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Sunday, November 25, 2007

U.S. holiday - Chicago to Singapore

Taxi arrived promptly at 3:30am. Said my goodbyes to Tim, who was sleeping on couch downstairs. Taxi ride was less than half an hour, shorter than expected, but cost more than $30. Gave driver all of my change, think the tips was less than he expected, but I had nothing smaller.

Early at airport, no counter open yet, but a few passengers already waiting in line. Waited outside the queue. Then counters opened and I joined the queue. Everything was self-service. When it came to my turn, realised that I was in the domestic travel queue. Went over to the international travel. Also self-service, counter agent checked my passport, then tagged my bag and took it.

Security checks were slightly slow, just starting for the day, but nothing out of the ordinary happened. Bought a T-shirt for dad from a shop. Went to the waiting area and fell asleep. Woke up five minutes before boarding, put on jacket because cold air was blowing in from gate. Moment of panic when I couldn't find my boarding pass. Luckily, elderly couple sitting opposite me pointed it out to me, it had fallen when I had put on the jacket. Whew!

Slept on four-hour flight to Los Angeles. Bought breakfast from McDonald's, Sausage McMuffin with egg meal. Had to wait four hours for next flight to Hong Kong. Fell asleep again. Woke up when another passenger sat a few seats down, but kept shaking the seats. Moved to another seat and waited till it was time to board.

Don't remember much of flight to Hong Kong since I was sleeping or stoning most of the time. Plane wasn't full, so there was empty seat between other passenger and me, so we could stretch a bit. When I went to the restroom, found some lucky passengers behind had the whole row per person!

Arrived in Hong Kong, had to go through security checks, forgot to take phone out of my pocket, so got beeped and was pulled aside for extra checks. Nearly had to explain the metal implants in my back, but I think security personnel didn't understand me, so just waved me on. Rest of wait at Hong Kong was uneventful. Took the chance to find the free computers again and checked email. Then hung around at waiting area, trying to identify the Singaporeans.

Boarding procedure was complicated, no clear instructions, and gate person looked flustered, like he was feeling stressed. Finally boarded the plane, no delays, whew! Found myself sitting next to two mainland Chinese women. Another row of mainland women in front. When they had to fill in immigration cards, they asked me for help. I taught the two next to me, but just filled in the cards for the women in front to save the hassle.

For five years traveling between Singapore and USA, I never had to help anyone with immigration cards. On this holiday, it happened on both to and from trips!

Arrived in Singapore, cleared customs easily, pleased to meet a smiling immigrations official. Bought bottle of wine from Duty Free Shop, then went to wait for baggage. Took a while, worried that it got lost somewhere, but eventually showed up.

25-plus-hour flight over. And I was on the way home!

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