Why is the airport difficult?

One of my many odd hidden talents is the ability to cry on command. I can produce real genuine tears that once started make the person observing so moved with empathy that they have to help.

Arriving at the Singapore airport, I was ready to cry to the customs agent, the porter, the girl at customer service and now the supervisor at counter. Fortunately, he was kind to me and I didn’t need to unleash a fury of tears.

At the check-in counter in Bali, the check in agent only gave me my ticket to Singapore and not the connecting flight. I told her I had a connecting flight and she said I would pick up the next ticket in Singapore. I asked about the luggage and she said I would also have to pick it up. I said I prepaid for luggage services so I would not have to go through customs and lug my stuff for 7 hours. She said, sorry, but you need to pick it up. Not wanting to argue with her, I accepted the boarding pass and got on the flight.

On the flight, I asked the flight attendant where I could pick up the next boarding pass and she too said I needed to go through customs. She told the other passengers with connecting flights the same message.

Onward through customs, with luggage picked up, I then spoke to everyone mentioned above to assist me. I didn’t want my luggage based on principle. I paid for a service and I wanted to stay inside the airport after security clearance – that’s where all the services can be found which requires a boarding pass.

Upon reaching the supervisor and explaining the situation, he told me everyone misinformed me and I should have not exited customs. He said it’s possible that leaving Bali, due to a partner airline, they might not have the same communication about policies. He said he would help me check in my luggage and produce a boarding pass, even though the check in time is at 4 am. He said I should bring up my grievance online with Tiger Airways, which is something I do not need prompting to do. Last time I wrote an online complaint to another airline, it produced free frequent flyer miles. Not that I did anything with those miles but it was a nice gesture.

The fun part about waiting for the supervisor, a Chinese monk came to talk to me and ask about his flight. He too is here at 10 pm for a flight at 6 am. Unfortunately, he has to wait until 4 am to check in. I was proud to communicate with him and be understood. It’s nice to know I have the words to communicate even though I have been so out of practice.

Once through security, I found the gym, the movie theater and dinner. The only movie I might be interested in, is playing at 3:45 a.m but I doubt I will make it to that hour.

Sleeping at the Transit hotel for budget room rate is $47 sgd at terminal 1 and 2 (6 hour block), $35 for terminal 3 (rates called slumberette or nap – 3 hour block). The rainforest lounge ($30 for first 3 hours, $8 for subsequent hours). As much as I would like to sleep and try a slumberette, I’ve never paid that much while traveling so I am not going to start now.

I am disappointed I did not take my swimsuit out of my luggage. For only $14 sgd, I could have used the pool and jacuzzi.

If you have a layover of 5 hours or more during the day, you can take a free guided Singapore tour. They take you around town for FREE.

Dinner was a delicious South Indian dosa. At the cash register you can pay in Singapore dollars, US dollars, Japanese yen, Euros, Australian dollars or Hong Kong Dollars. I thought that was neat.

It’s 11 pm and I am getting tired. I might consider finding a bench or somewhere to lay my sleepy eyes but I always get concerned about missing my flight. Once, I was so tired between a connecting flight, I slept directly at the gate and missed the flight. I’ll set an alarm this time and hope for the best.

Photos: random pictures at the airport, the monk I spoke with, driving to the airport in Bali – passing a truck of chickens.
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Sexy Back remix

Random thoughts…

It could be wishful thinking, but my bike tan lines look like they might be fading or at least I think they are less drastic than the straight lines they used to be.

A lot of people tell me they met their companions/partners at clubs or at the pub. I thought that time of my life was over but maybe it’s time to start going out again. Who is with me?

Photos: a man in a speedo looking for fish and a Muslim girl posing for her friends.

I’ve had a great visit in Bali, now on to the Singapore airport and then Hong Kong.

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Trench coat and shoes

I have been very successful at not buying things these last few months unless they were practical, replacing an item due to wear and tear. It always comes down to, you are carrying your house, do you really want to add to the weight. Most of the time, the answer is fairly clear. I regret the purchase of those shoes in Singapore. I love them but have only worn them on a few occasions. They don’t translate to practical and I have carried them for the last two months, 4 countries.

Shopping in Asia is generally a unpleasant experience. Most the time, I have the feeling of being swindled. Bartering, I never know what is a reasonable price for the item in question. One wants to get to a price point where both parties find it favorable and acceptable.

Indonesia is my last stop in Asia, so I bought a few gifts today but already resent the weight. I hope to continue this sentiment and maybe try very hard to not spend much when I am back. I am not going to the extreme of saying I won’t shop anymore but I hope I can continue the sentiment of only buying if it is to replace something. The Singapore shoes will always be a reminder of excess vs. need.

