Only Planet

One Child, One Year, One Planet. A family of three traveling around the world...

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Thursday, February 02, 2006

36 hours in Singapore: Passepartout where are you?

We’re on the road again! We left Christchurch, New Zealand on Monday Jan 30th, flew to Auckland, then Sydney, and then onto Singapore, where we arrived after a total of 13 hours in the air and 8400 km (5220 miles) traveled, the longest distance we’ve gone in a day so far. Although we only had 36 hours in Singapore, we managed to fit in dining at the Komala Villa restaurant (recommended to us by three friends and the Lonely Planet),

visited the Sri Veeramakaliamman temple,

spent a couple hours browsing in the Borders bookstore, went to the Suntec Plaza to see the world’s largest water fountain,

and had dinner with our friend Emma, of the raft ride.

But all was not fun in Singapore. We had work to do. We had made arrangements to pick up our airline tickets for our flights from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (in Cambodia), from Siem Reap to Bangkok, and from India to Egypt while we were in Singapore since there are no Vietnam, Bangkok or Gulf Air offices in Christchurch, let alone Little Beach, so that’s what we’d planned on doing when we bought the tickets. Unfortunately we didn’t realize that it was still the Chinese New Year holiday on January 31st, nor did we know that except for the restaurants and book store, very little was open on our one full day in town. The next day, we had to catch a flight out of Singapore to Vietnam at noon, and the offices didn’t open till nine. We had three to visit, you do the math!
Like Phileas Fogg, the fictional character in Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in 80 Days, a time limit was imposed on us that placed us in quite a quandary. While Fogg would sit in his first class train compartment, expounding on the state of the modern world, his poor manservant Passepartout would have to scurry out among the locals, getting food, tickets and provisions. We desperately needed a Passepartout, especially when we showed up at the Gulf Air office at exactly 9:00 and found that it was open but the computers were down! We hurried to Bangkok Air, where we found out we can’t get our tickets until we get to Siem Reap (we were worried the Cambodians wouldn’t let us in the country unless they saw we were going to leave), but managed to get a printed itinerary. Vietnam Airways proved to be a bit more helpful, but the young woman who sold us our tickets had to actually write them out by hand. It’s been about 15 years since we’ve seen a ticket that wasn’t computer generated, so we had to wonder about the rest of the airline’s modernity, specifically that of the airplane!
Thankfully, Gulf Air’s computers were rebooted in the nick of time, and we raced back to their office, picked up the tickets, swung by the hotel to grab our bags, and hightailed it to the airport, where we managed to check in and make it to our flight to Ho Chi Minh City with minutes to spare. Although we aren’t doing anything insane, like trying to go around the world in 80 days, we found that even the most relaxed trip sometimes has some crazy moments. We’d still love to hire a Passepartout--if not as a travel coordinator, then as an occasional babysitter—but, alas, there is no million dollar prize waiting at the end of this adventure, so we’ll have to do the work ourselves for now.


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