Saturday, October 02, 2010

Weeman and other Philippino airport adventures

I am trying an experiment. Usually after a trip, we, or rather I, will write an exceedingly long post about our experiences. It usually encompasses everything from what happened, to what we wore, to how we felt, what we ate, what the dog ate, how many insects we came upon, and on and on until everyone reading is either sleeping in front of the computer or has quickly skimmed and gone on to their next task. This time instead, we have decided to try a different approach and write a series of posts in the interest of not taking up too much of your time in one sitting.

To start off, we are going to write two posts about airport experiences. Yes, two separate posts. The airport stories are almost more exciting or at least humorous than the rest of our trip. Possibly. You can be the judge. Writing the "Philippino airport experience" will be your favorite Rogers hostess, and authoring the "Chinese airport experience" will be the handsome male counterpart.

At this point you might be rolling your eyes at what you might consider our eccentric and verbose habits. Why would two posts need to be written entirely revolving around airports? Most airports are the same right? There is a line before the check in, boarding passes handed out, occasionally a tax, an x-ray machine, laptop out, no liquids allowed, shoes off, the scramble to put your shoes on, put our laptop and passports back and grab all of your bags while attempting not to hold up the line before the other passengers begin to boil with rage at your sloth-like movements. And did I mention waiting. Lots and lots of waiting. Those aspects of the airports are duplicated in nearly every airport world wide (as far as we have traveled) but we found a few intriguing differences while traveling in Asia.

Noticeable differences from Manila to Boracay:
-multiple x-ray machines. (in Manila) Manila is not known for it's safety. The Philippines is a poverty-stricken nation for the most part, and with that comes violence. So before one even enters an airport an x-ray machine scans your bags and body for metal or perilous objects.

-after checking in we were weighed (with our bags). I guess so they knew how much the plane would weigh with passengers and baggage, I didn't like it, whatever the reason.

-after paying our tax (for what I'm not sure) we stood in line to be x-rayed one more time. I guess in case the first x-ray machine didn't catch our machete.
"Weeman over there" said the man in front of us, indicating the line next to us.
Kyle and I looked at each other, hoping the other had understood this strange accent. It had been lost on both of us.
"I'm sorry?" I asked.
"Weeman over there" he repeated patiently.
Weeman, I thought. Does that mean small people? Is this a mixed English Philippino word that should sound familiar to me?
Still uncomprehending, Kyle began to walk to the next line over.
"No, no, weeman." he repeated, as if we were the dumbest people he had come across in all of his years.
And then it clicked. He was saying "women." There were two separate lines for women and men and we had failed to notice the obvious. Laughing, I made my way over to the "weeman" line where I had to remove my shoes, take out the laptop, hand them my passport, and with an added bonus of being patted down for weapons. I looked around for any more lines we might have to wait in. Five lines and counting...

Differences from Boracay back to Manila:
-Boracay in general is more relaxed. They sometimes have trouble with electricity. So when that happens, the x-ray machines fail to work. Not to fear, your bags are still checked, however, with a thorough investigation.
"May I open your bags?" A nice man asked.
"Sure," I answered dreading the re-packing of the bag we had stuffed to the brim with Kyle's mad packing artistry.
He opened the top, looked in (not without a certain amount of dread, probably calculating how difficult it would be to re-pack the bag)
"Is it mostly clothes?" he asked
"Yes, just clothes" I answered
Closing my huge bag, he glanced and at the next bag.
"Whats in there?" he asked, mildly curious
"Mostly books" I responded.
Next to me I heard the lady inspecting Kyle's bags, "ooohh nice bags. Is this the mommy bag and the baby bag?"
Kyle, as some of you might know, loves outdoorsy stuff, especially of military fashion. Oh, and bags. My husband is a bag man. He is to bags as Carrie from Sex in the City is to shoes. If he sees a bag, especially one that is durable with multiple pockets, he just has to have it, not matter how many bags he already has in his closet. So, on our trip, he had not one, but two military bags with him, his large backpack, and his smaller shoulder bag.
"Uh-huh" Kyle agreed to her question laughingly
"Can I adopt the baby?" she asked jokingly (but only half joking)
"I'm pretty attached." Kyle responded with a witty smile.
And we were through, much more smoothly than anticipated at least with the bags.

The next sign we noticed was "Flight la la la is canceled." (I don't remember the numbers)
"Is that our flight?" I asked Kyle anxiously?
I had booked our flights from Manila to Boracay separately, but with a little extra time for error which meant that if we missed our next flight, I don't think the airlines would cover the cost of purchasing us a new ticket. We had to catch our flight from Manila home.
It was 2:30
From Boracay to Manila was supposed to be at 4:00 arriving at 5:10
Manila to China was 7:15.
"It won't be a problem" said the flight attendant checking us in, "your new flight will put you in at 6:20 and it's in the same terminal."
But she was wrong. VERY WRONG.
Our connecting flight wasn't in the same terminal. And in Manila terminals aren't even in the same vicinity but nearly across the city.
As soon as the plane hit the ground, Kyle and I were running out the door.
"Where do we go?" we asked several people at information desks.
"Terminal 3, you need to take a taxi"
"What!! We are out of money" we pleaded.
We seriously had less than $5 (in Philippino pesos)
"There is a free bus service" (it was very cheap, but not free)
We jumped in the van and pleaded with the man to go as we had less than 50 minutes before our plane took off and some flights wont let you check in 45 minutes before the flight.
"The traffic is tight, I don't know if you will make it in time. It is best for you to take a taxi."
Explaining our lack of money, we pleaded for him to make an exception and not wait for the van to fill, with little success. However once we had filled every seat, with absolutely no extra room, he drove like a race-car driver on speed, both feet on the pedals, which is actually how most Koreans drive, but maybe it is a trend throughout Asia.
A man and his cute as a button two year old sat next to Kyle grinning with excitement and anxiety.
"Where are you from?" he asked Kyle
Kyle who was trying not to have a heart attack as we were almost surely going die from trying to get to the airport on time or miss our plane responded quickly and without much interest "America."
"We are going to Texas" the man continued excitedly. "My wife is a medical technician in Houston, so we are moving there. I am nervous. I am not sure we will be able to make it there" We assured him that Houston was a very international city, and we were sure he would be fine. He was beaming from ear to ear, excited to start a new life in America, in Texas no less. Had we not been pulling our hair out from angst we most certainly would have a more in-depth conversation with the man.
Swerving to the front of the gate, we somersaulted through the doors, flew through the x-ray machine, and jetted towards our check in counter as they were closing up.
"You just made it" the flight attendant said.
We were the last ones to board the plane. We were so thankful.

These pictures are actually of us in the Seoul airport, but as we aren't writing a post about that airport- I thought I would share them on here.

A very fat and distorted looking Col. Sanders

Ronald McDonald looking exceedingly happy

How they clean Korean airports- ingenious
Other posts to look forward to in this series:
China airports
A night in Manila
About the Philippines
Scuba diving
Suggestions for other travelers going to Boracay
Our general adventures

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