In need of a siesta
Trip Start Apr 30, 2006
7Trip End May 16, 2006
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Crazy crazy airport
I went to the domestic airport for my flight to Puerto Princesa and it was chaos. There were people and lines going in every single direction. Firstly we had to line up outside the terminal and have our boarding passes checked. Then all our luggage had to go on the xray machine and females went one side and males the other. Naturally I just wandered and ended up at the boys line so I got pointed to the right one.
It is incredible how much luggage people in poor countries travel with. There were mounds of luggage on board the trolleys and still more being hauled by hand for a small family. In South America they used to move house by bus, but I think they do the same by plane in the Philippines. I only hope that Rex can be as accommodating when I come back with my Manila shopping.
After I got in the correct queue to check in to Puerto Princesa, I looked around the terminal which was TINY! There were about 5 airlines checking in passengers, and although I was in the middle of one wall of checkins, I had the end of another queue meeting me from right angles. It was crazy how many people were in there.
There were 3 lines to pay the airport tax, 200 pesos (everything seems to be more expensive, like twice as much as my 1 year old guidebook says) and then more security equipment, and I again aimed for the wrong line. Girls had to go in the girl queue because the security guards (all women) gave you a good pat down.
The plane was delayed but that was okay as I was looking around at the masses of people and writing in my journal.
I ended up sitting in an exit row so there was heaps more legroom (this would have been most appreciated on the Melbourne-Hong Kong trip) and was sitting next to an American Peace Corps volunteer, Tom, who had left my hostel in the taxi before me and who was standing in the check in line in front of me.
I thought I'd better read the emergency instructions if it was going to fall in my hands to wrench the window open in case of emergency. Truthfully, I was feeling like my skills may need to be called upon, although the diagram of slipping off the plane wing actually looked like fun. One of the funnier commands was to hold your hanky over your nose and mouth to stop breathing in smoke. I'm not entirely sure how effective that would be, especially since my hanky was in my bag in the locker above (too risky for an exit-rower to have it under the seat in front) and I was just amused by the fact that it said 'hanky'. I never seem to see hanky written anywhere ... but I think I've made my point.
Cebu Airways were great. They played a little game where if you were the first to show the attendants the thing they called out, then you got a prize. I liked their use of banned objects in the list of objects. Like a toothpick for starters, thankfully no one had one of those so there would be no toothpick stabbings in the cabin. Next was a photo of your mother-in-law in your wallet. I'm not sure about others, but it's quite widely known that girls end up looking like their mother but surely there's no need to tempt fate. And since no one had that (proves that others take my line of thought) the final one was a Nokia 5110. The funny thing about this was the woman who had it was at the front of the plane and her bag was in a locker somewhere in the middle of the cabin and she didn't know which locker it was in. It's good to keep an eye on your belongings. Let's hope she remembered to turn it off before getting on the plane.
The flight attendants then spent the rest of the flight trying to flog off tacky souveniers.
Bangwa Pension and Hammock Paradise
Tom and my Jens Peters guidebook recommended Bangwa Pension. Tom also helped me get there and negotiated a price with a tricycle driver and paid the 5 peso shortfall that I didn't have before he went to the place he was staying at. His small gesture of kindness was very much appreciated.
Bangwa is a gorgeously decorated guesthouse with a big lounge verandah and honesty system for the fridge. They also have dorm rooms for 170 pesos which is very, very reasonable.
I took to the streets of Puerto Princesa and got lots of wows, hellos and stares. It's quite a small city, but it's pretty clean, although there is a lot of development happening on the main street and lots of tricycles cruising for your cash. It was like being in South America again with all the attention, and it seemed like there were only males out and about, which made me feel a bit uncomfortable, but I'm quite good at fobbing off unwanted attention, yet revelling in it at the same time!! In fact, the Filipinos are very like the South Americans, they even look similar, which given the Spanish colonial background should be understandable, but I thought I saw Pedro Negro's Filipino twin stamp me into the country and his background was Quechua indian so that doesn't really make sense.
I had a very average pizza for lunch (give me the Pizza Cafe any day) and then went back to the hostel where I met a couple of Danish girls who were staying in my dorm. I went out to the internet with them and it was great to throw off all that unwanted attention. Signe has white blonde hair and Christine has red hair so they were the flavour of the month. All the kids wanted to say hello to them and the guys on the tricycles kept swivelling around to gawk at them. It was incredible how much more attention they received so I'm quite glad for my brown hair, eyes and olive skin that doesn't make me stand out more than I have to.
Other than those little outings, the afternoon was spent in the hammock on the verandah. It was so good I fell asleep for a couple of hours.
Things I Learned
* I now have the motivation to put my hammock up at home. It's about time it got hung up and swung in. Dad hasn't used it, so I'm taking it back!
* Filipinos are very friendly, but most of them are male, and I think they have ulterior motives.
* There is only one runway for Manila's domestic aircraft (miles away from the terminal) so you have to get in line and wait for the next plane to come in.