Europe 2016 Day 0: Airports

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.

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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.

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Plane models on display
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MAS plane model

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.

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Changi Airport

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.

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The places look somewhat like this

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.

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Some guy choosing to sleep by the fountain instead of the comfortable couches

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!

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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…

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Mixed combo rice (char siew + siew yuk) for S$ 7, Iced coffee for S$ 2

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)

34 Comments

  1. So cheap food!! In Helsinki a sandwich is already 8 Euros 😀
    I heard too many people commenting how bad/ how good a airport is they have visited only to find out that they spend the entire time in the departure hall…I really don’t know what is wrong with them as airports usually have tons to offer in case you got the time

    • Thing is, usually people make it to the airport as late as they possibly can, so in their rush they never noticed. Another thing is that in Asia particularly, things in the airports are always more expensive. They mark up the prices and then tell you tax free, farcical… Still, if you have no choice and find yourself in a long layover in an airport, staying inside is always much better compared to staying out at the departure hall…

  2. KLIA is a much nicer airport than Melbourne airport. Modern, spacious, and decent amount of shops too. When you do come to Melbourne, you’d be shaking your head when you make your way through immigration at our airport – dull and squishy.

    I am actually enjoying your blow by blog accounts of your travels. Sounds like your remember heaps 😀

    • I don’t know until I’ve actually seen the airport myself. I’ve seen very good airports and also very crappy ones (eg LCCT). I suppose I’ll be fine 🙄 …

  3. I remember posting short teasers daily from Tokyo and titled them Day 01 – 6. It confused me later to blog properly.

    I always liked the good vibes at Changi Airport. It is more exciting than KLIA 1 anytime. Thanks for telling me the hidden food court.

    • They’re not exactly hidden. In fact they’re quite obvious. But I think a lot of people would not think of checking in and getting into the transit area quickly, unless you are transiting flights and are stuck inside anyway…

  4. That time when I was traveling to Taipei from Changi Airport I get to blog in the airport using their Laptop with free Internet connection

  5. hahahaha… Day 0 huh.. next time I also start with Day 0! So this post is on airports, Malaysia and Singapore… tomorrow will be Day 1.. thanks to the Countess, we can now read your posts in details.. .

  6. So fierce this Countess Marionette 😀 Starting with day zero makes sense to me because your vacation proper hasn’t started until you reached Turkey. I will bear in mind the information on Changi Airport in case I find myself there one day. So let’s get on with it, your travelogue lest the Countess gets impatient 😀

  7. I like that you started with Day 0…it makes sense 😉 Since you’re structuring it as a daily travelogue, that means it’ll go on until Day 14? Hehe! Ok, so you’ve just told us that it’s great to transit in Changi…thanks for the tip.

      • Must write Day 14 also, on how it feels like sitting on the plane, what movies did you watch, what food did they serve onboard your flight, was the service by the air stewardess or air steward good or not and also the transit in Singapore back to KL which you did write about. How did you get back from KL airport to your parents’ house, traffic ok or not, oh yes, you wrote about the weather being very hot. Your feelings post vacation, did the blues get you.

  8. Terminal 1, they have a staff canteen, staff when they present their staff pass, cheaper, public, they charge more for the food, Terminal 2 and Terminal 3, also have a food court…

  9. Fuiyoh, got admirer, her name sounds so canggih, countess wei.. Couple fondling and meraba-raba in public? There, maybe can.. Here, kena tangkap or kena sound liao, or people pandang-pandang pun not syiok liao.. Aiya, if me, go airport means eat McD or Burger King.. At least standard price.. Other restaurants/cafes very pricey geh..

    • Not admirer lah.. friend… 😐

      Yeah, here cannot. If me, I see I won’t tak syok la, but will feel weird, because we’re not used to it here. In Barcelona and even Istanbul, couples meraba-raba in the public is common. Even those Muslim girls wear hijab, will just smack kisses with the guys… if here, JAKIM will descend upon them immediately 😐 …

    • In reply to Princess Ribbon’s comment that McD or Burger King has at least standard price. AFAIK, the standard prices of McD or Burger King or any of the fast food outlets in KLIA or any other airports are much more expensive than in normal city outlets. Therefore I don’t want to pay more for fast food so will not eat them at airports.

      • I think only slightly more expensive. In the past, city outlets charge the 10% service tax which the KLIA outlet don’t, so the full price is not that much different. I haven’t tried the fast food in KLIA post GST to note the new prices though 😐 …

        • I remember the last time I checked, the differences are a lot especially in airports, I don’t think there is the special lunch and dinner set deals. Next time you fly out, please check ok? Hahahaha, thanks. 🙂

  10. Aiyah no need so long story. Go Changi Airport, eat McD. Fillet O Fish S$2 only. Go KLIA, dont eat anything. Just drink water from the water refill station >_<

  11. we want trip post!!! not about airports…..ok ok…i’m not repeating wht tht countess has said…But i’m looking fwd to ur next ‘proper trip post’…hehehe

  12. You are definitely going to get a scolding (maybe even a virtual spanking too) by your Countess! Your post title is so misleading. Why is the word Europe in your title when all you wrote about is KLIA and Changi – both airports are nowhere near Europe.

    I think I have spent enough time in both the airports you mentioned years ago because I am someone who will go to the airports 5 hours before flight time, hahahaha so I spend a lot of time in the airports and my travel companions all curse me.

    • What?! Since I am doing a chronology, the process of getting to Europe should be considered also ma… including the airports that I transit in while getting to Europe, even if they are nowhere near! 😛

      Err.. I won’t go so early for flying out lah, but if transit then yes. I regularly wait for 6 hours in transit in Changi when I was flying out on business trips, because it was either that or just 1 hour difference and you have to run to catch your connecting gate.

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