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Goodbye New Jersey. Hello World! A record of my journey as I give up my job, my possessions, and life as I know it to go off and see the world!

How I Survived a 15 Hour Layover in Singapore

SINGAPORE | Tuesday, 19 October 2010 | Views [17071] | Comments [2]

I arrived to Singapore at 00:35 from Hong Kong. I knew that this was going to be a rough experience, seeing that I got absolutely no sleep on the flight. My next flight was not until 15:50 to go to Perth. That’s Australia baby and my excitement for that alone was making me wish that 15:50 was more like 5:50. Why did I subject myself to such a torturous layover? At approximately 280 USD to get from Hong Kong to Perth I really couldn’t say no. It would go against every backpacker bone in my body to pony up extra money just for a more comfortable flight. Besides, I have never been to Singapore before and I was excited to add another place to the list of countries I have been to (up to 19 on this trip!) So without further ado, a log of my exciting time at the Singapore Changi Airport.

00:35 Get off the plane blurry eyed and not ready to have 15 hours to kill. Am immediately hit by a powerful wall of heat and humidity as I left the plane. The pilot reported it was 30 degrees centigrade already. How can it be this hot so early in the morning? I don’t want to know what this place is like when the sun comes up. Go through customs - another stamp in my passport. Wahoo! Grab my bag off of the luggage belt. Become unsure of what to do next. Realize I am in the “budget” terminal, which I assumed would not be a great place to kill time. Discover that I can’t even get into the budget departure lounge until I get my boarding pass, which my airline will not issue until 2 hours before the flight. Brief moment of panic/confusion occurs. I believe the exact thought in my head was “oh shit”.

01:15 Realize there is a free shuttle to take me to the “more posh” terminal 2. Find a place to store my backpack so I can not worry about that for a few hours. Walk around a bit - there are hardly any people around. I though that this airport was supposed to be full of stuff to do for people with layovers? The place feels like a ghost town. Get excited about finding a Starbucks - not because I want coffee but because of the comfy chairs and couches. The place has about 6 people sleeping on the couches and I decide to join them. Buy a bottle of water so I don’t feel too guilty about using the chairs. Stop feeling guilty when I remember I went to Starbucks twice the day before because my amazing Aunt Vick had wired me Starbucks credit and it kept me fed my last day in Hong Kong. Start reading a book I picked up in a hostel in China.

02:45Read about 75 pages of the book - so glad it’s keeping my attention. Listen to music. Start to drift off……04:00 Wow - I actually slept an hour! Get asked to put my feet down off the foot rest by a Starbucks employee….I thought that’s what those were there for…..Now if only I could try to catch more sleep

04:30 Ugh - sleep is not coming. Read another 50 pages in my book. Listen to music. Okay - time to do something new - my ass is tired of sitting

06:00 Book a free tour into the city through the Singapore visitor’s desk. How cool is that? At 8:00 I will leave to go to a section of town called Little India. Girl at the desk is such a sweetheart - has a smile on her face and enthusiastically gives me ideas of what to do. She even suggests some food I should try there and gives me some free postcards. Looking forward to the tour as it will kill 3 hours - and I can officially say that I saw the city.06:30 Go to McDonalds for breakfast. I am not ashamed. Get the “big breakfast” with black coffee. The woman at the counter asks me where I am off to and I answer “Australia” with the biggest smile on my face. People are really nice here. I make eye contact with people in the airport and they say hi to me. Been awhile since I’ve experienced that…..Wolf down my food. I keep telling myself I will be healthy again in Australia - I must be healthy again in Australia. Use the time to do some writing. Make sure to change to shorts before I do my city tour - otherwise I think I might just melt. Surprisingly not that tired at the moment, but I know it will hit me later bad.

