Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Panama City

We visited Panama Viejo, the original Panama City, today sits among the skyscrapers. It was nice to walk around the ruins and there are souvenir shops. When we were there, Yanni’s group was setting a stage for concert that night. The ticket we told is $50. I was tempted because we have done nothing at night here in Panama. But we ended up on visiting Mi Pubelo (recreation various tribal housing from Panama) and the Causeway (the hip and trendy speck of islands connect by the causeway to the mainland), which both turn out to be a bust as the traffic was terrible and Mi Pubelo closed earlier than book said due to bad traffic and by the time we got to the Causeway, it was getting dark, so we didn’t have the chance of walking the path along the ocean. On top of that the taxi driver wanted more money for the traffic and extra distance to the Causeway even though we picked up a person on our way there. So we ended gave him couple more $ than what we thought was the rate, but less than what he asked for. After few photos, we hailed another taxi and were on our back to the hotel, hungry and disappointed. Luckily this time the taxi driver was honest.

One morning Wendy and I visited nearby Parque Natural Metropolitano to try our luck in spotting animals by ourselves. It was a short drive from the hotel, but traffic was, you guessed, bad. There aren’t other tourists while we were there. We did spot some monkeys, but too far to make it out, but since the park is known for its titi monkeys, we assume it was. We also spotted a frog and some rat like animals. But other than that we just have a nice walk in the forest.

What can I say about Panama City? Traffic here is terrible, ever where you go you get stuck in traffic. One saving grace is that the taxi around town cost about $3-5.

The city itself has lots new constructions. It certainly has lots potential as it is expanding the canal to accommodate larger ships. But it is still have lots room to improve. Beside the traffic, there are many poor neighborhoods with high crime rate. It will go a long way if Panama can build a metro to relieve the congested roads. And use some of the wealth generated from the foreign investments and canal income to reduce the poverty, therefore crime.

The price here is starting to get expensive, especially in the higher end area like hotel. But certain luxury goods/liquors are cheaper here because of the low import taxes.

We stayed here for 6 nights here. Could have visited more places if not for the bad traffic and my mom’s broken arm. But with the long stay, we got pretty comfortable walking around the hotel and getting around in taxis.

It is hard to say this is my last visit to Central America, but currently there is no plan to come back anytime soon. I am also not sure where to go from here. There are lots place left in the world.

So until next time I come back to Central America, happy travel everyone!

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