Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Project Brazil (Part 2)

Rio de Janeiro alone has 10,000,000 people. A couple of million less than the people in Metro Manila.

4. Their most reliable means of transportation is the taxi. Meter starts at 5.40 Reals (about 75 Pesos or $1.60 flag down rate). While taxi is relatively not expensive, moving from one part of the city to another part is quite expensive if you're using a cab. A whole day of travel would easily be around 100 Reals (1,350 Pesos). Word of advise - ask the concierge where are the places you want to go to. See if your schedule can work around those that are nearest to each other so that you won't have to spend too much on cab fare. The bus and other systems are not as reliable and you don't want ending up getting mugged. Get the yellow taxi cab and one that has a meter. Oh yeah, and always ask for a receipt after!

5. Plan your day ahead. Don't have random thoughts. For example, you can do Christ the Redeemer in 15 minutes. The travel time, however, is a different story altogether. Even the Sugar Loaf Hills can be accomplished in 1 hour or less. For both these historic sites in Rio, you can have one morning or one afternoon and you'd have seen both. But that's about it. There's really nothing much to see in these sites and on a weekday, there's absolutely no queue and you get the best photo ops. The Jardim Botanico is also one of the recommended places to go, but I would ask every one to skip it especially if you don't like getting bitten by mosquitoes. While we ventured to the place to see the orchidarium, the orchids were not in bloom and was a paltry compared to the Singaporean Orchid Gardens. For all these three places, nothing was free. There is an entrance fee.

6. Don't act like the millionaire from the other side of the world. Most of the people here in Brazil are poor. Even the cars that are on the street are older versions compared to what we have in Manila. The malls are not hip or jaw-drop fabulous compared the malls in Manila. They are small, expensive and way more expensive than if you buy them in Manila. Their most modern mall is the Village Mall in the Barras area, around 1 hour away from Copacabana and Ipanema (or almost 100 Reals taxi ride).

Which goes to the point that unless you plan to drive your own car or get a chauffeur from the hotel to bring you from point A to point B, leave your valuables and your jewelry in the hotel. You don't want to get robbed in broad daylight. As one Filipino OFW told us, don't flash your cash and your stash around unless you want to end up dead.

Brazil was one of the more affluent South American countries. Unfortunately, according to people here, corruption in the government has driven the country to the brink of bankruptcy. Denominations are old. Politicians are corrupt. Poverty is at an all time high. Health problems like the Zika virus and sexually transmitted diseases have pushed the country to the brink of global health emergencies.

While people love to party, be careful where you go to and whom you bring home with you.

7. The standard shops abound - Starbucks, Outback, McDonalds....but don't expect convenience stores like 7/11, Family Mart and Mini Mart. Supermarkets are rarely found around the area and when you do get to find a convenience store, it looks like it was raided by thugs an hour ago. Food is not cheap, but it's not too expensive either. The average meal should cost you around 25 Reals in the fast food shops (that's around 350 pesos). A churrasco would cost you around $100 (350 Reals) for two people, not including drinks. The cost of living is high, which explains why more people are pushed into more poverty. Coming to a third world country with a high standard of living makes you feel how lucky one is to live in the Philippines (seriously)!

(To be continued)

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