Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Winter Break in the Philippines

It is Wednesday afternoon and we are in the Philippine on a small island called Bantayan, an hour ferry ride from the bigger island of Cebu.  We have been here since Sunday but internet availability has been minimal at best.  Right now we are at a cafe with wifi that kind of works. I was able to upload just a few pictures but there will be later posts with lot more.

We had a busy time getting here. 

The semester ended on Friday. I had my last final Friday morning, and then a Christmas party with August and his friends in the nursery at noon, then I was grading until 3:00.  When I got home I started packing and twelve hours later, Saturday 3:30 am, we were awake getting ready to be picked up at 4:30 to get to the airport. The driver was 30 minutes late, which was a little stressful, but remarkably it was the only real hold up in our travels.  Everything else was just the normal challenges of traveling with three young children, though those challenges can be significant. 

The flight to Manila took a little over three hours.  Irish sat with August while he was being crazy, then we switched seats and he fell asleep for the rest of the flight while I was with him.  The girls played peacefully with iPads.  We had heard some stories about Cebu Pacific being a difficult airline but that wasn’t our experience.  No movies, no free food, but otherwise an ordinary flight.  

We had also heard rough stories about the airport in Manila but we seemed to get lucky there too  which was good since we had 5 hours to kill. We passed through customs, saw that it was a “No ‘Wang Wang Zone’” which we believed was a good thing, or at least it seemed funny.  ( I just looked it up, it's a word the President of the Philippines made up, it means "no overtaking" or no corruption, I think in this context it meant don't cut in line which is roughy what I guessed) 

August was cute, made the immigration official smile as he ran forward and back while we tried to stop him.  Once we were through we got our luggage, bought lunch, changed money and then looked for our connecting flight.  I think we were in a newer terminal because it was really fairly nice, not as nice as Incheon or Singapore, but significantly better than some airports I have seen. When we got to our gate there was a massage place right next to it, so Irish got a 30 minute massage and then we waited, for a long time. Really long.  Five hours is easy enough to pass when you are on your own, but with the kids it becomes exhausting. They took turns being impatient, complaining, crying a few times.  And then finally as the sun was going down we were on our one hour flight to Cebu City. 

In Cebu we walked down stairs from the plane onto the tarmac.  It was very warm, it had been raining and we could smell the ocean.  The difference from Korea, with it’s incredibly modern airport, and cold cold weather was striking. While I was waiting for our luggage Irish went to see if there was a shuttle to the hotel we booked.  She found a representative from the hotel itself, and he got us a taxi we could charge to our room.  
Walking from the plane to the terminal in Cebu City

The ride to the hotel was slow.  Traffic was crazy, but not in the Korean running red lights way, just incredibly congested, with scooters squeezing through and these pickups converted into mini busses, I’m sure there is a name for them.  The girls thought it was funny, and dangerous for all the people to be hanging out the back of the cars.
August will let you know- that's dangerous! not safe!

Finally getting to our hotel for the night both of the girls had fallen asleep and August was hanging on by a thread.  Before we could go in though a police officer was called over and a bomb dog sniffed my luggage, and then we went through a metal detector, which I guess should make me feel safer, only it didn’t because I had not been thinking about bomb threats, but after the security procedures I was. 

Our room turned out to be a corner room on the 14th floor, windows on two walls.  It just had a king size bed but they gave us a crib for “the baby”  (August has been getting mad at everyone calling him a baby, but he didn’t seem to mind the crib which he pretty much filled up)  So we ordered room service, had a picnic on the floor, and then four of us got in the big bed, August next to us in his little bed (crib), and we all fell asleep immediately. 

More soon about our trip from Cebu City to Bantayan, and vacation on a beautiful island, and lots of pictures once we can upload them.

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