I used to travel overseas for work up to three times a year but times are tough so I would be lucky to be invited to cover assignments abroad at all. (Yes, I am a journalist)
It appears that my luck has not completely dried up. This year I was privileged enough to travel to Singapore and France. Truth be told, I hate flying — not because of plane crashes but — because I hate air pockets. I can tolerate turbulence — the aircraft shaking and swaying left to right — which, almost always happens during meal times. But having the plane drop by a foot unexpectedly mid-air? My worst nightmare!
But every flight — well most — has a happy ending: landing at an airport. Granted that some people’s nightmares begin there, particularly at the customs, I have been blessed to be spared from such unpleasant experiences at airports.
Thanks to my work, I have been to a number of international airports in my 10-year career. The list is as follows: Australia (Perth, Adelaide, Hobart, Melbourne and Brisbane); USA (LAX Tom Bradley terminal, Albuquerque and Phoenix); Singapore (Changi); Thailand (Bangkok); Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi); Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap); Japan (Narita); UK (Heathrow, Birmingham); Hong Kong; South Africa; Botswana (Gabarone) and France (Toulouse).
Each airport has a story to tell.
It was at Narita airport that I first saw surfers checking in their surfing boards. That thing is huge! Easily the length of an MPV! In fact, it was in Japan that I first saw surfers hitting the waves live. God I miss Japan 😦
If you think it is not possible for people to accidentally board the wrong flight, well I have seen it happen in Gabarone, Botswana! Granted they could be a little drunk but there were two African gentlemen who boarded the wrong plane and only realized it when they saw other people on “their” seats!
I recall blogging from HK international airport at 7 am while waiting to catch my connecting flight back home. I had just arrived from Los Angeles and was quite miffed that Tom Bradley Terminal not only looked dingey and uninviting but also didn’t have free wifi!
HKIA was quite a contrast to TB. It was new, well-lit and had plenty of power sockets and free wifi to boot!
I remember writing in my post and telling myself that I would one day visit HK and not just be stuck in its airport. Over a year later, I got my wish! Talk about the law of attraction!
I was not impressed with Heathrow because of a customs officer who gave me a hard time just because I needed time to look for my boarding pass. She yanked my arm so hard because she thought I was going to run off into the departure hall — as if lah kan? Stupid b!tch! — that it hurt not only my arm but my feelings. In an ideal world, I would have slapped her face and taught her a lesson. But let’s be real. I was an Asian tourist a British airport and she was a customs officer — I could get arrested and deported for assaulting a government servant!
But I have been lucky to avoid Heathrow after that. I’ve been to England twice and the second time, I came in via Birmingham airport which is much smaller and more pleasant, I’ll tell you that.
I won’t forget Melbourne airport because I bought my Christina Aguilera perfume there. I could be wrong but I still don’t see it being sold in perfume stores here. It’s my favourite perfume of all time because it smells so fresh and pretty.
I had to pack very light for an assignment in Botswana because we were advised against checking in our luggage. Apparently, your luggage is safe up to Johannesburg, South Africa. But once you reach Gabarone, you might never see it again!
I always look forward to flying into Singapore because it just has a vibrant feel to it. Plus, Changi is where I was first introduced to Charles & Keith! This was a good two years before C&K opened up their first store in peninsular Malaysia. I remember I bought a C&K bag at Changi at 5am and have been introducing the store to media friends who have yet to discover C&K ever since 🙂
There are many more sweet memories from the other airports — too many to tell.
Makes me wonder where my next holiday/work destination will be? I’ll keep you posted!