The flight from Chicago to Hong Kong was just over 15 hours. We then had an hour and 15 min to catch our connecting flight to Manila – on a different airlines in an airport we’d never visited. So, we were a bit stressed about making the connection, and the fact that our plane sat on the tarmac at O’Hare for like 45 min and therefore left over an hour late didn’t help. But we prayed, left it with God, and purposed to enjoy our flight.
We had started watching Les Miserables to unwind the night before leaving, so we pulled out the laptop fairly early in the flight to finish the movie. We only had one battery and there was no real way to charge it, so we wanted to use it sparingly. I had loaded SimCity 4 on it, and mounted the DVD to a virtual drive so no disc spinning was required (kills the battery at lightning speed) – and that’s travel tip #3, btw – and had loaded some AVI files of our favorite shows that I’d downloaded from the net. All just in case the movies stunk and I/we couldn’t sleep. BitTorrent is your friend.
Of course, Faith slept like a baby, but I don’t do the sleeping in vehicles thing. Accept the car, I guess, but even that’s rare – mostly after a big visit to a Chinese buffet. But I digress… Faith slept, excepting that she woke up for the AWESOME food they served on the flight. I was thinking it’d be okay, but it was actually really good. I always special-order the low fat stuff, and Faith of course was signed up for vegetarian. We both loved the food.
God provided my ability to be in United’s Economy Plus seating, which gives you 5 glorious essential fundamentally-necessary mandatory life-giving vital inches of legroom. Did I mention that I found this to be an important aspect of the trip? I think I feared getting Malaria less than being stuffed into the back seat middle between two guys my size on the flight overseas. Yup, pretty sure that’s true.
But God blessed us with great, spacious seats, so we had a wonderful trip over the north poll, and much of the Asian Pacific seaboard to Hong Kong. And to top it all off, although 3 of the movies weren’t great, they showed the Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. Awesome movie. It was just as spiritually moving for me this second time seeing it as it was the first. Maybe more. The children in the story were of course sad taht they had to leave Narnia and Aslan, and go back to England. But the story is real, and in our story, we leave England to be in Narnia with Aslan forever. Our time in England is like a mist on the fields, gone in an instant, and then Cair Paravel. And of course there’s the main theme of trusting God and looking to Aslan rather than relying on your own strength and wisdom (the message of Proverbs 3:5-6). Interestingly, that has become the theme of this trip for me, as I’ve had to pray about and leave with God countless details of this trip.
Okay, back to the flight…
I ultimately managed to sleep a little, but not much. I kept a sleep log on the trip, which I’m sure nobody but us will care about. But it was fun. I got 3.5 hours in on the plane. For Faith, it was 5.5. So, I guess I didn’t lag too far behind.
God provided for us in two distinct ways in Hong Kong. First, we picked up time in the air, and although we left over an hour late, we arrived on time in Hong Kong. Praise the Lord! Then, as we were deplaning, wondering where to go… We walked up the ramp from the plane into the terminal, and standing at the top of the ramp was a Chinese man holding a sign that said, “Philippine Airlines this way”. We told him we had a connecting flight, and he told us EXACTLY where to go. So, we got there without incident in record time. Thanks God!
We checked in, no problem. They didn’t even mention the “Jeff” vs “Jeffrey” thing (thanks God, again!). And we got to our gate with time to spare. The HK airport was smaller than we expected, and not very busy. I was expecting HUGE and teaming with people. But no. The signs were *very* confusing though, but thanks to God’s messenger who had told us exactly where to go, we were fine.
So, we boarded our two hour tiny hop from HK to Manila with no issues. Faith and I were separated by an aisle in the plane, but we each sat next to very friendly very interesting Philippino men. Mine was named Dante, who told me all about Manila and the country, and even offered to help me fill out my customs papers, and gave me his business card at the end of the trip. He was there with his large family, who was returning from Disneyland Hong Kong. Very cool.
Travel tip #4, tho: Many people from countries like the Philippines are interested in helping you because they think you’re a rich American and might give them money. Be careful from whom you accept help.
The food on the PAL flight was very interesting. Even though it was a short hop, they served dinner. It was still “low fat” for me and “vegetarian” for Faith, and still good, but very Philippine in nature. Mine was a really good fish, which Dante told me was “milk fish”. It was especially good because it was a de-boned fillet. I learned later that it typically has a billion tiny bones in it that you have to navigate, so keep *that* in mind if you decide to order the crazy new fish you had on the plane.
Okay, that’s it for the flight. There’s a whole nother story to tell about that night, but I’m out of computer time, so it’ll have to wait. Be back soon, God willing.