One thing that you have to be prepared for when it comes to far away travels, is the time it takes to get there. I know for me, it didn't really hit me when I was in the midst of the excitement of booking airline tickets, confirming Airbnb rental, and making sure I had my house back in Texas being looked after in my absence. In fact, it wasn't until days before this adventures started that the reality of how long the travel time was actually hit me.
For me to get to Panglao, Bohol, Philippines, my trip consisted of 3 different legs, and this easily could have been more [and much longer travel time] if I didn't make sure that I booked direct flights. The three mail travel legs included: Southwest Airlines flight from San Antonio, Texas to Los Angeles, California; Layover in LAX International and flight from LA to Cebu, Philippines; and finally the OceanJet ferry from Cebu to Taglibaran, Bohol where we were picked up by a driver employed by our Airbnb host.
To add it all up, I had a 40 minute ride to San Antonio Airport, and about an hour and half in San Antonio airport before my 3 hour flight to LA. After getting to LA, I had a 8.5 hour layover waiting for my Philippines Airlines flight to Cebu, and 15+ hours of flight time to Cebu. Almost 2 hours in Cebu airport getting off plane, through Philippines custom inspection, getting bags, and catching a taxi to the waterfront [Pier 1] in Cebu. Add in a 1+ wait at Pier 1 in the sweaty morning head lugging around almost 100 pounds of luggage, then a 2 hour boat ride to Taglibaran wharf, followed by a 30 minute drive to our Airbnb rental. Yup, grab your calculator and you'll see that it was 30+ hours and I lost a day in the process, leaving LA at 10:30 pm on a Saturday night, and not getting into Cebu until 4:30am on Monday morning.
A Few Observations...
International Flight Attendants
Los Angeles International Airport is a similiar freakshow to L.A. itself. You have every walk of life rolling through there, and from virtually every continent of the planet, save Antarctica. International airlines stewardessses in their awesome uniforms representing their respective countries... When was the last time you saw a US stewardess in leather knee-high boots, skirt, and a classic stewardess hat [throwback 50 years], and every one of them looking ready to shoot a commercial?
Shoot, on Soutwest these days, you either get one of those good crews rocking a great sense of humor, or the angry 'sit down and shut the fuck up' crews that can't wait to get to the next destination and your dumb ass off the plane. but still, most of them dressed like their mother forgot to tuck in their shirts, and exhibiting about as much pride in their appearance as a teenager begrudgingly working another shift on the fry station at McDonalds.
Los Angeles - Tom Bradley International
Ok, I'll give it them a few points considering virtually the entire place is currently a construction zone, but what a end-to-end microcosm of what it's like in Los Angeles itself. Rich, poor, middle class, and homeless from every ethnicity you can think of, and traffic, both pedestrian and vehicular that makes you wish you were in a Abrams tank and could just drive over everyone and everything.
Did I say homeless at LAX? Yup, even at the airport, there are homeless making their rounds out in front of the arrival and dropoff areas, and outside and inside Tom Bradley international. At first I wondered how they all got there, considering you couldn't stand outside to catch a quick smoke without one zeroing in on you to hit you up for that non-existent "extra" cigarette they seem to think resides in every pack of 20... But, low and behold, they just camp out right there in the ticketing area.
But, once through the TSA 'strip me down, scan me, and feel me up' station, and into the main concourse for Tom Bradley international, it's like you've entered another world. All the sudden you are surrounded by shops from all the highest end retailers, Starbucks coffee, massive high definition digital signs promoting every every top-shelf item you could think of, and you immediately notice the absense of the faint smell of urine that seems to float by with every homeless person who walks by you.
As much as I take jabs at the TSA here in the US, I will say that they tend to get you throught the lines fairly quickly, even when you're like me, and 'lucky' enough to be selected for secondary inspection 50% of the time, things are going to be different in other countries. ... When my plan arrived in Cebu, there were at least 3 other flights landing at the same time, and all of them as full as my flight. So, in a matter of minutes, there were hundreds and hundreds of travelers from all over the world converging on the custom inspection widows, and for all those arriving passengers, there were only 2 people checking passports for almost 1.5 hours.
Now, I will say that the customs lady that checked me in in Cebu was extremely nice and personable, even though it was only her on one other lady processing through hundreds of people from all over the world, and speaking dozens of different languages.
Thirty-plus hours is a long time to be traveling, especially when your body clock is going to get flipped by 13 hours and loss of a day. And, all I can say is that other than taking your vitamins and drinking copious amounts of coffee, there's not much you can do but roll with it. And, when I say "roll with it" ... I really mean it. Leave your attitude or self-importance at home. Your travel time is going to be just that, and like any day in your life, you make the personal choice whether it's going to be good or bad by the attitude you bring. So, chill out, and enjoy.
All this said. Thank God I am finally in Panglao safe, and enjoying a cold San Miguel, which just so happens to be cheaper than bottled water.
I purposefully left out the final leg of the journey in this blog, because taxis, and getting around Cebu, Bohol, and Panglao are definitely an eyeopening experience, and worthy of their own post.