Eric Cheng

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Twiddling my thumbs in Manila

I am at the Manila airport at the beginning of a 6-hour layover. It's chaotic outside, with long lines to get into the building and constant blasts of traffic officer whistles piercing the air (I had to take a taxi to this terminal). I remember wondering whether there would be a Continental lounge here, and it's only after arriving that I realize how stupid that question had been. I'm hungry and thirsty, and can't find a place to get food/drink nor a place to camp out where I might be able to do some work comfortably. No wonder my row-neighbors on the plane were packing airplane food away into their bags! So here I am with 150 lbs of luggage, waiting around for a check-in counter to open for my flight (I'm travelling "light" because there is a baggage embargo... and (unrelated) I was one of the few who hadn't packed using large cardboard boxes). I'm wearing a Galapagos shirt with "Charles Darwin" written on it, and a customs agent asked me if Darwin was the guy who believed that man had "come from birds."

The other customs guy came over, too. "It was monkeys, right? Evolution, or something like that."

Glad I have a Blackberry with international data. I had EDGE from the runway, but this terminal is only giving me GPRS.

Hmmm. I think the real reason I'm complaining is because I'm travelling alone, and I'm getting tired of doing that.

*update* ohhh... I get it now. All of the food and seating is past the first wave of security! There are even airline lounges back here, but I don't qualify for entry. Speaking of security, it's serious here. They xray and metal-detect and pat you down, and then everything is opened and examined. They're even going through food packaging! I'm done now, and am finally at the gate. I also had to pay a $10.80 USD "service fee" even though all I wanted to do was transfer. After my return, I'm never flying through here again unless my destination is domestic.

*update* I just figured what the opaque, tape-wrapped water bottles are being used for. That's just gross.

UPDATE Apr 19 My return transfer from terminal 1 to terminal 2 was actually quite easy! It's only the terminal 2 to 1 transfer that blows. Or maybe I was just expecting the worst, and a 1.5 hour gate-to-gate transfer now isn't a big deal. :)

I did narrowly prevented my bags from going off into purgatory, though. They were tagged to Singapore but never would have made the terminal transfer automatically. I saw the baggage guys loading my bags onto a trolley and stopped them before they left so I could take them with me. Lucky!

The flight sucked. There was a constant stream of passengers going to the bathroom, and every one of them felt the need to rub my shoulder with his ass and then elbow me in the head. Even my seat-neighbor was impressed with the regularity with which I was molested!

Also, the immigration line I went through was 1/2 the speed of all the other ones because our Lydia Mercado, our immigration agent, was having an SMS conversation while processing passports! Despite all of this, I am so happy that the transfer in this direction was so easy. Singapore is going to be a real shocker after the Yap -> Manila experience. :)