What better way to start off a 12 day adventure than being up at 2:30 a.m. and at the airport at 4:00. Kris and Melissa were kind enough to come pick us up at 3:30 and we were at the Harrington's by 3:45. Working on roughly three hours of sleep was going to be fun. We got checked in with no problems other than Rob being flagged as usual. We thought we were going to have some problems with the luggage weight limit but they finally figured it out and let us go. Security was no problem and we were off the ground at 6:00 heading for LAX.
We landed in L.A. at 7:25 and had a mere five hours to kill before we took off again. We found a spot in the international airport to camp out and we sat. Chrisanna and I found a Starbucks all the way on the other side of the airport to get breakfast and a little pick me up and after that little trek we still had several hours to wait. So we did. We laughed, talked, the guys played hacky sack and football and thankfully didn't get us kicked out of the terminal and before we knew it is was time to check in for our flight. All checked in and still plenty of time to wait. Back up to our camping spot to do more of the same. Finally it was time to head to the gate. And there she sat. A 747. Double Decker and big as can be. I know it's done every day but can that thing really get off the ground? We'll soon see.
All aboard the Korean Air plane and time to get moving. The first thing I notice is the uniforms they are wearing. They are dressed very nicely but they have these bows they tie around their necks and they stick out a good six inches on each side. Don't those things get in the way? Guess not, but hey bother me. Things are all set to go and we taxi down eh runway for takeoff. My mom said she was in a 747 when they went to Hawaii and she said it was the smoothest flight she had ever had so even though I'm not a really nervous flier I have always said that I hate takeoff the most because most planes that crash do it right after takeoff so I was ready for it to be over with. We cruise down the runway and start to lift off and the plane starts to shudder. Not just a little shaking but a loud noise and constant shuddering for about 30 seconds. Seems like so little time unless you are close to crashing. I asked Rob if that was normal for a large plane. He said no. Great. I like to watch the flight attendants because I figure if we are going down they would know it. There were two just up and to the left of us and after maybe 10 seconds they gave each other a funny look. Hello. I can see you. This is why I hate taking off. Eventually it stopped and we were at the beginning of a very long 12 1/2 hour flight.
The great thing about oversees flights is you get a little TV with movies, games, and all sorts of other stuff to keep you busy. I also had an ipod filled with movies. Funny thing is when you have all that time to sit even all that stuff doesn't pass the time. I watched three movies, got caught up on Grey's Anatomy, we ate dinner and still there was more time left than I cared to think about. I tried to sleep with little success and just when I think I couldn't handle any longer there were still three hours left. I was not in a good mood when we landed in Korea.
We had a three hour layover in Seoul, Korea and there was nothing to do. Down by our gate their chairs didn't have armrests between each seat so it gave me the opportunity to stretch out and get some much needed sleep. Even if just for an hour or so it had me feeling so much better. Onto another plane for another four hour flight to Manila. Thankfully we were on another 747 and there was nobody on the flight so everyone got a whole row to themselves. Before I fell asleep I wanted to eat so when mealtime came around I got the Korean dish called Bibimbap. Big mistake. I had heard from a couple of the girls that it was "sooo good" so I thought I'd give it a whirl. Even thinking about it now makes me nauseous. It is different mixed veggies like mushrooms, spinach, two kinds of sprouts, some sort of meat substance, and other vegetables I couldn't identify and you mix it with white rice, hot chili paste, and sesame oil and eat. The thing was I couldn't get past the smell of the oil or the look of the vegetables. As a bonus it came with a side of seaweed soup, which tasted like I was licking a pier. Calling the entire meal nasty is an understatement. Horrible. Awful. And since the plane ride was bumpy, and I was tired and now nauseous all I wanted to do was go to sleep. Thankfully I did and slept for the rest of the flight.
