Jan 13 2007
It’s just after 2AM in Singapore and it’s raining. I’ve crossed several time zones and it’s now December 29th.
I’m in the practically empty business class section on a Singapore Airlines flight. It was so empty I have a row to myself so I switched to the window seat. My vacation started to feel more real to me as I looked out the window. I could be at any airport in the world – all tarmacs look alike in the dark but there I was in Singapore. In a cushy high-tech seat adjustable sixteen ways from Sunday. I felt like a kid playing grown up as I was presented with the ubiquitous Hot Perfumed Towel.
I felt like a kid for three reasons. One was because I felt such a sense of fun and adventure and expectation at making this trip. Two was because I’m four-foot-ten-and-three-quarter-inches and was wearing what felt like pajamas. It’s difficult to take yourself seriously in pajamas. Three was because I had to jump up on the seat to close the overhead bin. Even with the seat to boost me, I had to stretch up to reach the edge of the bin door. Sheesh.
I’d been looking forward to the Business Class portion of the trip. The timing was great as I could FULLY RECLINE the seat, get some sleep, and be right in synch with my morning landing in South Africa.
I reveled in the experience. I opened the amenities bag. When I was in economy, I received a plastic ziplock bag with terry socks, a toothbrush and a miniature tube of toothpaste. Here in business class I received a cloth drawstring bag containing an eyeshade and thickly padded terry socks. The small pillows had thick cloth covers and firm stuffing.
I played around with the seat controls. I had no idea that the thing fully reclined until I noticed another passenger snuggled in for sleep. Total business class newbie.
It’s weird to eat dinner at around 3 in the morning, but when you’re in transit, you lose all sense of time. I’m sure I had some type of chicken for dinner. I couldn’t drink wine – after my first glass on my first flight I had a headache that would not go away. I stuck with water and coffee. I wasn’t missing much. The red wines I had tried were astringent and sharp. I was able to try them again on the return flight and had the same experience – a bit of an eye squint and a mouth pucker. It makes a weird kind of sense, though. Think about it:
Asians: good with rice, noodles, tea.
Europeans: good with bread, wine.
I’m flying on an Asian airline so I get rolls with a dry cardboard texture and wine suitable for cooking.
You didn’t think I’d forget to mention the bathroom, did you? After dinner I washed up in the Business Class bathroom. It may have been tiny but it had First Class touches: fresh orchids and real towels.
What I found different was that the bathroom was constantly getting serviced. That is, the toilet paper would get those little triangular folds like they do in hotels and the flowers freshened up. It’s difficult to think of the beautiful Singapore Girls and Guys cleaning the bathrooms, but I guess they must be.
I must make a confession: I kept those little white terry cloth towels provided in the bathrooms. I even took some extras. I am obviously not a Jaded International Traveler.
I travel for my job and after a while I stopped taking home the little hotel soaps and lotions. That tells you that you’re Over It.
I wasn’t over international travel. The business class bathroom didn’t even have paper towels. There was a sign that said to dispose of the linen towels in the waste chute. I kept them instead. Hey, they may be made from inexpensive terry cloth, but they were still good!
I washed up and then settled in for the night. The cabin was darkened. I adjusted my seat, fiddled with the pillows, spread out the blankets, put in my earplugs, put on my eyeshade and dreamed.