We are familiar with the notion that the reality of travel is not what we anticipate. Alain de Botton
Kind to think about the high expectations I had about my trip to Singapore, I tend to rather recognise that Alain de Botton is telling the truth. Now with so many travel websites and travel blogs out there, one can find useful informations about any place on this planet (and even on other planets!) and as I headed for Singapore for the first time, I did my homework – although last minute – on some of the tourist attractions of this intriguing modern city: Sentosa Island, Gardens by the Bay, Universal Studios, Marina Bay, Botanic Gardens, Orchard Road, Clark Quai and other places as exciting as these. What I’ve learned was enough to make me fall in anticipation of what looked like one of the most amazing vacation I would have.
14 hours on air
“Why should I always be the one who suffers when we travel?” asks the gentleman sitting beside me visible irritated. He’s not asking me, he’s asking his wife, of course. He’s sitting in the middle of the row and looks unhappy between his wife and me. I suddenly bend to search for an imaginary magazine, while a big smile is running all over my face. It’s obviously that the family next to me didn’t pay to choose their seats. Neither did I, but I was lucky to be assigned a seat by the edge of the row, not in the middle. When you’re going to be up in the air for 14 long hours, your seat is very important, as you should go to the toilet at least 2-3 times – that if you’re healthy, an urinary tract infection would get you up double or triple times – and you don’t want to trouble the other passengers. Or when you don’t want to be troubled for that matter as well.
“Because you must at least act as a gentleman, let alone you really should be one”, I answer him in my mind. Where the good old manners have gone this century? Ok, right, this must have started with the feminist movement, women wanted to have the same rights as men and be treated equally, bla, bla, bla. However, that does not mean that men must give up being gentlemen, right? Right?
Flying for about 14 hours on the plane from London to Singapore sounds like a physical resistance test. After all, how many hours can someone sit on a chair without getting up at least once?! Maybe this is the entrance exam in the fascinating Travel Kingdom. Unless we enter unexpectedly and uninvited in the Kingdom of God. Brrr. Hope not that soon.
The journey from London to Singapore might very well be an opportunity to practice discipline of the mind and spirit as well. This is supposed to make us more creative and productive. However, the most disciplined man I’ve ever heard of, Immanuel Kant, managed to produce one of the most amazing philosophy doctrine and write some very deep philosophy books about metaphysics, transcendental idealism, aesthetics, ethics, religion, astronomy, history and law, despite of the fact that he never ventured out of his beloved Konigsberg. People like him makes you wonder if travelling is really helping to broaden your imagination and creativity. Maybe we like to believe it does so that we won’t feel guilty of doing something only for our own pleasure.
“Two things awe me most, the starry sky above me and the moral law within me.” said Immanuel Kant more than 200 years ago. I wonder what he would have said of this image: more than 200 people boarded on a huge “bird” flying high behind the clouds, while sitting comfortable in their chairs enjoying good food and refreshing drinks. How much greater would have been his awe?
Thinking about food and refreshing drinks, the flight attendants must be very tired after 7 hours only, as they forgot to bring me the vegetarian snack and two orange juices I ordered. And when one stewardess has finally arrived with my order (after reminding her I haven’t received my food and drink yet) she forgot – or did not want – to bring me a glass and napkins. I work 12 long hours and do much more than a stewardess does and I am more responsive than any of them. I don’t understand, if flight attendants hate so much their job, why they don’t give up and let others to do it? I know I would definitely love to be a stewardess, if had any chance whatsoever.
A whole day on the air. It’s unbelievable, I must say. My feet did not touch the land the last 14 hours and now that we are ready to land I feel already detached from the earthly life. And that is not something you’ll expected from me, since lately I began noticing the stories on the news about plane crashes, and became consumed with the idea of dying on an airplane. Tried hard not to think of that while on the plane. A crazy idea to live on a plane for a month or so (with short earthly periods of course when transferring from a plane to another) runs quickly on my mind. Rejected as quickly as it came. I would better spend the month on a cruise ship. Much more comfortable and much cheaper.
What are really my expectations regarding the place I’m heading toward? Pleasure for all my senses? Out of all Singapore tourist attractions, the beaches are the ones that catch my vivid imagination. Being a mountain girl lately, I can’t wait to walk barefoot on one of the finest sand in the entire world (I heard so and it turned out to be true), breathe heavily the incredible fresh salted oceanic air while I pamper my retina with the spectacular images of a sunset in the Pacific.
My Indian, Filipino and Pakistan colleagues advise me to try the incredible tasty Asian food, and my taste buds are rejoicing of the thought of so many delicatesses I’m about to try. Rice, garlic, ginger and curries, especially those based on yogurt and coconut milk, are commonly found in about any Asian recipe and I simply love these ingredients. But what I never ate till now is Japanese food and I must say can’t wait to taste the famous Japanese fish soup.