My Indian Ocean adventure has begun! I left my house at 6:30am on Saturday morning (after only 4 hours of sleep because of the awesome David Crowder Band concert in Denver the night before, which I’ll post about at some point). Tim picked me up and dropped me off at an RTD bus stop on the Boulder-DIA route — I have an RTD pass so it only costs me $5, which is a sweet deal. There was another NCAR guy on the bus to the airport, so it was good to have some conversation.
While waiting at my gate at Denver I gave my parents a farewell phone call, booked my flights home for Christmas on Southwest, and then my first flight to San Francisco left about 10am. On that flight I chatted with a guy who works for a company in Boulder that makes LIDARs (including for NCAR). He grew up in Eau Claire, is a huge Badger fan, and proudly told me how much he and all Wisconsin fans hate Penn State and our “88-year old troll of a coach.” And then he went on a rant about how much he hates Nebraska and how he hopes they don’t win a Big Ten title for at least 15 years, haha. Methinks he doesn’t like change in the Big Ten! On another note, the Flatirons and Rockies were beautiful to fly over. I could see my neighborhood in Gunbarrel too!
In San Francisco I had barely enough time to snarf down some lunch (figured I’d better take advantage of my last chance to get good Mexican food for six weeks!) before it was time to board our 1pm flight to Hong Kong. Mechanical problems of some sort (a valve needed to be replaced?) forced us back to the gate for awhile, so we took off about an hour and a half late. On that flight I sat next to a guy originally from New Zealand but currently from New Orleans, who was on his way to a marine shipping conference in Singapore. We chatted quite a bit about global warming and the politics of all that, and also the relationship between science and religion, even though he wasn’t a Christian. He was a cool guy. I also managed to get a bit of sleep scattered throughout the 13+ hour flight.
I have decided that I much prefer flying Qantas for trans-Pacific flights than United. On Qantas each seat has its own screen, so you can choose what you want to watch, whereas United has one single viewing option at a time in the economy cabin, and most of it was crap. I also think Qantas is a touch more spacious, with slightly larger seats and slightly more leg room. I could be imagining things though.
Because of our 1.5-hr delay in San Francisco, we landed late in Hong Kong and had to go straight to board our flight to Singapore. Interestingly we had to go through another two security checks (including one metal detector) before being allowed onto the Singapore flight. The checks weren’t quite as stringent as the ones in the U.S. (didn’t have to take off my shoes, for instance), but my guess is that Singapore has tighter security than many other countries that have flights to Hong Kong (or maybe even HKG itself), and so wanted that extra security for inbound flights. (Or at least that was my guess until I went through security this morning, when I didn’t even have to walk through a metal detector!) That flight left a half hour late despite everyone boarding in time. It was also a 747, just like the SFO-HKG flight, and I had the same exact seat. I really felt like I had just done that…
So we landed at Singapore at about 12:15am this morning (Monday the 17th). After going through immigration and claiming my bag, I asked around where the “nap rooms” were that I’d read about (Lonely Planet advertised nap rooms in the airport that you could rent for up to 6 hrs for just S$40). Apparently the nap rooms are back behind security, and I needed a boarding pass to get back there. Of course since it was now 1am, the Qantas desk was closed. So I found a “viewing gallery” that had some rows of chairs set up. I tried to sleep from 1:30am to about 4:30am, but those chairs were not comfortable to lay on. Maybe I briefly fell asleep once or twice?? Eventually I gave up and went downstairs to wait for the Qantas ticket desk to open up, which it did at 6:30am.
I should just add here that Singapore’s Changi Airport is by far the nicest airport I’ve ever been in. It really is luxurious. There are plenty of free lounges everywhere, it’s incredibly spacious, very clean, and even the bathrooms are awesome. Also, once I got through security this morning I was immediately approached by an airport staffperson asking if I needed anything. I asked where the free internet kiosk was, and the woman gave me the username and password so that I could get on with my own laptop, instead of having to use the free computers. (Hence I could post this!)
Anyway, now it’s been 35.5 hours since I left my house, and in that time I’ve gotten maybe 4-5 hours of sleep. In one hour (9am Singapore time) my Qantas flight to Perth is scheduled to take off. After that 5+ hour flight, I’ll finally be DONE with airports and planes for a few days! I can’t wait! And I can’t wait to be back in Australia again! I’ll try to post at least once while I’m in Perth visiting Bob. Until next time…