Monday May 30, 2016
Roll Call for Clark AFB, the Philippines is 8:40am. It's recommended you arrive at the terminal 2 hours early to make sure you're on the list with everything in order. The caveat of leaving Okinawa is that once manifested on the plane one will have to go to immigration to be released from the country. This is about a 30 to 40 minute taxi ride if there is no traffic, so there is some anxiety attached to the process. There is no guarantee the plane will wait for you if you’re held up in traffic. We decide we need to wake up at 5:00am to leave by 6:15am, so we woke up at 4:00am. Who needs an alarm?
Arriving at the terminal it appears we will definitely get on the plane, a C-130. Tom asked the Customs Officer how we are to manage the release from immigration. They agree to give us a boarding slip allowing us go to immigration before Roll Call. We grab the opportunity making it in record time, only spending about $30 on the cab as opposed to the $40 to $60 we’ve heard from others. While the other people on the plane were off scrambling to get their immigration status updated we were able take the time to book a room in the Red Planet Hotel in Angles City, Philippines and catch up on a little of that sleep we missed earlier in the morning.
*Aside* the C-130 is a true military transport plane. This is the plane you see in the movies with the paratroopers jumping out the side. Tom showed me the line they stretch to clip on for paratroop jumping. Seating on this plane consists of what is affectionately referred to as the “red seats”: open webbing suspended from a bar at the top, attached to a bar at the bottom. Tom also explained the seats can be stripped out and litters put in for Medevac or Medical Evacuations. It’s a very versatile plane, not really fast but not nearly as freezing cold as the C-5s we previously rode on.
We arrive in the Philippines after a 3-hour flight at around 4:00 pm. We need to process through immigration into the Philippines, but needed to go through a different line inasmuch as we came in on a military flight. We were concerned as visas are usually given out for 30-day spans, but are renewable. Because we entered on the 30th of May, a 30-day visa would run out while we are in Puerto Galera with ScubaBoard at the Atlantis resort. Having no idea how to renew a visa in Puerto Galera, Tom talked to the immigration officer about it. Mr. Ayrund, the immigration officer, asked us how long we would like to stay?
We said, “What? Well, 45 days?”
He said, “I’ll tell you what, I’ll give you a visa that will last till this passport runs out, how would that be?” Well that would be flippin’ awesome!
*Aside* Don’t tell my kids but I can now stay in the Philippines until December 22, 2020. They were hoping I would be home long before then.
One of the people we traveled with negotiated for a van to take us to the hotel. We have a lovely room the size of a postage stamp. It’s very clean with an awesome shower but the room is only about 10ft x 10ft. There is no dresser, no place but on the bed to open a suitcase, a tiny hanging bar, and no space to stash anything under the bed, but there is a safe and the air conditioning works well.
We wanted some dinner but needed some pesos. The ATM didn’t like our card so we had to go to another ATM. We took our first ride in a motorized tricycle.
*Aside* I’m pretty sure that if you asked they would tell you they put that little cloth in front of the passenger to protect them from the dust and dirt, but I’m sure it’s so you won’t realize how close you are to the other vehicles on the road and how small you are in comparison. I suddenly realized that we were almost exactly level with the exhaust from every other vehicle not to mention the exhaust fumes that arose from the very means of transportation we were employing.
We were able to pull some pesos from the ATM and make our way back to our hotel without dying. We walked down the street for a dinner of fish and chips for Tom - it tasted like fresh fish and the fries actually tasted like potatoes used to taste - and “Healthy Cabbage” for Rebecca. Tom said after that meal Rebecca could sleep in the shower. Tomorrow we explore!