The Philippines, from above
Traveling overland has its benefits, but the experience of flying over the 7k+ islands of the Philippines induced a thrill like no other.
The novelty of the tiny, rundown airports never wore off, and the lax security procedures were laughable when I recalled the onerous process of going through TSA checkpoints in the USA. The domestic terminal in Manila was derelict– an abandoned renovation project– with exposed ceilings and building materials strewn here and there. When checking in for our flight to Palawan, it felt as if we were shopping on Black friday, because there was no sense of organization, or any formations of lines, and everyone elbowed their way to the counters!
At the small airports (and they were TINY), the waiting areas are simple and fan-cooled at best, with no more than two gates to the plane(s) waiting beyond. Our luggage was loaded onto a cart that was pulled by a man to the plane and then handed off to someone sitting at the mouth of the plane’s cargo hold. Most of the airports we traveled through had very few machinery, which made it seem almost medieval in comparison. The airport in Camiguin only had one departing flight per day (or so I think) and everyone working there actually waved as the plane rolled down the runway.
Climbing aboard small rickety propeller planes were scary and takeoffs and landings were terrifying, but in the end, seeing isolated islands ringed around with white sand beaches and green-blue reefs, soaring through clouds that stubbornly clustered over land and avoided the sea, and flying over incredibly congested cities like Manila and Cebu, made it worth every peso we spent on the flights.