Chasing Love thru Asia: Detained at Changi International Airport – Singapore
When our time came to an end on our last day together in Singapore I walked Paolo to the entrance of the crusie ship port. He quickly embraced me, gave me a kiss, and nervously said good-bye before disappearing into the crowd and returning to work. We would see each other again in just 2 days in Bangkok, Thailand, a place we have both already been together. He would travel with the cruise ship and I would fly from Singapore back to Bangkok, Thailand. My thoughts began to race as I watched him disappear… We both are taking a huge leap of faith on love and made some big bold changes to our lives to start a new one together. A big moment we had anticipated and waited for has just ended. Was it everything we imagined it to be?
My Inner World
At first I was in a haze, wandering around aimlessly, trying to sort through my emotions. I always do my best thinking when I am in the process of travel, getting from point A to point B, leaving and arriving. The world I’m watching passes me by and I’m surrounded by things that help me make sense of my inner world. To me, this is when I feel most free and at peace. I am leaving something behind and arriving somewhere new in both thoughts and physical location. Maybe it somehow makes things more real for me. I don’t know. The subway was the perfect place for me to be. I took the longest route back to the hotel. I’ve had a lot of time for introspection the last few years and during that time I came to an understanding about myself, what truly matters to me, and the kind of life I want to live. I know what I want and I will accept nothing less.
It’s about the small things
I love when daily life is made up of small special moments. Moments where you are totally in the moment doing whatever it is you are doing, with your full heart and presence. Not everyone can do that because as a society we’ve been conditioned to GO GO GO and live this conventional life always rushing to the next thing. But things can be different. I think life is about the little things and being fully present for them. To follow your heart and act on intuition. Life with Paolo is full of beautiful moments. I’ve been traveling by myself for a while and appreciating all the things you see and experience, but to do it with another person is a completely different world.
Paolo brings and incredibly strong romantic side to him into our relationship. It’s something I’m a little uncomfortable with, given my past experiences, but I’m learning to embrace and appreciate it. To live authentically with my heart and let everything that held me back go. I feel like I’m finally coming into my own skin. It doesn’t matter where we are, if our hearts feel like we want to express an emotion, we do it. If that means we are dancing in the middle of the street, stopped in a crowded market to passionately kiss, or staring into each others eyes, that’s what happens. And it happens constantly in all kinds of different ways and the more comfortable we get with each other, the more intense these moments can get. Paolo and I had a million moments our first month together since the day we met in Chiang Mai. Singapore was a more intense version since we had been waiting to see each other again for two excruciating long months.
Was it everything I imagined it to be?
I feel like I’m really letting go and allowing myself to just be and feel which has fulfilled me in ways I can’t describe and we are writing one hell of a story in the process. In Singapore, it was like we were the only two people in the city and nothing else mattered. We didn’t do many things, but what I remember most about Singapore is how magical it felt and it excited me for Bangkok and our future. It was going to be a long two days. I spent the rest of my time in Singapore working my ass off before looking to the clock on my laptop and realizing that I had two hours to my flight and I really needed to get to the airport. Except… my laptop clock wasn’t on the right timezone and I actually only had one hour to get to the airport and check in for my flight. Shit!
The rush to the airport
Since it was rush hour I decided to take the subway to the airport over an expensive taxi ride. I found this to be the wrong decision as the guy who gave me the time estimate was completely off. 20-minutes my ass, more like 50!! I was freaking out the entire way. When I arrived to the airport I had to find the terminal for my flight… another subway to another part of the airport. SERIOUSLY? I finally arrived to check-in and the line was so long I jumped to the customer service desk. She called in and told me that the plane passenger list was already printed and I was not on it so I could not board my flight. I missed the cut-off by mere minutes. Damn it. She told me that I could take the next flight though for a small change fee of around $100. I had exactly $100 on me. I guess that expensive taxi ride would have been cheaper to take in retrospect.
Getting on a new flight
I have learned that kindness can get you a long way when things go wrong. When it was my turn I politely explained my situation and the agent happily changed my flight for me, except I had to pay the fare difference also which was an additional $250 on top of the $100 flight change fee. I informed her of what the previous manager had explained to me about just paying the change fee. She verified and told me the final price of $105. I was $5 short and she couldn’t discount it any further. I had to go to the ATM and pull out a few more dollars. No problem. I was hungry and I needed some money for that also. I was gone a total of 5 minutes and returned with the right amount of cash, except the price in the system had gone up to $175 now. She asked me to stand aside while she helped several rude customers while I waited quietly for 30-minutes. I didn’t even have to ask… she had a manager come over and change the price so I ended up only having to pay $70 for my flight change. Being kind can go a long ways sometimes. I was stoked that I wasn’t completely screwed over for a mistake that was totally my fault.
Detained at Security
I finally had my new ticket and made my way to my terminal. Singapore airport is different in that the airport is open and only when you check into your flight area you go through security, so every gate has a security check point and you wait in this glass room with everyone on your flight. You can’t leave to go get something to eat or anything, you must do that before. So I used the time I had to get some food and quickly make our hotel booking for Bangkok at Grand Mercure with Asia Rooms. (Note to self: Never make hotel bookings quickly – You’ll find out why in my next post)
I stood in line for security and when it was my turn they decided that my skateboard was, indeed, a weapon. I explained that I have carried my skateboard as a carry-on through a dozen countries and all over the United States without an issue, but they didn’t care. They pulled me aside and asked me if I declared my weapon.
“I didn’t know I needed to declare it. It’s not considered a weapon.”
“But did you declare it?”
“No. I haven’t ever had to declare my skateboard because…”
“Did you let the ticketing agent know that you were carrying this weapon.”
“Not specifically, but she could see that I had it and I was bringing it on the plane.”
“But did you declare it. Assuming she saw it is not an acceptable answer… (5-minute speech on declaring weapons ensues)”
The other westerners around me were making jokes and I was trying as hard as I could not to laugh in her face at the ridiculousness of the situation. I was answering as seriously and kindly as I could, but I was biting my tongue hard. She was being a real bitch and I think the other people making jokes and making fun of her weren’t helping the situation. So she grabbed me and made me sit in the corner with security. She informed me that I may or may not be allowed to board my flight and I may or may not get my skateboard back. I sat in time-out in front of all the other people on my flight with me.
They let the entire flight board without me while I sat there. Great. First I miss my flight, then I’m detained for carrying a ‘weapon’ onto the plane. It was the last flight out that night and I didn’t want to miss seeing Paolo in Bangkok. I was stressing out, but trying hard to have faith in the situation. Finally, they escorted me to the terminal and had the captain come out and speak with me. They told him the situation and asked if I would be allowed to board the plane with my weapon. He gave them the look, rolled his eyes, and gave me the go-ahead. I thanked him. He winked. When I boarded the plane finally, the westeners all raised their hands and cheered for me.
Oh Asia, you never fail to surprise me with your antics.