercise. If you needed to take some time off from school or work, you have places to go to, a breathable and healthier space to walk about.