Thursday, 26 April 2012

Ireland 2012, Part 2: The Flight

In all my travels I had never before encountered an itinerary such as this:

But yes, that is the itinerary that my husband and I got when we booked our flight to Dublin.

I'll be honest and say that it made me quite uncomfortable and a little tense to have so many changes, especially on the way to Dublin which is definitely the more important leg of the journey.

I'll confess only now, when there is no chance that my best friend might read this and have a heart attack from it, that we actually could have missed our Manila-Singapore flight. Why? I was stupid enough to not check immediately if the SQ flight number meant that we were supposed to check in with Singapore Airlines and not KLM.

Primitive flight boards aside, it was only through obsessive watching of the flight updates that we noticed a Manila-Singapore flight leaving at the precise time we were supposed to coded SQ 921 was already open for check in.

I shudder to think what could have happened if we missed that flight that would take us to our actual airline.

Although we had not known to check in with Singapore Airlines, I am quite happy to report that we did check in with them right on schedule. Typical us, my mum and I decided to drive to the airport extra early in anticipation of slow moving traffic and while it gave us an extra long wait, it was a wait conducted in what meager comfort NAIA 1 could provide and in the security of knowing we were on-site and ahead of schedule.

Admittedly, it is good to have insider connections and usually I appreciate it the most when travelling abroad as my mum was able to accompany us to the point just past the immigration counters. Far better-traveled than I am, she was a source of better judgment and was able to help us navigate through the more confusing stages of departure.

For any foreigners reading this, I will tell you now that departing from this particular terminal is no easy task. I've said it before, how much I love being Filipino and love my life in this country but oh my goodness gracious the crowds at NAIA Terminal 1, the lack of proper air conditioning, the "mood lighting" (really, incandescent lights all the from the height of the third level?), and the lack of properly marked lines for each check-in counter are all components of travel nightmare.

Sure, if you're used to travelling all over the world and have encountered different types of airports, you'd probably have no complaints. Or very few of them. I, on the other hand, claim our own airport as the worst airport I've been at. Which is terribly sad because looking around the place, I can somewhat figure out what little tweaks can be done at fairly low cost to make it feel just a little more comfortable beginning the time you're queuing for check-in.

Being about two hours (I think) away from boarding and already past immigration, my mum told us to go on in, find our gate, and then just wait for the boarding call.

This time around, and I attribute this to the fact I was with my husband, the farewell to my mother wasn't so gutting as in two previous trips abroad. I'd actually told her once, when I was fifteen, that I don't ever want her to bring me past immigration again. I was flying to France at the time with a stop over at Hong Kong and that short leg alone nearly brought me to tears. I felt so homesick already and I hadn't even reached my destination yet! She gave each of us a hug and we walked off to our separate ways with my husband and I first seeking a place to get some drinks and snacks from.

Hello, Bo's Coffee.

Again, a confession: I am not a fan of Bo's Coffee and it has nothing to do with the bad juju I've come to associate with it. But that day, seeing the tray of cookies in their display and feeling the need to eat something sweet, I succumbed.

Much to my amusement, this was what I received upon requesting a bottle of water. It was a source of amusement for me, truly. It actually makes me sad that I had to throw it away. I could have asked if I could take it on board with me, but that's done and I have pictures anyway. ^_~

Not shown in the photo, and it was likely from the excitement of even seeing the candy bar, is the slab of Hershey's Symphony bar--something I'd been looking/craving for. It has been off the shelves in most of my regular grocery haunts for some months now (that I noticed) so I was absolutely delighted when my husband returned from his walkabout and handed me that precious 1/2 pound creamy chocolate treat.

Third confession this entry: I broke off small pieces of that candy bar throughout our first week in Ireland. I wanted the treat to last as long as I could make it. ^.^

After making our purchases (and consuming them, we made our way down to the gates. Remember that cookie? I regretted it slightly then because right beside our departure gate was a small Kopi Roti.


We were sat in the middle column of seats for this first leg so neither of us got a good view of the city at night as the plane took off. We did, however, take this photo of us as soon as we were settled and done inspecting what games and movies were available for our flight:

My husband is an expert at taking photos of us, hahaha.

