15 September, 2017

Adventures in Manila Part 2

Yesterday I spent all day getting from the OMF guesthome in Manila to my home. You would think with only a 4 ½ hour flight between Tokyo and Manila it would take less than 15 hours to make the journey, but neither the guesthome nor my house are close to the airport (in terms of travel time), plus in air travel there is a lot of waiting around. Travelling on your own can get boring! So to fill in time, I pulled out my computer a couple of times and wrote this:

I’m sitting in the boarding area at Manila airport. It’s a noisy place. Unlike some airports, there is no carpet, only tiles and vinyl or metal seats. There is a constant stream of people walking past. This terminal seems strangely small for an international airport (there are two other international terminals that aren’t connected). I can only see about 10 boarding gates and yes, I can see them all, if I lean around the big round pillion to my left. I think this terminal only services Philippines Airlines.
Talking about social media and using it in our work.

Reflecting on the workshop
I’m really glad I came. I wondered in this post back here, whether I would be “on the edge” again, but it seems that I was fairly well positioned to be doing this workshop. In fact within OMF, Japan is one of the leading countries in social media, especially amongst the fields. 

Indeed, I think it is the first training I’ve done with OMF that has mostly consisted of people who are involved in non-front-line work within the mission. It’s nice to be among others who aren’t so different, though there were no other editors in the group as far as I know. We had a handful of Aussies too.

My mind has definitely been stretched. The workshop has been challenging in that there is a lot I don’t understand and will probably never have the time to be involved in.

I took brief notes, but mostly about things that are relevant to what I am doing now and can foreseeable do in the next few months. Just like when you move to a new location, you first learn about the streets around you, and gradually the circle of local knowledge that you have expands to include places further away. That’s how I feel about this field. It would be too overwhelming, and indeed impractical to try to do or understand everything all at once. I’m starting where I am and will build up as I can.

At this point I’ll be working on getting into a good rhythm with the Japan blog and our new Facebook page too (some of you will have received an invitation to “like” the OMF Japan page, I’ve sent that to many of my friends, that’s one aspect of using social media for mobilization: getting the news of what we’re doing out to as many as possible). 

On the Facebook page I’d like to post not just links to the blog, but interesting information about Japanese culture as well as general prayer points and even photos. I’m happy to receive suggestions if you find things you think might be of interest or even have photos that I could use for prayer “memes”. 

On one of our jeepnee journeys I was directly behind the
driver. It's a little hard to see, but he's got a Peso
note in his hand. On the little ledge in front of him is
a bunch of coins from which he gave us our change.
I'm going to attempt to figure out some kind of rough schedule for that too, like I have the OMF Japan blog, so I have a bit more control over my schedule. I need to do some work with the lady who's in charge of our Twitter account, so that we can get some consistency going. That’s probably enough to start with, considering the pace I’ve been working at recently! Anyway, enough about work.

Out on the town
Last night we went out for an end-of-workshop meal at a lovely Filipino restaurant. The food was delicious, but probably what will remain with me is the journey to and from the restaurant: on the quintessential jeepnee and, unexpectedly, a “motorized tricycle”.

A jeepnee is like a mini bus that you board from the rear, with bench seats along the sides. They are naturally air conditioned, with no glass on the windows. Amazingly the driver deals with the fares and giving change while he drives, with passengers handing the cash up to the front via other passengers and then the reverse for the change . . . all while the vehicle moves. I guess the less time he’s stopped, the most income he generates?

The motorized tricycle is a covered sidecar on a motorcycle, although not a low sidecar. We fit three people on ours: one behind the driver on the motorcycle and two inside the sidecar, though it was a challenge for two Westerners to fit on the seat inside the sidecar, though neither of us were large. It was a bit scary because our driver drove fast—he was zipping past other bikes and vehicles.

Both there and the way back we traveled around a 10-lane roundabout. Though it was large enough that it mostly felt like a single-direction road on a curve. What was amazing was watching our jeepnee driver make his way from the inside lane to the outside lane to exit. Somehow, I didn’t notice the return journey around the roundabout. I’m pretty sure we did do it, but I was jammed between two locals on a tiny edge of seat and because you’re sitting with your back to the outside, visibility isn’t great.

I’m sure it would take a while to figure out how to ask when to get off a jeepnee, because it seems they can drop you off anywhere along the route and there are no announcements! Nor could I figure out how you know how much you pay. Thankfully we had some locals in our group that kept us from getting hopelessly lost.

There were a few small birds inside at the Manila boarding area!
Another overwhelming impression was how thick and polluted the air seemed. I felt like washing out my lungs after we arrived at the restaurant.

More public transport
The adventures on public transport continued this morning as I made my way to the airport with my roommate, a lady in her 20s from Malaysia. We used Uber, something I’ve heard about, but never used. The car we rode in was a very comfortable sedan. The traffic was pretty horrid, though, it took nearly two hours with lots of stops and starts. I have a lot of respect for the driver. Actually, all the drivers. The traffic just seems to flow in and around each other, very close at times—though the lanes were very fluid no one collided. It reminded me of driving in Bangkok and Indonesia.

I’m going to have to put this computer away now, it’s time to squeeze into the metal tube they call a plane and wing my way north to Japan again. Hopefully I’ll make it home in reasonable shape. I’m really quite tired.

A bit later in the air
Yes, I hopped on the plane, but it took two hours from doing that until it took off. If we were told why, I didn’t hear the explanation. It’s so frustrating, knowing that all I want to do is get home into my own bed.

I’ve said before that travel isn’t my favourite thing. It’s exhausting. Even though this is just a 4 ½- or 5-hour flight, it’s going to be well over 12 hours from door-to-door.

We’ve got a very tired and grumpy toddler in this section of the plane. Actually, I was sitting with her and her mother, but because the plane isn’t full was able to move one row forward to give them a little more space. Hearing the screams doesn’t make me nostalgic for those years that we travelled with little ones.

It took me until just after midnight to get home. Thankfully I was able to lie down on three seats and rest for quite some time after I wrote the above. That gave me the stamina for the two-hour train journey home, during which I stood a good portion of the time.

No comments: