Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Way To San Jose

Do you know the way to San Jose?

Don’t sing the song, am just asking hehe! Yeah, I know, some of you may have sang reading that question! I know and I knew, but which San Jose are we talking about? There are 12 towns and cities in this country named San Jose haha!

Well, this time, I went to San Jose in/of Occidental Mindoro. How? Not that simple – because I was in Cebu.

So how nga? I booked a flight to Manila with an immediate connection to San Jose. Yup, circumstances did not allow me to even go home to faaaaarview for at least a short while. But this was quite an experience anyway!

Here’s the story…

While waiting at Cebu airport’s smoking lounge, I browsed the web for hotels or resorts that might be good to stay at in San Jose (airport code: SJI). Pictures, reviews, website and all, I settled for Sikatuna Beach Resort, so I called them up. The girl who answered told me they were full due to an in-house seminar. I realized oh gosh, it was a Friday!

She however told me they do have a hotel located at downtown area, also with air-conditioned rooms. Considering the things I wanted to do and the places I wanted to see, downtown was not quite ideal, but I asked questions just the same, and she candidly answered. Like theirs is definitely better than the downtown branch! I still said okay, I’ll settle for their ‘downtown hotel’ and she told me to just look for their free shuttle at the arrival area. Done.

The flight from Cebu to Manila was uneventful – except that there was somebody (I could not pinpoint where exactly) who was wearing a very strong smelling perfume. Must have been that old man seated behind me hehe. How strong? I overheard fellow passengers loudly comment about it, and about 6 or 7 of us sneezed along the way!

Anyway…

We arrived at NAIA Terminal 3’s Gate 134, and all had to do the very long walk towards arrival area. As if I didn’t know, I asked Cebu Pacific personnel as to where should I go next being a transit passenger, showing the boarding pass for my MNL-SJI connecting flight. Y’know, just hoping-expecting they have done something better, but no, they have not! So, as expected, I was instructed (in very vivid details) to go all the way to arrival lobby (by the public waiting areas), head left to the escalators going departure level, and walk my way all the way to whichever gate the display monitors indicated for my Manila to San Jose flight was departing from!

So I did. But even before I did so, I knew this was such a far and long walk. Not that I cannot walk that far, but what about passengers who can’t? This is capital  punishment!
Reaching the terminal 3 departure check-in level, where I had no business to transact since I was already holding my boarding pass, I should have proceeded to the terminal fee counters. But, since I was already there, I proceeded further up to that mezzanine area where the food stalls and convenience stores are located. Just to check things out.
Back down, I also had no business to do at the terminal fee counters, right? Yeah, because transit passengers don’t pay terminal fees. We just need to show the previous flight’s boarding pass, right? So onwards I walked to the final security check, then found out from the flight information screens that my flight to San Jose was departing from Gate 134. Imagine that, I walked for about 2kms again for nothing!

If it is any consolation, Gate 134 is near (across) the smoking room. Which would have meant my smoking stick after stick from the Cebu arrival until the San Jose departure if I was not asked to walk all the way out of the arrival area, climb up to departure area and walk back down to this place. Yeah yeah, happy are those who want me to quit smoking!

Waiting and boarding was also uneventful. But on the bus reaching our craft, I was a bit surprised. Why? Because we were delivered unto an airbus, when I know that flights to San Jose are on the ATR. I asked a stewardess why my flight was using a “big plane”, and she smilingly answered that they overbooked so there were too many people riding this flight, thus, the bigger plane. Asuuu! Sige na nga!

Funny that ALL right side windows had no passengers! Why? Because the check-in computers accepted passengers based on an ATR-72 aircraft layout where every row is just composed of seats AB and CD. This one had ABC then DEF! Hmm, my fellow passengers really followed their seat assignments. But on take-off, of course, everyone who wanted to, transferred to the window seats!

My observations above were highlighted by a group of 20 or more kids (Europeans?) who were giggly scrambling and shrieking why their seat numbers were like so! And I smiled looking at their adult companions (teachers?) who were having a hard time to fend those so many questions. They were pleading for the kids to just follow and stick to their seat numbers as written on their boarding passes. Cute commotion!

Row 14 was all vacant, except for 14A where I was seated, and this is a prime exit row in an A320 with wider legroom. That was just lucky for I said in Cebu that I’d like my seat for this MNL-SJI leg to be about 2 or 3 rows from the back (last row of an ATR is I think 18). Anyway, soon two of the European kids went to settle at 14E and F. I called out to them saying kids are not allowed to sit in this row during take-offs and landings.

They wondered about that so I asked them to come nearer so I can tell them about it. They were probably just about 8 and/or 9 years old. Girl seated at 14C and boy at 14D, they listened to me explain why kids are not allowed in an exit row. Hmm, eyes grew big! I liked the part where I demonstrated to them how to tug open then throw the window out. I think that portion of my ‘storytelling’ got me through their brains. They nodded furiously when I said this thing (knocking at the window) is heavy for you!

When stewardess came pinching their cheeks to tell them to return to their seats, they did so calmly, but I told them to come back to me after take off, when the fasten seatbelt sign is already off.

And indeed they came back! Argh! But it was fun telling them stories. I heard the girl holler at their chaperone saying “we’ll just talk to the pilot over here (pointing at me)”. I saw the adult look at me and I made a thumbs up sign to him! Then they came to sit at 14B and C immediately beside me. And of course, my stories continued!

I liked how they eyed that window (probably with burning desire to mangle it open) when I told them that there is a slide/raft inside it, just like all the doors. then I showed them illustrations on the ‘safety cards’. Both protested that the window was too small to contain a raft. Ah I had to summon my collection of “layman’s terms” for these hehe. But I think I got through!

Make the long story short, there came the sound and lights to fasten seatbelts as we were about to land. And the two little dears returned to their seats happy.

Gosh, I think I have described every detail about emergency procedures in an A320, those kids could/should probably be qualified as cabin attendants pronto! And, it was fun! Too bad I wasn’t able to ask, but though they spoke good English, I thought they’d be something like French or Soviet or therearounds. Probably even Portuguese!

Alright, flight arrived and there was no one at the tourism desk. The Sikatuna shuttle was not also around. I asked personnel and policemen in the area, they told me they have not seen that shuttle since before our flight arrived.
Oh well, I stayed around a little while to watch things and snap a few photos. Then I hailed a tricycle to Sikatuna Beach Resort. Wasn’t I told during my call that they were full? Well, I just wanted to see it anyway! The manong trike driver (I think) told me fare was just 10 pesos, I gave him 20 just the same (because he kindly entered the pathway to the hotel from main road).

At front desk, I asked if they had any vacant room. At first they said none, but suddenly another staff said Room 105 was already being cleaned. So they gave it to me but asked to wait for a while more for the cleaning to finish. I said okay, and told them I was the one who earlier called and txtd from Cebu. One lady said “eh sir, I thought sa downtown ka na lang?”, to which I retorted with “if you really had no available room, but since there is, why should I still go there”! And I told her their shuttle did not show up at arrival area. To which she said “because they did not expect any guests” to which I gamely replied with “ano ako, spectator?”. They laughed with me, but I did not anymore press the obvious – they don’t give much importance to their downtown hotel. Read the 5th paragraph above, she was the one who told me to look for their shuttle!

Okay, so I was in San Jose, checked-in at my chosen resort, now what?

Hang in there, let’s do that next!

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