WEDNESDAY 21st July
Home time 🙁
We had breakfast as usual, still without the chocolate rolls, and back to the room to slowly shower and pack as we had nothing but time. I must say that we could not fault the Park Hotel. The rooms were clean and bright, the facilities all that we could have wanted, location perfect, and the best part was the staff who were more friendly and helpful than I’ve ever experienced before.
We checked out about 11.40 – we could have waited until noon – and asked for a taxi, hoping it would be a decent one. Meaning by that a driver that would not scare me half to death! Bliss – not only did we get ‘decent’ but it was the luxury company and I knew that the driver would treat his vehicle, and therefore customers, well. The back doors slid open and shut automatically and the seats were lovely clean leather.
He asked us which terminal we were going to and we said ‘International’ and his reply was ‘which one?’ Ummm, we don’t know. Other than Sydney with its Qantas or ‘other’ terminals we’d never had a choice! The driver asked our airline; Jetstar, and then rang his head office to ask for us, which was very kind. Our tickets and details were in our cabin bags in the back. It turns out we needed terminal one. Oh, I should mention, this driver only drove at 10 kms over the limit LOL David gave him a tip at the end, which was more than the last one received.
From our luxury comfort seats we admired the view and the tall towers along the journey and so onwards to the world-renowned airport. Terminal 1. Coming in we had taken no notice, being quite tired and eager to see the city rather than the airport, but it was undergoing upgrades and there were wooden partitions everywhere meaning that large parts of the airport were not accessible. We were many hours early for our 17:45 flight and therefore stuck with our bags until we could check in.
I saw an arrow pointing to the loos and started following it, telling David of my need. He was pushing the luggage trolley and all of a sudden turned the wrong way at a T-junction. When I said “Ummm, loos?” he told me that I should have told him I wanted them right now. Did he think I was putting in a request for later? Men!
In the loos were a row of normal toilets and one cubicle with the open-floor-pit and I so wanted a photo but there were people around so I washed my hands really slowly and the crowd cleared so I fumbled around for my normally close-to-hand camera, got it out of the case and took the photo still thinking I was alone. A lady rushed up to me saying “What’s the matter, what’s the matter?” I assured her nothing, I was just fascinated because we didn’t have toilets like that at home. Not sure whether it’s polite to share the pic or not so I will leave it out and save you.
The lady, who turned out to be the Cleaner Responsible for This Set of Toilets (she even had her photo on the wall) became my new best friend. She told me some of the things that people get up to in there and that she is in there for her whole working day. When she comes back from her lunch break it’s a shambles and even when she’s there she only gets half way along before the first half are a mess again. She was gorgeous and I was very happy to speak with her; though David was outside wondering if I’d gone out another door.
We found a Dome café – there were only 2 choices of anywhere to eat – and sat there, yet again slowly eating to pass time. On this occasion it was cake for the last time before the diet starts at home again LOL I had a chocolate fudge cappuccino cake and a fruit juice to take my first travel sickness tablets with and I forget what David had.
We walked up and down some more and then found the tax rebate office and took a number. Once we were called the guy told me I had to claim for jewellery once we were through to departures. I can understand that, but a sign might have been nice. Not that we had anything else to do anyway. After that excitement we found an information counter and asked for a password for internet access on my laptop and send a few emails to home. Even got a reply from No.1 son 🙂
I was fascinated by the display boards. This was just for 4 hours, and presumably just for the one terminal. That would be a whole afternoon’s worth in Perth! Sorry it’s not very clear, I hadn’t realised in the small viewer or I’d have taken another.
Finally, finally, the time came to check in our bags so we could go through to the departure lounge. This was pretty big but yet again large areas were boarded up for renovations. When you think this is one terminal of 3 we can start to imagine the size of the whole, yet we giggled to think that they wouldn’t have a domestic airport.
One other thing that seemed strange was that signs told us there were no boarding calls here. I guess it just would have been constant noise had they done such a thing.
We ate again, this time a proper meal at DeliFrance. I had a truly delicious vegetarian lasagne and a chicken mushroom spaghetti for David. (Who tells me since he’s read the story that it’s only tomato-based pasta he hates; so now I know!) After David finished eating and I still was, he enquired where to buy a postage stamp to send a postcard to a friend. We’d not yet found a place that sold them anywhere in Singapore. Our one attempt at a post office proved that we were 2 minutes after closing time and the doors were firmly shut. The stamp seller was at the far end of the terminal so off David went as time was now running short, and I’d just finished my meal by the time he got back.
