I drive a big motorbike, specially for a woman my age. I am 56 and my motorbike is a Yamaha SZ150. Yes, it comes with a clutch. Many Filipino men tell me that is not a female bike. Somehow a motorbike with a clutch is a male thing. Not for me. Although it is a heavy bike (150 kg and with full tank even heavier) I love driving it. And I do not feel ashamed when I’m parked in the sand and stuck to ask for help. That is usually the moment the person helping me explaining that I should buy a scooter or a semi automatic.
No thank you.
Although a scooter or a semi automatic would be a lot more practical when it comes to grocery shopping. But those days I enjoy a ride with a tricycle, or I take my bicycle into town.
The scary part about driving around in the Philippines, for me contain three things:
- tourists on rentals. They are all over the island and annoying, they think they own the world and the road and have no sense of danger. If and when an accident is the gossip of the day, it usually involves a tourist on a rental splashed out over the concrete road. Most of them never drove a scooter or a semi automatic before, let alone they drove one in the Philippines. Their selfie sticks are all over the place and the other day in hospital there was a girl that actually fell of the back of a scooter while doing crazy stuff and losing het balance. She needed a lot of stitches and lost a lot of skin. Sad ending of you trip.
- Filipino’s in monstertrucks. You know them: the big SUV’s that, in their minds, own the other part of the world the tourists on scooters do not own. They overtake whenever they feel like and honk their horn annoying to overtake you on roads that do not allow safe overtaking and by doing so endangering my life more than theirs, since they are safely tucked away behind the black glass of their on downpayment bought vehicle. They are annoying, dangerous and cocky. And to my opinion heavily into overcompensating.
- animals on the road. I can handle a chicken, although I tend to brake for them as well, I do not want to create any roadkill. But it is the cows and goats and especially the dogs that scare the hell out of me.
No children? No, children in the Philippines seem to behave pretty well while playing outdoors, they stay in the side of the road, watching carefully where to go and are somehow more aware of their surroundings than the tourists, the SUV drivers, or the dogs…..those scary dogs roaming around, crossing the street coming out of nowhere.
So, most scary road user? Dogs!! By far.
Unpredictable, they do respond to the horn, but you can never tell how. Will they move, and if yes, which direction. And they are all over the place. Specially in the dark when they sleep on the road to keep them warm.
So they other day, my son, who is staying on the island of Siquijor at the moment, on his brand new Honda ‘off-road-something’ bike and me on my Yahama SZ150 cruising the Nautical Highway to find some nice location for lunch, speedometer around 50 kph, just past Lazi when it happened. My son was in the front, came out a curve and there was a dog.
He did not even have a chance to use the brakes
the dog moved left, turned right and my son hit him right on the hip bone. Pushing him forward just a meter or so while loosing balance, hitting the asphalt with his left side.
Needles to say both where seriously injured. The owner of the dog got the dog out of the side of the road and disappeared pretty fast, afraid of the consequences I guess. I went full in my brakes, parked the bike and ran to my son, Switched off his engine and asked if he could move. He could. Bystanders came with water to rinses out his wounds, gosh, did he left behind a lot of skin on that part of the street. His shirt was torn, his hands open, so was his left leg from the knee down and his left elbow, cuts and bruises on his ribs………and his motorbike heavily damaged.
The local fire brigade came to our aid and transported my son to Lazi hospital for emergency care.
A fireman drove my sons motorbike to the hospital and escorted me on mine, I was a bit shaky, I tell you!
His wounds were cleaned and dressed and we were transported in a charity ambulance to Siquijor hospital for X-rays of his arm and shoulder.
Next day a friend and I went to pick up the motorbikes from Lazi hospital.
An accident happens in a nano second. Here in the island almost nobody wears helmets or protective clothing. I only wear some very ugly protective shoes so my toes don’t scrape over the pavement (don’t even ask 😉 )
We are so lucky he did not havre any major injuries. He is sore, his wounds are healing just fine, but it will take time. The shoulder and muscles in his ankles and legs hurt the most, but no broken bones or dislocation or things like that.
How much did all this cost?
Some people will wonder how much money we had to pay for all this aid and medical care. Well I assure you: no pain felt there.
- Aid from the fire brigade: free
- water from the sari sari store to rinse the wounds: 50 pesos (30, but I paid the lady 50, since she was a great help)
- Dressing of the wounds in Lazi hospital: 100 pesos (2 euro)
- Ride with the ambulance from Lazi to Siquijor: free (I gave 200 pesos for charity)
- 3 X rays and diagnostics: 300 pesos (6 euro)
- Emergency room Siquijor Hospital: free
- Medication: 1,438 pesos: antibiotic pills for a week, pain-relief 6 pc., antibiotic gel 1 tube, bandages and tape.
- Ride home with a tricycle: 100 pesos
- Next day habal habal -ride to retrieve the motorbikes: 200 pesos (2pax)
When driving in the Philippines here are a few safety tips:
- slow down when entering a barangay, most dogs live in barangays and you are more likely to have them cross the road there
- be cautious when you take turns and bends in the road, or even go uphill and your vision is limited
- a helmet is required in the Philippines, although not many people wear them
- protective shoes are a pre. They keep your toes safe
- keep distance from other vehicles thaat will give you enough time to brake
- know the power of your brakes and the impact on your motorbike while braking. How will your bike respond when you use the front or foot brake. practise this in a quiet area
- give way of right to others, if they tend to endanger you with their behaviour on the road. Do not be a cocky driver
- do not be afraid to use your horn, dogs, kids, people, they all will respond to it
- when in doubt….do not do it, like overtaking, drive within your own comfort-zone
- take it easy….enjoy the scenery and your ride, no need to rush.
Have a safe trip!