When I return to my storage unit next week, I look forward to purging it’s contents a bit further. I can finally with absolute confidence give away that trench coat.

Return to the West

I am in Sanur, Southeast Bali, the same type of beach as Kuta, but the difference is I have not seen anyone under 30 years old. Well, maybe that’s not true. I saw a group of good looking Japanese surfers. They could have been under 30.

I wanted to go parasailing today but the winds were too strong. I took some photos of the resorts along the boardwalk. It was the first time I have seen a swim-pool-in bar. Also very funny, the man in the water fully clothed with a parasol. I am not sure if he was looking for something or going for a walk.

Tomorrow, I think I might take the slow public boat to the nearby island for better beaches and even less people. The slow boat means I get to sit next to melons and it takes 2x as long as the fast boat, but, hey, what’s the rush? Only one more day of paradise to savor until a slow but steady return to the West. Friday night, I sleep in the Singapore airport. Of all the airports in the world, I am thankful my layover is in Singapore. I can get my nails done, go to the gym, take a shower, eat great food and be entertained.

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Ubud.

A Canadian woman said to me, “I have dived all over the world, but entering the waters off the resort, I instantly saw fish I had never seen before.” Encouraging words for a beginner. I miss the quietness of the ocean already.

On the drive to Ubud, I saw a woman while on a motorbike, (as the passenger) balance a tray of items on her head. I saw a man on another motorbike, (as the driver) hold the handle with his right hand and in his left, he held a live chicken upside down by it’s feet. I shared my surprise with the driver and his expression in his eyes, was like, what’s so special about that?

Both locals and tourists recommend I visit Ubud. Upon arrival, I am overwhelmed by the large number of tourists and signs stating – organic, natural, meditation, healing spa, yoga. You can make your own judgment and conclusions based on those words about the type of tourists Ubud attracts.

Bali is definitely not Indonesia. The entire island is an oasis for tourists. This island is a little pricey by my budget standards and I think Bali is a good place for couples. The Balinese women are the most beautiful women I have encountered in South East Asia.

In the evening, I attended a “kecak” traditional dance. The first half was pretty cool. There were 60 men seated on the floor using their voices and bodies like an orchestra. It was a complex melody, a cross between acapella and chanting. The men were all different ages – some young, some old and all different body types, sitting on the floor shirtless chanting. The dancers accompanied the chanting by telling a story through eye movements and hand gestures around a fire.

After the dance was a true fire dance. I wasn’t expecting the barefoot dancer to literally walk through the pit of fire, kicking the ash among the audience. After the show, the dancer sat on the ground and prayed. I would be thanking some God too if I had to dance through fire for 20 minutes. People gave him tips as he sat there and I was wondering if the tips were a good thing. Should we be encouraging this form of livelihood?

Today, a tour to the surrounding villages and temples around Ubud – (I dislike tours but I need the transportation help), then I will go somewhere else without so many tourists. I am thinking southeast to a small island/beach.

Third dive… Certified!

The beauty of stepping out your door and seeing nothing but the clear blue sky and endless water that stretches beyond the horizon is breath taking. I think it’s possible, something I could get used to. Even the rain is magnificent. In every direction you look, you only see sky and water.

The sunken USS Liberty was very cool. It’s like something you might see on the history or national geographic channel. A boat sunken since 1942, covered in natural reef and coral. All these fish making it their home.

It’s been grand here, but like all things, everything must come to an end for a new adventure to begin. Onwards to Ubud, central Bali. Learning to scuba dive has been a great way to end my South East Asian travels. I loved it. Thank you Axel. Thank you Andreas.

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Second dive

Sometimes, I am astounded by my own ignorance. I would like to think I know a bit about a lot of things but that may not be true. Yesterday, I had a study session with my instructor prior to taking a open water certification exam. We talked about nitrogen levels, wavelengths, velocity, pressure and safety. I haven’t spent much time in the sun and sand but that shouldn’t be the excuse for my ignorance. I suppose the same can be said for someone skiing or snowboarding for the first time, but still, I am surprised to experience something completely new and it is refreshing to be shown I do not know much at all. I cannot identify marine life, let alone distinguish one type of coral from another. On today’s dive, (we had two sessions) a depth of 18m or 60 ft., we saw a stingray, many Nemo’s, big fat fish, and many different colors of starfish. Tomorrow on my last dive we get to swim to a sunken ship. Diving to the underwater world is a surreal experience. I do not yet have the words to describe it. I am so glad to have the opportunity to learn in such a welcoming and safe environment. I whole heartly trust my instructor and the boys who help run the shop.