Day 11 – Our Amazing Race day – Olongapo, Philippines to Kuta, Indonesia
After a restful night’s sleep at the PREDA complex, at 7AM we had breakfast that was prepared by some of rescued girls who were now living at the complex. At breakfast with us was a two month volunteer electrician from Scotland, a two-week volunteer from Australia, a two week volunteer from Germany along with her daughter who was there for a month, and two young men from Germany who had been there for a month and were leaving for Cambodia. There was also a group of girls from Japan, and few other people who were living at the complex. We were to have a meeting at 10AM, so after packing, we took a hike up to the mountain ridge where we could see most of the city, valley, and Subic Bay.
We should be at the Manila airport 3 hours in advance for our 8:45PM flight to Bali, Indonesia. There is a mandatory 2 hour minimum check in. Allowing for a 1 hour wait for the bus, the 4 hour bus ride to Manila and then a 30 minute cab ride to the airport, we needed to leave the PREDA complex no later than 12:15PM. The participants for our meeting were not ready until 11:15AM and we finally departed from the complex at 12:45. To our surprise, today was the first day of a week long holiday in the Philippines and traffic was very heavy. We arrived at the bus terminal just as our desired express bus was departing and the next express bus was scheduled to depart at 2:15PM – we would arrive at the airport exactly 2 hours before our flight – but the bus would not be at the station until 2PM – at the earliest. There was a much slower bus leaving in 10 minutes. Consistent with our “Bird in the hand…” strategy, we boarded the slower bus and departed the station at 1:30PM. The traffic was bumper-to-bumper for the twenty miles to the freeway – 2 hours had passed. We still had at least 3.5 hours to go that would put us at the airport at 6:30. Then we were stuck in the heavy Manila traffic. The bus driver estimated that the bus would arrive at the station at around 7pm and then we still had to take a cab to the airport – we would miss our flight. The bus was making short stops every few blocks and the traffic got worse. There were two more station stops before we reached our destination. We decided to get off at the next station and there – as if by divine coincidence – was a cab just arriving. We scrambled into the cab with our four pieces of luggage and offered the driver an additional 100 Pesos to get us to the airport by 6:30. It was 5:55, normally a 1 hour trip but the traffic was very heavy. We squeezed between cars, rode up on part of the sidewalk, and came within an inch of being hit by several cars. We look at each other and commented “Just like being on the Amazing Race”. We arrived at the airport at 6:35, at the checkout counter at 6:43PM – 2 minutes to spare. Feeling like 1st place winners of the Amazing Race, we celebrated with an ice-cream cone. Finally at our hotel in Kuta at 1:30AM