Kind Words Costs Little But Worth Much

Have you ever spent the night at the airport involuntarily?  I had my Amazing Race moment except that I didn’t have a partner to share this horrible moment with me.  I don’t rant a lot, at least not about my travels because I believe that every experience (pleasant or not) is an experience to tell and learn from.  Even our mishap in Uganda was such a disaster but we chose to take it as it is.   I have eventually learned to laugh about this new mishap but not without a rant.

Barely an hour before my flight, my childhood friend M finally picked me up at my best friend’s house in San Carlos.  We were to embark on an extended weekend of fun with some high school buddies in NYC.  I made it through check-in, at least my baggage did.  I, on the other hand, was on stand-by.  It turned out, Delta overbooked the flight by 8 passengers, 6 volunteered to give up their seats, leaving 4 passengers fighting for the 2 available seats.  Since I was practically the last one in, I and another guy was the first one out.  Unbelievable!  I was dumbfounded as I hardly get bumped off.  I really wanted to raise hell but to whom?  My friend whom I hitched a ride with?  (We weren’t on the same flight as she was using her mileage, which was horrifically expensive).  Or perhaps to the Delta ground staff for overbooking?   It really wasn’t their fault… ok, it was partly M‘s fault but she more than made up for it in the end.   🙂  Anyway, Delta offered me a $400 voucher, which I have no use for because, “I don’t come to the US very often”, I told them.  I could give it to friends, they suggested.  I wanted a room but “all their affiliated hotels were booked due to a convention that week”, so they say.

I was really tired so I conceded and accepted the voucher.  I bared and grinned because at the end of the day, it was all my choice.  I took the red-eye flight because I wanted to arrive in the morning so I can make the most of my days in NYC.  I took Delta because it was the cheapest that I could find.  M was able to fly despite the lateness, was it because her ticket was 3x higher than mine?  As I always believe, you get what you pay for… and did I pay!!   😦

I wandered around the airport until everything started to close.  A nice Delta staff was kind enough to offer me blankets, at least.  It was getting cold as the passengers get on their respective flights.  Soon after, I was alone except for the security staff and the cleaners.  With the uncomfortable bucket seats, the noisy vacuum cleaner and crew talking sometimes even shouting at each other, sleep was a struggle.  It was the longest 5 hours I ever had.  But I wasn’t ranting (yet).

When morning (finally) came, the guy who also got bumped off told me his story after I left the counter.  They couldn’t print his voucher and a supervisor stepped in, it turned out that those who were involuntarily denied a flight had two options — cash or voucher.  Because they couldn’t print his voucher, they gave him CASH!  He told me to give it a try so I waited, and waited, and waited for a supervisor to appear and when he finally did, I asked him about it and he smugly looked at me and had the gall to suggest that I volunteered and didn’t have the right to ask for cash.  Can you believe that old guy?  I was (again) dumbfounded.  I told him that I definitely did not volunteer to give up my seat so I can spend the night at the airport, he looked at me (smugly still) and said that he couldn’t possibly give me what I wanted and I when I asked him why, he replied condescendingly, “because I do not carry that much cash with me”.  I was just too disgusted with this rude old guy and lest I miss my flight again, I felt it was pointless to argue this out.   He told me to try again in Detroit.  A sorry would have been more appropriate, I believe.  That’s customer service for you.

So dear readers, if you were involuntarily denied a seat, for some reason – ASK FOR OPTIONS –some airlines may have cash options.  If the ground staff can’t give you an answer, ask to speak to a supervisor.  Most of the time, the ground staff are not informed of these options too, as I learned.  Or better yet, avoid taking Delta if you can — their staff are downright rude.

But all is not lost, my best friend may be taking a trip somewhere in the US soon courtesy of my $400 voucher.  NYC was incredible (more than a few posts is definitely coming up sometime in the future).  And my pantry is stuffed with these loots from San Francisco.

Glorious Figs!!

All my favorite things…

All’s well that ends well but as the saying goes… Acts of kindness may soon be forgotten, but the memory of an offense remains.

 

Advertisements

Reminiscing Batanes

mwtsquare

The first time I became aware of this group of islands called Batanes was when I saw this Filipino film –  “Hihintayin Kita sa Langit” which catapulted to stardom two established actors in my side of the world (and it just dated me too). Since then I became obsessed in stepping foot on this islands of the Ivatans.  In 1997, that obsession came to fruition.  It was my first taste of rugged travels.  I feel privileged to have witnessed the Batanes of before… before its commercialization to a certain degree, that is.  At that time, there was only one jeep going around the island of Batan.  So we walked almost everywhere, even climbed an idjang – a pre-hispanic mountain fortress where the locals sought refuge during tribal conflicts. There were only a few places to lodge; we stayed at Mama Lily’s.  It was clean and comfortable albeit spartan.  And because there were hardly any restaurants then, we’d have home cooked meals courtesy of our host.  Fortunately, she cooks and cooks well.

