On October 18, this year, I had to go to Singapore to attend the ITB Asia travel conference representing our travel magazine. ITB Asia is the biggest travel trade show in Asia and a must visit for everyone in the travel industry. This is an ideal platform to network, make contacts and do business. I was glad to get this opportunity as I had never been to Singapore and really wanted to attend ITB Asia myself.
The concerned colleagues started to speed up the process of ticketing, hotel booking and visa procedures, as I needed to travel in three days. By evening I gathered all the information on ITB and my tickets were sent to my inbox by our official travel agent. The next three days, media and press meet invitations and conference RSVPs from ITB Asia participants kept flooding my inbox. My list of “to dos” was getting longer.
My flight was at 11.05 pm on Monday. I cooked, wound up, packed, locked the house and started for Mumbai International Airport. Whisking through all the checks and formalities I sat in the plane. After making myself comfortable, I suddenly started to get a panic attack. I felt a little scared, thinking, in five hours, I will be in a totally unknown place with absolute unknown people and all by myself. God! Butterflies started to flutter inside my stomach. But, yes, I do like this feeling of uncertainty and the thrill of going to an unknown place. Bring it on, I said to myself.
I usually don’t get sleep anywhere other than my bed. An exception is a first class train compartment. Since there was no sign of my getting sleep, I read a bit, watched some TV in the kingfisher in-flight entertainment system and nibbled on the snacks given. When the lights were dimmed, I made another attempt to sleep. But I couldn’t. The air hostess gave me an arrival slip which was to be filled in and submitted at the immigration counter on arrival. I filled it up immediately, thinking it would be a good time pass. Well, people around me started to snore. So I switched off my reading light and seriously tried to make myself sleep.
|The islands below while I fly the good times|
I must have slept for an hour in total, on and off. It was around 5 am (Singapore time) and I could see clouds outside. I was told that you can expect rain anytime of the day in Singapore. I tried to see beyond the clouds and down below. The view of some islands and ships with lights on made me feel good. I am hydrophobic and really get scared if I see a lot of water around. But I was in a place now where there is water everywhere and I was feeling okay. I thanked God for being kind to me.
Lights in the flight were put on. The hostess announced the descend and everyone woke up. A commotion of getting ready, straightening the chair backs and putting the window shades up filled the craft. I was getting ready with my passport and arrival slip on hand. The airhostess announced that transporting drugs is a punishable offence in Singapore and the punishment is death. Dude! I thought what if the paracetamols I was carrying for migraine headaches are called drugs here!
|Yes, the lovelies|
Everybody deplaned and went through the immigration process. To collect baggage the passengers had to take a sky train to the next level of the airport and I did exactly that. After the baggage collection, I came out of the exit, bought a local SIM card, withdrew some Singapore dollars from an ATM and I was good to go to my hotel at Carpenter Street. There were plenty of candy coloured taxis waiting outside the exit gate. I hired one and I was ready for Singapore!
Now, on my way to the city of Singapore, the first thing I wanted to write home about was — “if you want to know how many colours bougainvillea can have, visit Singapore”. The sinfully neat and perfect to the tee roads; swanky foreign cars, the ships on my left and the possibilities in the horizon; the manicured sidewalks and lush greenery, all these made me feel good instantly.