Day 0, 31DEC2016
Embarking on this round the world adventure has taken several months of planning; albeit Josh adamantly claims we are spontaneous and “letting the trip guide us.” Yesterday we finalized our accommodation for Japan. In my opinion, booking a hotel in the capital two days before arrival and on the night of the most important holiday in Japan (New Years) is cutting it too close for comfort, in Josh’s mind we could’ve held off another day. Sarcasm aside, we booked our lodging for the next three weeks, ensuring our Japan trip will include at least one night in a traditional Ryokan in Kyoto as Nicole recommended.
Before commenting on our departure flight from Australia, I should inject here that both Josh and I are carrying huge backpacks; 65L each to be exact. Narrowing down the right t-shirt to pants ratio was near impossible for me. With the help of Janie, Josh’s mom, I was able to significantly reduce my payload – we went item by item and cut out six shirts, four bottoms, a pair of shoes, and random toiletries. When we checked in at the airport Josh’s pack weighed 17Kgs, mine 16Kgs. We both have guessed we’ll lose weight on this trip, hopefully our packs will do the same.
Josh – and this is another personal opinion here – is the coolest man to travel with. Not only is he thoughtful, handsome and very athletic, he also is a Qantas Gold member. This status, in the One World Star Alliance, equates to sapphire and as such grants him and one travel partner (me! Woohoo!) access to airport lounges. In addition to expedited baggage and priority check in at Perth International Airport, we also enjoyed the Qantas Club before our flight to Singapore on 31Dec.
Let me tell you about this club! First shock – waiters ask you if you’d like a coffee, made by the onsite barista, and then once they’ve brought you said coffee, they wink and say: “let me know when you’re ready for your champagne.” Glorious. Second shock – all alcohol is not just included, but self-serve. This club has a wine bar showcasing six Australian and New Zealand wines, a glass-door fridge stockpiled with craft beers and drink mixers, and top-shelf liquors available to quell anyone’s pre-flight jitters. Third shock – Josh and I were lucky enough to sneak into the club before the breakfast service ended, and then stay long enough to enjoy the lunch service! Inject: this was not intended, our flight was actually delayed 45 minutes, hence we had the grumbles before we boarded. Fourth, and final, shock – the staff was extremely accommodating, which I suppose is expected, however they went above and beyond and actually went through a series of TV channels before landing on the only sports channel (replaying Geelong v Adelaide AFL) just to appease Josh.
The flight from Perth to Singapore was enhanced with friendly staff and more than enough entertainment. I watched two movies: Jason Bourne (2016) and War Dogs, then filled the final forty minutes of flight with two episodes of Modern Family. Josh consumed as many episodes of News Room that the flight time would allow. As per usual, Qantas in-flight food service was exceptional, I munched on Indian Paneer and Vegetable curry, Josh opted for the fresh Asian Chicken salad, and we both enjoyed Weiss ice cream – I mean, who doesn’t?
We landed in Singapore at 1800 local (which was actually only ten minutes later than originally planned, so “well done Qantas” for departing 45 minutes late but making up flight time!).
The Singapore Airport, Changi – one word: WOW!
Eight hours here was like being dropped off at a theme park. Composed of three terminals, this airport is jam packed with themed outdoor gardens, a swimming pool, gaming rooms, a butterfly garden, koi ponds, and free movie theatres playing recently released movies. Josh and I explored the entire airport walking past high-end shopping juxtaposed next to street food carts. The place was hectic, international, and glittering with Christmas trees and gingerbread-laced wreaths.
Having enjoyed our explorations we settled into the Qantas Lounge Changi and awaited the New Year. To lubricate the celebrations, the Lounge served custom-made beef bao, pumpkin and feta pasta, cheese platters, a dozen fresh salads, and of course, champagne. We rang in the New Year and then I snuck an hour nap on a leather sofa before we made our way to our boarding gate.