Yat's Big Trip travel blog

Lots of chicken buses running through Via España!

Crumbly houses with residents, just off Via España

Arriving at the entrance to the Miraflores Lock, Panama Canal

Two liners waiting to pass through the locks

Locks opening...

.. and opening...

.. and opening...

.. and opening...

.. and opening...

.. and opening...

...opened!

The Zim Beijing prepares to go through the lock...

...there is a special pilot onboard to steer her through...

... and little locomotives pulling the liner...

... along little tracks on the side of the canal...

... the crew of the Zim Beijing looking happy...

...the locomotive as mentioned earlier...

... we are getting there!

... lots of cargo onboard...

... see how high they pile them!

...see how long the liner is...

... and more cargo..

... see how small the man is in comparison!

... these guys have probably crossed the panal so many times, its...

... and we`re through! In less than 10 minutes!


A few hours later, I gathered up my dirty clothes in search for a launderette. As luck would have it, it started to pour down with rain, and the launderettes would be way across the street. Hence I walked the streets of Panama City drenched to the skin, holding a bundle of clothes in my arms. Even the locals were staring at me, as if theyd never seen anything quite like it! Whoops!

Had a couple of hours to kill before collecting my washing. Hunger called, and I checked out a few of the dining places. Very cheap and smelt delicious, but Panamarian fare tends to be full of meat, and I resigned to eating at a Chinese resturant. Hope this wouldnt set a pattern in South America!! Anyway, a hearty plate of chow mein with vegetables ("chicos" size, meaning small) only costed me $1.50, so very good value indeed!

After lunch, explored the main street a little, and getting a good understanding of the type of stores it had to offer. The area near my hotel made me think of the back of Tottenham Court Road, with the numerous mid-range hotels gathering a few blocks range, complete with cheap greasy looking resturants. However, the main road, Avenida Central was a busy roadfare full of brightly painted chicken buses (though this seems to be limited to the front only), with big bargain stores on either side. In between the shops and the roads were full of street vendors, all seemingly to be selling the same products as his neighbour. Especially with the rain, it reminded me of Mongkok in Hong Kong. It was hard not to glace at the stalls, and even harder resisting going into the bargain stores and stocking up on a few things.

However, that wasnt what I came to Panama City to see. In the afternoon, I took a bus towards Paraiso and got off at the stop for Miraflores Locks. From there, it was only about 15 minutes walk to the visitors centre to learn more about the greatest engineering marvel of the 20th century; the great Panama Canal, the "conquest of the two oceans", as it advertised itself to be.

Walked through the exhibitions pretty quickly, as my guide recommended seeing the liners passing throught the locks between 3 and 5pm. When I got to the roof, I was in time to see a big cargo ship and a smaller liner just passing through the first set of locks, and waiting to descend another 25m to the next lock, before passing onwards to the Pacific Ocean. It took only about 10 mins for the lock to fill, and be at the same level, and I was inspired only too late to take a picture of the water level every 45 seconds or so... Maybe whoever going to Panama after me can do that instead!

The whole building of the locks, and how they still function are very interesting, and as you know, I am not very good at explaining all the precise details of how they work. Besides, this log is getting a bit long, and I know people lose patience in reading. Hence if you want to learn more about the canal, type in "panama canal" in google, and Im sure they would give you more information about it than I can!



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