Monday, March 24, 2008


NLEX, Japan-ized

The much-publicized, almost-finished Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway (SCTEX) had its trial run last week. We thought we'd check it out since it was free and we were going to Subic anyway. We left late on Thursday morning and were caught in two chokepoints on NLEX: Balintawak and approaching Dau toll plaza. Our total time travel time from home to Subic was 5 hours (1.5 hours from San Fernando to Dau alone), but it only half as long to come back early afternoon on Sunday.

Left: no need for this when you're at a standstill
Right: the Pinoy Windows desktop

It was very hot on the road, true Semana Santa weather. Those riding vehicles with untinted windows or without aircon must have suffered. We only had one CD onboard to listen to. Since it was rewriteable, my brother was burning on-the-fly from a laptop so we could change our playlist. I really did not like it when people overtook using the unpaved part between the lanes because it was not only unfair but it also raised so much dust.

SCTEX itself was cool. It took only 30 mins from Clark to Subic at an average speed of 130 kph. Most of the interchanges are still being built and there are few streetlights. But if you compare that with the rough asphalt roads of the Freeport, it's a huge difference.

lamppost SCTEX

The expressway split so many hills in half. The views show off the natural beauty of that part of Luzon: the mountains in the distance, the verdant plains, the tiny mango trees that look like broccoli, the bahay kubos and the real sense of unspoiled rural life. How much of that will change, we don't know. But I wish nothing would.