Saturday, October 09, 2004

Business Travelogue Part I: The Departure and the Flight


My suitcase is heavy… heavy enough for a 156 cm. woman let alone drag it all over the airport. Thank God for trolleys! Still it is a pain to load the massive thing into it.

Here’s the dilemma, I over packed. So now I have to make sure I can get away with this. Knowing KLM, I must find a way! The airline is very notorious in sticking to the 20 kilos limit, no ifs and buts. Hmm, my colleague (let’s call him McDee) traveling with me, he’s male and fortunately we all know that most men travel light. They have this habit of picking and packing only the necessities in life. I was right.

So I called him, “Vraagje, hoeveel kilos heb jij?” (Question, how many kilos do you have?)

Misschien onder de 12 kilos” (Maybe less than 12 kilos) he replied.
Zullen wij de check-in samen doen?” (Shall we check in together?), I said, with a big grin all over my face.
I actually arrived in the airport earlier than McDee because I planned to buy some souvenirs for my customers. I have 30 minutes before I meet him right across the KLM check-in counters.

15 minutes is up and I still couldn’t find what I want for the souvenirs. 25 minutes and counting, then my mobile phone rang. It’s McDee announcing his arrival, - shit. I have to hurry up, so I ended up buying those popular white and blue Delft ceramics and tin can boxes in different variety and designs, all filled with Dutch candies and goodies in it. I think this will suffice.

McDee was grinning when he saw me. I grinned back upon seeing his somewhat light and small suitcase. We proceeded to the KLM check-in counter and voila, our total baggage weight was almost 40 kilos. My suitcase was 28+ kilos alone! The check-in clerk told us with a big approving smile, “Precies gepast.” (Very precise.)


The company is going through the cost cutting program so we had to take economy class. Yeah right, so much for dreaming of business class, LOL.

From Amsterdam we flew direct to Kuala Lumpur (about 12+ hours) and had a stop-over for an hour. From Kuala Lumpur it will take another 3 hours to Manila.

The whole flight was not so eventful. I was stuck with McDee and his incessant questions about what to and what not to expect in and about the Philippines, the Filipinos, the culture, the food, etcetera and etcetera. It has brought me to near hysteria. What am I? A travel agent or a tour guide? You know the drill with curious foreigners, they can get irksome after some time with all the questions. Worse, he has a problem with long haul flights as he cannot sleep. I saw the agitated look in his eyes when he took out the sleeping pills he brought to show me the proof. Darn, I am not going to mommy him to sleep so I must devise a plan.

Dinner was served (I am not fond of airline food by the way) and we both had those tiny bottles of wine. I told McDee that the best way he can sleep is to get drunk (bad advice actually lol). Heck I don’t want him bothering me the whole flight so might as well convince him to get drunk!!! Myself, I don’t mind getting drunk at least this will make me sleep like a baby. He succumbed to my advice and called the flight attendant for a 2nd serving of wine, 2 tiny bottles for us... then another round, the 3rd serving came. In just a matter of minutes I was fading away, far away from the conscious world. McDee on the other hand took his sleeping pills. That’s the last thing I saw before I drifted to lala land.

I was awakened by the smell of food from the kitchen cabin, it must have been time for breakfast. I had no idea how many hours I slept, perhaps more than 6 hours. Looking to my right side, the 1.85cm. McDee curling in his seat is still in la-la land's dreaming state, so the wine and sleeping pills worked. Hmm, he better be thankful to me. On the other hand, I can see why flying economy for tall people is a torture. On my left side is this Asian girl who never spoke a word to me nor even smiled. Maybe she’s Malaysian because when she spoke English to the flight attendant, her accent was un-Filipino.

McDee stirred in his seat. He is awake so I said “Heb jij goed geslapen?” (Did you have a good sleep?).

Ja vreemd, dit is de eerste keer die ik in een lange vlucht heb geslapen!” (Yes strange, this is the first time that I slept in a long flight!).

Indeed strange as he recounted to me that he flew 2x to Asia for holiday in the past and stayed awake the whole time even though he took sleeping pills. Haha, I guess the wine did work.

The airport was very modern and clean, and if you ever dare to compare our junk NAIA or even our supposedly new flashy Centennial Airport, then I bet you will hide behind the counters.

To start, they have this colossal nature glasshouse in the heart of the airport's vestibule. What’s also impressive is the Metro going inside the airport, and I mean really inside the airport. In the Netherlands, Schiphol airport has the trains connected underground, but with Malaysia, you get off from this groovy Metro train into the departing lounge.

The whole airport though was full of hooded women, reminding me that Malaysia is a Muslim country.

Anyhow I had a smoke while McDee was calling his girlfriend.

LAST MINUTES before Touchdown
We were back in the plane, 3 more hours and it’s HOME.

When the pilot announced that we will be approaching our final flight descend, and I could feel the plane going down languidly and I swear, I have these outlandish tight knots in my belly. Man, it’s been dang 2 years! I tried fighting back the anxious feeling but McDee noticed it.

Ben jij zenuwachtig?" (Are you anxious?), he teased me.

Nee...” (No) I replied.

He laughed teasing me again, “Ik zie het J...” (I see it J...).

Damn, maybe I should throw him over board(?), but then again that didn’t bother me much. I got so fixated with the bedlam of throbbing mix emotions in me, like bizarre butterflies flying in different directions inside my stomach. Can anyone actually relate? I guess I have missed the Philippines so much, so much that the anticipation for this 10 day (business) trip is over powering me...

Bump. KLM just landed.
(to be continued...)

1 comment:

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