Carpooling with Wunder

I haven’t written anything on here in a REALLY long time, but now seems as good a time as any to go back to writing, at least for this subject.

People in my network would be familiar with my very colourful commuter stories. For those who aren’t, hello, I am Chenyl and I am your average commuter. My daily route to work involves a jeepney ride, and a transfer from the jeepney to a multi-cab (dem orange vans). The whole trip takes about an hour and a half, depending on traffic and weather conditions.

womens-guide-commuting-manila

Everyday is an adventure. (Image via Pacifiqa.com)

A lot of things can happen in a 1.5hour trip. You encounter many different kinds of people, drivers, fellow commuters and some hitchhikers, all with varying levels of agreeability. These kinds of people merit their own posts, but I’ll save that for another time.

Anyway.

I think many would agree that commuting in Metro Manila is still very far from Utopian levels, in terms of convenience and safety. In my quest for a better way of commuting to work, I stumbled upon Wunder.

“Wunder: Carpool with friends”

wunder

Image from Wunder’s Press Kit

Wunder is a carpooling app that started in Hamburg in 2014, and it entered Metro Manila in February 2016.

The app links you to a network of people who go in the same general direction as you do, letting you “hitch” a ride and share the cost of fuel. You sign up using either an e-mail address or your Facebook account, and then choose to be either a Passenger or a Driver. My experience was that of a Passenger’s.

As a Passenger, you enter your preferred pick-up and drop-off points and pick-up time. The app searches the best “matches” for your requirements (lol Tinder?!). When a driver finds your route specifications agreeable, he accepts your trip and contacts you personally to coordinate.

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Image from Wunder’s Press Kit


What makes it different from other ride-sharing apps?

  • Business Model
    Wunder aims to build a community of carpoolers linked through the app, and the intention is to utilise the extra space in a vehicle and then split the cost of fuel. It is not meant to be used as a TNC unlike the other ride-sharing services available in Manila today. Drivers are limited to two rides daily, one bound for work and another for the trip home. As a rider and a Manila resident, I am happy with this concept, since it will keep pricing down and will not encourage people to use this for profit, worsening the road congestion in the process. The business model is better explained by this post.
  • Pricing
    Wunder currently requires no booking fees, and it costs Php 4 / KM. There are plans of introducing additional fees in the future, once there are enough users. BOO that, but I guess it’s not surprising. However, since the pricing model only aims to cover part of the driver’s fuel expense and not make a huge profit, the cost won’t shoot up significantly for passengers even with a booking fee. (I hope.)
  • Ride Quality and Safety Assurance
    Where Uber and Grab has a screening process for the cars and drivers that they deploy, Wunder does not seem to have this. What they do have is a star-rating system similar to Grab and Uber (at least for the drivers; not sure if there’s a rider rating). Based on the driver’s ratings – and perhaps some Google-fu skills if that’s your thing – it’s up to you to decide whether you trust the person or not. Challenge here is that since the app is new, users and user reviews are currently limited. I was lucky enough to book a ride with someone who was not a creep and had a relatively new/well-maintained car, BUT that was a bit of a risk since he had no previous rides/ratings to help me discern. Also, e-mail addresses and Facebook accounts are easy enough to fake, so do take the necessary precautions in accepting riders/passengers.
  • Route Flexibility
    In your account, you indicate if your preferred pick-up and drop-off points/schedules are flexible. If you say that you are slightly or very flexible, the driver and passenger can coordinate and agree on a different pickup/drop off point depending on the driver’s route. The challenge I see here is that you currently couldn’t do that level of coordination in-app, you have to do it via call or SMS. I haven’t explored the app fully, so I’m not sure if you can change your trip specs once it has been accepted so I don’t know how you will be able to recalculate your fare estimate.
  • Payment Options
    Wunder currently accepts cash payments only.

What I loved:

In a nutshell, the experience was similar to taking an Uber or a Grab Car, but pre-booked well in advance and at half the price. The cost is still about 3x more expensive than my usual fare via jeeps and multicabs, but I guess that’s the price you pay for comfort and safety. Will the cost go down if there were more passengers in the car? I sure hope so!

