Singapore (8th March to 12th March)

Friday, 12th March, 2004

Thursday and flying home. 20 minutes from hotel to checked-in, and through customs. A posse of Singaporean soldiers patrol the airport with their machine guns at the ready. The world has changed.

Whatever you want, there is a place to purchase it at the Singapore airport. The prices are more than the Funan, and the Funan is only about 10% cheaper than Australia.

QF6 from Frankfurt via Singapore leaves 30 minutes late. De-icing in Frankfurt took “frightfully long”, so we’re late leaving Singapore.

2 hours sleep on the flight, and a full day of work on Friday.

Wednesday, 10th March, 2004

After 2 days stuck in internal meetings, and short sojourn to a bowling alley, its time to go shopping. Stod, Lee and I leave the hotel and head toward the Funan Centre: a building with IT stores.

If you are smart, you can walk from one end of Singapore to the other without losing sight of a retail store, and underground so you miss the sky. Half way, we see a tourist-y couple looking at a roadmap of Singapore. Stod assumed they had been stuck underground for days and were permanently lost in the mall underground.

So I got lost too. Too many changes in buildings around Raffles City, one wrong turn and you’re lost. Thankfully, a short S$6 taxi ride and we’re at the Funan. The Funan Centre houses most of the IT stores in Singapore, all under one roof. I am looking for a PCMCIA Compactflash card reader. Lee clocks one in a store on a high level. S$18 and we’re away.

Standing in the rain, 45 minute tough phone conversation. I wonder what people around thought of my conversation? Missed lunch, but didn’t miss lunch if that makes any sense.

Monday, 08th March, 2004

Flight QF5 is delayed by 30 minutes. Something about the engine needing to be “run up”, so it looks like Qantas have just fixed something on the tarmac. QF5 is also on its way to Frankfurt, absolutely full of an eclectic mixture of Formula 1 pilgrims and tragic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras attendees.

On the pointy end, and I mean pointy end, of a sieben-sechs-sieben vier hundert on its way from Sydney to Frankfurt via Singapore. This time, I am alighting in Singapore. Watching the inseat entertainment, choosing “Lost In Translation” from the various choices. Bill Murray (my father-in-law’s name), Scarlett Johannsen (I am in love) and Giovanni Ribisi (from “Saving Private Ryan”). Hmm, Tokyo in May; Normandy in April. The world is a small place, indeed.

Note to self: purchase the Lonely Planet guide to Tokyo so I don’t get lost. In the past 3 months, the Hodge family has purchased about 12 guides for various cities. The Seoul guide helped my not get lost. Which I think is the point.

I blame my father for giving me professional wonderlust and a desire to travel. As a sailor in the late 1960s, early 1970s I remember seeing pictures and souvenirs from exotic places including Singapore, Hong Kong, San Diego, Hawaii and Toyko. Either by nature or nuture, I want to see other places in the world. The next 70 days is going to be many cities compressed into a short time span.

In roughly 70 days time, I am in Tokyo for the first time. Watching “Lost in Translation” holds many resonant moments. Calling from a very strange time in an unfamiliar hotel room to a chaotic family at home is very common for partner’d travellers.

Sitting at the front of the 747, and I do mean the absolute front: seat 1B, the rain beats on the nose cone. It sounds like rain on a tin roof, but we are in a plane travelling at a couple of hundred kms per hour, on the equator, 25 minutes from Singapore. Ah, the tropics.

Fast and efficient Singapore: out in a taxi within 20 minutes off to the Pan Pacific hotel. The taxi driver is speaking on his mobile, hands free. Also, hands free from the wheel as he gesticulates his points in a language unknown to me. As we aquaplane in Changi to the Pan Pacific, I am eagerly awaiting to get horizontal in a hotel bed.

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