From SFO to Singapore

It all worked out in the end, of course. All the stress was behind us, all the obstacles of troublesome airlines with deplorable customer service was left back in another nation. And if you believe that…

Airport maintenance

Rebecca chats with an employee in the middle of some airport maintenance.

After spending the night in the MSP airport, we arrived very early in San Francisco, too early for Red Roof Inn to give us a room. Can you believe it? But yes: the clerk was cashing out his drawer around two in the morning and due to whatever primitive technology they run their hotel chain on, their computer system was not able to book us a room for a couple more hours. Stranded, we camped out in the nearby Leann’s 24-Hour Café.

The night clerk happened to be from Thailand, as we learned in the conversation we struck up, and in light of all our hassles he fronted me a free bowl of fruit. Chatting, we stayed up all morning until Red Roof Inn found the wherewithal to let us check in for a room. We slept for as long as we could before our flight to Singapore, by way of South Korea.

Seoul airport

Rebecca is delighted to visit Seoul!

We had a brief layover in Seoul International Airport. Before arriving, we’d learned there had been a volcanic eruption and ensuing tsunami from an earthquake west of Java, in which 340 people were missing. As well, a typhoon killed ten people in Seoul. The world was still trucking along on its own course regardless of our efforts or woes, as it would ever continue to do.

The plan had been to arrive in Denpasar and stay at the Hotel Yani for Oct. 26−28, but with the delay in our travel plans, Rebecca had called to push it back to 27−29. This was easily arranged without any pushback from the hotel, unlike our experience with Red Roof Inn.

Orchid grove in Singapore airport

A lovely orchid grove, in the Singapore Changi International Airport.

After nearly a day of travel (and massive timezone shifts) we arrived in Singapore Changi Airport (SIN) at midnight. We were exhausted, no two ways about that, so we inquired after sleeping accommodations. Unfortunately, the airport hotel was far, far too expensive for our purposes, so we were directed to Sanctuary, the free sleeping lounge. On the way there we toured the largely shut-down airport and its amazing koi ponds and orchid groves, with me urging a very sleepy Rebecca to come along and see the hands-on museum exhibits. Poor girl.

Eventually we did find Sanctuary, so to speak, but this was still far from restful. Next to us was a pair of Thai travelers, young men wearing headphones and cheap suits. One of these would occasionally sing aloud to whatever three-chord love ballads he was listening to, not necessarily belting it out at the top of his lungs, but still surprising us with intermittent crooning.

There was also an American family staying here, and I’d seen them around before. The father was a large side of beef, possibly ex-military, and the mother was attractive. These are the thoughts that occurred to me in my sleep-deprived delirium, as we flung ourselves to the other side of the globe. They slumbered behind a bench, the mother curled up on a lounger (in reverse, her feet under the headrest), and their son ran around the room and scrambled all over the furniture and decorations as though someone had sprinkled his sugar cereal with cocaine. No amount of drowsy “get back here” or “calm down” commands dissuaded him from romping all over the area at top speed. All I could do was wrap a shirt around my eyes and noise-canceling headphones.

Nasi lemak

Small dried fish with rice and a spicy paste.

Around six in the morning, Rebecca and I finally gave up the struggle to rest at all and stalked off to our gate. We found a booth for instant dark-roast Americanos, but Rebecca was feeling very physically ill at this point. Whether due to an illness contracted from closed-chamber airplane ventilation or the simple breakdown of her immune system at the end of profound physical exhaustion, it didn’t matter. I tried to psychically heal her guts (because why not, at that point?) but the only thing she could “eat” was a bottle of Orangina. I got my first taste of foreign food with a bowl of nasi lemak, and we spent some time with some automated foot massagers, which we both really enjoyed.

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