Now it was time to go through to the boarding lounge, which we did after having to throw out the nice new bottle of water David had bought once we passed customs. We hadn’t been scanned and never dreamed the scanners would be through the gate! Once we’d got sidetracked with claiming the tax for the anklet, wandering around the shops and then eating we’d forgotten that we hadn’t been scanned yet. So of course, no liquids and it had to be tipped out. I stammered “But I need it to take tablets with!” but it was only a few minutes early so they supervised me while I drank and then took the bottle away.
Eventually we were called to board and then all loaded onto the plane and after a while I said to David “We’re one minute late and no sign of leaving!” Two seconds later the captain came on the PA to say that during pre-flight they’d noticed a problem with one of the tyres and to please be patient. Five minutes later he announced that the repair was going to take an hour to fix so everybody off! You’re joking! We’ve sat on a stationary plane before for an hour and it is definitely less hassle. Everyone was getting their hand luggage – we were told to! – though some left theirs behind. Our past hour on the ground was passed with a film but there were no screens in this short-haul plane. Perhaps that was the reason for ‘all off’, we don’t know.
Once we were back in the boarding lounge, amongst others, David decided to go to the loo and had to hand back his boarding pass to go back through the gate. When he came to come back to me he was told everyone who had gone back through had to stay out for 10 minutes while the computers reset. But it appears that they didn’t. Not only that but when they were all allowed back, the body scanner decided to say *everyone* was carrying metal. Add to this that the 3 security people had all buggered off, despite the hostess telling them they needed to stay, so no possessions could be scanned until the staff were found and brought back again. I’d have gone to the loo myself had David been allowed back as far as the cases, but was glad I’d stayed put!
I sat in the departure lounge with all our luggage, sending text messages to my cousin so she wouldn’t come to the airport too early, and to our house-sitter to thank her for being there for us. She would not still be there when we arrived home.
Once the passengers were eventually scanned, the hostess was then looking manually through a large stack of boarding passes for each person. They’d had all this time and yet not sorted them alphabetically, so trying to find each person’s name in the stack took even longer and the one hour tyre change had an additional 30 mins added to it. Quite the waste of time! Nobody minded the hour for the tyre, better safe and late, but the reboarding really was badly handled.
As we’d boarded the plane the hostess gave us forms to fill in to enter Australia. I asked if we needed to do those as we are Australian and she said yes. I guess that’s how the government knows where we are in the world. Trouble was, the forms she’d given me were in Indonesian!!! I put my tray table down to fill them in and turned them over 4 times each looking for words I could understand. It’s amusing the way we all turn it more than once before settling that there’s nothing there of use – like giving someone a piece of paper with PTO written on both sides, I guarantee they’ll look at 3 sides before they give up!
I said to David “How am I supposed to fill these in?” and he got a bit cross, telling me there had to be English somewhere. Well there wasn’t! Even David couldn’t find them 😉 Some words I recognised, but for other fields I stood no chance. The girl next to us noticed our confusion and her form was in English so she gave it to us to see what the questions were and we filled in our Indonesian forms from that. Well, I did, as always. David just has to sign.
It was dark when we left Singapore. It should have still been daylight, and the plane that officially left after us had already gone. The flight was really good with nothing to report other than a brief small twinkle of light about half way that was probably a massive cruise liner and the beauty of the lights of Perth for the last 10 minutes. David had sat and read his book for the entire 5 hours. A feat never before achieved by a long shot! I learned that I could quite comfortably snooze with my head against the back of the chair in front of me, or against the window jamb. It’s amazing how helpful travel sickness tablets can be for making you drowsy! I had several short naps that way.
It’s possible we were on the wrong side of the plane to see our house this time. Though I did think I saw the Joondalup Drive/Grand Boulevard shape, David said it was not. I adore looking at city lights and had my nose flattened against the window, drinking it all in. I tried to take some photos but they never come out well. No mistake where the city centre is though!!!
The landing was as perfect and smooth as the flight had been and we landed about 00:30 instead of 23:10. Our luggage took forever to arrive, but we’d been third to check in so we guess it was right underneath everyone else’s and right at the back. It was a blessing in a way as once it arrived the huge customs queue had almost disappeared. Two planes’ worth of people all cleared. As we approached the remaining queue, a Customs Officer off to one side beckoned to us and took our entry forms asking “Do you speak Indonesian then?” We laughed “No! And it was great fun filling those out!” He asked if we had anything to declare and I said “Just some teabags we weren’t sure if we could bring in” and he asked where we’d bought them. My reply of “Singapore” got a response of “You’ll be fine!” and he ushered us through a direct gate to where we were instantly greeted by my cousin and her husband to bring us home.
Thank you for sharing our Singapore holiday with us and I hope I managed to bring it alive for you!
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