Toto, We’re not in Kansas Anymore

Checking in to our Philippine Airways flight last month, my friends and I were excited. Our long anticipated adventure was about to begin.
For most of 2014 we had been talking about our friends’ wedding taking place in Baguio, a mountain city to the north of the capital Manila. Tickets booked since May and hotel secured six months in advance we were ready to discover and explore. 
Waiting at our boarding gate we found the bride’s brother, who happened to be on the same flight, and would be helping us find the van the family had kindly pre-organised for us which would take us from Manila to Baguio – an eight hour journey.
As we marched through the business class section of the plane (hate when they do that) and reached ‘cattle class’ we had a little laugh at the television screen that dropped from the middle section above the seats. Our attention was then drawn to the lack of screens at the back of the chairs – as most airlines do these days.
At the risk of sounding like a spoiled brat I was rather taken-aback. We were going to be locked into this giant tin can for 14 hours and watching films is a fantastic way of killing an average of two hours a go with minimal effort. As a plane insomniac this entertainment is almost vital to my sanity. Not to mention my apprehension about the food, which we all know is notoriously questionable.
I found my seat and settled in with a novel and a puzzle book I found from my last journey. Shane was next to me and Gemma immediately behind and we started paging through the duty free magazine picking Christmas presents for people.
Taking off it felt like this was going to be a very long journey. As ‘Rise of the Planet of the Apes’ started playing on aforementioned centre screen, I tried to crane my neck over to see what was going on. It didn’t help that the first scenes of the film involve chimpanzees grunting and signing to each other in subtitles which I couldn’t read from where I was sitting. As our dinner arrived, the battle scenes – no matter how obviously computer generated – didn’t aid digestion so I changed the audio channel and tried to find one of the music channels instead.
After clearing our tray tables the captain announced that the cabin crew would now be coming around with iPads. iPads!!!! I may have squealed with glee out loud at this point and not just in my head. The gods of travel were indeed with us.
The trolley made its way down and we were given the chance to swap our boarding passes for our own tablet packed with films and games. I was immensely relieved. Shane and I decided to watch a film together and then spent a lot of our journey playing monopoly against each other and the tablet itself.
First siting of land
Many hours later I took this pic out of the window as we approached our destination.
Finally landing we walked through the airport, met up with the bride’s brother again, handing in our medical cards declaring that we had not been anywhere near an Ebola region, getting our passports stamped at immigration and making it to the luggage conveyors.
Waiting the longest I’ve ever waited for bags, we started getting a little nervous. At least none of us had retrieved any of our bags, and there were other travellers from our flight waiting around – but our flight number had disappeared from the screen above the conveyor. A bit of patience won out and we eventually collected all of our possessions.
Leaving the small arrivals building we were first hit by the humidity followed by seeing throngs of people awaiting other passengers. This swarm of jostling friends and relatives calling out to loved-ones as they exited the terminal was rather intimidating.
The crowd were not allowed access into the terminal itself, probably because of its size and the close proximity of the luggage conveyors to the doors with no barrier. As a result they all squeezed on the pavement about ten metres from where we were waiting and held back by security guards. Right then I think we were all grateful we had help finding our van instead of having to navigate through this crowd with luggage in an effort to find the bus terminal.
Locating our transport (as well as the bride’s mum) we started our trip out of Manila. The traffic, congestion and diesel fumes were almost overwhelming. There is this sense that the city functions just inside the realm of controlled chaos, but only by a hair.
There were many national flags flying in the middle of traffic islands as we made our way out of town. It was a wonderful reminder that indeed we were not in Kansas anymore, and a whole new world of adventure awaited.

Sunset over our first Philippine afternoon