Monday, July 06, 2009

Airports and Lounges

Flying out of San FranciscoI took the midnight flight out of San Francisco by Singapore Air. With the Air France crash still fresh in my mind, I was painfully aware of every turbulent stretch over the Pacific. It was early in the morning when we finally landed in Hong Kong. The Krisflyer lounge had some interesting items to nibble on: freshly made dim-sums with a chili-oil dip and ice-creams in cookies-and-cream flavor.

This time, I also watched more movies on the flight than usual: Coraline (a very unusual animation movie, the storyline quite dark and quirky but very creatively rendered), Watchmen (I wasn't very impressed), Taken (yawn!) and Valkyrie (not particularly gripping). After a hour's break in Hong Kong, I was re-boarded to continue on to Singapore.

JetQuay lounge in Singapore's Changi airportI had a complimentary invitation to Singapore's CIP JeyQuay lounge. 'All the hotshot millionaires of Singapore use this lounge' or so I was told. Apparently, there aren't many high net-worth individuals left or they aren't travelling - the lounge was completely empty. The girl waiting for me right at the arrival gate gave me a buggy ride to the lounge. They even have a special immigration/customs counter for their guests! The lounge is equipped with meeting rooms, massage chairs, nap rooms, food, drinks, etc. You can even have visitors from the city meet you here.

My friendly escort was from Mongolia. When I told her she was the first I had met from her country, she was pleasantly surprised. She said most in Singapore don't know Mongolia is a country, and assume Mongols are from China. She is currently studying in Singapore and was working here as an intern but wants to return to Ulan Bator. She said she likes the opportunities in Singapore but doesn't like the way people are treated here. I also learnt that many from Mongolia prefer to emigrate to Europe rather than to the US or other countries in Asia. Most learn Russian as their first foreign language, but English is fairly widespread now-a-days. Apparently the job situation is getting better too in Mongolia with more global companies entering the country to exploit its rich deposits of gold, minerals and oil.

JetQuay lounge in Singapore's Changi airportWith a few hours to kill, I spent most of the time writing up these blog posts. Since I began blogging, it has been relatively easy spending these long hours at airports. By the time I get home, I usually have a set of drafts written out that only need to be cleaned up and posted after putting together pictures from my digicam.

There was a huge crowd at the immigration counters and it took over an hour to get out of Mumbai airport. The traffic management continues to be pathetic; my driver took another 30 mintues to get his car, but we were finally outside and reached my hotel without further ado. I hope they use the current downturn to solve the traffic issue before airport traffic goes up again.


Vijayendra Darode said...

Interesting post this on Airports and Lounges. Would like to know the Top 3 Airports and Lounges that you experienced while you were globe-trotting.

indicaspecies said...

Hobby of a frequent traveller is now blogging..hehe!
How many days would you recommend for a sight seeing tour of Singapore?

Aathira Nair said...

I love animation movies, so shall get hold of coraline ASAP.

I love airport lounges, and the tit bits they offer to nibble on :) (Yes, I am a huge nibbling fan)

I never knew that Mongolia is very rich in its gold reserves.Oil reserves is what I had heard of. Interesting to see they prefer Europe to US. Did she say why?

MEGalomaniac said...

Now those are perks worth writing about... I remain incessantly jealous of you and all travelling!

Shantanu said...

@Vijayendra: I guess it is time I made a Top 5 list. Actually, Singapore is my favorite followed by Hong Kong and Seoul.

@indicaspecies: Yeah! :)

@Aathira: Historically, the Mongol Empire once extended as far as Poland in the east. That may have led to immigrants who settled down and then brought in others later.

@Meg: I know. There was a time when I would have had the same views. :)