We landed in Manila at 10:55 p.m after having traveled for roughly 29 hours. I was exhausted and more than ready to have a bed to sleep in. We made it through customs with no worries although I was wondering what we were getting into when at the bottom of the customs form it read in bright red letters "Warning: Death to drug traffickers under Philippine law". Better hide my Tylenol. We had to wait what seemed like forever for the bus to finally come around to pick us up. There were hundreds of people waiting to be picked up, it was extremely hot and there were cockroaches running around. Finally it came, we loaded up and made our way to the hotel. Even at almost midnight there were cars everywhere. I don't know how long it took us to get to the hotel but we finally pulled up and I was so happy. It was about 1 a.m. and I was done. We got our room and immediately unpacked for our long stay. All of the girls were in one suite so it was Chrisanna, Alisha, Carolyn, Kathryn, Alicia, Katrina and I. We were in bed around 2 a.m. and I was not looking forward to our 7:00 wake up call.
It came way too early. Although I was still not working on enough sleep to keep me happy I did surprisingly well. I think because there was so much to do and see it was easy to not dwell on being tired. We went to both the early and late services which was a little redundant but still so cool to see all the Community Baptist Church is doing.
Before services started they came around and gave us all a flower lei. Nothing like pointing out the white visitors. Church services were good although I only understood about half of it. Filipinos speak Tagalog which is part Spanish and part something else. I could catch some of the Spanish and every so often the pastor would say something in English but only half of a sentence or a small phrase then finish in Tagalog. They sang all of their songs and read all of the Bible verses in English though. I never quite figured it out. At the end of the service they called us all onstage and introduced us then gave us a gift of Coco Jam. The ingredients are coconut milk and sugar so although I haven't tried it yet it sounds pretty good.
After church we went to the very authentic Filipino restaurant Shakeys Pizza.
They had already ordered for us so we received the 'buffet on a plate' lunch that included spaghetti, garlic bread, a small piece of Hawaiian pizza, a piece of fried chicken and two potato wedges. We learned from the first day that portion sizes overseas are far from being the size our are here. We were all looking to others plates hoping to grab another morsel of food only to realize that everyone else was looking too. After lunch we had a small orientation with Greg.
They gave us welcome packets that included a map of the city, hand sanitizer, Kleenex(99% of places don't supply toilet paper) some cultural tips, all the phone numbers we would need while there, a small journal with pen and some ministry info. Some things we learned are:
-do not drink the water!!!
-'LBM' or loose bowel movement. Something you get from drinking the water or eating at any unapproved places. That phrase was used quite often on our trip.
-there are lots of thieves so keep watch of your things.
-there are lots of thieves so keep watch of your things.
-raised eyebrows mean hi. that took some getting used to. it's hard to walk by a man and have him raise his eyebrows at you.
-you can pick your nose in public but picking your teeth is offensive.
-be prepared to lose all personal space
After lunch we had just a couple of hours before we went to church that night. Chrisanna hadn't changed her watch so we walked to the mall thinking we had several hours when in actuality we had just over an hour. We exchanged money then had to race walk back to the hotel. We went to Daniel and Lot Lot's church which is a church plant out of the Lyon's church. We arrived early and were split up into groups to go and hand out fliers and invite people to come see our drama. This was the first time we were out in the neighborhoods. It was definitely a sight. Their houses are just shacks built out of anything they can find. And kids are everywhere. Everywhere. There is a staggering statistic that says there are 16 million people in Metro Manila and something like 75 or 80% are under 25 years old. There were about 150 people there, mostly children and young adults.
We did our drama and it went pretty well until the end when nobody had told them to fade the music. The song is only about half over when the drama is done so we laid there...and laid there...and laid there. Probably for a good minute to a minute and a half. I started laughing and Chrisanna said it made her laugh because she could see my shoulders shaking. What else was I going to do. We looked like dopes laying on the floor not moving. The music finally stopped and we were able to get up. The message that night was almost completely in Tagalog so I didn't catch much of it. Plus I was tired. It had been a long day preceded by a long couple of days.
We cleaned up and it was dinner time. KFC. Not so finger lickin good. I didn't really pay attention when I ordered so when I thought I was getting chicken strips and mashed potatoes it turned out to be chicken strips and white rice. The chicken strips were all dark meat(sick) and the rice was, well, plain white rice. There's not much you can do with it. We had a casual dinner, got to talk with Greg a little and before long bed was calling my name. The end had come to our first days in Manila and so far they have been great.