Also, I really like the idea of “real” ride-sharing too, hopefully more people get on the network. Our roads BADLY need decongesting.

manila_traffic

Guess where! (Image via KamoteTrails.blogspot.com)

 

Where Wunder can improve:

    • Notifications
      Even though the app was running in the background, I was only notified that one of my requests have been accepted via e-mail. I didn’t receive a notification from the app itself. My e-mail notifications have been turned off to save on battery, so if my designated driver didn’t SMS me personally, I wouldn’t have known that I had a confirmed ride.
    • Expense Visibility
      I couldn’t see my estimated fare in the app. Not sure if I just didn’t use the app correctly but from my end, I couldn’t see any sort of fare calculator during the booking phase. When the trip ended, the app told me to pay “Php 0” which is impossible. The driver said the app indicated Php 95. Weird, but okay, I paid the Php 95 anyway.
    • Visibility of the Car’s Details
      Again, not sure if this is something that the driver is required to indicate from his end, but from my end I was not able to see the car’s plate number or car model. I had to ask the driver via SMS. Sure that’s easy enough to do, but it’s a safety risk too.
    • Additional Passengers
      There’s no clear rule if it’s a 1 : 1 Booking : Passenger thing. Of course you can always coordinate with your driver if he’ll agree to more than one passengers per booking, but how does the pricing work then?

Overall the experience was very pleasant and I’m willing to try it again. Will I use it every day? Probably not, given that its 3x the cost of my usual commute. Of course, it’s unfair to expect that the cost will be at jeepney-levels, but thrice the price on a daily basis is just super steep for someone like me.

Hopefully, with more users, the cost will go further down and it’ll at least be within FX-price levels. But for now, or until I get a hefty pay raise, commuter safety and comfort will have to take the blow, once again. *cries*

More about Wunder:
Official Website
Business World feature

 

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The Green Line

A busy last day, it was.

I have been everywhere and nowhere all at once, flitting from one place to another, a crazed butterfly eager to visit every part of this strange, foreign garden before flying home.

So much to do, so much to see, and yet still so very little time.

And so there I stood, the tracks rumbling beneath my feet as I took the time to soak in every detail, committing them all to memory.

It will be a while before I’ll be here again, if I even do return. It would cost quite a lot to go back you see. I’d gladly do it if there’s something worth going back for, however. No one knows, really.

I would very much like to come back, of course. Perhaps even stay. I like it here. It’s clean. Quiet. Structured.

Safe.

The train came to a screeching halt, signalling the end of this ride, and the beginning of my next.

And then, above the din of unfamiliar tongues, I hear my name. Through a sea of strange faces, past the rushing feet and shoving arms, I see you smile.

And a photograph just won’t be enough to capture that moment.

Photo credit to trappedinreality

–end–

Author’s Note: Hardly anything inspires me to write these days, but my recent out-of-the-country trip was one of those rare things that brings me back to my muses. Here’s to hoping it happens more often.

Wanderlust Series 1: Corregidor Island

Corregidor is one of those places that I’ve been itching to go to for the longest time. A friend of mine mentioned a long time ago that there were affordable tours for the island but I just never got around to going there.

We got the opportunity to finally visit the island during my dad’s most recent vacation here in the Philippines. You see, his stay was short so we didn’t really have the time to book something grandiose. Fortunately, Corregidor is quite near and we’ve never gone there before so it’s still something new to experience.

Inside M/V Bay Cruiser.

Sun Cruises is the provider of tour packages and transportation from Manila to the Island. Booking and reservations for the trip was quite a breeze. Most of the instructions and details about their packages are already found on the website, so from visiting the site you can already get an idea of what package you want to avail.

Corregidor isn’t as popular as, say, Boracay or Puerto Galera, as a vacation destination, so scheduling wasn’t difficult. We called Friday afternoon for a scheduled day tour and overnight stay on the following day and we got slots with no problem.

