Friday, July 25, 2014

Shops at Mactan Cebu International Airport Pre-Departure Area (Updated August 2014)

Mactan Cebu International Airport’s (MCIA) domestic predeparture area has been sanitized. Those tacky “stalls” that used to hinder manual flow right in the middle of the hallway have been removed paving to more seats. Those little shopping stalls once competed for space, giving the atmosphere its unnecessary clutter a la tiangge, and when you’re flying out of town, you don’t want this chaotic surrounding. Most modern airports in fact prioritize a relaxing atmosphere over exceeding commerce.

Of course they have to do something about the congestion at Gate # 5 where I usually embark out since this gate hosts most Cebu Pacific flights to Manila and Davao. Sometimes, Kalibo-bound flights find their way here instead of the more central gates 1 to 4 at the main hallway. Gate # 5 has nothing in terms of shops or conveniences. It’s really just a waiting area.

 At the main hallway, there’s the Tablea Chocolate Cafe, just across Fiesta Shop, bunched up with Tubo Cane Juice (try their Ginger Mansi concoction; grande costs PhP90); Fraiche Deli (which sells sandwiches, try their chicken sandwich); and Bo’s Coffee (for your caffeine fix). At the other end of the hallway, there’s “Gourmet” restaurant, bordered by shelves selling watches, books, brass handicraft, tech gadgets and yeah, the “Illy” coffee brand.

“Fiesta” mixes souvenirs, handicrafts and Island Souvenir shirts, which have hiked up prices. Less than a year ago, you could get shirts for P200, now the cheapest will set you back by P360. Some sale season will offer P199 shirts.

Right after security check, there’s a Potato Corner (selling flavoured French fries); Crave Burger offers gargantuan burgers; Dunkin’ Donuts; Zubu Chon (try their slow cooked adobo, aside from their main staple); Tsim Sha Tsui brings a taste of Hong Kong’s chaotic district with their regional gastronomy; District Emporium sells local products and souvenir items. There’s another security check counter beside a watch store called Watch N See (who buys watches at the airport? I’d probably be surprised to know the answer). Finally, there’s an AC bar-cafe called The Enclave – Cigar Bar and Wine Lounge,  just beside “Gourmet” restaurant near the toilet, at the right wing of the hallway, near Gate 4. A Massage Corner stands beside a boarding gate, their therapists are mostly females (not blind masseurs).

There’s an obvious rise of the backpack crowd transiting in Cebu. In one of my arrivals from Bacolod, I saw 2 dozen French tourists at the arrival lounge. An Italian pack is boarding for Puerto Princesa. Of course, Koreans (a very welcome population in Cebu) crowd through the city, not to mention the Taiwanese, but they’re almost an inherent transient population of the city. Cebu might as well be called Koreatown. The country seems to be catching up as a favorite among the new breed of travelers. 

Though I do not actually favor sharing my country with tourists (surprise!), these tourists are nevertheless very welcome. In the last 10-12 years that I have been traveling all over, very few seem to head to my country, and I prefer it that way, to be quite honest. Ours was a country that never relied heavily on foreign tourism. At least not the way Hong Kong, Thailand, Cambodia or Vietnam do concerning tourism and the inflow of cash to the state financial coffers. But the trend has swung towards the rise of this transient set. For some reason, new age tourists have gradually discovered the country. You sometimes wish you could turn back time but then were headed towards universal mobility. That isn't so bad, I tell myself.

Terminal fee has been pretty much incorporated when purchasing your ticket so you don't have to prepare your PhP200 for that. Manila airports have done the same although Davao and Bacolod airports still collect terminal fees after check-in. The pre-departure hall does not have money changing counters or ATM machines so make sure you do your financial requirements before checking in. There are several ATM machines at the Departure Hall.

While I write this, a couple of blond backpacking ladies occupy 2 benches all for themselves. They’re the scruffy looking ones, the ones who seem to have crawled out of a hole, with matted hair and crumpled shirts. This set of crowd is becoming more familiar. I probably look like them whenever I am in one of my long haul trips outside my country, but as God is my witness, I try to look a bit more presentable.

This is the Eye in the Sky!

A taste of Hong Kong at Tsim Sha Tsui.

As of February 2015, this "Candy Corner has opened at the corner hall near "The Enclave".

A shop selling french cakes was there last March, but couldn't find it anymore this August.

Other shops found at the Departure Hall:


Ramakrishnan said...

Looks like a swanky and spanking new airport terminal - all shine gloss and shimmer ! Now a days airports have lost individual character and charm - they all look alike - so routinely modern :)

eye in the sky said...

Yes, airports almost look alike. They seem to follow a universal pattern. It's been part of my blog to actually document these airports to somehow help familiarize other travelers. :)