Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Longest Day, part 93

Friday, November 06, 2009

We spent the night at the Traders Hotel in Singapore. EVA picked up the cost of a taxi, the room and the return taxi this morning. We could have eaten dinner and/or breakfast in the hotel dining room but opted not to. The room was tiny compared to the Marriott and smelled of stale cigarette smoke. Hotel staff told D that they had run out of non-smoking rooms when the influx of EVA passengers filled the hotel yesterday; most of those passengers “checked out” in time to catch the rescheduled flight to Taipei which Daniel said was supposed to depart at 11:30.

Prior to leaving for the hotel, we spent even more time with Daniel. He escorted us through the terminal to the Immigration check point where some officious clerk ran him through circles because we were not with the rest of the EVA group; we had already cleared Customs when we entered the airport earlier in the day and now we were trying to enter Singapore without having gone anywhere. Daniel sent the wheelie to do the running around and he sat with us and chatted about his wife and children. When we were finally allowed to enter Singapore, Daniel and the wheelie took us to taxi stand, bypassed the queue and sent us on our way.

The driver wasted no time getting us to the hotel where he was paid by front desk personnel. We were shown every courtesy even though we weren’t paying and soon we were in our room [smaller than an inside cabin] and our bags delivered. We were asleep by 10 o’clock having spent a long time getting nowhere.
We were up by 7 this morning thanks to internal alarms and no heavy curtains on the window. After doing morning ablutions, we were ready to go 8:30. D had reconnoitered the breakfast buffet but was not enticed into eating anything. MA decided to play it safe and ate a cereal bar from our collection. [D had bought these and leb kuchen on a shopping trip to the grocery at Paragon 2 days ago.] We checked out of the hotel with no problem and the clerk handed us $25 in Singapore currency for the taxi ride back to Changi. The ride in last night had cost $19.60 and D was a little concerned that the $25 would not be enough with morning rush hour ERP fees and fees . It was close, with the taxi ride totaling $24.35 on the meter. D congratulated the driver, Mr. Heng, on a job well done and gave him the $25 after he loaded our bags on a trolley. Note: Baggage trolleys seem to be free in every airport in the world except in the US. It’s a minor expense but it is so anti-tourist that one wonders if it is worth it in the long run.
Mr. Heng had dropped us at Door 5 which was marked Singapore Airlines Business Class. Sure enough, just inside the door was Counter 6, the one Daniel had told us to find. Score another point for Daniel. The counter was not busy and we right up to a clerk who handled us smoothly. All we had was a hand-written form showing the re-routing from EVA flight 226, but Singapore had us in the computer with our seats already assigned; Daniel said he could not promise that they would be together, but they are. The clerk also checked our bags through to PBI and issued our boarding passes for the Continental flight from Newark.
While waiting for the wheelie, we checked e-mail messages and discovered that Jon is not due in Singapore on his way to Mali until 7 p.m. We had hoped that it was 7 a.m. so we could see him one last time. The wheelie took us to the Silver Kris Lounge, a far cry from yesterday’s surroundings. This lounge is tremendous, quiet and well-appointed. We found a spot overlooking the entry hall to T3 and dropped our bags before exploring our breakfast options. We found breads and pastries as well as 4 kinds of flavored butter; quiches; Asian selections; chicken wings; fruit; and cheese. There were sodas, of course, as well as Tiger beer on tap; a wide assortment of teas; and a coffee/cappuccino machine. We ate at a dedicated counter rather than having to balance plates on little tables. Altogether, it was quite satisfactory, as Henry would have said.
Once we were finished, we returned to our seats and MA read newspapers while D did the daily update. Lounge staff members found us while we were getting sodas to bring back to our seats and confirmed the wheelchair. The apparent norm here is for the wheelies to keep the passenger’s boarding pass so they won’t be forgotten, so MA was relieved when the lounge staff returned her boarding pass; she worried all day yesterday that she would not have it if/when we were ready to board the plane.
The flight should begin boarding in a half-hour or so. With any luck, we will have 16 hours of smooth air, and lots of sleep, before landing in Newark this afternoon.
The Longest Day Continues.

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