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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

No, seriously; I hate it

Just in case I haven't been utterly transparent, I hate flying. I always get an aisle seat because I'm claustrophobic and that horrible overhead baggage compartment hanging over the other seats drives me nuts. Aunt Marion likes the window seat for sleeping. Between us, for just that one time, we had an empty seat. It quickly filled up with our crap.

Because it was an international airline, they had such amenities as blankets, pillows and earphones for movies and such. I put on all my own equipment, blew up my neck pillow, and prepared to sleep after dinner. Because once aloft, they serve food. For the next 15 hours, they served food. A lot of it was lousy, but no one starved. My advice: always get the chicken. Fish, pork and beef are frequently prepared in unrecognizeable and unfamiliar ways. Our housekeeper warned me about this. Yes, all the food was Filipina, because this was Philippine Air. If one must fly to the Far East, I recommend it. But if you don't have to go, well, never mind.

The flight was 14 1/2 hours of hell. Toward the end I panicked and put my head on my tray. No one else knew what was happening. It was the claustrophobia. Pills wear off after a while. Across the aisle from me were some normal people about whom I remember nothing, which is to their credit. Three seats forward was a young American guy with mental health issues, pestering everyone. He was right across from the heads so he couldn't be ignored unless you were downright rude. I had to turn my back to avoid him. I warned my aunt about him, as I didn't want any trouble. Forward to my right was a family bringing an old woman home to die. It was so obvious and so painful. Many of us cried with them. I hope she found rest. Actually, I'm sure of it. On the other side of the plane was a child who, again, made my headphones, etc, pay off. I also made liberal use of my nook when I wasn't trying to sleep.

So several marginally edible meals, two movies and a round of hot washcloths later, we finally disembarked. Once we were there, we learned that, had the plane been heavy enough to require refuleing, we would not have been allowed to deplane. Luckily, the flight wasn't full, so we were able to go non-stop. Sorry I missed Guam, but given the alternative, I'm okay with it.

I got very dehydrated on that flight although I drank everything they threw at me, and asked for more. In the terminal, we were met by some young woman from the tourist board who brought us leis, but couldn't provide any water. I began to lose consciousness while we were waiting for the luggage. Luckily, my inner ear gives me a little buzz when I'm about to go down so I avoided falling although I was really in and out a lot. I kept asking and asking and finally hollering for water, and I told them unless they wanted us all to go to the hospital to rehydrate me right now, they would bring me water . . . well, eventually my carrying on had some effect, because a guide went out and brought me a nice bottle of hot water from somewhere. I drank it, believe me, and my cousin Carol wouldn't let me carry anything and supported me through the arrivals so I wouldn't collapse. In the bus I got another bottle of hot water. I was not happy. Offering something to drink is basic hospitality, and having water available throughout a terminal in a tropical climate is a matter of safety, sanitation and public health. I couldn't begin to understand why I had to make such an issue. Water fountains, people! Vendors with cold sodas, not warm bottles of booze. What the hell?

We had to hike a couple blocks to the bus, much like in Quito, where driving up to the curb is evidently not possible due to, well, I don't know due to what. They had a bus, a curb, and a road.; What more do you need? At the hotel I expected to be offered a drink such as juice. Nada. I asked for water. I asked and asked. I refused to go to the counter to check in unless I got some water, and again, finally it came. I rose hell over the lack of hospitality, and will do it again with the tour operator, who has sent a survey on the trip to fill out. I mean, the US is extraordinarily inhospitable compared to some cultures, but you can get drinking water everywhere, even if from a machine or sold by a grouchy person. It's just a matter of general public health. 

Anyway, we had landed at 4:30 AM and were promptly told to go eat breakfast. Really? They had been stuffing us all night. I took a shower went to bed instead. And I drank all the free water from the hotel room and called for more. Even in the Manila Hotel, a five star, you could not drink the tap water. The hotel, by the way is gorgeously old-fashioned and lovingly restored with a wonderful staff who know how to do anything, and where everything is, except water.

Here is an out-of-focus shot of the lobby, but, since I was dizzy, this is exactly how it looked to me.



And then we re-assembled at 9 AM for the "city tour." But that deserves an entry all its own, with more pictures!

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