My wife and I arrived in Manila midnight of December 17. Boy, it sure was a long and tiring trip! It took us almost all of 15 hours of flying before finally landing here, and that does not even include all those hours of waiting at the boarding gates.
We had to fly back to attend my brother-in-law’s wedding, which will be held in Manila. There would be two weddings, in fact: my brother-in-law this December and my sister-in-law on January! All the members of my wife’s clan who are now living in Calgary agreed to take the trip back home to attend this double celebration.
Days before our scheduled flight, I was able to complete my animation commitments. My wife took care of all the packing, so all I had to do was make sure I wrap up all my scenes and check with my director if I still had some revisions left to do.
My wife and I, along with my two brother-in-laws, were the last of the vacationers to take the plane for the trip back to Manila. To be honest, I was secretly relieved that there were just four of us; it would have been more stressful for me if the party I am with were anything like the earlier wave of vacationers who had more family members in the group, and with kids even!
I hate flying. When we first came to Canada, I was greatly relieved when our plane finally landed in Calgary after that grueling flight from Manila to Vancouver. As I recall, there was a feeling of wonderment at first during the earlier stages of that flight, that being my first time to ride a plane. That sense of awe soon turned to discomfort as I struggled continuously during the course of the flight trying vainly to find a comfortable sitting position on that cramped airplane seat that I find oh, so confining. Add to that my nervous stomach, which would act up during those situation where access to a totally private and vacant toilet is not readily available.
My feelings about this flight was no different and I was gearing up for the worst.
However, as if to help relieve the stress, we were blessed with good weather on the day of our flight. When we drove one group of vacationer to the airport a week earlier, it had been snowing, so it was a welcome sight for all four of us to see ideal weather conditions on our scheduled trip. Since we ran out of family members, we had to enlist some friends to drive us to the airport, a welcome relief since taxi were hard to come by this close to Christmas.
We had to take a plane from Calgary to Vancouver, another one from Vancouver to Hong Kong and yet another connecting flight from Hong Kong to Manila. Talk about spending the whole day on a trip!
Checking-in our luggages at the Calgary Airport was a breeze. We arrived earlier enough to make changes to our seat assignments, getting ourselves some window seats. My wife and her brothers spent the time playing cards with each other as we wait to board the plane to Vancouver.
We had to wait three more hours in Vancouver Airport for our connecting flight to Hong Kong. It was lunchtime by the time we arrived in Vancouver, and our need for sustenance were dealt with quite easily for there were lots of food courts in that airport. We were able to make changes for window seats again courtesy of the helpful ground staff of Cathay Pacific. Once again, Liza and her brothers played cards to while away the time.
I had more time to look around and admire Vancouver’s airport this time around. The first time I was there, I was so anxious to get my wife and I to the next boarding gate for our connecting flight to Calgary I had tunnel vision!
The 13 hour trip from Vancouver to Hong Kong was not very pleasant for me. The moment the cabin crew served our first meal, I started getting air sick, for every time I would put food in my mouth, the plane would hit turbulence, making me dizzy and sick. I would try to ease the sickness by taking a nap, but getting to sleep was so hard to come by because of the cramp seats. Even my wife, who usually finds it easy to doze off during these long trips, found it hard to catch a shut eye.
On a positive note, taking one Imodium the night before our scheduled flight helped me control my digestive tracts; I only had to get up and go to the toilet to take a pee.
The trip from Hong Kong to Manila was the worst. We lost our treasured window seats courtesy of the usual mishap that I was not surprised at all would happen, especially on a plane full of Filipino passengers. We had to fill out this form for the immigration and the custom, which we did not have to do during our flight to Hong Kong. We also had to endure several minutes of wait still seated and buckled up in those cramp seats as our plane took forever to get us to the arrival gates, cause of delay unknown. Sigh, I must be on Philippine soil.
It was a good thing that my wife and her brothers are blessed with this pleasant and happy disposition. They took all the hassles that we had to endure at the Ninoy Aquino Airport in stride. It would not have looked that bad to me had I had nothing to compare this airport with.
By the time we got out of the airport and breathed in our first taste of that familiar Philippine air, I was ready to collapse to the nearest bed in exhaustion. However, the smiling faces and welcoming arms of my mother and sisters banished all discomfort of the trip away.
So I am back, and it’s still the same old Philippines I’ve come to know, love and hate and eventually leave behind!