Friday, June 02, 2006

The Lonely Traveller

Ok, I have 13 minutes to get this post out before I get booted out of the Free Internet Access for Passengers terminal. For those who didn't know, I'm off to Hanoi for the weekend to catch up with the best friend. And so far, it's been quite an adventure and I haven't even left yet.

Packrat's extremely busy coiling and uncoiling lines which I'm told is a backbreaking and thankless job so I've had to come here on my own. The new Budget Terminal is not the most accessible by public transport. You take the train into the airport main. Then you take a long walk through the crew corridors which, I must say, is quite exciting. That's where our SIA girls preen before their flights. Anyway, at the end of the long walkway, you get to the shuttle bus that takes you to the Budget Terminal.

And the Budget Terminal looks like a shack-it's an airconditioned shack but nonetheless, it's a shack. All those around me checking in for the flight don't seem to be Singapore passport holders and one in two are sent away to repack their suitcases since Tiger Air has quite strict luggage restriction. I am puzzled until I watch some of these forlorn, turned away passengers repack. What are they taking out of their bags? Textbooks! Recognizable textbooks and I swear, I saw a Collins Dictionary too.

Now, the true reason why schools should not set holiday homework for their students. The poor kids, so many of them now from neighbouring countries, lug home their homework, instead of having pressies for the entire village. And it holds up the line at check in. The business traveller in front of me is all hissy and pissy about it until he too, gets sent away for a piece of luggage that even to the eye, could not be less than 15 kg!

There really is nothing to do in the hollow hall after you're speedily checked in and given a thankful and grateful glance by the counter clerk who just about had it with telling people their luggage is overweight. So, I walk myself into the Departure lounge and get accosted by some Immigration and Customs Authority people. No, I do not have ganja or look remotely suspicious. I just have the advantage of holding a red Singapore passport and they've got a new toy they want to test out. It's an automated immigration service.

Step 1. You slide your passport in photo down. It processes all relevant information and then BEEP! Gates open- Onto Step 2.

Step 2. You put your thumb on this glass panel and it reads your thumbprint. As you watch your thumbprint become clearer and clearer on screen you wonder what those chaps at the CSI labs could pull up about you if they had a chance. BEEP! Gates open, you've passed go and you've collected $200.

So, now I'm in the departure lounge and I'm tempted to have an O'Briens sandwich or something, but I'm not angering the gods of my tummy that hasn't been very settled the entire day.

Perhaps I will wonder around Esprit or the bookstore. Or perhaps, I should just sit facing the gate so that I can sprint into the plane the minute it starts to board.

Afterall, it's free seating on the flight and I don't want to be stuck next to some kid doing English homework where I would then feel obligated to tell him that his spelling or his grammar or both were all off.

Ok 15 minutes up!

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Ondine tossed this thought in at 15:00

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