CHRONICLES OF MY ASIAN ODYSSEY-CHAPTER I
PHILIPPINES AND MALAYSIA
For the last 15 days,I have taken a total of 8 international flights.I started my journey from Sacramento International Airport to Manila as my first destination.In this trip, I have my 89 year old mother,my sister and my sister's former colleague as my entourage. Right off the bat, I somehow have the sixth sense ,this trip will be a comedy of errors.Months even before we were about to leave, my sister and my mother were so consumed of shopping for presents for relatives back home. I understand about bringing presents for relatives but what I did not understand is the amount of gifts that they (my shopaholic sister and mother ) were bringing. They were not shopping for our relatives' gifts , they were literally shopping for the whole tribe of the Republic of the Philippines.Foodstuffs,dresses ,shoes,makeups for the women,perfumes ,watches - those are acceptable gifts but plastic food cover,kitchen tin foils rolls of them,cases of toiletpaper? I was totally floored.I travel light as I have learned over the years of traveling that packing light is always a blessing in disguise.If i can put my travel gear in a shoe box,I would.But my family,not having travelled as extensively as I am (except for the frequent yearly homecoming to the Philippines) and not having read Rick Steve's book on Secrets of Traveling Light , have not learned the tricks of the trade. Fearing of the catastrophe that we might encounter at the check in counter due to the baggage overload that my sister was intending to carry and knowing that my sister has a penchant for being stubborn especially in airline rules, I downloaded the baggage requirements from the airline's website and gave a copy to her.Only 50 lbs were allowed per passenger to check in free for international flights. Over and above that- you will have to fork $400 ( yes, you got that right 400 cool bucks) per baggage made up mostly of american made foodstuffs that cost next to nothing.Printout and all, she disregarded my warning .True enough, as I already predicted, we had to deal with the excess baggage dilemma when we got to the airline check in counter.Her luggage was 20 pounds overweight and she was going to fork $400 for her crazy foodstuffs presents for our Philippine tribe.She was lucky because I only brought one small carry on luggage less than 15 pounds and I did not check in a baggage.You see, I am a perfect example of a functional , considerate ,stickler to airline rules economic coach passenger.My sister was able to use my 50 pound baggage allowance and used it for her excess baggage.This brings to lesson number one- cardinal rule: never ever travel with your sister and mother who are completely clueless on how to travel civilly and in comfort.The first leg of our flight was a short 10 minute flight from Sacramento to Francisco in a very small plane that sits less than 30 people at the most, according to my estimate.The plane is a noisy clunker about to be admitted at the plane cemetery for its final resting place. It looked like the first prototype plane used by the Wright Brothers or Amelia Earnhardt that finally downed in the Pacific Ocean and up until now still not found.The flight attendant was a bulky woman who made the usual blah blah blah over the intercom for intructions on flight safety in case of emergency. I hardly understood a word she said as she had this big southern drawl and a canned script to read ,devoid of any human feeling or intonation.With her long didactics on flight safety,the only words I heard were " the seats used as a flotation device." LOL! We are flying over inland not a body of water, I need a parachute not a flotation device.
So we arrived quickly to San Francisco in no time. One of the perks of having a semi handicapped passenger is that you are treated as a first class passenger even though you paid a coach fare that nobody knows.With my wheel chaired mother, she is classified as incapacitated so therefore we get to board the plane first before all passengers, get to seat on the first row seats and get to deplane first. I can see the jealousy in the other 400 something passengers as the wheelchair attendant rolls my mother first and the 3 of us companions follow her.We boarded the Boeing 777 Jumbo jet in San Francisco bound for Honolulu for a quick refuel then to Tamuning, Guam for a 2 hour layover. Both flights were smooth and hardly any turbulence.There is definitely a big difference in the flight maneuvers between a 30 seater mini plane to a 500 passenger jumbo plane. Downside in the jumbo is the crowds that you have to fight with in space and in the restroom.
We stopped in Honolulu for 30 minute quick refueling,did not even deplane and then on to our merry way to Tamuning, Guam.Just our luck as the plane is about to land in Tamuning,a passenger had a diabetic shock and needs medical assistance.The flight attendant got on the intercom and asked if there is any doctor in the plane and would he or she please raise their hands. My sister and her colleague, both recently retired prison doctors did not immediately raise their hands.Hmm,what is wrong with you ,girls? I was thinking they will come to the rescue.Luckily onother doctor passenger stood up and took control of the emergency.I gave my sister and her colleague some words of sarcastic wisdom after we deplaned. I warned them, there is no way they will ever be accepted as volunteer doctors in MEDICINS SANS FRONTIERES.Whatever happened to their agility and quick thinking capabilities when they worked as prison doctors? Luckily the emergency was a minor one and was quickly aborted.
Mama Mia Madre de dios! The trials and tribulations of air travel.:-)
Chapter 2 in progress..... Sequel to be continued.