Panama City and the San Blas Islands

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January 29th 2013
Published: January 29th 2013
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We flew into Panama city quite late at night arriving at our hostel Mamallena due to good reviews from hostel world. Unbeknown to us we had to provide proof to the airline in LA that we were leaving the country Panama and came across problems when cheacking in to catch our plane. We had no proof of exit apart from a plane ticket leaving Cancun in 3 months and this was not good enough according to their immigration law. So had to purchse a bus ticket in a hurry showing we were going across the boarder or a plane ticket. It was just our luck that all booking sites for the bus tickets where down for maintenance therefore left with no option but to purchase a refundable plane ticket and losing USD40$ on the booking fee that it cost. We then had to find the head office the next morning in Panama in 30 degree plus heat with not many people being able to speak english, however managed to find it and got our refund. Was reather frustrating but not much we could do - we we spoke to other people in the hostel most travelers make up fake bookings and bus tickets as there is no formal way of checking things.. So lesson learnt check the immigration requirments before entering a country.

We had two days in Panama city with the first day exploring the old city which we apparently got ripped off by a taxi driver paying him $5USD when it shouldve oly of been $2. We were told by the hostel always agree on a price before driving off and dont let the language barrier get in the way nor feel sorry for the old sod who was about 80!! Had lunch at the local fish market with lovely fresh fish and salad for $9 and lots of tourists there due to another good lonley planet referral. Checked out the Albrook mall that afternoon and found it impressivly huge!! but fashion is far far behind the west!

Day two we headed to the Canel via local 'Red Devil' buses for .25 cents then another bus and then a km walk in the scorching 35 degree heat. Was quite impressive when we arrived, watched the Queen Mary come through the forts and transfer from Ocean to Ocean in a matter of 15 - 20 mins. Worth watching the history video as it shows a breif and useful history of the canal.....

Day 3 San Blas islands - 5 am wake up and 3 hour 4WD to where we caúght the boat over to the island we booked for. Roads are crazy and very steep and 4wd is needed. Laura was a tad scared with the driver speeding 140 km an hour and also had major road rage going on with the other 4wd but apprently its normal......beautful and v peaceful 2 days was had. We had a private cabin consisting of wood and palm leafs with one homemade bed which wasnt the most confortbale the sand was better but all up awesome time was had and the highlight was the crystal clear waters and lobster we had for dinner on the last night and caught that day!!! Met a few people who also gave us some great travel tips and highlights of their travels.

There are not alot of people apart from other backpackers that speak english so communicating has been rather hard and rather a challenge for us, we have deffinately improved on our sign language. As for the public transport there is a lack of any type of bus system and a bit crazy, so far everytime we have gone out we have witnessed a crash involving a bus!!

So back at hostel and waiting to catch the mid night bus to David and then onto Bouquette which is north of Panama by about 7 hours. It is world famous for it making of coffee beans, so until then talk soon x

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30th January 2013

Hi guys glad you are having a great time but i am scared everytime i read your blog I am sure it will get better, nearly makes me cry sorry scott . take care mum
31st January 2013

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