After six incredible weeks in Australia, it was time to move on.
Making the most of my last day, I got up before sunrise to take a walk to Mindil Beach while it was ‘cooler’. Even before daylight, the temperature seemed higher than yesterday and I would describe the humidity as decidedly claggy.
Mindil Beach was quiet. A few dog walkers enjoyed the peace and after a short wander I returned to breakfast and packing.
With an afternoon flight to Singapore, it was a leisurely check out and a couple of hours with nothing to do but go out for a few coffees, of the iced variety.
I booked the shuttle service to the airport with a phone call to Tanya so everything was straightforward.
The driver wandered into the hotel ten minutes early and we set off with plenty of time to the airport.
I had checked in online and walked through security, surprised that I didn’t have to present my boarding card or passport. I was scanned. My bags were scanned. No documentation was scanned.
I repeated the process for International Departures, though this time with my passport scanned. Nobody as yet asked to see a boarding pass.
After the rigmarole of getting out of Vietnam and Singapore on the way to New Zealand, I was a little surprised. And possibly a little anxious about this.
I expected there to be a little more process as I returned to Singapore.
The airport was phenomenally quiet.
I have been in busier village bus stations.
I settled down to plan the next few days of my trip… walking tours (of course) and a catch up with a friend. Darwin International Airport isn’t quite as lively or as interesting as Changi.
Just before boarding, an airport announcement rang out asking me to urgently present myself at gate 12, where I was already sitting.
So, at least I wouldn’t have a dash across the airport.
I stood up before the official had even finished reading out the announcement while her colleague was pointing me out.
I wondered what the issue was.
Was this because my boarding card hadn’t been scanned?
No, the staff member just wanted to verify that my passport details were correct and that I hadn’t been to China in the last 14 days.
A verbal denial was sufficient.
I had six weeks worth of Australian photographs that I could have shown her as proof but it didn’t seem necessary.
If anything, I felt better knowing that I was definitely expected on this flight. That was the first time I’ve been summoned at an airport before and there’s no need whatsoever for that experience to be repeated.
I could see the other waiting passengers watching, curious about what was going on – there really isn’t much in the way of entertainment at departure gates.
Once boarding was announced, with the list of special category passengers who would be invited to board first (business class, various club classes at least three of them, passengers travelling with children, passengers who had requested assistance, the variations were endless) I wondered if anyone would be left to board with me.
As it turned out, we were all ordinary.
Nobody was in any special club and business class was empty. The entire flight was also half empty. Check this out…
…an entire row to myself.
I would not be staying in my aisle seat when I could sit by the window.
Whether the low number of passengers was related to fears about coronavirus in Singapore, I don’t know. My friend over there had told me that the city is not as busy as usual.
I would soon find out for myself.
Take off was smooth and early. The air crew passed through the plane dishing out snacks and drinks.
All were wearing surgical masks. The Singapore Ministry of Health has advised that face masks were unnecessary (unless you are ill) and besides, the World Health Organisation advises the changing of the masks everytime they become damp.
Anybody who breathes (i.e. every living person) will find this doesn’t take very long.
Wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and use disposable tissues to blow your nose.
The flight was smooth, the inflight meal was foul and the cutlery was actual, washable, metal cutlery. Everything else was plastic but it’s a start.
After around four and a half hours, the plane began its descent over Singapore. The bay below us was filled with tankers – an astonishing sight.
On landing, I found Changi Airport to be very quiet.
There have been some wild rumours circulating among some travellers. I overheard one woman saying the airport was closed – it isn’t but travellers arriving directly from mainland China are not permitted entry currently.
If you have been to China in the previous 14 days you have to identify yourself to immigration even if you are using Singapore only as a transit point. If you feel ill, you definitely have to alert an official.
There are signs throughout the airport.
The advice is updated by the Singapore Ministry of Health.
Most if the people I saw were wearing face masks and it was such a different experience to transiting through here in November when the airport had been so busy.
I passed through the airport to where I had a car booked to take me to my hotel.
A car? Not using public transport? Find out why tomorrow.