There were two basic packages to avail of: the guided historical tour and the walking tour. The main difference between the two is the mode of transportation within the island. The guided historical tour lets you visit the main points of attractions via tranvia.  The walking tour on the other hand is a bit of a hike. You visit the main points on foot, plus you have the option of going inside caves and woodland trails and all that fun stuff that you cannot reach via tranvia.

The tranvia; which is basically a bus with open sides. (Photo credit from http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

We took the walking tour at my insistence because we gorged ourselves too much over the holiday. I figured we could use the exercise.

I wasn’t able to take any photos of the cave exploration part, so I’m borrowing one from http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html

Excuse the footwear, it was a walking tour and I didn’t want to ruin my other pair of shoes.

Greetings from the Lighthouse.

How many stories can these old walls tell?
(Photo credit: http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

If you’re staying overnight, there are several activities you can do on the day after the main tour. We opted for a round of Zipline, and then just went petiks on the beach. The beach quite rocky though, so not really an ideal site to sunbathe on.

A very rocky beach

Pre-Zipline!

What I loved:

The history. Their guides certainly knew a LOT about what went down in every site. They can tell you which craters were made by bomb hits and shrapnel, which trails were caved in and whatnot. Probably my favorite part would be the bat cave and the Malinta Tunnels, where you can find Manuel Quezon’s old office, hospital ward tunnels and the secret passageway that McArthur used to escape from Corregidor. I think it was also where he uttered his famous words “I shall return.”

The rustic feel. Though airconditioned and clean, Corregidor Inn’s interiors were not too glamorous. Don’t get me wrong, I loved that it didn’t feel like a hotel. In fact it looked pretty much like an old house, which went with the whole history thing. The island is powered by solar energy and generators; only one TV can be found in the whole building because the generators won’t be able to sustain TVs in all 31 rooms.

Corregidor Inn

The view from my window. Now wouldn’t you want to wake up to that?

The two-bedroom suite. (Photo credit: http://www.corregidorphilippines.com/gallery.html)

What I didn’t love so much:

The food. I was severely disappointed with La Playa’s menu, which didn’t offer that many choices. My father was looking forward to some fresh seafood. I suppose he thought seafood would be easy to come by since we’re on an island and the sea is so close, but he was disappointed by that as well. Turns out, the food and ingredients they have on hand were also from Manila, and their generators can’t sustain superfreezers that can keep the seafood fresh. For the price range of 150-400php, the cooking was bleh. “Southwestern Fried Chicken” is literally just fried chicken. Chef’s Special was fried fish. The Spare ribs tasted like tocino. They have excellent churros though, but other than that, everything else on the menu isn’t too good.

The rather sad menu. No further food porn because I do not like lies.

Recommendations:

History enthusiasts and nature lovers would have a blast here. I think even RPG geeks would have a heck of a time with all the canons, weapons and war memorabilia. I swear, I couldn’t stop associating inane words like “Quartermaster” with World of Warcraft. “I am ready to exchange my Arena Points now. Where be my Wrathful Set?”

DEFEND THE CITY, WE ARE UNDER SIEGE!

– If you’re a first timer, or if you’re not too fond of long walks and hikes, go for the bus tour.

Bring your own food if you’re planning on staying overnight. Save your money and avoid disappointment. But do try the churros.

– Seems like a nice place to hold team buildings. No videoke though, but I think they’ll have a “recreational area” up and running soon. Though the lodging and food weren’t too classy, I didn’t really mind. I came here for the experience and for the history, and what an experience it was indeed.

 

Budget:

Historical Walking Tour Package: PHP 1,788 per head [incl of roundtrip ferry transfers; shrine, entrance and terminal fees; guided walking tour, packed lunch and tour kit, fuel surcharge]
Accommodation: PHP 4,000 per room per night (2-br suite), max 4 persons per room
Food: PHP 150-400 per person per meal
Misc  Activities:
– Sunset Viewing – PHP 250 per head
– “Ghost Hunting” – PHP 250 per head
– Zip-line – PHP 150 per head
– ATV – PHP 500 per hour

The Wanderlust Series

It began with the family trip to Corregidor.

