Monday, August 03, 2009

Red Eye to Asia

One way tickets from Perth to Hong Kong are inexplicably expensive, and so I had booked consecutive (but cheap) flights from Perth to Singapore and from Singapore to Hong Kong, spending the entire night traveling. I've done it before, and since I wasn't changing time zones, as I was going almost due north for much of it, I knew it wouldn't be too bad.

I arrived in the Singapore airport just before 0300, and spent almost two hours finding out which terminal I was to be in. Allow me to gripe: Singapore has an absolutely ridiculous airport. It is a massive, sprawling thing that has four totally independent terminals, named 1, 2, 3, and Budget. There is a free shuttle bus from the Budget terminal to Terminal 2, which I took, and when I arrived there I discovered that the normal train between those three terminals was shut down, so I had to find out that there is another shuttle that runs overnight, then find it, then go to the wrong terminal, discover that my airline departed from somewhere else, and then go there. All told I probably walked five kilometers and spent an hour riding buses and going "well, where the hell is my flight then?" before I finally found it.

Thankfully, the layover was four hours long, so I had enough time to check in, grab some breakfast (a sort of Singapore Signature dish -- noodle soup with curry seasoning, Prawns and Tofu. Not bad, but it felt like airport food), and head to my gate.

There, I found my second complaint against Singapore's airport.

One of the things I've made a habit over the past couple of years is to always carry an empty water bottle through security with me, then fill it from the water fountains inside the departures area. It saves me the several dollars that water inevitably costs inside the airport and helps me feel a little less like I'm getting fleeced. I used to carry a full one, but of course the modern regulations have done away with that option.

Singapore has a holding pen at every gate that is entered by going through security. This is kinda nice in the sense that security is widely distributed and you're less likely to miss your flight because you're standing in line, but a PITA for me, since it means that my empty water bottle does me no good, as there are no water fountains in that tiny seating area between metal detector and causeway.

I realize this is a really small thing, of course, but it irked me, and so it stuck in my pre-dawn mind and I decided I'd gripe about it here.

I caught my flight with plenty of time to spare and reached Hong Kong in the midmorning.

Also: interesting bit of history and politicaly geography. I'm skipping across the surface of the western hemisphere like a stone, but every place I strike lately is a former British colony. Weird, huh?

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