Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Philippines Vacation: Day Seven

The sunrise at the Peacock Garden
Finally, our time in the Philippines had come to an end. It had been relaxing, although occasionally frustrating. Still, I enjoyed the getaway.

After collecting our things, Jackie and I went to check out. I paid with my credit card (they had a machine that actually worked, a novel concept!). And then we sat down for breakfast in the indoor restaurant.
Leaving Bohol
I thought it was only a normal continental breakfast, but after I had chosen a few things, a waitress came out and gave us menus. So, at the Peacock Garden, you get a true breakfast, including many egg and meat combinations, plus a buffet! Not only are there many, many choices, it is also very tasty! I was very full after eating.

Following breakfast, we were given a ride in a van to the ferry terminal that would take us to Cebu. We got there with time to spare. Inside, we went through security, think of going through airport security that is super lax. The waiting area consisted of chairs of limited comfort sitting under a canopy.

Goodbye, shipping containers...
Thirty minutes later, we were allowed into the outdoor waiting area. There, we were able to enjoy the breeze for about 15 minutes until boarding time. Down the plank we walked and up the stairs to our seats. Nobody had the seat next to me, so I was able to have slightly more room. Those seats are still rather restricting though. It can be uncomfortable. We both tried to sleep for most of the boat ride, although I would be awoken by a hurting back or knees depending on the angle I chose to be in.

The ferry arrived at the Cebu harbor and we walked into the terminal and out onto the streets lined with taxi drivers. The drivers yelled out prices and questions about each person's destination. One man, dressed in a shirt with a large Korean flag on it, came up and asked us if we needed a ride to the airport. I said we did and he said he would take us. Remembering what had happened with the first taxi we ever took in the Philippines, I asked if he would be using the meter. We walked briskly, but he spoke even more quickly. A thousand rationalizations poured out of his mouth as to why a meter is unneeded. I said I wanted him to use it, he said he wouldn't, and I kept walking. I didn't break my stride. I'm not negotiating when it comes to that. It is not acceptable. You are supposed to use those meters.

The next man who came up immediately said he would use the meter. We loaded our things up and jumped in. The ride to the airport was smooth sailing. Unfortunately, the airport itself would not be as friendly.

Mactan Cebu International Airport: Where Your Soul Goes to Die
When we arrived at the airport from Seoul, we simply left quickly. We didn't look around at all because it was late and we wanted to get to our hotel quickly. Now, though, we had to wait. I had the wrong time for some reason, so we were very early. They would not let us go through security until there was an hour left before our flight. So I sat while Jackie checked out the stores. She ended up finding some cute earrings for cheap. Score!

I went to the restroom. Some of the urinals were marked as broken. Okay. No big deal. I was the only one in there. I went to wash my hands. I squirted soap into my hands and started rubbing it in. Then I turned the faucet on. Nothing. I tried the next one. Nothing. I tried the last one. Nothing. Went to the paper towel dispenser to wipe off the soap. Can you guess? Empty. So I went back to my seat with hands full of soap. Luckily, Jackie is wonderful at over-preparing (or just normal preparing depending on how you look at it). She had wet napkins for me to wipe my hands off with.

A word on the design of the airport. It is small, no fault in that, but it also appears to have been designed by the world's least inspired prison architects. The entire thing is drab and colorless. It is depressing to be in there.

Finally, we were allowed to enter the security area and terminal. Quickly, we breezed through security. Up to the counter we went, papers in hand, looking to check in, something we had been unable to do online. The signs over the Cebu Pacific Air employees read the flight information and city for some other destination. We waited for it to change. And we waited some more. In the meantime, we noticed a sign that said there was a terminal fee that is not included on the airline ticket. I began to worry. I figured Cebu Pacific would help us, but I was having my doubts.

I saw two guys with German passports walk up to the counter. They waited for a minute to the side and just decided to go. Seeing this, I figured I could do the same. We went up to the counter and asked if we could check in. The lady allowed us. We then asked if the terminal fee was covered in our ticket. It was not. The terminal also did not accept credit cards, only cash.

That meant we were stuck. No money and no way to get any easily. Two days earlier, we both had tried to get cash from ATMs, but they kept asking for a PIN. Neither of us had one. I began to worry. It seemed we were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The lady explained that the website said we would have to pay a terminal fee. It was in the fine print. Jackie had printed out all the forms, but the lady could not find where it said anything about paying anything at the airport. I had never been through anything like this before.

We ended up speaking to a manager who came up with a plan. Many people going to Korea have to pay baggage fees. So we would pay their fees with our card (since the airline could use debit cards) in exchange for Philippine cash to use for the airport terminal fee. All we had to do was wait and hope somebody would agree to help us. In the meantime, I went off to find an ATM or a money changing place that could help. Jackie stayed back to wait for a person who could help.

As I searched, Jackie ran up to me. It hadn't taken long for somebody to agree to the plan! Thankfully, that worked out. It was extremely stressful and a major headache.

And goodbye, Philippines...
The flight was delayed for about 30 minutes, but other than that, it was smooth sailing back home.

And thus concluded our Philippines vacation.
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