I’m sitting at the restaurant at Ikea in Hong Kong after a long day of meeting suppliers. The meetings were great and I got a lot done. The real story behind the last 24 hours lies out 24 hours ago. It all started at the Manila airport immigration.
As I had stayed in the Philippines for more than 6 months, I needed a special police clearance certificate (1200 pesos) to leave the country. Without it, I could not leave. My extended visa expired last Monday, but as I knew I would be leaving for Hong Kong on Wednesday I decided the (500 pesos) was worth it. However, they also charged me for a 30 day extended visa (2800 pesos) as well as the 500. I had to part with 1200 + 500 + 2800 for a total of 4500 pesos. Opps…
So, rushing through security because the above exercise took well over an hour to complete, I got to my gate only to find out that the flight was delayed by an hour. Well, okay, I can relax.
The weather in Hong Kong was pretty miserable and as such, we had to circle the airport for another hour. There was a backup of other flights. So far, a 1 hour and 45 minute flight has taken almost 4 hours. We finally landed…yea! Nope…no available gates. So, let’s sit on the Tarmac for another 30 minutes.
So, skipping ahead. Its 130am when I finally get to my hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. I had a two day reservation that I booked online. The hotel had no reference, and would not allow me to stay even with my confirmation number and printed hotel confirmation page.
They wanted cash. Or my credit card to pay for the room. They told me to take it up with the website and my cc company. Definitely not cool. Being the cool headed guy I am, I threatened to do many unspeakable things in the lobby if this issue wasn’t handled now and to my satisfaction. After several manager and front desk cashier meetings, I got my room, but with no breakfast (I paid for it). I just wanted to sleep.
Jump ahead to checkout on Saturday morning, early morning. I got my bill from the cashier, they had listed 6 days of internet access and each day was almost $20 US.$120 for roughly 30 minutes of connect time! Emails…. Of course, I complained, loudly. After much discussion I had all but two removed. Wow…..
I’m continuing this post from my (believe it or not) airplane seat.
The taxi driver
The afternoon of my last meeting (Friday) was raining heavily. I got into a taxi at a taxi stand near the Sheung Wan MTR. I told the driver where I wanted to go. He complained a bit but drove off. After a few minutes, he pulled over to a random building and asked me to get out. I said NO…he said it was my destination. I said NO… the rain was very heavy at this point. The driver became angry. At this point, I didn’t trust this guy, so I got out without paying him and ran through the rain to the building entrance. I called my supplier and was picked up.
The Cebu pacific ticket agent and the return ticket
Apparently, I can’t enter the Philippines without a return ticket or a ticket to anywhere out of the country. After 25 or so years of traveling, this was my first time being rejected entry onto a plane. I had to step out of line, book a ticket online from Manila to Hong Kong and re-try my luck. I got on the flight and as soon as I landed, I cancelled my flight.
The girl on the plane with all the stuff
I know there are regulations world-wide concerning the amount of stuff you can carry on board and sit with. The young woman sitting beside me had two large bags full of stuff on her lap. In fact some of it was in my lap. I asked her several times to stow her things but she refused. I asked the Cebu Pacific flight attendants to help, but they just walked away. The plane was half full so there was plenty of space. After the plane took off I moved towards the back where there was no one. If I try to board the plane with 500 grams more than my limit, I get hassled endlessly. How this girl was allowed on board with so much stuff is beyond me.
After we landed and walked to Philippine immigration, my imagination was getting the best of me. What is going to happen next? How will I deal with the next issue? Anti-climatically, I sailed through immigration, customs and even got a cheap taxi home.
By the way, the business end of the trip went very well.
See you around…