Thursday, February 14, 2013

HOME after a LONG flight!!!

Yes I finally made it back to home base.    So here I sit...on the 4:15 a.m. typing this.  Jet lag - you gotta love it!!! 

What can I say about the flights home?  LONG! 

I arranged for a taxi pickup at 6:15 and he was there shortly after 6 a.m. so off we went to Changi airport.  I checked in and then explored more wonders of Changi airport.  What does the sign there say?  A butterfly garden?  Yes it was.  Not the best I've seen - but the best I've seen in an airport!  That airport is amazing - I think you could make a vacation just exploring the three terminals there.  I had to use up some Singapore dollars - as it turns out twenty dollars was hiding in my wallet as well as coins and I did not see a charity box. Oh well - taxi money for my next trip there!   I bought myself a book on Singapore and some new funky headphones. 

The flight to Tokyo was good.  I sat beside a Japanese gentleman and his wife.  We chatted quite a bit at the beginning of the flight and he reminded me of my Uncle Tony for some crazy reason.  I felt like asking him "are you an engineer of some sort"?  :)  Very much a gentleman.  He had been to Vancouver and he told me he and his wife travel twice a year now that he is retired.  We discussed Japan as I told him I had been there nearly 36 years before.  My most prominent memory?  Having the taxi doors flipped open and closed for you by taxi drivers on a switch by their steering wheel.  I thought that was the coolest thing back then - and still do.  Also every shop door was electronic which of course is more common here now.  He said taxi drivers in other places can tell the Japanese as they stand by the taxi door waiting for it to open!!! With germ phobia taking hold here I don't understand why it hasn't caught on here. 

Singapore airlines was impeccable as usual.  Their cabin crew make you feel like they are glad to see you - or they really fake it well.  You even get a menu of what is served for dinner - two choices.   Wine is complimentary.   I had the chicken and potatoes with ice cream for dessert.  They really are the world's premiere airline.  I thought that back in 1977, 1990 and I still feel that way.   I passed the time using the entertainment centre and saw one movie "Alex Cross" as I read the books.   Not impressed but oh well.  I then discovered a new British series "Call the Midwife" and watched about four episodes of an hour each.  Excellent!!!  I will try to find it online.  By then we were landing in Tokyo at Narita International Airport.

I found my new gate no problem - only a couple of minutes walk.  I think I spent most of the time playing with the toilets!  I had heard about these toilets so it was fun to actually see one.   The funny part - all high tech but you still had to push a handle to flush them!!!  They have the famous "flushing sound" with volume control.  This is for shy people who do not want others to hear them tinkle or have a really good farting session...I had to try all the buttons out and snickered like a school kid the whole time.  Here is what they looked like. 

Yes you could adjust the water pressure - hmmm....and you could adjust the volume on the flushing sounds - those naughty Japanese...okay we won't even go there!!!  Hey, never let it be said I don't share it all with you.   I went into a shop and got a couple of gifts and the lady was so sweet and told me I must come back to Japan.  And I agreed.   

Next up...Air Canada to Vancouver and I could tell the difference right away.  Oh well.  The meal wasn't too bad - beef with sauce and noodles.  The entertainment centre was pretty darn pathetic and I finally settled on an old favourite "Love Actually".  The TV selections were all North American of course....oh my don't I sound like a snob. 

We arrived into Vancouver on time to absolute chaos - there are no longer custom agents for Canadian citizens but these stupid kiosks.  Like self check in at airports.  Well try figuring out how to put your passport in after 16 hours of airplane time.  They had one person helping everyone.  Then you had to line up while one person - yes one person - looked at your printed out immigration card (yes you stuck your immigration card in a slot and got a copy back)  and sent you either into another line or ahead to retrieve your luggage.  Luckily I was sent straight ahead but lining up for that took a while as well - one person??????  How insane is that.  By then I was in a foul mood and then I remembered I did not have a direct flight to Regina but two stops.  And I could have made the direct flight with time to spare as there was still over an hour until departure.  Singapore only checked my bag as far as Vancouver.  Normally they check it through to your home city and you retrieve your luggage for customs in your first entry into the country and then after customs off it goes.  I had to actually go and get new tags.  I asked the agent about changing my flight to the one I was originally booked on (but had to be changed due to it being moved ahead and it was thought I would not make my connection) and it turns out there was room but a $150 change fee which I refused to pay.  It is sad that agents have to follow rules and not have the freedom to think "this gal has flown 16 plus hours and is a frequent flyer, there's room so let's put her on this flight".  This has happened in the "good old days" which are clearly over.  I asked another agent and was blown off - "if the other agent said no then it's no" and turned to talk to his friend.   I asked at the gate where the Regina flight was departing and she actually looked a bit sympathetic but said "your bags are checked on the other flights so we can't".   It was more the attitude of the first two agents than anything.  It was not like there were people lined up behind me and they were busy - they just could not be bothered.  I am not saying they could have done anything - but they could have expressed a bit more empathy.  I found that with the cabin staff too - they just don't seem to care.  It is sad that there are not too many airlines here to choose from.  I would take WestJet over Air Canada any day as people actually seem to enjoy their job there  - unfortunately they don't go overseas.  The only thing good I can say is that they didn't lose my luggage - then again they have done it numerous times in the past.  (which is why I ALWAYS have a change of clothes in my backpack)

Oh and because I went economy I only get half my Aeroplan points - Singapore airlines who is a partner of Air Canada's will be giving me full points for the Singapore-Tokyo leg.  Okay I'm not proud of myself but I posted "You suck" on the Air Canada facebook page.  Not my finest moment but hey it made me feel better.  And they actually responded (you suck too - ha ha - no, they said they were sorry and what was the problem). 

The other flights were up and down and up and down.  I got to know Vancouver and Calgary airports quite well. 

Finally got here - my luggage was almost first off the plane, got a taxi and home.  I must admit it feels good.  For now.....

I will be posting lots of stories on Cambodia in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned.  Now that I have a faster connection speed, a proper computer (wow, after typing on a netbook my computer seems so HUGE!) and more time I plan to write lots.  In my own irreverent way....

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