I’m going to the Philippines. On a whim, I said “yes” when my family asked me if I wanted to join them on the trip. This would be my second visit there. The first time was *my plane ride from hell.
We’ll be visiting Cebu for about a week, and Leyte for several days. Now I remember how much changed on my first visit. Everything seemed smaller. Even public restrooms are smaller. We arrive there after a relatively calm plane ride. This time, my mom, sister and brother in law are with me on this trip.
The airport was considerably empty when we flew in that early morning (although early, I was immediately drenched in humid air the moment I stepped off that plane, and will miss the feeling of frigid airplane air for the next two weeks)
If you’ve never been to Cebu, there are a number of words to describe it: metropolitan, loud, flashy, urban jungle, practically a juxtaposition of the traditional and modern, the rampant poverty and the new rich, the clean and the dirty.
We arrive at the hotel. David, brother in-law, Roxanne, sister and I check in and unpack and we decided to hit one of Philippines’ biggest malls, Ayala Center. My mom heads off and stays with her family to catch up.
I admit, I went to a McDonald’s. I ordered two supersized portions of fried chicken, and two drinks. No, I wasn’t a pig and McDee’s here apparently serves chicken like KFC does. You need to realize this when visiting any Asian country, any portion is vastly different from the US. Philippines is no exception. Two drinks equal to a small, and two super-sized portions equal to a regular. And after a long flight, I was craving for a fatty coronary. David is not happy. He thinks it’s blasphemy they serve pasta as a fast food and that they use ketchup as part of the sauce.
Touring around for a bit, we soak in the new place. The mall is the chill place (no pun intended). I saw a lot of college kids. Every college in the Philippines have uniforms. So, although, it was the chill place, it certainly was an ocean of college kids, in multi-colored uniforms. We later get back to the hotel, completely exhausted, and I realize I had made one of those crucial travel mistakes; acclimation period. I wake up the next day sick as a dog, suffering from the flu.
David and Roxanne head out the next few days without me, as I stay bunkered up in my A/C’ed room. That last chicken was good.
The first trip was two years ago. Green as a greenhorn could be, and also on a whim, I decided to visit a week earlier before the rest of the family would fly out. This turns out, to be one of the more scary trips of my life. On my way to boarding the plane, I get singled out and get my carry on luggage inspected. You read that right. Thoughts race through my head about whether my bags have been left out of sight for a second or whether some stranger gave me some free items at the airport. But I don’t get inspected for illegal substances.
They’re inspecting my carry on luggage weight allowance! I spend the next fifteen minutes arguing with the completely idiotic staff, sifting through items and having to decide whether I can go on with 4 pairs of underwear instead of 6, and whether I needed that extra 6 ounces of bathroom essentials and a half eaten burrito or not. They let me off after shaving off a measly 3 pounds off my over the limit weight.
And I was still 3 pounds over the limit. Shortly after, I spent the next 16 hours clinging on for dear life, as the plane endures 10 of those hours in turbulent weather. The man next to me wasn’t happy. He kept throwing up. The old lady on the other side of me wasn’t happy either. She kept doing her rosary. The baby behind me wasn’t happy, I think I’ve lost 15% of my hearing. I wasn’t happy either. I tried to keep eating my dinner, and my drinks and food kept jumping out of their plates. What a messy ride.