I accomplished all I’d hoped my first weekend in the Philippines. I ventured to the cratered World War II battlefield of Corregidor Island. I hired an outrigger boat to the active volcano emerging from Taal Lake to hike to the bubbling, sulfurous cauldron within. I hitched rides in jeepneys – flamboyantly painted World War II jeeps fit for a mariachi band – and exhaust belching habal-habals – small motorbikes with sidecars haphazardly affixed to them. To the dismay of all present, I sang karaoke to a bar full of strangers. The copious San Miguel beers enjoyed on ice, as the locals do, were outnumbered only by the offers of prostitution I repeatedly declined. My most memorable experience, however, was my journey to the airport to catch my flight home.
After several hours in Malate attempting to personally deplete a 24-hour beer tent’s supply of San Miguel Red Horse, I hailed a taxi and requested the international terminal. I should have known I needed to be more specific than that. I was dropped off at Terminal 1, one of many international terminals at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Upon arriving, I was told that the correct terminal, Terminal 4, was seven kilometers away with no shuttle service. I had to take another taxi. The next driver dutifully informed me that I was in an airport taxi. In my boozy haze this sounded about right – I was, after all, transferring between terminals. It wasn’t long though before I noticed the meter charging roughly ten times the rate of my previous taxi. I also became acutely aware that we were travelling through a dark and desolate neighborhood with no sign of an airport terminal anywhere nearby. Upon asking about the exorbitant rate the driver responded, “I’m a yellow airport taxi, the other taxis are orange.”
I was upset. I demanded the driver pull over so I could flag a different taxi. He obliged, stopping on the shoulder of a traffic-free, unlit, menacing looking road. He inquired where I expected to find another taxi in such a neighborhood. I had no idea, but my priority still was to get the hell out and try. It was then that I realized both rear doors were locked with no means for me to unlock them. I panicked. Brandishing my beer muscles, I began to berate the driver, insisting that he leave me on this deserted street to fend for myself. I was furious, desperate, and pretty drunk. Unexpectedly, he began driving again and we eventually arrived at Terminal 4. I paid him all my remaining Philippine Pesos, several hundred less than what the meter demanded, and hurried into the terminal, relieved that my terminal transfer from hell was over.
I was flabbergasted. I tried to blame Air Asia, but to no avail. They politely indicated on my e-ticket where it specified that all their flights, with one lone exception, departed from Terminal 4. My flight, departing from Terminal 3, was that lone exception. I had no choice but to return to the mean streets of Manila and catch yet another taxi, preferably an orange one this go-around. I recounted my ordeal to my third driver, a ball cap-wearing Filipino of about 60. He was very jovial about the entire mess and set me at ease: “Har, har, har, only in the Philippines, 5 terminals all over town. Har, har, har, only in the Philippines.” Upon finally arriving at the correct terminal, lacking pesos, I paid him with the American money I stashed for such an unforeseen occasion as this. I handed over my lowest denomination ‒ a twenty ‒ well above the modest orange taxi fare. The non-existent change was of no concern; after all of this drunken foolery, I was going to catch my flight home.
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://10mag.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/Jonathan-Burrelo-a.jpg[/author_image] [author_info]Jonathan Burrello is a cartoonist and comedian living in Korea. Follow his descent into madness in real time @biginsanehappy and explore more of his work at biginsanehappy.com.[/author_info] [/author]