Our flight left Manila 30 minutes late for reasons I've forgotten. (Husband reading over my shoulder has reminded me that it was late because of the heavy traffic on the runways. Loads of flights taking off.) Thankfully, we had a two-hour wait between our MNL-SIN and our SIN-AMS flights. Of course, this did not stop us from walking very briskly from our arrival gate, to the transfer train, and finally the transfer desk that would check us into our second flight.

Have I mentioned how creepy it is to enter an airport that's virtually devoid of human life? No, really, Changi's reputation being what it is--you are beautiful, Changi, but I cannot completely forget about your rumoured "night life"--it was quite unnerving to arrive to near complete silence and see only those who had disembarked with us. It was, however, interesting to see how many flights arrived at about the same time ours did (10:30 to 11:30 at night) and most of us seemed to be heading for connecting flights to other locations.

The transfer desk checked us into both our succeeding flights and with the gate right next to the counter, it was a quick walk to our designated area. I even managed to sneak a little bit of time online! =P

This being his first time out of the country, I grudgingly gave James the window seat on all our flights. I swapped seats with him later on though because the passenger on my left was making me uncomfortable with his constant invasion of my personal space, limited as it is on airplanes. I did manage to document him in his original seat though as you can see to the right. He was just pretending though. He doesn't really sleep with his mouth hanging open.

I don't recall the quality of the food when last I was in the air but I do slightly regret not having taken food photos in our Singapore Airlines flight. I did remember to do it for our SIN-AMS flight and really, they look more appetizing and taste far, far better than I remember airplane food being.

My husband is one very lucky duck.

The display above is actually our second dinner. This is funny because neither of us thought anything of it when we were presented with food soon after our take-off from Singapore. There is only one word for this: Hobbit.

As mentioned before, I swapped seats with my husband somewhere in the middle of flying over Ukraine. It is most unfortunate that my camera, Marie-Thérèse, is not sensitive enough to catch the distant lights of the cities we flew over. But what I am definitely happy about is that I was able to monitor the changing colours of the sky as daylight slowly caught up with us.

This, I think, is one of my absolute favourite things about flying these distances. Leaving total darkness behind and watching as the horizon shows itself slowly, removing it mask hiding the myriad of colours underneath.

Of course I nudged James awake. There was absolutely no way I would allow him to miss one of the best things about flying.

He went back to sleep soon after, leaving me to entertain myself, something quite easy now that even economy class seats have personal screens.

It didn't take very long for the horizon to completely shed its nighttime garb and soon I was snapping photos of daylight dancing across the thick blanket of clouds. And it was with a mixture of excitement and minor horror that I observed the frost on the windows.

You know it's time for breakfast when the cabin lights go on and as with the arrival of daylight, it didn't take too long either for breakfast to be served. I took mine with a dose of The Adventures of Tin Tin.

It is a most welcome treat to watch daylight progress as it is now a rare thing for me to be awake early enough to see the sun rise and I just barely paid attention to the movie as I looked out the window and waited for the sun to come out, being rather unsure where precisely I ought to be looking.

Unfortunately, the sun rose behind us (our row or our plane, it's really just one or the other) but I did get a bit of a gorgeous shot of it as it bounced light off the clouds covering the ground below.

I don't think I take as many photos of the sky and clouds as when I'm in the air. Makes me glad for the advent of digital photography since the immediate viewing of my efforts' results allows me to instantly take second, third, even fourth or fifth shots should I realise that my original shot did not quite capture what I wanted the way I intended for it to be caught.

And just because we have it, have another goofy shot of myself and my husband:

If I have not mentioned before that my husband's name is James Lester, allow me to clarify
now that I do alternately call him by both names, usually depending on present company.

By this point we were a mere two hours plus away from Amsterdam, with another two hours something to Dublin. As we began our descent into Amsterdam, I naturally began snapping further photos of the view from the window.


The wait for our AMS-DUB flight was a quick one. Unfortunately, this is the only photo I have of that leg

because for some reason, I kept falling asleep during the short flight to our destination.

Next up: a quick review of the things we did upon arrival!

P.S. As always, more photos will be shared via my album pages. :) You may also check out my TwitPic, Pinterest, and Flickr accounts on which I sometimes upload various selections and versions of my photos. For now the updates for those photo pages will be slow in coming as I have over a thousand to pick through but I promise they will be shared. :D

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