Thrilla in Manila
Trip Start Apr 01, 2012
8Trip End Apr 24, 2012
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I'll be sailing on Time, the boat we sailed in company with last year in the Andaman Islands. Amanda & Simon have been cruising around the Philippines the past few months and I'll be catching up with them on Negros in the Visayas.
But before we get ahead of ourselves, I'm happy to report that this trip did not include an unscheduled night in Chicago due to maintenance. Or a pit stop in Anchorage. Or the last-second delivery of my luggage to make the connection in Tokyo. Then again, this trip also didn't include any flights on United Airlines and actually began in Los Angeles so that may help explain the relative lack of travel nightmares. However, strong headwinds and the whole detour around North Korean airspace thing did mean nearly 15 hours from boarding to deplaning. And this will come as a shock to those of you who have flown with me but I was awake for 5+ movies worth of that time. Yes, seriously.The highpoint? Warrior. The low point? Well, the above referenced "+"? was actually a reality show about some family that makes fish tanks.
Thanks to the winds and detour by the time I got off the plane in Seoul my connecting flight to Manila was already boarding. Luckily ICN has the whole transiting thing down to a science. I was through the security check and on the next plane in less than 30 minutes.
For as well as Seoul has the international flight thing down, Manila's international arrivals procedure... not so much.
We arrived a little after 11:00pm. There were six non-Philippines passport holder immigration stations open. There were four international flights that had just landed. Math was never my strong suit but those numbers didn't bode well. 45 minutes later I was finally through and onto the baggage carousel. I was a little concerned that my trusty red duffel might not have made the connection with me since it was so tight but (and I guess this is one of the positives about the long Immigration line) there it was circling on the belt. Next up... Customs.
Now, while the lines at the passport check were long and not very quick, they had one thing going for them... they were actual lines. Customs was a free for all. People with luggage trolleys in an airport version of bumper cars. You may be closest to the podium (as I was) but that doesn't mean a family with nine suitcases and four kids won't clip you from behind, go around and cut you off and walk right up to the officer (they did).
With the short turnaround for today's 7:00am flight to Dumaguete it was a quick stay at an airport hotel before my return to the terminal. Let's just say this... the domestic terminal at Manila Airport... a delight. Maybe everyone is just so relieved not to be at the international terminal. There was actual order. People were smiling. Free wifi. A dream.
I'm not sure how often I'll have internet access along the way but I'll update when possible.