SLEX Traffic woes

Yesterday I unexpectedly attended the Ateneo’s MBA freshmen orientation after being told by our professor that she highly encourages us to be there even though its schedule is in conflict with our Information Technology class, thus she’s allowing us to be out of our first session.Since I didn’t anticipated being there and that I didn’t anticipate as well that I’ll be coming home late in the afternoon instead of lunch time, I decided that it is best that I drive my way back to Cavite via the south Luzon expressway (SLEX) instead of the coastal area after seeing in the morning that traffic at some part of it has worsened due to the flooding after typhoon Isang sent torrrential rains.

From the Rockwell area traffic flow was surprisingly fast but just before reaching Bicutan, it slowed down as if on cue. Although I was expecting it to be that way as I’ve heard from the news, I didn’t know that they’ve actually set a very long counterflow which I soon learned starts in Alabang. Thankfully, traffic loosened up after I reached the Filinvest exit. But it was short-ived.

The moment I approached the Total gas station in Ayala, traffic once again began to crawl and it remained that way until just before where the Daang Hari road starts. What made is frustrating though is when I learned what actually caused the build up is just the road which is more or less just 50 meters in length but is now as cratered as the moon’s surface. Man, that reminded me of the DPWH informercial where smiling public officials proudly declare their “accomplishments”.

Well, today I sort of retract back all the spite I had from yesterday’s ordeal. It is because our drive from Cavite to Batangas started to pick up speed as soon as we exited Carmona. As a proof, I was able to maintain around 120 kph until we reached the Calamba toll gate where once again, every car and motorist got stuck due to the still on-going construction in that area. This time I’m not disappointed since I’ve seen how a lot of progress have been made since this SLEX improvement project started. By the looks of it, they might complete it as planned sometime in 2010. All my fingers are crossed.

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Yesterday’s drive was also quite alarming due to several encounters:

  • I had a near miss when somewhere in Baclaran I saw a taxi swerving to my lane and upon hitting my brake and punching my horn, he braked so hard that I heard his tires screeching almost to a stop. Some people just don’t deserve to drive.

  • While idling at an intersection near SM Molino I saw one street kid approach me but he not only knocked on my window to beg, but I also saw him lift the door knob on my side. I let it pass, but I only remembered about the modus when after he left one of the passengers of the car beside me opened her window and said, “he was trying to open you door”. That warning reminded me of what I’ve read from one of the car forums that some unscrupulous group operates this way. They send one innocent looking kid to check on car doors. Once they see that the doors can be opened, they will come out from nowhere and will immediately enter that particular car and divest whatever they can. It’s alarming knowing that as early as now, instead of the Christmas season (ironic, huh?), these people might be already starting their activity again.

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I now describe the SLEX as the Philippine’s own version of Germany’s Autobahn. And I’m now calling it AutoBat (for Batangas). Right now, what this highway lacks, among other signs, is speed limit marks. So until the time when these are put in place, this highway is basically free for all and it means speed here is controlled more by the sanity of the driver behind each wheel rather than the speedometer in front of them – assuming it works. Hopefully, our beloved DPWH officials won’t wait for the time when accidents begin to happen before they act upon this safety concern.

 

 

Mood: 3/10 Honks!

The Rain and the Road

 

I can’t seem to get enough with having memory recalls every time the rain falls. Several days this week have been rainy and each time presents new random memories.

Baptismal…by Rain (Duh!)

Thursday. I commute to work on my motorcycle. Unfortunately, when the time came for me to head back home the sky went dark and the threat of rain soon became a reality – my first time to get caught while on a motorcycle. I was almost soaked by the middle of my trip and the laptop in my backpack forced me to seek shelter. While waiting for the rain to stop, I was unconsciously having flashbacks of days when times like this don’t seem to matter. As long as we’re with our bikes, sunny days and rainy days seem to be just the same. I miss the carefree days when we’d be racing in the rain and bunny-hopping puddles oblivious to the dangers such as riding without a helmet or any other body protection. Back then it was just our bikes and us, no worries. No pain, no gain.

Safety is an alien word.

Safety is an alien word.

 Star Toll way

Friday was another rainy road trip. After dropping by work earlier than usual and then driving to Sto Tomas, Batangas to meet my wife’s brother and his wife – both meeting being urgent and stressful somehow – I decided it’s a perfect time and reason to hit the long road again to relax. Thanks to the scarcity of the road signs and markers in the Star Toll way, I miss the exit to Lipa which was initially our destination. That one made me go straight towards Batangas City as the rest of Star Toll way’s well paved highway made me do 120 KPH with almost no effort at all.
Wet drive in Batangas.

Noon time?

That long and fast drive sent me back to a mixture of memories and imagination. I began to remember Kuala Lumpur’s road wherein Mercedes Benz and compact cars are as ubiquitous as our Jeepneys; I also recalled my dreamlike trip from Wisconsin to Madison which until now I can’t believe I was there for a moment in my life; of course, my playful mind won’t complete the process if I can’t link one experience to a TV show or movie – this time it reminded me of disaster movies. The whole horizon was covered with thin nimbus clouds that it seemed like it wasn’t noon time by then and the surrounding setting was just surreal.
 
Will Maxs chicken taste better here?

Will Max's chicken taste better here?

After lunch and a mall stroll in SM Batangas, we headed back by around 4 PM. The ride back turned out not to be uneventful. We had a near miss accident when some guy placed an improvised spike on the middle of Star Toll way. Good thing that I notice the guy doing something fishy and I remember from some motoring forum threads that this modus operandi is being done by some vulcanizing guys to get customers. I was doing another 100 KPH then, if that punctured our tire I hate to believe it but some funeral homes will for sure profit from that a**hole’s enterprising scheme.

Sta. Rosa Exit

Believe it or not, this is SLEX.

Believe it or not, this is South Luzon Expressway.

That Friday wasn’t made to be SSDD. After dropping Noel and Lani back in Sto. Tomas, we took another route home to Cavite. I’ve had enough of bad roads and I actually won’t mind another long drive as long as I know the way. So we took the Sta. Rosa exit instead of Carmona – this one has been in construction for a couple of months already and even to those familiar with it may seem dangerous especially at night.

Obviously, our public servants are on a drinking spree again.

Segment of Carmona Road. Road repair almost invisible at night. Beware.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Somewhere in the middle of our trip and while tuned in to Magic 89.9’s Friday Magic program, I heard a familiar name greeted by another familiar name. Hahaha. My wife sent an SMS greeting for me over the radio. I always find that sweet and that seems to keep my cool while driving. She’s done that several times actually but at a random interval which surprises me every time.

The last time we passed the Sta. Rosa route was more than a year ago and we had our cute Kia Pride that time. Nothing has changed so far but at least it’s better than keeping my eye open for road under repair signs (or the lack of it) in Carmona. An obvious improvement though is noticeable right after we reached Tagaytay. Now, at least large parts of the road have a dividing line between two lanes. Years ago, one has to drive with wide eyes open and lights in full beam to “survive”. At least, some of our public works officials finally (!) acted upon this problem. I’m just wondering though who (or how many) got into an accident for this to happen. I just hope he’s a politician.