February 14-24, 2019
On Valentine’s Day I left home for a 10-day work trip to the Philippines. I sort of flew the wrong way around the planet. I needed some hand-holding, so since I would be in Manila with some co-workers who were flying out of New York, I left a day early and flew into JFK and spent the night at a hotel in Jamaica, New York. I met up with my co-workers on the 15th at the airport and boarded a plane for Hong Kong. It was a very long flight and I didn’t sleep at all. Instead, I watched a couple of movies and listened to some podcasts and music. We jumped on another plane for a relatively short flight from Hong Kong to Manila and then checked into our hotel in Mandaluyong.
While in metro Manila, I divided my time between working and wandering the city. Surprisingly, it wasn’t difficult getting into a normal sleep schedule there. I’d take sleeping pills each evening and woke up feeling fine each morning. After arriving home, however, it took me a couple of weeks to get back into a normal sleep schedule. There was a large market near my hotel and there I bought some local food and trinkets to bring home to my family. Each morning I commuted to work with co-workers. It was interesting (and sometimes disheartening) watching people and vehicles during the drive each day. Occasionally we’d leave the main roads to avoid gridlock and travel through poor neighborhoods where I saw people using small fires to heat their food right along the roadside. It took me a couple days of watching our driver to figure out the rules of the road. Traffic was always congested, but apparently as long as your vehicle is just barely ahead of another, you can just signal and force your way into another lane and the driver in the other lane will allow you to merge. In the U.S. that would result in road rage, but in the Philippines they’re apparently much more laid back.
Once the week of training was over, my co-workers and I rode to the airport together and parted ways. They flew to New York and I boarded a different flight to Los Angeles. My plane out of Manila had some mechanical troubles but eventually we boarded, only to disboard later. Apparently the plane couldn’t be fixed easily and I was assigned another flight from Manila to Shanghai, but I missed my flight to L.A. That’s when things turned shitty. The airline ticket counters were closed when I arrived in Shanghai, and I couldn’t get my phone to connect to the internet or complete any international phone calls, so I couldn’t easily book a new flight. The airport information desk was less than helpful, saying that I’d have to wait until the next morning when the airline ticket counters opened to rebook. I resigned myself to sleeping in the airport ’cause I didn’t dare venture out to find a hotel. At one of the few remaining open stores I bought what I assumed was some beer and jerky for dinner–the writing was all in Chinese so I couldn’t be sure. As I was wandering around the airport looking for a place to eat and crash, a pair of very nice and helpful ladies (I’m not even sure who they worked for) approached me–they must have sensed that I was in need of help. They booked me on a flight to Seattle and then SLC early the next morning.
Finally I was feeling somewhat relieved, but I still couldn’t get any sleep in the airport. I found a spot to sit most of the night, occasionally getting restless and walking a few quick laps around the terminal. Eventually I boarded my flight and stayed awake the entire time, again watching movies and listening to podcasts and music. I landed in Seattle and had a relatively long layover but still couldn’t sleep. It was a short hop from there to SLC with a strong tailwind. It took some effort to stay awake during the two-hour drive home, and I drove as fast as I dared just to get the trip over with. I’d been awake about 54 hours by the time I eventually went to sleep in my own bed that night after a nice dinner and visit with my wife and kids.
Photo Gallery: Philippines