Traveling to Singapore
Ok, I'm here now.
The first flight was very nice. It was a Boeing 777-300, and it had LCD displays on the back of every seat, and power sockets on most seats (including mine -- I chose my seat for that reason). This means that I can use my laptop for the 13-hour 45-minute flight. :)
I've decided to do this blog post piecemeal; I'm writing stuff as it occurs to me. That's easier than trying to remember everything at the end. I'll probably be switching between present and past tense, though. It's currently one hour into the flight.
At 4 hours, I'm listening to current French pop songs. It seems that as long as I can't understand the lyrics, I enjoy popular music a lot more. (yes, I can speak French, but picking out lyrics in the middle of a song is beyond me, especially when I'm deliberately not trying to listen.)
Unfortunately all is not sweets and roses on this flight. The LCD is nice, but a number of features -- include the "Map" menu -- are not functioning. The error message is polite, but I wanted to see where we were on the map, how far we'd travelled to date, etc.
7 hours now. I don't feel too bad, which is good 'cause it's only half over. The thin slippers that Dad brought back from Japan (they was an omake for some first-class train tickets) help a lot. They're coming around with hot beverages, which will be followed by dinner. There's still one more meal coming; 2 hours before the end, they give out hot noodles. I've never been on a flight with three meals and six or seven drinks before... but then again, I've never been on a 13.75 hour flight. I was surprised by the amount of localization. Hot drinks include green tea, and the standard chicken hot lunch meal came with chopsticks. I'm not surprised because this doesn't make sense; I'm just surprised that the business is flexible enough to have different meals on different international flights.
I underestimated the amount of suckage involved in working on an airplane -- and the amount that I normally fidget. It's not unusual for me to have a foot on my desk, for example. Not in the classic "fat cat" pose, though. My laptop is on the desk like normal, and I kind-of slouch sideways. With one leg contorted around. Anyway, as of 12 hours, I've gotten about 5 hours of work done. Spent 5 hours watching movies/TV shows and/or eating, and about 2 hours of snoozing.
Hong Kong airport wasn't fun, since the first flight was delayed and they had poor signage. Seriously, who names the international tranfer flight check-in area "W1"? Also, either Air Canada shouldn't have printed my second boarding pass, or the security guard should have accepted it and not made me jog off to get a new one printed. I entered the security line-up at the time I was supposed to be at the gate for boarding. But after a bit more jogging, I arrived on the second plane.
The second flight was uninteresting in terms of airplane model (IIRC it was a 777), food, entertainment, lack of sights (pitch black and me not near a window anyway). I dozed for a bit.
Singapore airport was a model of efficiency; within 20 minutes of stepping out of the airplane, I was stepping out of the airport. The customs girl was very nice and smiled at me as I stuttered through my explanation of my job (she had previously asked when I was starting my studies, since I look so much like a student). She waved away my attempt to show her my exiting flight (you're required to show proof of the next destination if they ask).
The baggage carousel was actually the most nerve-wracking part. In the future, I think I might get some yellow paint and draw a huge happy face on the suitcase or something... there were just too many black suitcases.
Of course, the airport experience might be quite different if I hadn't arrived at midnight with nothing else arriving. Then again, my supervisor (the one here, not my old supevisor) says that he's travelled in over 40 countries, and the Singapore airport is the best.
Taxi ride was ok. A woman on the flight in said that it would be "really really expensive... like S$30" and tried to think of other ways I could get to my apartment, but in the end agreed that since the MRT was closed and there probably wasn't a direct bus, it wasn't worth it. The taxi ended up being S$40.20, but the driver gave me S$10 back when I handed him a S$50 and waved off my apologies for not having any coins. I figured that S$40 wasn't bad for a 35-minute drive mostly exceeding 100km/h. I definitely couldn't get a deal like that in Vancouver!
Impressions of the city at night: looked like any metropolist in North America. There's a huge port, lots of construction, big skyscrapers.
First impression upon stepping out of the taxi: sweet mao it's hot. And it's past midnight!
There wasn't anybody around when I arrived at my apartment, but the security was very nice and friendly, and called up the manager. She came down after five minutes, and was very friendly and got me checked in. I got the info for wireless, but my computer wasn't set up to deal with their particular encryption scheme (WEP), so I'm still just typing this and will send tomorrow from the university.
Arrival at room, 1:30am. I spent an hour writing blog posts, emails, and attempting to get the wireless working.
Overall impression: Singaporeans are extremely nice and helpful. The manager didn't show any signs of minding being woken up at 1am (she thought I was arriving tomorrow), the security guy didn't give me any glares for not knowing what I was doing, the only reactions to my braid (that I detected) was occasional mild curiosity, and the customs agent didn't transform into a tentacle monster and rip apart my paperwork and suitcases.