Starting the morning of March 17th, 2008, I began what is my first international trip of the year. I started keeping an even more detail journal of my travels this trip, and will be slowly posting them online here. Below is what I've written up on just the trip to Singapore.
After getting back from Mammoth with Green Hills around 10:30pm, Sunday night, I proceeded to pack for my 3 week trip to Southeast Asia. Around 1am on Monday, I was finished (or content that I was finished). 4 hours and 15 minutes later, I was awake. Shortly after that, my sister Megan picked me up for the short journey to the airport. I arrived a fair bit earlier than I should have, but after my debacle with going to India the first time, I didn't want to take chances. So I got to sit at the airport for a while.
The flight to San Francisco was uneventful and short. At SFO, I only had to wait a short while for my buddy Marcus to arrive. Coincidentally, Marcus was on the same flight as me to Hong Kong, though he would be staying in Hong Kong while I was continuing on to Singapore. I used my skills (ie. membership) to get both of us into the Red Carpet Club, where we hung out for a bit waiting for the flight. Just before Marcus did arrive however, our other roommate from college, Joe, got a ticket to come to meet Marcus and I in Thailand after my stay in Singapore. So now it will be all three of us exploring the Andaman coast of Thailand. Basically, a really awesome time.
For the flight to Hong Kong, I had gotten a business class upgrade. I tried no less than 3 times to also get Marcus an upgrade with one of my vouchers. However, he had a free ticket from airline miles, and the computers would not let anyone upgrade him. So when getting on the Boeing 747 airplane, instead of sitting in my seat, 24H, I sat in 24G. When Marcus got on a short while later, I had him sit down in my seat. For the time being, it seemed as though the staff was buying it. Near the end of boarding, some guy got on the plane and wanted to sit where I was, in 24G, because that was his seat. He was really cool and didn't ask too many questions, and just moved on, after Marcus almost moved back to the Economy cabin. Unfortunately, upon taking off, one of the stewards counted the number of people in business class and started checking off people from the passenger manifest. While he was going around, Marcus and I came up with a pretty good back story. It turned out that Marcus' seat was actually 34. So the seat change could have been an honest mistake. Plus we would say that the counter told us we were sitting next to each other on the flight because they had moved Marcus into business class. All this happened right before the flight took off, so maybe it didn't make it into the plane's passenger list. After about 30-45 minutes of flight, and us confusing the steward a bit, Marcus had to move to his original seat.
One of the perks of international flights is the free drinks. Marcus took more advantage of them than I did, but the several that I had definitely helped me fall asleep the second time on the 14 hour flight. During the flight, I went to hang out with Marcus twice until forced to move forward to my seat because of the seat belt light. On the flight, I was talking to one of the stewards about my trip, and mentioned that I was going to be going to Phuket in Thailand. He then gave me some great tips about where to go and what to check out.
Upon landing in Hong Kong, the air was some combination of fog, smog, clouds and or smoke. Unfortunately, the air quality prevented me from seeing any of the city as we landed. So my impression of Hong Kong is pretty much limited to the airport. At that time, Marcus and I parted ways for 3 days. He then took off to explore Hong Kong, while I got to go work for 2 days. I went through the security checkpoint and waited for my next flight in the airport lounge. My third and final flight to Singapore was an uneventful trip. However, I did get to sit on the upper deck of the 747.
The arrival at Singapore was a bit early as the plane made good time on the 4 hour flight. Thus I got in around 11:10pm, instead of 11:30pm. But any savings by getting in early was quickly wiped out by the extremely long customs line. In Singapore, there is only one customs line, and after you get your passport stamped, you grab your bags and can leave the airport. I didn't get asked once to see what was in my bag (though I'm sure my checked luggage x-rayed). This amounted to the easiest, though longest, customs I'd ever been through. After exiting with my bags, I caught a taxi for the trip to my hotel. Along the ride, my driver was very chatty and I was able to learn quite a bit about Singapore from the relatively quick ride. After finishing the long journey, checking in, I was finally able to fall asleep around 1am, only to wake up around 5 1/2 hours later, which was an hour before my alarm clock.
That covers just my trip to Singapore. I'll leave my first several days for another post to come soon.