I got quite a suprise.. no it was more of a shock when I got back to work today. It seemed the world turned on its axis when I got the updates. Anyway, it’s not really that important, as of this point, that is. Thankfully, I slept well last night. Fatigue finally caught up with me. It must have been the crazy cab driver we got from the airport. We ditched the yellow airport metered cabs on the arrivals area of the PAL airport and went up to the departures bay to take the cabs that were delivering passengers. We finally got one after about 30 minutes of waiting. The driver just kept on snaking past the others cars. By the time we were halfway to my house, I splitting headache had began. I took a paracetamol and went to sleep. The headache spoiled an otherwise splendid end to an extended holiday and an equally splendid arrival.
This was really a lucky trip I declared to Bam when were seated in the aircraft waiting for the departure procedures. We were at Row 46 which, in a Boeing 747 meant a row on the first block of seats behind business class. The fact that were were on a spacious B747 rather than a cramped A300 which airlines often use for short-haul flights made us feel lucky already. We were on an econolight booking which meant that we were supposed to have pre-arranged seats at the back of the plane, not given headsets, and no meals except drinks and peanuts. But the sky gods must have been extra generous or perhaps, as Bam surmised, we had good karma. Not only was the aircraft big, but were were seated near the front of the plane (less bumpy), had meals, and were offered headsets. In short, we had the amenities of regular fare passengers at econolight rates. Perhaps because the aircraft was really big and the entire back end was empty that’s why we were given a sort of upgrade. Our MNL-BKK flight was full so we were at econolight treatment all throughout—back row with peanuts and drinks. The flight was really smooth and we had a hardly-noticeable take-0ff and landing, which in my book, makes for a good captain. Plus points also go to him for speaking clearly and audibly as he explained to us our plane’s position and the weather. Most pilots simply mutter over the PA system but this one really talked to us. We were also told that our landing would take an extra 10 minutes due to “special operations” at the terminal. When we landed, it took a while before the door was opened. Someone, a client at the gym and a ground attendant, who we bumped into as we disembarked explained that passengers from another arriving plane had to disembark first before us. Having gotten used to the cramp and non-reclining seats of Cebu Pacific’s A300 , PAL’s Boeing 747 seemed liked First Class. Even it’s A300 was spacious and comfortable. Next time, I think I’m gonna check out econolight flights first before booking at Cebu Pacific.
Nothing is more of a downer than arriving at any of our international airports in Manila. At least Terminal 3 looks and feels modern in some aspects. Terminal 1 belongs to the dark ages while Terminal 2 at least is in the pre-Renaissance period. You arrive and what greets you is a cramped building where there are no shops or restaurants to stay at, and shabbiness is creeping steadily up its edges. It was an airport that seemed to be saying, “C’mon! Hurry up! Get out! We don’t want you here!” Wherease Suvarnabhumi was saying, “Welcome.” Mind you, the airport is what travelers see and experience the first thing they get here. The departures area were the same. Suvarnabhumi had rows and rows of shops and eating places that it seemed as if it didn’t want you to leave. Terminal 2 didn’t even have a decent shop for browsing and eating was confined to a few snack bars. It was an airport and a country that you would want to depart from as quick as you can.
Even the immigrations officials look shabby compared to their counterparts in Bangkok who all look smart. But the worst was yet to come. After collecting our luggages, we had to queue at a SINGLE line at a LONE Customs Officer who collected our Customs Declaration Forms and signed them. Take off his uniform and he has the looks and the posture of a sidewalk vendor. “In Thailand and in the US, they don’t have this line,” quipped someone ahead of me. At least, the officer just did his thing quietly signing the forms. Unlike this pig of a girl in January this year who asked me, “Where did you come from?” “Bangkok.” “What did you shop?” It was utterly disgusting.