Singapore

A night at Changi (Singapore Airport)

Technical problems caused my flight to be two hours late arriving, so I missed the last flight out of the night to Penang.  A night in Changi, then. Luckily it’s my favourite airport – which, of course, it partly why I chose to transit through it. I was on my way from Sydney to Singapore.

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Firstly I head for the Airport Information desk to get a WiFi login and password, map of the airport, if there are any lounges I could use free, and the location of the free shower. They now want your passport details for the WiFi. And they told me there was no free shower.

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I certainly couldn’t find the shower this time, and I looked in all three terminals.

There are lots of activities available at Changi.

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Mostly I watched films and snoozed in the T2 cinema,

This is the entrance to the T2 games and cinema room

but there is also a snooze room inT3, with recliners.

note power point if you do wish to charge something

Another important thing to do is charge the mobile, but for safety you have to keep an eye on it, so can’t do it while asleep or in the cinema, unless you put the mobile in your pocket, perhaps – should the cord be long enough.

I found similar snooze chairs on the upper level (Level 3?) in T1.

It was pleasant to view briefly some of many gardens on the terminals.

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During the day you can also take a free tour to the city if you have time.

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Airport information told me I could use the Green Market restaurant (in T2) with a card I had from my bank. In my wanderings I walked past, so entered.  They close at 1AM, so there was half an hour left. They have wifi, computers you can use, and they give you a free meal.  You need to show the card and your boarding pass – I didn’t have the boarding pass for my next flight yet, but they were happy with the one for the incoming flight.

the free (Japanese) meal

I also went to the Butterfly Room, but it was dark and the butterflies were asleep.

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To get around I mainly walked, but did use the inter terminal Skytrain.

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Later, when it was light, I returned to the butterfly garden, and although it’s very hard to see in a photo, lots of butterflies were flying around.

many of those splotchy colours are butterflies flying

If you need a drink of water, there are a lot of water fountains around the place.

And finally, at the boarding gates, they also have WiFi, and computers you can use. And another great idea – a posting service in case security don’t let you take something on board the plane – although this service is frightfully expensive.

You can post back things security won’t let you take on the plane – and this is just outside the boarding gate.

The great thing about Changi is that airside it is s huge transit lounge. Not the usual transit lounge which is a tiny room with blank walls where you wait to board your next flight.

This time in Changi the WiFi reception was quite unreliable, and I was disappointed about the shower, but it is still my favourite airport.

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To Singapore by Air Asia

The last trip I made to Singapore was by train – so I thought I’d fly this time.

The main carriers that ply this route are Singapore Airlines, which are usually quite expensive, Malaysian Airlines – which had no direct flight when I was travelling – all flights stopped in Kuala Lumpur, and Air Asia, which has several direct flights a day.  So Air Asia it was, then.

BOOKING:  Air Asia’s (AK) Internet site is quite fast.  But when you book you have to be careful to unselect several default options you may not want, and that add considerably to the cost, and unless you want the travel insurance, read carefully so you can unselect it. If you want to select your seat they want to sell you a “Hot Seat”, but selecting any other type of seat is far cheaper – just look carefully to find that option, if that’s what you want. If you find you’ve done it wrong and accidentally agreed to some option you didn’t want, you have to cancel and start again from the beginning.

PRICE: There is an extra RM10 for using the credit card to pay – or you can pay by bank draft online to avoid it. All up for me the price was a reasonable RM334 for the flight to Singapore and back.  As usual, the governments took half of that.

AK receipt

PRE FLIGHT: I received all the information I needed from AK by email, very quickly after booking. And a few days before the flight I received an email with a link to click which took me directly to the page I needed to check in on the web. Very easy and convenient. Or it would have been, had it worked.  I clicked through the procedure, only for it to tell me at the end I couldn’t check in on the web.  I started again, and again it failed at the end.  Fourth time lucky, though.  I printed the boarding passes for outbound and return.

THE BIG DAY: Included on the boarding pass is a convenient chart showing the four steps you need to take at Penang Airport. Step 1 was to clear security – now this may be correct for domestic flights, but on International flights not.  When I tried to follow step 1 I was told I have to go to the AK desk to have my documents verified.  At this desk a sign says “no luggage”, so there were two people with about 10 passports, passing some luggage to the attendant.  A short wait there left me with the impression it would turn into a very long wait at the speed the attendant was working, so it proved far faster just to go to a normal check in desk for the verification.  Staff was friendly. The check in machines had a sign on them saying to go to the normal check in desks, too, so I couldn’t try that option. Indeed, nothing much had changed when I walked back past the actual verification desk.

After this, all went smoothly.  The plane arrived, everyone boarded, and the plane took off on time.

Air Asia

The plane was clean, and the staff were friendly.

Plane was clean and tidy

Not so much leg room, but enough for me, so I was comfortable enough for the short flight.  The plane was quite full.

legroom

Soon after take off the in-flight meal I had preordered was delivered to me.  Not so many people had ordered, it appeared.

the meal

I strongly suspect that the sauce contained MSG (monosodium glutamate), a very cheap flavouring agent.and a known neurotoxin.  There is little awareness in Malaysia of how poisonous this is, and so it is hard to avoid unless you eat at home.  There are a few restaurants in Penang proclaiming that they are MSG free; it would be nice if Air Asia joined them.

the meal unwrapped

It was otherwise fairly standard for airline fare.

The plane arrived on time after a smooth flight of 1 hour 20 minutes.

So, a reasonably economical, fast and quite easy trip with AK, with only some minor easily fixed glitches, already mentioned. The return trip was about the same,(except in Singapore the boarding pass “steps” were correct), so Air Asia was consistent, too. A thumbs up for Air Asia.

From Penang to Singapore by train

If you want to know about train journeys, it’s hard to do better than looking at The Man in Seat Sixty-One.

This is a short account of my trip to Singapore by train in October 2011. The train trip went smoothly, and was interesting.  I am glad I did it. I am not sure I would do it again, though.

I booked seats through the Malaysian Railway’s (KTM site)- basic but functional. The prices were very reasonable. And anyone, Malaysian or foreign, over 60 years old gets a (50% discount) on all classes. I had to make two bookings for the return trip: Penang – Kuala Lumpur return, & Kuala Lumpur to Singapore return.

The train departs from Butterworth, on the mainland, the station being close to the ferry terminal. From home to the ferry was a few minutes by taxi.  Then you follow people to the ferry, as there is no real signage.

The “waiting room” for the ferry to Butterworth.

It seems the ferry goes every 10 minutes or so.  It’s free to Butterworth.

CONTINUE READING HERE