08:00 Board the free shuttle into Singapore. There are 3 other couples. I am the only solo traveler. A year ago this would have bothered me but now I hardly notice. There are palm trees everywhere! The buildings are so white and stark. Very clean and sterile. Everyone but me gets off at the “sky view” which is basically a rip off of the London Eye….or did the London Eye rip them off? Either way, it’s a large Ferris Wheel that overlooks the skyline. I figure I’ve seen enough of those lately and want to actually walk around. Get dropped off at a place called “Little India”. Holy crow it’s hot. Sweat pours down as I walk through small allies and take in the Indian writing and decorations. New smells are coming to me in all directions - curry, incense and spices. My own smell from the heat also starts to develop. I feel really bad for the lucky person who gets to sit next to me on the plane. I want to try some food but don’t have a single Singapore dollar to my name. Go into my first ever Indian temple. Very cool - see people praying. Had to take my shoes off to get inside. Felt a tad guilty taking pictures but I just had to document the experience! Walked by some markets selling really cool purses and bags and other “homemade” souvenirs. Every third Indian man ogled me up and down - my own fault really for walking through town in a singlet and short shorts. Regardless it was really cool though. I hope to get to Indian someday. This part of town was way better than the touristy bit. Almost fell asleep on the shuttle ride back. Oh, and fell getting back on the shuttle and bruised the hell out of my right leg. Oh Watson - you were born a klutz and you will die a klutz. Never felt so tired and hot in my life….

11:00 Approximately 3 hours left until I can check in. Not too bad. The terminal 2 departure lounge taunts me through glass doors. Free internet, a bar, cool shops. No boarding pass = no entry. Damn you Tiger Airways - way to leave me hanging. I’m tempted to get a $10 “express” hair cut but change my mind. While the results could be fun I am also paranoid of things going wrong as well. What to do with the time….oh how about eat again? Being so tired as left me extremely hungry. I get some rice and chicken for under 4 Singapore Dollars. I’m given the option of cutlery or chopsticks and I go for the cutlery. Screw it I am leaving Asia in a few hours and I never learned how to use those things anyways. I’ve now spent less than 10 USD on breakfast and lunch. That ain’t too bad for an airport. Consider that I spent $7 the day before on a small sandwich in the Hong Kong airport. And I heard Singapore was expensive….

11:30 Time to join in the minions at the Budget Terminal. I grab my bag out of storage and head on over. But first things first: time to brush the teeth. Awww yeah….it’s the simple things in life that can bring a smile to my face. I want to sleep so badly but here at the Budget Terminal it is loud, the seats are uncomfortable, and there is no oasis in sight. I pull my Australian Lonely Planet out and start thinking about my plans for November. A man sitting right behind me is talking so damn loud on his phone in Cantonese. Even if I understood what he was saying I think I would still be annoyed. At the moment I feel so glad to be leaving Asia. Can you tell I am starting to get tired and cranky?

13:00 Check-in opens up for my flight. Thank god! I’m allowed access to the departure lounge and can get on the internet - for free! Happy days. There is a television with Myth Busters playing. There are lounge chairs with personal speakers to watch with. I can barely keep my eyes open but there is no point in trying to sleep now. Soon I need to find more food for the flight. Perhaps a beer. But until then - time to upload some photos on facebook. And this blog entry.

The question is - would I go through all of this layover time again? If the airport is nice like this one then yes! Totally worth the several hundred dollars I would have saved with flying direct. So if you find yourself with a possible long layover in Singapore, I say do it! You never know what “adventure” you might find yourself in.

Tags: flying, layovers, singapore



I liked your story. I was in a layover in Singapore coming from Riyadh and we were treated like cattle so I couldn't look around. We were processed and taken to a room to wait for our flight, it wasn't a layover though. I don't think it is you fault that men are ogling you. I have three brothers, and also my father, and they all disdain such behavior. Men don't have to be beasts without self-control if they don't want to. It doesn't take so much to go from it's my fault he ogled at me to it's my fault he raped me. There was a case in Puerto Rico where a tourist ws raped and murdered. She was jogging in the morning, 5 months pregnant too. And of course, the man catered to the sexist society saying, well she was wearing shorts. And especially, in hot climates, why wouldn't you be wearing as little clothes as possible. It is so sad that somehow we should hide our bodies. In some places in India, there is even a systematic, premeditated intimidation of women and girls who are out and about alone, how dare they? They call it evesteasing, and there are several documentaries about it.

So again, for the safety and wellbeing of women, and so we don't insult our male siblings and friends, don't say it is your fault.

  Min Dec 13, 2012 11:12 PM


I meant it was'n't a long layover though.

  Min Dec 13, 2012 11:14 PM



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