If “The Terminal” and “Lost In Translation” Had a Baby – The Lost Blog
Here follows the blog that would/should have been posted on April 9th, 2008 when I was in the airport in Tokyo. It *would* have been posted had I been able to find internet access. There will be more to follow:
The long story short is be wary when you book a flight on points. With Melbourne all but a distant speck in my rearview […which is hard since there’s no way that you can drive that – H!ITVA! Ed.], I’m now pinballing my way through the Pacific Rim to meet up with buddies in Hong Kong. “Now,” you’re probably saying, “when I was in the Melbourne Airport, I know I heard announcements for the direct flight right into Hong Kong.” And you did. I heard the same thing. One stop, one flight, and a plan as simple as the “One, Two, and Three: The First Three Positive Integers Retrospective” course I took in second year at Waterloo. And it is easy. But I’ll be effed if going by Aeroplan points puts you anywhere near that frame and instead provides you with a nine hour layover in Tokyo’s Narita airport. Such is the life of a man wishing to travel for free. I am such a man.
So, not wanting or having the means to do this the easy way, a series of two hour phone calls to Aeroplan gave me this route. Melbourne became a dot on the horizon around 3:45pm Tuesday on my path to Singapore. It was during this leg of the journey that I realized just how big the nation of Australia actually is, as I finished watching “There Will Be Blood” in the in-seat Select-A-Flik, and we still had Australia below us. By the by, I think that should be the new currency for measuring flight duration: Movies.
“How long’s your flight to Vancouver?” you’d say.
“Oooooh, it’s a long one. Four movies, and three of them are the ‘Lord of the Rings’ trilogy,” you’d hear.
“Ouch, that is a long one. My flight to Montreal was only an episode of ‘House’ and half a ‘Family Guy’”, you’d reply, knowing full well that those are technically not movies, but they are available from the back of the seat in front of you and you try finding a 50 minute film. Okay, one that’s good.
S’anyway, the flight to Singapore was no big woop. Easy as you like, in the air, free drinks, decent beef and mashed potatoes, and a successful landing. Thank you all involved at Singapore Airlines. This provided me with a three hour layover in Singapore. If you’ve never been to Singapore Airport, and I haven’t until now, it has a shopping plaza that spans several departure gates with a length that would rival most cities’ Pride Day parade path, but less gay. And also so’s you know, you’ll be looking forever to find a dollar store as the shops are pretty top shelf. No place to buy a crap t-shirt that says “Pobody’s Nerfect in Singapore” or a really shitty pun in Singapore Sling, but if you hit the airport, walk towards your connector gate and realize, “Crap! I forgot to bring my PS3 and my Omega Seamaster Watch!” Singapore has you covered.
I did find one shop that I could just afford, that being the first-in-the-world FIFA shop (and they have the banner to prove it) choked with Brazil, Italy, and for whatever reason, Mexico football memorabilia. Of the Holland stuff, I didn’t really need another orange t-shirt, and the Scotland shirts and jacket selection was small in size and quantity. The “We Were Lucky To Get Nil” shirt I wanted went as high as size Small which would do nothing but leave me quite exposed and leave you the poor onlooker running for some sort of bucket or other. So, 35 Singapore dollars on the Visa later, I left with a Scotland ball cap. You can never have too many.
The other thing the airport affords is many eateries, bars, and restaurants. There were at least three bars I found on my initial cursory meander. So what’s a guy do when he’s got a layover of several hours and several bars at his service? In-terminal pub crawl! Well, I was going to do that, but friendliness being what it is, I ran into a guy from Thailand in the first one whose daughter and husband live in Toronto and whose son-in-law is in the process of opening his second Philthy McNasty’s in T-Dot. So I promised to look up his son and have threatened that if the venue afforded, I’d throw a show in there. Consider this your warning, Pradeep. After a few pints of Tiger, I now have a place to stay in Thailand if I need and a brother of his to show me around in Bangalore, India, which may be happening sooner than I think.
Another plane, another few movies, this time to Tokyo. And yes, consulting your map you will see that indeed I pass over Hong Kong in the process. I did mention that the flights were on points, and is now providing the living proof you may have needed that indeed, nothing comes without a price.
So now we’re in Tokyo for nine hours. Too long not to get Stockholm syndrome, but too short to do anything, really. My attempt to get on the early flight were pulled out of the queue, barked at by the drug-sniffing dogs, and shot on sight by the Singapore police when I was told by the smiling-so-hard-that-MY-cheeks-hurt Japanese counter staff that because it was done on points, that’s the best you can do, mate. Enjoy the airport. Well, she said it way nicer. When she pointed to the picture on the counter of possible in-bag toiletries one might carry to ensure that not one of them was more than 100ml in volume and neatly contained in a Ziplock, I put her worries to rest and nodded. I did mention that, contrary to the photo, I was not carrying any mascara and wondered if that would prove to be an issue, causing her to snort. Japan’s an easy room.
So here I am, scouring the airport for a WiFi connection and drinking a koi-pond-sized coffee. My tour of the airport has resulted in my purchasing of a t-shirt that has some Japanese writing on it, most probably stating “I’m a big fat white tourist Huck, but you should look at the shirt, make eye contact, and nod appreciatively so that I think it means something really neat, like ‘Peace to All’ or some shit like that.” Challenge for the day will now be to actually get interweb access to let folks in HK know that I’m not on the early flight and attempt to give myself an entire bath in a toilet stall here.
Necessity is the mother of invention, and no one said she was always a pretty lady.