6th February 2013

Day 0/Changi

The idea for this trip was conceived about a year back(2012) amidst the stress and boredom of preparing for A levels. and honestly i did not really believe that it would come to fruition. In retrospect, i’m actually surprised it happened given the many obstacles.

First, there was getting my parents on board, particularly my mum. Secondly, the financial aspect of the trip. Lastly, finding friends who had enough moolahs and willing parents. The first obstacle was overcome by a few months of convincing and a little extra help from my dad in getting my mum to agree once i won him over( she eventually offered to sponsor the cost of my plane ticket!).

The second obstacle was by far the easiest. All I had to do was visit the job agency and request the highest paying hourly job. This turned out to be a job at HSBC as a phone banking officer which paid $9/hour for two months.

The last obstacle proved to be the hardest. Many of my friends had already enlisted and the rest were either uninterested or had strong parental objections but i still managed to find one (he eventually pulled out after i booked my plane tickets due to his father’s change of heart). To be honest, I already had lingering doubts over him going so it wasn’t too bad.This happened 3 weeks before departure day and it was too late to find another friend ( I didn’t bother knowing it’d be futile).

Despite this setback, there was no way I was scrapping the trip. I had already spent a considerable amount on tickets and accommodation, enlistment was in a month and frankly i simply didn’t want to. If I had to do it solo well then YOLO. The setback turned out to be a blessing in disguise( I will elaborate more in another post on travelling alone) and changed the direction of how the trip eventually transpired.

So there I was at Changi Airport, sipping coffee with my family,waiting for my gate to open. Changi is always different each time i’ve visited it whether it’s the renovation works or new additions(i was pleasantly surprised to find self washing Japanese toilets!) It is a dynamic entity, a fairly accurate reflection of Singapore herself. No surprise that it regularly comes out top in airport rankings though their commitment to toilet cleanliness to the extent of a cleaner waiting outside the cubicle/behind you when you are doing your business is downright creepy.

Besides physical differences, it felt different now because i was about to embark on a trip halfway round the world ALONE. I felt fear,anticipation and excitement all at once and i must say it’s a rather interesting cocktail of emotions which you rarely get to experience. As i was bidding farewell to my teary-eyed mother and sister, it dawned on me the reason behind my mum’s initial violent objection to the trip. She previously gave reasons such as the cold weather and that I would freeze because i’m not conditioned as well as the usual motherly grievances such as getting kidnapped/murdered/robbed. I knew these were mere excuses but on that day i realized why- she was afraid of letting go and that was a particularly touching moment. You can never quantify a mother’s love.

At the seating area, it was nice to see a familiar face in a schoolmate of mine. I knew he was flying off on the same day as me but it was pleasant coincidence that he was on the same flight too.The talk with is parents while waiting did not come out too good.The usual questions of where i was going/how long were asked but then came the inevitable question of “Who are you going with?” and my reply which left them dumbfounded. I felt like a loner each time i replied to that question. It was not the first time it was asked during the trip and the feeling eventually died out over the next few occasions. It was comforting that i would not be starting this trip completely alone and that i would have a friend to talk to during the flight.

The plane was rather empty and i had a whole row to myself, perfect for a comfortable nap. After the plane had taken off on its route to Dubai, my friend came over and we ordered two Budweisers from the towering blonde Eastern European stewardess. I can confidently conclude that there is no better way to enjoy a cold one than at 20000 feet above ground with the starry night sky as a backdrop.Simply magical.

Solo Traveller

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