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Friday, September 09, 2005

One Night in Changi

Singapore Airport - Transit

Happily I disembark after 8 odd hours of sitting - no matter how comfortable they make the seats, it’s still not comfortable. In theory, a relaxing time will be had between flights - head to the transit hotel, check in, go and check out the lounge and then enjoy a nice snooze. Yes, in theory it all works out however my theory was not based on the reality of the situation.

The plan landed at gate 22 - hmm, nothing wrong with that is there? I check for signs and yep, there’s that arrow pointing out the direction for the Transit hotel. I’ve checked out the airport maps before I left - I’ve got a good idea where things are. I begin to walk, lugging my bag of cameras with me, phew, it’s a bit sticky isn’t it - i think to myself, I’ll take that travelator for a while - I keep walking, feeling that bag begin to get heavier, a pressing feeling begins to surround me...hmm, it’s a bit humid isn’t it, i think to myself. Quickly disembarking one travelator, i take the next, that arrow pointing to the transit lounge, my beacon. The bag is getting heavier still. I wonder if I missed a sign, I begin to think as I step onto the next travelator. Yeah, boy, yeah, it is humid, as i wipe the first trickles of sweat on my brow. I wonder if the airconditioning is on the blink or something.

It’s taken a while but I finally reach the end of the gates and it’s into the airport proper. The hotel shouldn’t be far, I console myself as I feel like i’ve spent 30 minutes in a sauna fullly clothed. Each step getting more laboured, it’s not far I keep telling myself. I walk pass the hordes, shops everywhere, not just your run of the mill shops, boutiques like Chanel and Burberry, people coming and going
After another 5 minutes, I stop to check out the terminal map.

Helpfully it shows me where I am, my eye starts travelling along the maps length to the location of the hotel - I’m not even half way there yet. I want to melt into a puddle, I’m the wicked witch in the wizard of oz, I want to cry out... I’m melting. I also discover that my gate and the hotel are the two furthest points apart in the airport. Typical. I hope this isn’t an omen of things to come.

I now do the sensible thing, something I should have done from the start. I make a beeline for a trolley and dump my bags. My arm, now 4 inches longer, thanks me.

The trek continues, the idea of a nice long cold shower, making me walk faster. My eyes boggle at the waterfall - now why the hell do you put something that adds water to the atmosphere when you’re in a situation where it’s unbearably humid? Is this a way of getting the traveller used to the weather outside?

I finally get to the hotel - my last hurdle, it’s up an escalator and no trolleys are allowed. When I reach the desk, I have to wait in line. When it’s finally my turn I hand over the booking and then I’m told to fill in a guest card - but no, don’t do it at the desk, go over there and do it. Defeated, I follow the instruction and manage to scrawl the details. As i turn back to the desk, there’s another guy being served and he got to fill in his card at the desk! I shoot sweat daggers at them as I wait again.

At last - my turn, card filled, check, pay upfront, check, finally - the key! I take those last few steps and walk through the lobby doors and it’s nirvana - air conditioning is going full bore in the hallway. Now why isn’t it like this out there, I can’t help but think.

When I reach I room I don’t think I could slide that key in quicker, pushing the door open, it washes over me again, the air conditioning is going full bore in the room too, and it’s even colder than the hallway.

It would have been shower time now but I’d forgotten the essentials - it’s one thing I had thought of packing, since hotels usually supply shampoos and soap. No, I’m not crying, it’s just sweat leaking from my eyes. I have to bare the sauna again and do some shopping.

Since I have to go out again I decide to do one more thing and check out the Qantas Lounge - since it would cool in there and have the added benefits of cold drinks and hard liquor.

When I arrive at the lounge, I show them my ticket. “Oh no, you can’t come in.” the attendant says “You can enter at 3am because your plane doesn’t leave until 5.40.” Now this is the first time I’ve ever heard of these time rules, plus from what I’ve read the lounge closes at 12.30 and doesn’t reopen until 6am. Confused I make sure of the details - that I can come back into this lounge from 3am. She tells me that’s correct and that’s the end of the conversation.

Knowing that the lounge is open I don’t worry about having to wait in the airport proper for the flight. That’s made me feel better. I head back, stopping off to get some cool drinks to help replenish my system.

A long cold shower later, I’m almost feeling normal. One last tweak of the air con and it’s an 18C heaven and it’s off to sleep.

The Morning After

It’s with much reluctance that I leave the room, but I’m consoled with the knowledge that the lounge is open.

This time I take a trolley to start with, but my coolness is dissipating quickly as the humidity takes hold. I don’t know how people can function like this - i don’t think i can ever complain about the weather at home after this.

I park the trolley to go upstairs and visit the lounge. As I turn down the hall, i notice the first class lounge is open and wonder what it’s like. When I get to the qantas lounge, there’s a sign on the door. Closed until 6 am but until then you can use the first class lounge. I curse the women from yesterday as I trek back - yeah you sure are open aren’t you?

Showing the ticket I’m allowed entry - surprisingly it’s not that cool in here - I internally scream as I see another freaking water feature running the length of the space. I suppose it’s meant to be relaxing, the little waterfall going into the central stream - well, guess what - it’s not!

My brain having dissolved into mush means that I haven’t taken any photos. But here is what i remember of it - it has chairs, it has food, it has water. As you can see, I was working on basic functions only - oh and I was thinking I could still be my hotel room where it’s nice and cold.

Once again no boarding call is made but since it’s getting close to time I head back off to the gate - getting another trolley as soon as I reach downstairs.

Departure is at Gate 3 - a marked improvement. Unfortunately there’s a bit of a line since we are being rechecked. I bid a sad farewell to the trolley.

The boarding procedure - we’re basically scanned again - baggage through x-ray’s, people through metal detectors. Passport and ticket checked and then it’s into the queue to board the plane. There’s about 40-50 people in front of me, when the women at the door makes the announcement “because of congestion, only first and business can board.” Did I just cheer out loud when she said that. My eyes widen and suddenly I have that spring back, yes i want to say to the cattle class mooooooove out of my way. I skip past the ashen folk as they shot daggers at me, flashing that magic boarding pass, I’m lovingly let through. That almost makes up for the humidity.....almost.

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