So I was admonished over Facebook Messenger earlier today by someone who shall be known here as Countess Marionette (not her real name of course):
“You said you will have detailed blog posts of your travels once you come back to Malaysia, but instead of telling us about the Blue Mosque or the Sagrada Familia, you are telling us about your hotels! When will you start writing your actual blog posts??”
Okay, okay, fine… I’ll start my actual travelogue today…
I was actually struggling on how to structure my blog posts, whether I should do a daily chronology thing, or whether I should write location specific blog posts. But since this is my personal blog rather than a full fledged travel blog, I guess I’ll stick to the former. Hence the blog title…
Let’s start with Day 0. Why start with Day 0? Why not Day 1?
Well, I count Day 1 as the day I touch down in Istanbul. But I think I should really consider my trip as having begun the moment I leave my home. So Day 0 is about me having left home and being in the process of going to Istanbul.
Naturally, that means… airports! Yay!
Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA)
As I was going to be away for over 2 weeks, I did not fly out from Penang. I needed someone to take care of my car while I was away. So I took the 4 hours drive back to KL, left my car at home, and got my sister (her boyfriend actually) to send me to the KLIA.
It has been ages since I last took a flight out of KLIA to be honest. I think the last time was… 9 years ago, when I was flying out to England for my UK summer semester!
I was surprised to discover (or re-discover) how big and spacious this airport really is. I recall when this airport was officially opened, the Grand Old Man announced that this airport is designed to cater for enough room for capacity growth until 2030 (or was it 2050?), and that it is a very important piece to the [Vision 2020] jigsaw puzzle.
I guess this airport is one of the many good things that he did for our country, on top of also very many bad things that he also did to our country. Anyway, I’m quite proud of our KLIA to be honest, I think it is a very good airport…
If this was a business trip, the first thing I would do after check-in and clearing passport controls would be to look for a place to unload some of the company’s meal allowance budget. As it is, I could only wander around trying to find interesting things to see while waiting for the boarding gate to open.
When I saw these plane models, I thought of Sheta. She will probably love these plane models. But then and again, I think her current job is aviation related, in fact I recently read her blog post where she even got to pilot a plane. I think she’s probably flew out of KLIA before, and quite frequently. She’s probably seen these plane models before… 🙄
Changi International Airport
As you know (if you were following my blog), the only reason I was splurging to go to Europe was because I had a bunch of Krisflyer miles to burn. This means my flight to Istanbul is with the Singapore Airlines. Naturally, my transit point is Singapore. I had to fly into the Changi Airport to connect to the main flight to Istanbul.
Now, Changi Airport is a different story. My business trips which involve flying were exclusively with Singapore Airlines, so I have transited here more times than I can remember. So coming here is like coming to my second (okay, maybe third or fourth) home.
I still think the Changi Airport is the best airport in the world by far. I don’t remember where, but I’ve read from a certain travel blog which says Changi Airport is one of the worst airport in the world for a budget traveler. I was (and still am) very perplexed because I think that cannot be further away from the truth.
Her (I only remember the blogger is a her) pictures suggested to me that she spent most of her time outside the passport controls area, at the departures hall. Maybe that’s why she got all the wrong impressions: no free wifi, no free power sockets, no place to relax, expensive food etc.
So I think it is my job to set you guys straight if you have these misconceptions.
First, if you are on a tight budget and you are going to be spending a decent amount of time in Changi Airport,
- If you are transiting, please DO NOT get out of the transit area. Or if you have to, please get back inside (through passport controls) as soon as you get back to the airport. DO NOT waste your time lingering in the arrivals/departures hall.
- If you are flying out from here and with Singapore Airlines (SQ). Changi is SQ’s home base and they have dedicated counters for ANY SQ flights, so you can actually check-in and drop you baggage wayyyy earlier than your flight, I think 24 hours early. So my advice for the transiting passengers applies to you too. Do it and get your sorry ass over passport controls ASAP.
Once you get into the transit areas, this is where you will find that this airport is actually very peasant friendly, fanciful looking as it is.
First of all, free wifi. Now I know most airports in Europe offer free wifi which you can access by just connecting to the correct Network ID. You might be frustrated that with Changi Airports network, it seems a lot more complicated as there’s a page that pops out and asks you to register for something and stuff. So I’ll tell you how. Look for those [free wifi access] kiosks, they are usually very close to the Information counters, in fact you can even ask the personnel there to point you in the right direction. Get to one of those kiosks to scan your passport and get a passcode, and this passcode will allow you to access free high speed internet for 24 hours. And then you’re all set.
Once you got your wifi access sorted, it is time to look for a place to plug in and recharge your laptops/iPads/smartphones. Head over to where the alcohol bars are. Just behind those alcohol bars, you will usually find rows of comfortable couches and quite a good number of seats with power sockets and USB recharging ports. This is where you can hangout for as long as you want if you need access to free power.
Goodness, seeing this picture triggers my memory. See that couple seated in front of me? They basically just plopped down and began fondling and smooching for what felt like forever before the lady fell asleep in the guy’s chest. I suspect this was God’s (or whoever it is up there) way to prepare me, make me get used to the amount of public fondling that I will witness in Europe.
Finally, let’s talk about food. Yes, I do agree that food on the outside is expensive. Wayyyy too expensive.
Which is why if this was a business trip, I would be having my meal before clearing the passport controls. My favorite restaurant in Changi Airport is the Soup Restaurant 三盅两件 because I tried everything else before and they are authentic Singaporean fare a.k.a bland. I would be ordering a lovely double boiled soup and a steamed fish dish to go with rice and they would cost me S$ 30 or so. Then after I cleared passport controls, I would go grab a S$ 15 latte from Coffee Bean.
Something like these… BEAR IN MIND THESE WERE FROM MY BUSINESS TRIPS IN THE PAST, NOT FROM THIS TIME!
But, as we are all aware, I was NOT on business trip this time and was on personal expense, S$45 meal and coffee was out of question. Instead, I had to look for cheaper alternatives.
And going back to my advice to budget travelers in Changi Airport. Cheaper food in Changi Airport can be found inside the transit area, because there are food courts in here! All three terminals!
How much cheaper? Well… take a look at my late dinner, or rather, early supper. I had to eat because I was hungry and my flight out was unexpectedly delayed for 2 hours…
I got the expensive stuff here, because I’m a pork person. You can easily get chicken rice, or some fried noodles for S$ 3 or 4, or even Roti Prata for S$ 2. To put it simply, dining inside the transit area can be 10 times cheaper compared to dining outside the transit area.
And the best part? They have clearly improved their food court systems in the airport, because now you no longer have to pay them in cash and get a bunch of loose change in Sing dollars. That would royally suck. Instead, you get to place your orders in kiosks and pay using credit card, and then get a numbered ticket to collect your orders from the respective hawkers. No more loose change!
So… I hope I have been helpful to all you potential cheapo travelers who might find yourselves stranded in this airport. It really is a darn good airport!
Dang… I just realized, instead of writing about MY travels, I have just written something that looks more like a [Changi Airport travel guide for dummies]. Noooo….
Countess Marionette: And you have not really started to write the actual travel blog posts! Why are you telling us about the airports??? (I imagine she will say these to me tomorrow)