Getting to Sabtang is an adventure of its own.  The only way to get there is by boat or what they call falowa.  If the sea gets a bit rough, expect your inside to turn topsy turvy as well.  Expect to take the trip with chickens, goats and sometimes a cow… yes a cow!  We’d hike the whole island, spending the night camping in a school gym at Sumnanga; halfway around the island, then we’d walk back the next day to catch the falowa back to the main island, Batan.  Those were the days.

batanes-circa-97Credit: Paper – Joyful Hear Designs Plain Jane – Olive; Alpha – PDuncan Carnival Alpha; Element – Hoyfyl Heart Designs – Plain Jane Tape

Nine years after my first Batanes encounter, I found myself back in 2006. There were evident changes – vehicles, more than one and more than one kind were now all over the island.  There were a lot more lodges and inns, some restaurants, even a pizza place but despite all this, it is still the Batanes I reveled in almost a decade ago.  Mama Lily has long migrated to the US and when I passed her house, fond memories (of her food actually) came flashing by.

batanes1Credits:  Alpha – Asman; Papers – KPertiet Cotton Easter – red; KPertiet King Me Paper; KPertiet Graph Note Paper; Overlay – KPertiet Graphic Sun Prints OV; Tag – KPertiet Stick Pon2 Red Tag; Template – JSprage 4 square template; Frame- JSprague Grunge Frame 1

Sabtang, my favorite island of Batanes, has not progressed as much as Basco has.  The only way there is still by falowa (and still taking on both humans and animals).  Sabtang still leaves me breathless.  It makes you feel like you’re in another world.  Although you can now arrange for a vehicle to take you around the island, walking is still the main means especially among the locals.  Truth to tell, you get see more of the island by foot so if you can, take the vehicle up to a certain point (probably Chavayan) and hike the rest of the island.  Still no inns and only a few stores that offer food in the island, our contact in Basco, had someone cook dinner for us.  The food was great but we were so stirred by their warm reception.  Their pride was so evident as they talk about their island and simple cuisine (which consisted of a lot of root crops, turmeric and seafood, particularly lobster, crabs et al). Camping days are likewise over, the School of fisheries in Centro has dormitory rooms, albeit few and basic, indoors nevertheless.  I heard that there now exists a Sabtang Lodge, which I have yet to verify and see for myself.

chavayan_0828

It is now possible to fly to Itbayat when the only way to get there before was by falowa – four hours of rough sea.  Sheer torture, I’m sure.  Itbayat, the farthest northern inhabited island, can be considered the Philippine’s last frontier.  Its rocky island is a great place for trekking.  We barely scratched the surface as we only did an overnight.  We visited a cave that led to a rocky hilltop overlooking the sea.  It was awesome and quite different from islands of Batan and Sabtang.  This needed going back to and we decided that this year would be a good time to go… well we tried.

itbayat-islandCredits: Paper – DJE PP3, Joyful Heart Designs Plain Jane-Seafoam, Scarlet Heels Media Carnival PP1; Frames – JSprague Flurish Frame, KPertiet Snap Frames; Element – Jack n Me Alpha blank

Needless to say, plans didn’t pull through. Why? You ask.  First, we found out that the airport where the planes takes off to Itbayat is currently under construction and there is still no solid plan as to its resumption.  And to my dismay, but to my friend, S‘s delight… you see, she had to back out of this trip because of this thing called work.  But I digress.  So to my dismay, when some (I wasn’t about to cancel) went to cancel their flights with Zest Air (formerly Asian Spirit), they found out that flights in February were still up in the air (no pun intended).  They revealed that their entire January flights were canceled due to aircraft shortage.  Unbelievable!  We didn’t have a sure flight to Batanes after all?  And we weren’t informed about it until someone went to cancel?  By that time SeaAir (the other Airline that flies to Batanes) was fully booked.  Hmmph!!  But it’s only February, you may wonder.  Well, we could if we really want to push it and go in March or April but I just love it there during the cool, breezy months.  It’s really the best time to go.  After summer comes typhoon, and you don’t want to be there at that time, believe you me! So perhaps next year and perhaps not with Zest Air.   😉

And that’s “the not so sad” tale of my recent Batanes trip that never was.   😕

This has been my entry to That’s My World Tuesday.  Go visit to see more.