Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Misery Business - Singapore Changi Airport

Singapore's Changi Airport is in the business of misery. We have flown in & out & both times were possibly the most frustrating & stressful times of our travels. Singapore is like a perfect city - so clean and sparkly but full of rules that must be adhered to, so I guess to keep it that way the airport has to be the same.
We were super excited to go to Singapore, we had heard how it is like a break from SE Asia, which we needed. Although we love Asia things do get to you after a few months & according to everyone Singapore is completely different, as mentioned above - clean & sparkly, not to mention the language they speak is English so no language barrier for 5 days.

Even the short flight was ace, I spent most of the time staring out of the window as the clouds looked really different to normal & as we approached Singapore I have never seen so many boats in the sea.

When we arrived in Singapore Changi Airport we were very impressed. In the toilets & at immigration they
had screens to rate the service (this screen is regularly sanitised it assured you) & on the luggage carousel were beautiful orchids. It's not like me to take so many pictures before I even leave the airport.

We quickly picked up our bags and were leaving the airport when we were randomly selected & had to put our bags through the x-ray machine. The immigration guys saw 3 "dense items" and wanted to know what they were. We quickly realised it was the 2 spent bullets from the shooting range at The Cu Chi Tunnels & a bullet shaped key ring we had bought as a present at the same place. Both rooting through our bags Russell finally found all 3, I was thinking 2 things at the same time - 1) We're not getting into Singapore 2) Once they see the bullet is a key ring and the other 2 are empty cartridges surely it'll be all ok & we'll be allowed to go. Neither of these things happened. The immigration guys, who were surprisingly nice, said they had to question us & call the police. They explained the police would question us more & seize all 3 items but it shouldn't be a problem as this happens every day with people arriving from Vietnam.

The wait for the police was about 10 minutes but felt longer but once the police came they were as cool as the immigration guys. They took loads of pictures and seized the 2 spent bullets, they were under Russell's name so he got a 'warning' that if he did it again in Singapore he would be arrested. They went to a lot of lengths - phone calls & photographs to let us keep the key ring at least. Then we were on our merry way, but what a ball ache!

Singapore has these now 

So skip 5 days and we're back at the airport, once again stunned at how nice it is - there was even a waterfall on the way in. We arrived 2 hours before the flight like good girls & boys but they wouldn't let us check in until we had proof of a flight out of Philippines which we didn't have, didn't know we needed & didn't want because we didn't how long we wanted to stay there. 

So we went off to buy tickets, first we tried to get wifi on our laptop but we couldn't get on without a Singapore phone number so we went to a booth to try to buy tickets. We asked for 2 tickets for 8th May from Manila to Bali because I want to spend my birthday in Bali & that's on the 13th. The guy was a few sandwiches short of a picnic unfortunately for us & he was on the phone for ages. He told us a price of 503 Singapore dollars for both of us which is about £250. That's not a bad price but we didn't want to be stuck waiting for a flight on 8th May if our plans changed so I asked the check in guy if we have to be on the flight we book - he wasn't as slack and said that we didn't have to get on the flight we just needed proof we had a flight out of the Philippines. So - back to slack arse to ask for the cheapest possible flight out of the Philippines on 8th May wich we wouldn't get on it would just be enought to check into our flight, he totally didn't understand what we meant, all the while we were watching the time ticking by. We had 10 minutes left to check in. In the end we just said we'd book the flight to Bali on 8th May so slack arse called the people back and booked it. Now we have to wait for the people he'd been calling to e-mail the confirmation & itinerary. We literally had 2 minutes left when he gave me a confirmation so we ran over & checked in. Phew!

BUT - we hadn't paid, Russell just wanted to go straight through to departures as we had a flight confirmation but I'm a worrier and was scared when we arrived in Manila they would see the flight is cancelled so I went back to pay. Then guess what? Slack arse decided to tell me it was 503 Singapore dollars EACH. I had asked him 3 times at least that it was 503 for both of us and Russell had checked aswell so I said no way, you told us that was for both of us. We then apparently had 15 minutes to board & the gate was a 17 minute walk away so off we go speed walking, all the time me thinking security are chasing us aswell - we get to the gate and........the plane hasn't even arrived! Oh My God! The flight was only delayed 10 minutes & we arrived even earlier in Kuala Lumpur than we should have.

When we got to KL airport we saw a Harrods cafe and we had a lovely afternoon tea to cheer us up.

I am writing this from Manila. We were never asked to prove we had a flight out of the country & immigration didn't give a toss about the bullet shaped key ring, so, as we thought it was just Singapore Changi Airport!

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