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Monday, 14 February 2011


Thankyou, Drug users of the world for helping build this beautiful city of Panama
Hell here i am in this crazy hot heat with the whole city dancing to some beat or other. If you ever feel down, tired and like a zombie, then Latin America sure has the vibe to get you feeling moving again. The place is so ALIVE, with chicas shaking their (enormous) booties, taxi drivers peeping their horns and Cariba cariba blaring out of every possible window and car, there isnt a thing to beat these guys for living the party.
Your not a real man unless you pack a piece in Latin America
For some reason, Panama City is often seen as nothing more than a quite boring starting base for the more interesting neighbours like Costa Rica and Columbia. While this is indeed true, and its also true Panama doesnt have the dangerous 'edge' that say, Venzuela and Guatamala has (its still pretty sketchy in the slums at night i can tell you) Panama has quite a few things going for it and id say worth a stay before you move onto the 'real' places surrounding....heres my list for what its worth...
1.       The beautiful Colonial Old Town
2.       A biggish national park just on the edge of the city centre
3.       Pretty amazing drug baron built skyscrapers
4.       The Causeway
5.       The Panama Canal
6.       Loads of Casinos
7.       Offshore Banking/no tax
8.       Cheap beer
9.       Cheap hookers and cocaine
On the Accomodation front -
Crazy Architecture of Panama City
There are quite a few hostels in different parts of the city. La Luna is the most popular and is in the Old Town. However it does tend to be full of twats who don’t leave the ‘relic’ bar there, and speak no Spanish at all. Thing a Latin American version of Khao Sin Road, Bangkok. So if you are a tool, and have no intention of getting into the local vibe,  go there.  The Old town is a bit sketchy at night, maybe thats why people don’t leave there. The other decent option is La Jungla  Hostel in the city centre. You can get a room for about $30 and a dorm for less than half that (all the hostels seem about that price) And they pick you up at the airport for $28. It’s in a much safer area (Calle Argentina, Downtown) right next to the Veneto and Fiesta Casinos, and lots of big hotels. moving more upscale, you'll get a decent hotel room around here/Calle Espana which is the main drag for $50 off season, just walk around and haggle.
1.       The Old town is worth a wander round during the day. I even almost bought an apartment once, it’s a real estate agents dream, with beautiful crumbling Colonial mansions being refurbished everywhere, but nasty looking slums just a hundred yards away. It's a bit of a Gringo incomers place from what i can see – remember that girl from school called Jemima? Yes she just set up a delightful little gallery there. Its THAT kind of place, you know what i mean? You might as well be in Notting Hill half the time. The local rich guys all live in the skyscrapers across the bay – remember Latin Americans really don’t have any culture or love for Old/Beautiful things, hence the tragic lack of decent fine art in South/Central America. Anyway, don’t walk around here at night, unless you are a tool then I don’t care.
More Random Products of Lax Money Laundering Rules
2.      Parque National Metropolitano. There are a few trails around here – I plan to run there tomorrow (i almost died today running in this sauna along the waterfront) as i’m guessing it’s in the shade more. As you can see from the site, it has loads of nature related things. Its walking distance from the Hostel La Jungla and all the other main dontown areas, so worth an afternoon methinks, even if it’s just to see the Iguanas and monkeys. (There are much better opps. In every other part of Central America of course but this is handy if you aren’t going to Manuel Antonio or somewhere nice like that)
3         (and 7) Drugs and Banking - I’td be cynical of me to say that drug money laundered through the very successful offshore banking sector here in Panama is responsible for the hundreds of skyscrapers built here in the last few years (and yes you can buy them with a suitcase of cash if you like) But I can’t help but think that something doesn’t quite add up here.
4         The Causeway - I don’t know why this isn’t on more tourist guides (thanks God) Well if you want to go for a walk, rollerblade, run etc. Then this causeway connects 4 little islands on the edge of the city (not that far away) at the entrance to the Panama canal. Its lined with great restaurants so if you are in a couply mood, then go there and watch the sunset, its quite beautiful and intend to do that tomorrow if i get lucky tonight with a beautiful girl (highly unlikely, i haven’t seen one since i left Estonia !)
5        Panama Canal - heres a  great museum on the canal which i found surprisingly interesting – it tells you how they made it (i really didn’t know how canals worked until that day) and of course how many thousands and thousands died. They played a blinder, as they built it during the great depression so loads of guys from random places like Chicago ended up going to work on it as virtual slaves. In theory thats why there is a big expat community here but to be honest i haven’t met any of them, even at poker last night, except i do see gangs of pasty looking sex touristy types cruising around.
6         Casinos - Ok, Las Vegas is aint,but if you want loud, chaotic carribean style Casinos this is the place. The poker room last night was pretty sedate but the Blackjack tables were crazy. Be aware that the pretty girl next to you who is playing with small change and smiling at you is more than likely to be a hooker.
7         Offshore Banking -Well, even Citi Bank and HSBC are here so it must be legit.
8         Actually i’m not drinking at the moment so i wouldn’t know but by the look of how drunk everyone was last night, it must have been cheap.
Running in the Sauna - Rock and Roll !
9         Cheap Drugs and Hookers - Actually i just threw that in to get peoples attention but its probably true. The casino was choc  full of either hookers or just very friendly ladies last night, and even this morning at the cafe there were quite nasty looking girls approaching  a group of old (embarrassingly) Scottish guys who were drinking beer at 10am Sunday morning. Welcome to the future Alan ;o) As for the drugs, well its not my scene but ill more than likely end up hanging out with some freaks who are into something like that, over the week.
Free Wifi Spots are all round the city....unlike UK
What about food though? Well i must admit i’m not so big on empendas (cheap little pies) beans and rice. My lasagne for lunch today was raw. But there are a lot of Chinese restaurants around so when i find a good place to eat ill add it in here ! (feel free to comment with any recommendations)
ps - tonight ill go to a steakhouse recomended by a guy at poker, so ill fill this part in after i've eaten a few days!


  1. Awesome. I very nearly moved there instead of Bangkok 3 years ago. It was almost a coinflip.

    Looks like I ran bad ;)

  2. The poker players are awful here Jonny, even i can make money!

  3. Hello Alan! I am moving to Panama in less than a month. I have been reading your blog, and it's very interesting!

  4. A few minor but IMPORTANT speling lessons:

    - COLOMBIA, not Columbia
    - GUATEMALA, not Guatamala
    - VENEZUELA, not Venzuela

    ... I'm sarting to doubt you've really travelled