6 Lessons Learnt And I Am Still In Manila

Good morning! It is now 5:28am and I am sitting at the departure lounge of NAIA Terminal 2. If you have been following, I am supposed to be back home in Singapore by this time. As you can see, or read, I am still here. And my iPhone is running low on battery (17% left!). Anyway, my friends and I were supposed to be on the Jetstar 9:10pm flight bound for Singapore. We missed it. And there is a whole length of story behind it.

So, after we checked out of our hostel yesterday at 11-ish, morning, we drove out to SM Mall Of Asia (yes, another SM mall). Had lunch there and then we walked around, or rather, we split up and did our own stuff until the agreed meeting time and place of 4pm outside the Bowling Centre. We did that.

Our original plan was to stop at our friend’s house for dinner. Most unfortunately, we got stuck in another of Manila’s infamous traffic jam. It was already close approaching 6pm so we made a hasty change of plans and diverted to a nearby shopping centre for dinner instead. Mind you, our flight was at 9:10pm. Anyway, we ate at an Italian restaurant and the funny thing was that, even though we ordered the Buffalo wings first, it was the last to arrive. Now, even though it was dinner time, the restaurant was not crowded. We were frantic. The Buffalo wings were not done yet and being desperate, we were about to leave without it, in fact I told the cashier to cancel the order since they mistook the order for another table. Then the wings came out. Of course, we had it to-go.

Lesson one learnt, plan your time wisely.

Our friend drove as fast as he could. And then we hit the road leading to the skyway. Now, the skyway is an interesting invention here. It is supposed to be better than an expressway and, since it was supposed to be better, you have to pay a toll to use it. This skyway is designed to cut down traveling time drastically. However, the authorities have to do something about the bottleneck jam leading to the first toll booth. We spent roughly 35 minutes crawling there in the car.

Half way on the skyway, our friend’s car died. It was 7:55pm.

“Keep calm and carry on”. The motto used in Britain during the war. And that was what we did.

Our friend called the highway police patrol and then he tried calling for a taxi for us. Make a guess which came first?

About 5-10mins later, we saw the red and blue lights of the highway police patrol. After talking through with our friend, the two gentlemen in uniform brought us to their truck. We had to say goodbye to our friend on the skyway. What a way to saying goodbye.

To be riding in an official vehicle was quite the experience. We got to the Terminal 3 in record time only to find out that, wait for it, international flights do not operate out of Terminal 3. Only domestic flights. And it was not stated on our flight itinerary printout which terminal it was. That was lesson two: check which airport terminal. By then, it was 8:25pm.

The officers told us that under normal traffic situations, traffic jam included, the trip to the international terminal is about 2 hours. Our hearts fell. The officers switched driving roles. We did not know why or what difference it made but we were the ones sitting in the back so, who were we to complaint? And this, ladies and gentlemen, is Filipino hospitality at its finest. These two officers went out of their way to drive us all the way to Terminal 1. And what was supposed to be a 2 hours trip, well, we got there by 9:10, just as our flight was set to depart, but never mind that. The officers could had told us to get down at Terminal 3 and take a cab from there but no. They drove us to the other terminal and through the back roads, which were definitely a shortcut, and also, they went “out of their jurisdiction” when the older officer used the police warning signal to get us there. It was quite a moment. We were so much in a rush that as a thank-you, we gave them the box of Buffalo wings we took-away from the restaurant.

Lesson three learnt: Filipino hospitality is awesome.

Anyway, we were already late and had pretty much missed our flight. We were like one of those teams on The Amazing Race, especially the part when the teams had to (desperately) get flight tickets out to their next destination. Haha! We were practically running around the ticket offices in terminal 1 but by then, most were already closed. We tried buying new tickets online but there were some technical issues. In the end, my friend/colleague went to the information desk and asked for help. The lady there was ever so helpful. She managed to get for us a travel agency to arrange for us the tickets. Only thing was that we had to go to the travel agency. But it was OK as the agency sent a car over to pick us up, and also to send us to Terminal 2 when we were done. We spent almost an hour there at the agency, and by the time we got to the terminal we were supposed to be in, which is where I am now, it was already past 12 midnight. We slept on the benches placed outside the terminal until it opened at 5am. It was actually quite cold out there.

Lesson 4: Terminal 2 is for Philippine Airlines flight. Terminal 1 is for all other international flights. Terminal 3 is for domestic flights. And the three terminals are apart from each other. Terminal 3 is the furthest from 1 and 2.

Lesson 5: wifi is free here in the airports. ‘morefuninthephilippines’

So, I have about 1 hour odd of waiting time. And 7% battery left, which leads me on to Lesson 6: have your battery charger in your hand carry. There is a desk here where you can charge the battery.

So, six lessons learnt in the past 13 hours.

This trip should be the epitome of the Philippines tourism slogan: It is, indeed, more fun in the Philippines.

My colleagues and I learnt a lot on this trip and also, I am sure we had come to learnt how to appreciate more. And also, this is our maiden voyage on Philippines Airlines. We hope everything will go smoothly from here on.

I shall go wash my face now and then wait out the remaining time, which should not be long. And no, we will not be missing our flight this time round. 😉

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