That trip awakened my long-dormant desire to travel. The fact that I like traveling, experiencing new things, seeing sights and learning about other cultures and history was reawakened during my visit to the historic island. However, travel can also be quite expensive, so I never really had the chance to do this (save for my business trips to Davao).

Thanks to corporate level wages, seat sales and group buying sites, the dream of traveling didn’t seem so far-fetched anymore.

After Corregidor, there was Boracay, the first out of town trip that I had with friends that was not within Luzon. A long time ago, we all made a wish, saying that we hope one day, when we say let’s meet up, we mean meet up in Boracay. Despite the monsoon season, we made the trip happen, and still had a blast.

As an early birthday present for myself, I booked a trip to Singapore with one of my best friends. I am planning on going to Cebu before Christmas.

I do not know whether it’s just part of my quarter life crisis, or I really am just a born wanderer (in spite of my abominable sense of direction). Either way, it looks like I will be traveling a lot after this. I am not by any means rich; every trip I will make will be on a very tight budget. The Wanderlust series will be my means of recording my experiences.

Wish me well. 🙂

Come away with me.
Photo credit: http://giovannisantostefano.deviantart.com/

2011 Wrap-Up!

When 2011 began, Feng Shui and Chinese astrology enthusiasts claimed that it was going to be a bad year for Strong Metal Rabbits, which, according to my birth date, is what I am.

I respect astrology in general, and I take note of the warnings, but I refused to let that dictate how my year was going to go. The two previous years were already bad enough, there is no way I was going to let 2011 be as bad.

Surprisingly enough, 2011 has been one of the best years of my 24-year-old existence.

If 2009 was Breakup Year, and 2010 was my Wildchild Year, 2011 is the Career Year. For the first time ever, I finally felt like my life had direction and purpose. Majority of the note-worthy events that happened the past year was work-related. I suppose I was just hell-bent on proving to everyone that I made the right choice when I decided to forego being a professional nurse and try my luck with something else that made my first year in the corporate world a rather exciting one. (At least, for me.)

Why my 2011 was a blast? Let me count the ways.

I joined the corporate world.

– Being a licensed nurse, everyone who knew me expected me to fly abroad and get rich off of nursing. I was a pretty decent nurse (I think?) but a few months of practicing the profession made it clear that being good at something didn’t necessarily mean that you’ll be happy doing it.

From RN to Sales & Marketing

I didn’t exactly plan on seeking a new career, nor did I actively look for a different path, but the opportunity for change landed on my lap (thank you Karmela Dua and Stella Alamil), and I was smart enough to take it. There’s room for improvement, sure, but overall I am now happier in my professional life than I ever thought I’d be.

I got regularized in three months. 

– Fuckyeah. If that’s not an achievement, I don’t know what is.

Best letter I've ever received.

I managed a band.

– I am not a musician, but I do love music and I think I know a good song when I hear one. I’ve never really “managed” anything before this either, so when I got the offer, I was rather hesitant to do it.

I did it anyway. Unfortunately, we recently lost two members (one from health reasons, and another from family reasons), crippling the band entirely. The remaining members decided to go on hiatus in the meantime while we searched for worthy replacements.

Band-ing around

BUT, I just might resume this role soon. Good things await the band this 2012, stay tuned. 😉

I got inked.

– I had a fear of permanence, probably rooted to being afraid of long-term commitment. I thought I’d get a nose ring first before I’d get a tattoo (and mind you, I hate facial piercings), since I can easily get rid of piercings if I didn’t want them anymore. But…well. Things change, don’t they?

I’m rather happy with my first tattoo though, even if nobody can seem to tell that it’s a fox at first glance.

It's a fox, not a gumamela.

I got the first bill under my own name.

– Huzzah for one further step into independence and adulthood! I subscribed to a Globe post-paid plan, landing a purple Blackberry along with it. That’s one thing off the The Great Splurge List  too.

Say hello to Halle Blackberry

I finally got my iTouch.

–  I don’t fracking care if everyone’s getting psyched over Siri, I’ve never been much of an iPhone fan. Helena, my six-year-old 5th Gen iPod Video’s 30GB is no longer enough to contain all the new music I’ve accumulated in the past few years.

