Monday, July 23, 2012

Watching Notting Hill, from Manila to Hokkaido on ANA

Good afternoon from the lounge at Narita Airport, after a very pleasant four-hour flight on All Nippon Airways (ANA) from Manila to Tokyo. And now I'm waiting for my flight to Hokkaido in the ANA lounge.

It was my first time to take the ANA flight from Manila to Japan. I'd known for awhile now that they'd opened up shop in Manila and I'd been wanting to try them out ever since; so for this particular trip to Japan, I decided to finally fly ANA for a change. It was a very nice experience.


First of all, ANA flies out of NAIA-3 Terminal so it's infinitely nearer than the rest if you're coming from Makati or almost anywhere else except the Roxas Boulevard area. If it usually takes me about 30 minutes to get to NAIA-1, well, it took me 10 minutes to get to NAIA-3.

As there are less people flying out of NAIA-3, everything was a more convenient experience. Not too many people in the security lane, or at check-in, or in the departure area in general.


However, if you're flying business class, I have to say that ANA doesn't have a proper business lounge in NAIA-3 because I was told it hasn't been allowed to create one. At least not yet. So business class passengers are invited to use one of the coffee shops near the departure gate.

It's not a big deal as you still get a place to sit and have refreshments, but I thought I'd mention it anyway.

On the plus side of waiting in a coffee shop instead of a lounge, it certainly has more variety of food and drinks compared to most dedicated lounges, as it's a proper coffee shop. Also, if you're like me -- meaning all I really care about is that there's a place to sit and prop my computer, an electric outlet for my gadgets, and  a strong WiFi signal -- then you'll be fine.

All I do in a lounge is have a cup of tea, a glass of ice and work on the computer until the very last minute before boarding.


Meanwhile, the ANA plane is very spacious. Business class is a 2-1-2 configuration and it's a big business class section so you really feel relaxed on the flight. If you don't like having a seatmate, you can always take the solo seats in the middle.


The other nice surprise was the food. I don't eat much on the plane and I usually never take the Japanese food option on the Manila-Tokyo leg as I'm never happy with it. Of course. Catering is done in Manila so, at least for me, the Western or Filipino food option would be better done than the Japanese food option. Japanese food requires so much delicate preparations.

For some reason, today, I chose the Japanese meal. Boy, was it good.

First, it came very nicely arranged with a rectangular tray for the cold appetizers and then another rectangular tray for the hot food. The Japanese meal was a meat dish, and when I opened it, I instantly regretted choosing the Japanese option as meat on an airplane is almost always tough and overcooked as it's been reheated onboard.

But anyway I ate it. And from the first bite, I was so surprised. It was good enough for me to finish everything -- and I usually never finish everything on an airplane meal. The meat was tender and it was full of juicy ligaments, which made it even more delicious.


Today too was my first four solid hours to myself in a long while -- meaning four hours when I didn't have to think of anyone else and I had nothing urgent to finish mid-air. TRAVELIFE Drum Tao Nights had just finished its successful 10-show run, after all, and our Aug-Sep issue is going along nicely.

So I decided to read my favorite FT Weeekend, watch a movie and just relax. ANA had a pretty good selection of interesting, new movies; but as I was in relax mode, I decided to just watch Notting Hill, the romantic comedy starring Julia Roberts and Hugh Grant. I think I chose this because I was already predicting that I wouldn't finish the movie, so I wanted to watch something I wouldn't feel compelled to watch till the end, as I'd already seen it before.


What an enjoyable movie it was. I especially liked the dry and witty dialogue, which reminded me of why I used to like visiting England so much in my previous life (a.k.a before I got really busy with Travelife). I used to spend a good part of June in London every year, and then I often went once or twice more within the year. Watching Notting Hill made me want to visit London again soon.

However, it also made me think what a typical Hollywood movie this was. It had a happy ending when it actually shouldn't have had one. Julia Roberts' character treated Hugh Grant's character so badly so many times that I would have hit him on the head, if I was his best friend, for continuing to pine away for her after all that awful treatment.

It was basically a one-sided relationship the entire way until the end. Nothing ever happens that way unless someone in the relationship is a martyr, and most people stuck in one-way streets should get out and move on. But, of course, this is a Hollywood movie and it needs a happy ending.

As for me, it certainly made time pass very quickly. When I finished my movie, it was almost time to land in Tokyo. A four-hour flight that only felt like forty minutes -- now that's a happy ending, as far as I'm concerned.

Just another day in our never-ending, and never-endingly eventful Travelife.


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