If you haven’t been through Singapore’s Budget Terminal lately there’s a table set up for kids to play. It’s one of those tables where you lay a piece of paper over an image made from raised edges. You scribble a crayon (or pencil) across it and the picture carries over.
It’s a lot of fun! The table was drawing a mixed crowd and when I walked up to it, it was composed of mostly adult tourists trying to get one last souvenir before getting on their flight.
Some of the designs are really interesting too. Here’s the one I made:
Like I said before, we wound up leaving the house late. We had planned on being out the door by 9 am, but there were so many last minute things to check over, pack, and rearrange. We had to put away most of the things in the room, into drawers or the closets, and the closets had to be blocked with heavy furniture. In other words, we had to “cat-proof” the place. It wouldn’t do to come home and find our place completely decimated due to feline boredom!
We got going at about 10:30 am or so and walked up to the shopping center to try to find something to eat. The only restaurant that we remembered seeing at the Budget Terminal at Changi Airport is Han’s, and the prices there aren’t exactly… Budget. Doesn’t make sense right? To put a very expensive restaurant in the Budget Terminal of an airport? The people flying through that terminal obviously are trying to maintain a smaller travel budget and can’t afford to spent 3 SGD for a can of soda, or 7 bucks on a packed sandwich!
So, instead, we stopped at the bakery at the shopping center we usually eat at and selected two breads (hotdog w/cheese and sausage/tomato). We also bought two cans of juice from the discount store a few doors down from the bakery. With food in hand, we stepped up to the curb and flagged down a taxi. We had initially planned to use the bus and then the train to get to the airport, since we didn’t have any luggage to worry about, but we were running out of time.
The ride to the airport was fairly short. My wife was telling me how much she wished she could have McDonald’s for breakfast when we pulled up in front of the Budget Terminal and saw… McDonald’s. When did that get there? The last time we flew out of the Budget Terminal was 3 months ago, when we went to the Philippines. We remembered that part of the building being under construction, but who would have guessed they’d be doing something smart and putting a budget restaurant in a Budget Terminal? There was also a small cafe called Hani’s. I wonder if that’s different from Han’s? We didn’t stop to look at it. My wife was really disappointed, because she wanted a sausage biscuit. I told her to go get one, and I would eat the breads we had bought. She liked that idea. (She hates the idea of wasting food, so was planning on eating the bun she had picked from the bakery.)
With that decided, we jumped into the line to check-in. We didn’t want to miss our flight, and the last time we’d flown out of that terminal, we waited in line for about an hour. This time it was better. We only had to stand around for about 20 minutes. My wife went ahead and got her sausage biscuit while I held our spot in line, and immediately after check-in we sat down to eat. I had a medium coffee and the breads from the bakery, and she had her McDonald’s breakfast.
After finishing up our meal we leisurely walked outside to enjoy a cigarette before our flight. Well, it was leisurely until I glanced down at my watch and realized it was 11:30 am. Where had the time gone!? We dropped our cigarettes and rushed back inside. We were lucky. There was a very short line at customs, and no line to speak of at the security check. While going through the security check, we heard the last call for boarding for our flight. So, we rushed through the small shopping area between security and the departure gates and down the hall. As we got closer to our assigned gate, we saw a large crowd of people strolling in at a steady pace, so we slowed down too. There were quite a few people still going through the door to get on the plane, and they certainly weren’t going to slam the door in anyone’s face. Ten minutes later we were on the plane.
The actual flight was really short. The itinerary said we could expect to be in the air for 55 minutes, but by the time the plane leveled off and I got started on the immigration and customs forms, the descent had already started. I think the total time the plane was in the air was about 30 minutes. When we touched down at Kuala Lumpur Airport we had to wait on the runway for a while. I think the plane arrived early, because there weren’t any available parking spots! It wasn’t long though before it pulled in to a parking area and we were deboarding. Less than an hour after stepping onto the plane in Singapore, we were in Malaysia. I still love that about Asia. Everything is so close together and convenient for traveling to!
Kuala Lumpur Airport itself is a lot nicer than what I was expecting. It wasn’t fancy by any means. I got the impression that the terminals used to be warehouses that had been later linked together as the airport grew. It was clean though, and there were a few shops here and there. Also, the place was packed. There were a lot of locals around and there were even more tourists. We kept a firm grip on our bags and gave everyone around us a careful looking-over before they got too close. No sense in getting robbed at the airport after all, and Malaysia is supposed to be dangerous. Johor Bahru certainly seemed dangerous when we went there last November!
[Update: I was informed that the terminal we landed at was KL’s version of a budget terminal. The bigger international terminal is, according to a friend, very very nice.]
The first thing we did after getting off the plane was to rush to the bathrooms, which are along the left wall in the above image. The flight was so short that there was never much of an opportunity to get up, and the coffee and juice we had at Changi’s Budget Terminal were starting to work on us.
After that, we stepped outside and had a smoke before figuring out how to get to our hotel from the airport.
We flew out of Changi International Airport in Singapore to Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Somehow, airport experiences never change. There’s always something that happens that really works your nerves. It wasn’t anything serious though. Well, not too serious. After the horrible experience we had at NAIA in Manila, nothing will ever seem that bad.
When we first walked into the airport we went straight to the check in line. We thought about relaxing for a while first, after running all over Singapore taking care of our cats and not getting much sleep the night before. We decided we could do that after we checked in though. That way we wouldn’t have anything to worry about. We made the right choice too! About ten minutes later a flood of people showed up and got in line behind us. So, we were good and happy with ourselves.
Unfortunately, the girl servicing our line was either new or bad at her job, because by the time we finished checking in, twice as many people 2nd line had gone through. Also, just before we got to the counter, a third line was opened and people that came in at least 30 minutes after us rushed to the front and were checked in ahead of us. On the upside, we were given the seats we selected when we booked the flight. A few months ago, on our last trip to the Philippines, we flew Cebu Pacific and when we got to the counter they refused to give us our seats. We wound up flying at opposite ends of the airplane. It was a really aggravating experience, and is the reason why we chose Tiger Airways over Cebu. In fact, we won’t be flying Cebu anymore, unless there’s just absolutely no other choice.
That’s right! We flew Tiger Airways out of the “Budget Terminal” at Changi. Every time I walk in there I feel like I’ve just walked into a Super Walmart or a Sam’s Club, but it’s very clean and the check-in process actually seems shorter there. There are a few downsides to flying out of the Budget Terminal, like a smaller selection of shops, no seats in the departure gate area, and having to walk across the tarmac and up a flight of stairs to get on the plane, but when it saves you 600 SGD, is it really that bad? On a flight that’s only 3 hours long, does it really matter how comfortable the airplane is? I’d rather have the extra money to spend. I wanted to take a few photos of the Budget Terminal but taking pictures at an airport seems to be one of those unspoken “no-no”s.
Our flight was fairly uneventful. We did have a group of idiots sitting in front of us though. In the row in front of us there were 3 guys. There were two more sitting to our right. They were all part of the same group and during the entire 3 hour flight they were laughing and giggling like a group of 10 year old boys that had just caught their first glimpse of boobs. At least one of them was drinking, and they were passing around a bag of free peanuts like it was a rare delicacy. I wonder if these guys had ever been on a plane before? They had to have been right? How else would they have gotten to Singapore? These guys were partying it up like they were flying first class on the best airline available. Oh well. At least they didn’t smell bad.
The noise they were making made it hard to get any rest during the flight so we were relieved when the plane finally started its descent at Clark Air Base.