My long-awaited vacation finally came and I tell you, it was not without serious mishaps.
JC and I arrived at Trinoma a little before 8am, still a few minutes earlier for the 8am shuttle bus scheduled to take me and other passengers to Clark Airport . See, when the opening of the TriNoma-Clark Airport Lounge was recently announced, I was one of the many people who were ecstatic with the news. It means 1) easier, non-stop travel from TriNoma to Clark airport and 2) cheaper alternative compared to its SM Megamall counterpart. Passengers only have to pay 200 pesos for the shuttle bus as opposed to the 400-peso fare when you're coming from SM Megamall. I've never availed of that. I'd rather commute than give in to the steep price.
8:30 and still no bus in sight. I've been bugging the lady behind the counter on why I'm still not seeing the bus. I was really pissed (and slowly going down the road of stress) because at first she can't provide a clear answer. But after all that's been said and discussed (with whomever she was talking to on the other side of her mobile phone), the bus never arrived (it broke down, didn't even manage to advise anyone).
Screw you GENESIS BUS!
I've thought of leaving, catching a regular bus and commuting to Dau, just like I always do whenever I head to Clark Airport, but you know that feeling that the bus might still make it soon and this'll all be over soon still gnawed on me. I was really ready to do that but then the lady (I forgot to ask her name!) mentioned an option to take the shuttle bus coming from Megamall instead. It'll arrive at 9.30 and with 2 hours estimated travel time, we'll arrive in Clark Airport at 11.30am. My flight was 12.10. Good Lord. But I still took that bus.
After a worrisome 1 and 1/2 hours travel time and to cut this long story short, I MADE IT JUST IN TIME! I was running (and lugging my backpack in an a la Amazing Race pace which was really difficult ha!) the moment the bus opened its door.
While paying for the travel tax and terminal fee, the PA system announced the closing of check in for my flight. I was so, SO relieved that I made it.
Arrival in Changi was another story.
For the first time in my traveling life, I got stopped in the immigration. I was seriously scared to death deep inside because this is Singa-freakin-pore! You don't get arrested in this country, you'd be a turd to do that. Not that I did anything wrong it's just that it's a really scary country full of scary rules.
You know that big, empty rooms you see in documentaries such as Locked Up Abroad where they usher in someone for questioning? There really is such a room. It was awfully large for one person to be sitting and waiting on for whatever sentence was about to unfold.
A few minutes later I was called in and was asked how am I related to the person I wrote on the address. I answered all the necessary questions in the most boring-but-polite tone I could muster, you know, to make it look like I'm not gonna do anything illegal in their country.
After typing in god knows what in her computer keyboard, checking the invitation pass I provided for umpteenth time, the lady said that I can finally go but that I should wait for the other officer first. This part was a bit hazy to me cos I didn't understand what she said. I thought I still need to wait for something(?) or someone so I just stood awkwardly there in the hallway-like room. Turns out it was already the way towards the baggage claiming area (I realized this after following an Indian/Bangladeshi/Sri Lankan family who, like me, seemed to have been stopped too by the immigration officers).
I can't say that my ordeal stopped there. Know that saying it comes in threes? The third incident occurred in the last inspection point, inches away from the exit gate into the waiting/arrival area. Damn.
The officer asked me to take out the "knives" I have in my backpack. Damn. Those were the Swiss knives a friend asked me to carry in my pack since I'm checking in a bag. So I fished out the plastic, then we opened the boxes one by one while simultaneously answering the officer's questions. They're gift for friends. For when going on camping activities. Blah blah blah.
I'm super thankful though that the officer was nice. I know I have nothing to be afraid of, I gave legit answers but it's still scary. This flight turned out to be too stressful that after I've been cleared I marched up outside and never looked back. Good thing this is not my first time in Changi.
I found Diane after a few minutes of looking. Joel arrived too not long after. I told them everything that happened to me to which poking fun ensued. LOL. I too was able to laugh it off now because finally, finally it's all over. My vacation officially begins.
What a way to welcome me again, Singapura!
photo nicked from Diane's Facebook account
I was starving by the time we got ourselves inside the train, mulling over where we'll be eating. After much debate we ended up somewhere in the alleys of Dhoby Ghaut Station in an apparently popular restaurant named JustAcia perhaps because of their unlimited dessert and drinks offering.
I ordered the cheapest on the menu bilang alam kong magpapalibre lang ako hahaha.
Thanks for the bounty, Chip! Thanks for the photo, Madam!