Sunday, May 27, 2012

Travel Adventures

So a lot has happened since the last time I wrote.  We have packed up our house, put stuff in storage, got on a plane, and returned home to Canada.  Overall everything has gone smoothly.  Well, almost everything.

We had a little incident during our travel from the Philippines.  We left Davao with no problems.  The check-in was smooth, clearing security was smooth, even the flight was smooth.  We arrived in Manila and made the short walk from the domestic terminal to the international one (very quick and easy because we had flown Philippine Airlines from Davao and were flying Philippine Airlines out of Manila.  Definitely a good way to go.  We didn't have to worry about collecting our baggage in Manila!).

The immigration in Manila went quite smoothly, except that we had to pay more than expected to leave the country, due to our 9g Missionary Visas (contact me for more details if you are curious about the fees we paid...).  Security was not a problem, and then we waited.  For a long time.  We had a 7 hour layover, and were expecting everything to be much more complicated and take much longer.  So we were left with roughly 6 hours of sitting around waiting for our flight to go out.  Not a big deal.  We just sat and hung out.

We cleared the final security at the gate area about 90 minutes before our flight was to go out.  Again, no hassles.  Then, while we were waiting a the gate area there was an announcement: "Daniel Oishi, please go to Gate 22."  So Daniel and I went to see the guy at the gate.  On the walk over I was joking with Daniel that maybe they were upgrading him to Business Class.  He thought that was a great idea.

It wasn't that.  When we got to the gate I identified myself and Daniel to the attendant.  He took our boarding passes and proceeded to speak into his radio to someone else, in Tagalog, so I had no idea what he was talking about.  He then turned to me and told me that I needed to go and claim one of our bags.  I asked him if Daniel needed to go or if I could go by myself.  Daniel got to stay.

A security guy came, took my passport and boarding pass, and escorted me away from the gate area towards an elevator.  On the walk there he asked me a vague question about whether I had packed any replicas in our bags.  It took me a second to realize that he was asking about replica firearms, and I realized that there were toy guns in Daniel's duffel bag.  I told him that there were toy guns in the bag and he smiled and explained that was probably what the issue was.

I was escorted by the security guy (and about 6 other people who had joined our entourage, including a customs person, a Manila Airport person, and several other official looking people who seemed to be tagging along out of curiosity) to a door marked "AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. ONLY PEOPLE WEARING PROPER UNIFORMS ALLOWED PAST THIS POINT", guarded by a rather stern looking woman with a big gun.

They escorted me though the door and into the baggage handling area.  It was actually pretty cool to see, as I have never actually seen that part of the airport.  I was taken to an office which housed a rather large x-ray machine.  I think they could have x-rayed me and told me what I had eaten for my last five meals with that machine.  Sitting in this office was one of our duffel bags.  A lady in the office asked me to identify the bag as being mine, which I did.  She then asked if she could open it. (By this point I think that every person who was working in the baggage handling area, as well as most of the ground crews for all the airlines in the entire airport, had come over to investigate the white guy who had been escorted by security through the baggage area.  They all had their faces pressed firmly against the glass windows of the office, not the least bit of concern for the necessity of tasks like loading luggage onto planes.  For anyone who flew out around this time and didn't get your luggage, sorry.  That's why.  My bad.)

I was in no position to complain, so I agreed.  She opened up the zipper and began to dig through, pulling out everything that remotely resembled a firearm.  This included two Nerf dart guns, a SuperSoaker water gun, two silver cap guns, and a wooden elastic gun.  They then x-rayed the bag about a billion times, making sure they didn't miss anything, and ensuring that every person in the room received their lifetime allotment of radiation.  Once adequately crispy, we were allowed to leave, taking the suspicious objects with us.  We proceeded out of the baggage area, and went back up the elevator.

The next stop was at another office, where I was invited to sit down in front of an official looking (but very friendly) lady.  The security people chatted to her in Tagalog, and then one of them left with my passport and boarding pass.  I was starting to wonder what would be on the menu in a Philippine jail.  Probably rice.  I like rice.

The lady looked over all of the guns, and made two piles.  One, containing the Nerf guns and the water gun, she told me I could keep.  The other, including the cap guns and the elastic gun, were going to be confiscated.  I was okay with the cap guns being taken.  They were easily replaceable.  The elastic gun on the other hand, I had gotten when I was a kid, and had given to Daniel.  I didn't want that one taken away.  I calmly explained that to her, and she agreed to let me keep it too.

Once that decision was made I was again escorted down the elevator, through the scary door with the scary guard holding the scary gun, and back into the x-ray office.  We put everything back into the duffel bag (minus the cap guns) and sealed it up.

I was then taken back up to the office I had been in upstairs, and had to sign a form and a photocopy of my passport and boarding pass.  I was then given my passport and boarding pass back, and escorted back through security and to our gate.  I explained the situation to Kerri and the kids (unfortunately, by telling Daniel that it was because of his guns that I almost didn't get to leave the country.  He was upset to say the least.  Dumb Dad Moment.).  We got on the plane and left the Philippines.

All went smoothly from then on.  Except for the incident in Vancouver...but that's for another blog.


Anonymous said...

Wow! Well, so glad that it all went well after that, except for that next blog post!! Thanks for writing and also warning any other travelers. Blessings! -KZ

Anonymous said...

Wow, very interesting! Glad to hear ya'll arrived safely. I hope adjusting back to Canadian time and life goes fairly smoothly. :) ~Christina M