Greetings from the Philippines!
Getting here was half the fun. Well, less than that.
It was a little disconcerting being the only passenger for the first part of the trip. We were taking narrow backroads through rice paddies and I’m thinking it’s gonna be a long ride to Incheon. As you can see, the bus I rode indicated it made stops in Songtan and Osan before going to the airport. Nope. We stopped at a bus terminal in Ansung and picked up a handful of passengers. Drove past some random roadside stops where no one was waiting, stopped at another bus terminal in Suwon (I think), more backroads, then a highway with bumper-to-bumper traffic for awhile. All told, it took just over three hours to make the airport. Interesting ride but one I have no intention of ever taking again.
Still, I had three hours more to kill before my flight was scheduled to depart. That’s fine, I much prefer being early than late. I had checked in via the internet, so there was no waiting when I dropped my bag. Sailed through security and immigration. The terminal was packed with holiday travelers, which kind of surprised me. I figured most folks would have departed earlier in the week. Ah well, it made it a pain in the ass to get my walking in, but I managed.
Plane boarded 30 minutes late. Apparently they didn’t have enough ground crew scheduled on Chuesok to get the job done. Almost all the flights seemed to be getting out late for that reason. Despite departing late, we arrived in Manila right on time. Good job Korean Air!
Well, our Boeing 777 was fully loaded and I was near the back of the plane, so…
Baggage claim was a bit of a fiasco. Because everyone was stuck at immigration, the belt was jammed with bags and golf clubs to the extent that new bags could not exit the conveyor belt until passengers retrieved bags to make room. Alas, my bag was not one of those already on the belt. 15 more minutes and I was able to walk through customs without an issue.
Met my tour guide/caregiver and she suggested we catch a “grab” cab (similar to Uber) because the airport taxis wanted 600 pesos for the short ride to the airport hotel. So, we went to find a Grab and that fucker wanted 500 pesos for the two mile trip. A legit metered taxi might be all of 200 pesos. It was late and I was tired, and really the difference amounts to 6 bucks, so why argue. I hate being ripped off, but when in the Philippines…
Hotel was clean and comfortable and convenient, except for the internet password which is like a VIN number for an automobile.
So, that makes three times so far I’ve used my mantra “deep breath, relax, and accept the Filipino way.”
Quick walk around the poverty stricken neighborhood after breakfast. Lots of destitute people eking out a living, filthy homeless children sleeping on the streets, desperation filling the air, but that is the life here.
Oddly enough, I’m already feeling much better. Not sure if I’m just in vacation mode or if being out of Anjeong-ri has helped clear my mind of self-pity. Certainly being reminded of just how fucking lucky I am may be part of it. And here’s the thing–I can make a difference here. I’m ready to get started.
Flying on to Boracay in a couple of hours. More to follow.