Stuck in Manila
After searching in vain for a bar in Terminal 3 of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (Manila) which solely consists of fast food joints, I found a couch in the back of a coffee shop, Chaikofi, and spent the next six hours waiting in a zombie-like state for my last flight of a 26 hour journey. I could already taste the mediocre beer by the pool within the next few hours. (Fact: Mediocre beer turns in to amazing beer when traveling.)
Eventually my buddy Rob came strolling in, just getting in from his long trek from Florida via New York and Taiwan, and we made our way to our departure gate for the island of Busuanga (Coron). The apparent disorganization, crowding, and ineptitude of Ninoy Aquino International was actually really impressive, possibly overtaking that hell hole of LAX as my least favorite airport in the world.
I was leaning against the glass of the smokers lounge, the last open wall space to be seen, when I asked Rob to check out our flight status on his phone. (I didn’t buy a sim card.) At the time, this seemed much easier than walking through the crowd to the flight desk manned by children. I also just had a bad feeling…
Pretty much the worst word we could have read at the time. Immediately, we fought the crowd to the desk, everyone else one the flight still unknowing because no announcement had been made and the flight board was literally made of cardboard.
At that point, it was a hurry up and wait situation, racing everyone else back to the terminal to get bags and rebook a flight the following morning.
So on day 1 (or really hour 7 for me) in the Philippines, our grand plan of not spending any time in Manila, a seemingly sprawling and chaotic mess of 23 million people, came to an end.
Cebu Pacific did step up and take care of everything fairly seamlessly – transportation to/from a surprisingly decent hotel and an alright dinner that night (at the hotel). On one hand, you can’t ask for much else in those situations. But on the other hand, you can always hope for some kind of reward. A fairly epic 35th floor rooftop sunset while overlooking a new city definitely fit that ‘reward’ bill for me…