This is yet another thing off The Great Splurge List. Thank you, 13th month pay.

And this one here is Anna Molly

I [kinda] tried an extreme sport.

 I attempted to ride a longboard. It was just once,  and I didn’t do much, but I didn’t die so that’s still an achievement for me.

Pretentious lang ako

I organized a corporate event. 

– This damned event defined my whole September, the most stressful, albeit most productive month of my year. I learned Photoshop, PR skills, and organizational techniques in a span of four weeks, all for this one, day-long event.

My stress alopecia acted up during the planning phase of this thing, but it was all worth it in the end. And hey, the company CEO commended us for our good work so all’s well that ends well.

He knows my naaaame T_T

I flew domestic for the first time ever.

– I’ve been to Canada and back, but I’ve never traveled domestically outside of Luzon. I’ve always wanted to, but I never had the resources to do so.

Last October, I flew to Davao for a business trip, and I’ll be going back there this January. Flight and accommodation all paid for by ze company.

And people expect me to go back to nursing? HAH.

Aaaand lastly….

I went from open dating to exclusivity.

Some time ago I wrote about an Unexpected Kiss. I thought that wouldn’t result into anything, because he never followed-through.

Several months later though…

Da who ang boylalou?

Oh dear. What have I gotten myself into? Hahaha!

So cheers, to the year of taking chances and leaping before looking. May 2012 be as exciting as its predecessor. I’m looking forward to a whole lot of things this 2012…but that’s for a different post.

Happy New Year, y’all! ^o^V

Delayed Summer Episode 1: Potipot Island

When I started working this year, I already resigned myself to the fact that there is little to no chance for me to enjoy a proper summer vacation. Probees usually have limited leaves, and I wanted to save those for emergencies.

Lo and behold however, I was regularized after my third month (HUZZAH!), and with it came the influx of the fringe benefits.

So, when I got the invite for a beach getaway to a place called Potipot Island in Zambales, of course I said yes. Never mind that I had no idea where that is, and that the name sounds pretty sketchy. I just wanted to do something that involved sun and sand before the rainy season rolls in.

Welcome to Potipot! (Photo by Arnel Palor)

The place is prettier than its name (Photo by Arnel Palor)

Aptly named “Poor Man’s Boracay”, Potipot Island boasts of fine sand and clear, blue waters that Boracay is also known for, only, you spend less.

Here’s a breakdown of what the package we availed of:

Budget: PHP 2500 per person (group of at least 10)
Inclusive of:
– Shuttle service exManila to Zambales and back
– Boat transfer from Zambales to the island and back
– four sets of full meals
– tents
– full use of the beach “amenities”

The difference between Potipot and Boracay, obviously, is that there a probably less people in Potipot, and…well. Potipot isn’t exactly the most civilized of places. Our group opted to sleep in tents, but you also have the option of availing their cottages.

Camp out!

I personally didn’t fancy the cottages, since you had to climb up to get in. Outings like these always entail massive amounts of alcohol. Stairs and alcohol aren’t a good mix. The tents weren’t so bad anyway, at least for me.

Inviting, but I'd rather stay near the ground when I'm drunk (Photo by Arnel Palor

The only thing I really want to complain about is the lack of proper plumbing. I’m no delicate princess, but I do take hygiene seriously. Think, toilet bowls with no tanks, shower heads with broken taps and no tabo. I didn’t want to eat or drink too much during the whole trip, for fear of having to use the bathrooms.

Well anyway, for the price that we paid, I think we really got the value for our money. Comfort may not have been the highlight, but it was an experience worth remembering, and I’d be glad to do it all over again.

And now for gratuitous beach photos. Pardon the vanity, I only get to wear a bikini a few times every year and I wish to capture my youth while it’s still non-offensive.

My constant camwhoring buddy

Souvenir shopping

Le body ink up close ❤

My beloved group of geeks and geekettes

Want to experience Potipot? Message me, I can hook you up with contacts. Peace!