Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Stranded in Singapore

I left Indonesia on Sunday, with possibly the worst flight schedule ever: an hour-long flight to Jakarta, a four-hour layover in Jakarta, and hour-and-a-half-long flight to Singapore, a thirty-hour layover in Singapore, and a five-and-a-half-hour flight to Delhi.

(No, come to think of it, I've had much worse flight schedules. A certain eight-hour layover in Charles de Gaulle springs to mind. Or maybe the ten-hour layover in Taipei. Or what about that time I scheduled a flight through O'Hare in the winter?)

In any case, my long-distance travels went smoothly, and, unusually, I didn't cry once, not even when Garuda Indonesia made me pay overweight baggage fees, not even when Singapore Airlines made me pay overweight baggage fees, not even when Jet Airways made me unpack and repack my carry-on and throw away my special SPF 45 facial sunscreen, by far the most expensive cosmetic item I own. (Okay, so I teared up a little bit as I begged, but it did no good.) And, luckily for me, nowhere in all this baggage paying and inspection did anyone think to weigh my backpack; had they even picked up they would have noticed that it was at least forty pounds, far over the standard carry-on weight limit.

My layover in Singapore, far from the being the utter waste of time I had anticipated and grumped about, was the highlight of the past week, if not month: Singapore is such an utter contrast from Indonesia that it seems almost eerie it's only a few hundred miles away. I wandered around the city in a daze, utterly awed at the, to me, amazing features of the city: it had crosswalks! And street signs! And maps! And sidewalks! And bus stops! And a Metro! And DRINKING FOUNTAINS! And a LIBRARY! And PEANUT BUTTER M&MS!!!!!

Phew. I'm getting all wide-eyed and excited again. I barely slept during this day in Singapore; half of that was the paint fumes and mattress coils in my hostel dormitory, both of which prevented me from really settling in, but the other half was the sheer high of being in a city that stayed awake past eleven p.m. I don't think I'd enjoy a longer stay in Singapore--in fact, I know I wouldn't; of all my trips there in high school, every time I stayed past three days or so the novelty wore off, and instead of appreciating the cleanliness and organization, I started fearing the obsessively perfectionist culture and dictatorial government that makes it so--but my twenty-four hours in efficiency and order made an ideal oasis between states of chaos, especially if by "oasis" I mean "tantalizing preview of things to come." Just think--two short weeks and several terrible flight schedules from now, I can eat all the peanut butter M&Ms I want, refreshing myself from public drinking fountains while crossing the street, in a crosswalk, on my way to a library. I can't wait.


Melyngoch said...

I think spf 45 sunscreen is more than a fair trade of peanut butter m&ms.

Th. said...


DON'T GET CANED!!!!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

Singapore's loss is Berkeley's gain.

Be in Utah between July 11th and July 17th, please?

Tolkien Boy said...

Um, what Ugly said.

steve said...

i just spent the past two days in Kuala Lumpur and I must admit that its hard not to get wide-eyed at the simplest things....crosswalks, driving in one lane at a time, the noticable lack of bored, unemployed people, etc. In the end, I know these are not what makes life in a city matter, but they certainly stand out like never before.