These aren’t just any ordinary 15 minutes. These 15 minutes were one of the most unique experiences I’ve had.
If you’ve never heard of or seen a jeepney before in your life, no need to fret comrade neither did I till I saw one.
Each driver selects a route they want when getting certified, the truck itself costs $100,000 pisos or $2,000 USD.
One aspect I really like about jeepneys is that they all have their own style and design. Some are religious, some are motivating and some are comical.
The route they choose will be the exact route they drive, every single day.
At least until the driver gets sick of dealing with the same homeless guy and wants to change scenery.
On the side of each jeepney, the route is displayed.
It’s actually a really unique system. There are “designated stops”, if you want to call it that.
But most people just throw their hand up very casually wherever they are and hop on. The drivers do not miss a potential passenger, ever, trust me.
The only reason a driver won’t pick you up is if the jeepney is already ten people over the capacity.
Once you board, find a seat and don’t expect to have much breathing room, literally.
There are no windows, so the fumes of every vehicle on the road are literally in your face. It’s common for people to wear surgical masks to keep them from “digesting” the fumes.
But to be honest, I’m happy they don’t have windows. Can you imagine? The seats would be even more stickier than they already are. No windows and leather seats with 20+ other people in 31°C (92°F) weather? No thanks.
You can get on a jeepney that is completely empty and the very next “stop”, the entire place is packed.
No joke, I was on a jeepney yesterday that somehow fit 29 people inside and 2 more on the roof.
It costs 7 pisos (14 cents in US Dollar) to ride. But I noticed some passengers handing the driver as low as 3 pisos. I’m assuming those riders are giving all they can and it’s kind of just one of those social norms that are accepted.
There isn’t much space and about no conversation at all. Unless a group of friends hop on together or someone is on their cell phone. But other than that, nada.
I’m always trying to spark up conversations with the other passengers but usually no one is interested.
Which is strange because the Filipinos have been very welcoming and genuine since I’ve been here. Except for that one homeless guy who tried to fight me, but that’s a whole other story.
All walks of life are always onboard too. From a mother and her child to the business woman in heels totally out of place. You can see the discomfort on her face too.
I’m sure every person who gets off after riding with me thinks to themselves, “that white boy is completely lost”.
For the majority of jeepneys their exhaust emissions are just absolutely awful.
While sitting in traffic, which by the way is somehow worse than LA, the jeepney next to us accelerated. I literally ate a huge dark black cloud of exhaust.
I usually enjoy new experiences but that one, not so much and neither did my lungs.
Going back to the jeepneys design, real quick. Each one has its own look and character. The worn out, ripped up leather seats vary in all types of color from Pittsburgh Pirate yellow to Barney purple.
Since the space is so cramped, the people in the back have to pass up their money to the driver. It reminded me of a Yankee game. For example, when the fan is sitting in the middle of the section and orders a hot dog. Everyone in the row has to pass his money down to the vendor.
Finally, after 14 pairs of hands touch their money, the hot dog follows.
It’s pretty much identical on a jeepney but no hot dog comes from the driver, just your change.
Try to avoid at all costs sitting directly behind the driver because you will be passing everyone’s money back and fourth, the entire ride.
I learned that lesson, real quick.
If you’re close enough to your “stop”, which is basically wherever you want it to be. You just hop out and continue on your way.
The drivers will try to help you out with directions as much as possible.
At least until the conversation gets to a point where you say, “thanks for the help”, hop off and both you and the driver are thinking the same thing:
“He had absolutely no idea what I was saying”.
But if you think about it, I’m in his country; I should be the one learning his language. I mean isn’t that what we tell foreigners when they ask us for help in the US?
Think about how you’d feel if you needed help in a country you’ve never been to before. It can be discouraging when someone scolds you in his or her language.
Next time ANYONE asks you for help, not just a foreigner, put yourself in his or her shoes.
People helping people.
It’s one of the many changes this world needs to see. Do your part and be the difference.
Anyways, back to why 15 minutes on a jeepney is a unique experience. When traffic is bad, which is usually always. There will be vendors walking through traffic trying to sell you items from peanuts to warm drinks.
Sometimes when traffic is worse than usual, passengers hop off real quick and get food from a food truck. It doesn’t happen as often as it sounds but if you want to do it, you can.
I never thought I would appreciate US public transportation but I do now. Everyone should ride a jeepney at least one time. The experience of having your legs stick to the seat, sharing a tight space with 25 strangers and your back tingling in pain is something else.
Have any questions about a jeepney that I didn’t cover? Ask away! Thanks for checking out “15 Minutes on a Jeepney” and remember,