Well, my newest adventure is finally underway. In fact, day one was so long that I’ve separated it into two blogs – this one and Day 1B.
Saturday the 18th started with me heading out to the suburbs to have a farewell lunch with my mom. It’s always tough saying goodbye to my mom but I think we’ve both figured out that a quick goodbye is better than a long dragged out one.
I also dropped off my car at her place and replaced my normal insurance to storage insurance (saving almost $500 in the process). Of course that meant I had to take a long ass bus/skytrain trip back into downtown Vancouver. I think the excitement of my impeding departure definitely helped to ease that experience.
Before I knew it, it was 6pm and I was walking back to my place. I had my backpack 90% done for a few days and just added the things I was still using the last few days like toiletries, chargers and some electronics.
Ta da! All packed!
By 7pm I was ready to leave, I had double and triple checked everything. I was ready to go! Of course my friend Shawn wasn’t coming to pick me up til 8pm so I literally spent the next hour pacing back and forth in a bout of excitement.
Eight o’clock couldn’t come quick enough. When he buzzed the apartment I jumped up and after a farewell hug to Amy I was excitingly racing down the stairs to meet him.
Less than an hour later I was standing in line at the Philippines Airlines checkin counter. After checking in I had a tiny stumble at the security area as I had totally forgotten about the bottle size limits and I was forced to surrender a can of insect repellent. Luckily I still have four more in my checked luggage.
I had a Subway sandwich for a late dinner as I waited for boarding to begin.
There were alot of people for this flight. I actually was surprised seeing as how it was an 11pm flight on a Saturday night but there you have it. I was unfortunately assigned a middle seat which I couldn’t change so I’d spent the next 14 hours sandwiched between two people.
After boarding the flight I saw on their little screen that their estimated time of arrival was 4:15am which was almost a full hour earlier so that was a great way to start the flight.
To be honest, it wasn’t that bad being in the middle seat. My seatmates were older and not really talkative but there was ample enough space where I didn’t feel squeezed in.
About 2 hours into our flight they served us dinner. They had a choice of chicken or pork. I took the pork. It was served on a bed of rice with vegetables – essentially it was sweet and sour pork but I ain’t complaining.
The meal was served with a little couscous salad and a tiramisu.
Mmmmmm….tiramisu! If you’ve read my blog then you know how much I love this dessert! I actually was able to finagle the desserts from my two seatmates as for some inexplicable reason they didn’t want theirs!
I ate one of theirs and saved the other for later.
After dinner it was about 2am Vancouver time and the plane pretty much dozed off as the lights dimmed down.
I kind of nodded off but was then woken up 3 hours later for what I thought was breakfast.
I remember thinking at the time that it was absurd that they were already serving us breakfast as we had another 7 hours on our flight. They passed out a package of apple slices along with a chicken and cheese pastry. After the food was passed out another flight attendant came around with a tray off drinks – 7up and coke.
What the hell? I don’t want pop with my breakfast! I want orange juice!
A few hours later it all made sense as they came around again, this time serving our actual breakfast. Oops – I had mistaken a little snack in the middle of the night for breakfast. Yeah, I guess the 7up and coke make sense now…
For breakfast we had the choice of ham or corned beef with egg and rice. I decided to be a bit adventurous and selected the corned beef. It was awesome. I honestly would have never thought of having corned beef and rice with my breaky but it worked. The meal came with a blueberry muffin and a cup of melon fruit.
So, overall I gotta give my thumbs up to the meals on Philippines Air. I was pretty happy with the experience.
Finally, after nodding off to sleep an hour here, an hour there, we finally touched down in Manila a little after 4am.
Because of the size of our flight there were hundreds of people going through immigration and waiting for their bags at the carousel.
Immigration was super simple. I always expect the worst and hope for the best. I had my ongoing ticket ready. I was ready to answer all the questions they would throw at me and then nothing! All she asked me was if this was my first time in the Philippines and then she stamped my passport and sent me on my way.
The experience picking up my checked bag, however, was not as simple.
Around the luggage carousel was a zoo. Everyone was standing around in a disorderly way. Almost everyone had several bags to pick up so most people had a buggy with them taking up valuable real estate. Also a lot of them had packed big 2ft x 2ft cube boxes with, I don’t know, merchandise? Who knows? Anyway, long story short, it took forever for my bag to finally appear on the conveyor. I probably stood in front of it for a good 30 minutes waiting for it to appear.
After a quick visit to the comfort room (polite Filipino term for toilet) and the affirmation that they indeed don’t have toilet paper in their stalls – I was on my way out of the airport.
I had read that taxis into town were a set price of 350 pesos (about $9). You buy a voucher from a stand outside the arrivals level and that way the drivers can’t rip you off. I also read, however, if you go upstairs to the departures area you can catch a cab up there for only 150 pesos ($5). You just have to be vigilant in agreeing to a price ahead of time and making sure they turn on the meter.
We set into the city around 5:30am and I was shocked how many people were out and about at that time of day. The ride in was easily one of the most harrowing drives I’ve had. There are hardly any traffic lights and people don’t yield. It’s like controlled chaos. It was crazy seeing people (including us) just randomly change lanes and cut people off over and over again.
By 6am I was at the bus terminal. The ticket for my 1 1/2 hour bus trip up north to Angeles City was only 115 peso ($4). At 6:20am the bus left navigating through the ridiculous rush hour traffic. We passed a couple of transit rail stations and there was, I kid you not, a line of people waiting to board 4 blocks long. I’m not exaggerating! And this was at 7 in the morning! Crazy!
The bus ride itself was pleasant as it was air conditioned and they had free wifi on board.
I passed the time watching the second half of the NFL Conference final between the Patriots and Broncos on a free stream I found on the interwebs. Technology is amazing, isn’t it?
At 8am we arrived at Dao Station here in Angeles City. I quick 10 minute trike ride (a motorized scooter with a sidecar) (100 pesos, $2.50) and I was at the front door of my home for the next few days – the Teresita hotel.
See what I mean it was a long day? It’s only 8am and look how much you just had to read through!
Day 1B is here!