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12 Hours Of Travel: Sydney to Singapore
27 August, 2011, 4:47 am
Filed under: Holiday, Singapore, Sydney

Its almost 4am Sydney time. Its only 12 hours ago that I took the pictures above, as I waited to board SQ242 to Singapore from Sydney. I am tucked into bed with my MacBook Air on my lap, accessing the hotel’s free WiFi network; occasionally sipping freshly brewed tea. Alas, few parts of the past 12 hours have been this comfortable.

Yesterday started frantically for me. Half a day of work was spent briefing colleagues about handing over of my accounts for the next two weeks of my time away from work. I’m reluctant to call it a holiday cause in a sense it’s not. In my head, I have labelled it a “two week trip”. A holiday is where you visit a new country and get to relax and to not think about anything in particular. This trip is essential and purposeful, a meeting of the in-laws. Yes, yes, Meet The Fockers style. That is the sole purpose of this trip, to prepare for the next big change in my life. Marriage.

I wheeled my Samsonite up to King Street and remembered my body starting to warm up under my sweater. Winter is waning, I remembered thinking. I waited about 45 seconds in 3pm traffic and waved to a cab to enter the side street so I could load up away from traffic. He concurred and flashed a big smile and a big friendly, “Hi!” This is going to be a great cab ride I thought to myself. He was friendly and nice without being overbearing. We chatted about the airport and the trip and the conversation started to wane as I was focused on conserving the battery on my iPhone for the impeding 8 hour flight. The cab was getting exposure to the sun too and it heated up pretty quickly. I didn’t really mind it, bit of training for the tropical weather I put it down as.

28 dollars later, I was at Sydney’s T1, International Airport. I checked in within 30 seconds and enquired about the TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme). The friendly Toll contractor told me sometimes its busy, sometimes its not. 5 minutes later, I saw the verdict for myself. Another 5 minutes later, I was out of the TRS area, couple of hundred bucks credited into my credit card. Its smart that they don’t do cash (unlike Singapore’s TRS which gives you cash in hand) to cut down on potential fraud. Nothing in the Duty Free area really interested me and Airport salespeople are generally unmotivated at the best of times, in my opinion.

Anyway, because there was no queue for the TRS and I allocated queue time for it, I was left with about 45 minutes of playtime. I tried to people watch but there was really, no one interesting in the airport. Couple of middle-aged travellers, another group of business travellers and that’s about it. What did catch my eye was this 30-something year old couple. They had matching “Australia” branded backpacks, Amazing Race style! I afforded a chuckle to myself.

Soon it was time to head to Gate 53 for boarding and that was when I used my MacBook Air as an external battery pack for the iPhone. It works pretty well actually! Expedia also provided free WiFi in Sydney airport and I think that has definitely generated a big ROI for them, awareness wise. Love it when companies are smart like that!

Ah Gate 53; was entertained by a large group of young Japanese girls. Loud. Loud, young Japanese girls. Nothing like those kimono-wearing soft spoken geishas you see on TV. LOUD. Remembered also this approximately 28 year old guy who had a 90s centre-parting hairstyle. Bespectacled. Buttoned up shirt and jeans. And talking to someone on the phone via handsfree. Seriously, who are you?

Anyway, 20 minutes after the Business Class people parked their bums on the satin sofas of SQ242, I moved into the queue. See if you time it right, the Business Class lane will accomodate Cattle Class and fast track you into your designated pen on the plane. A high majority of the people on the plane were Muslims, on their way back for the annual Ed ul-Fitr, the celebration at the end of the fasting Ramadan month. I am not sure if I’m used to domestic no frills flight or what but I found the food service on SQ242 extremely slow. My finished dinner took them probably 30-45 minutes to clear. You know how annoying this is when you have limited space on the plane already! But no dramas, the food was as good as airplane food gets and service not really lacking in any department in particular, maybe except speed.

So the next important thing is how to kill time on the plane. The 3-inched size screen is probably in dire need of upgrading in the SQ242. Resolution was probably 600×400 at best and sound quality was dismal to say the least. That made my watching of “Water For Elephants” forgettable during some parts but somehow my mind filled in the gaps and I really liked the movie. I tried to watch another one but was just too distracted by the quality of the entertainment unit that I gave up. Watching something longer than 20 minutes actually took effort. Singapore Airlines if you are reading this, please upgrade your entertainment system.

The flight went by pretty quickly actually in between attempts of yours truly on iPhone apps – Paper Bridge, Incredible Machine and Simple Physics. Paper Bridge makes me think that I have a very low IQ, I couldn’t even get past the first level! If anyone’s an expert in it, any tips is highly sought after from you.

The plane landed with a jolt and the obligatory side-to-side force which almost always conjures images of the plane skidding on its wing and breaking apart in my head. I did think of standing up at one point in the flight just to see what the flight attendants would do but thought, what does that achieve? Yeah, precisely. Nothing.

I shot out of the plane and onto the travelators, floating past the majority of SQ242’s passengers, eager to get out of the airport. I was first in the line at the immigration choke point, I mean, check point and stood in line with the Business Class people to get my luggage off the carousel. I picked my luggage up and walked past the pilots, still waiting for their luggage. Remember George Clooney in “Up In The Air” and his tip about following Asians in airport queues? Yeah, that.

Taxi stand was my next port and as I looked back at the queue just before I boarded the taxi and 3 Business Class passengers were in the second row of the maze-like queue. Rough estimates would be that they were 10 customers behind me. I know I might seem like I’m picking on them but I’m not intentionally doing that, good on you if you want to spend thousands of dollars on an evening flight in Business Class on a Friday night. But honestly, what is the point? Wouldn’t that money be better off spent somewhere else? Starving humans in East Africa would be a good place to start.

Anyway, maybe they did and I have overthought and misjudged them. All I know is I’m checked in now in my favourite hotel in Singapore and it is almost 5am Sydney time now. Time for some shut-eye and hope you had fun reading my blog. I had fun recalling events in the past few hours and will continue do so as I afford the time for this activity called blogging over the next two weeks.

Thanks for reading and if you have any protips on traveling feel free to leave a comment.

God bless.