So what’s it like to check up on your flight home to Europe? Get on to web to find a story about a volcano erupting in Iceland. Sad news, but not personal. Until you try to confirm that flight. Confusion reigning.
With a few hours spare before leaving for the airport in Singapore, we attempt to confirm flights. After an hour learn all is OK. Brief allayment of concerns. The airline can get us to Dohar. Almost immediate reversal of that information. No flights, sit tight.
So we did. Or at least we would have, but the hotel apologetically explained there were no rooms. Biggest convention of the world just starting (ironically, Hotel Asia trade fair). So, no flights, no hotel.
No room after Sunday
Local contacts (thanks Lim, Margaret) gave great emotional and practical support. They find Susan and myself serviced-apartment accomodation for the weekend. Short trip through business district. Solicitous staff at new place suggest we book with them until Monday but warn yes you’ve guessed it, they are 100% booked for next week.
Saturday am. Multiple calls to UK travel agent. Best get to the airport to arrange flights. Do so, where friendly staff can not help directly. Indirectly though, they help by explaining that their local office will open for business next on Monday. Orchard Road premises. Yes we can get there on Monday.
Return to apartment via MRT and market place for provisions, and then with the first taxi-driver on this trip who could not speak English. Not to be recommended. Driver heads back to airport. It’s true. You do shout louder if you are not understood.
Back to room. Calm down with nostalgic toast and marmalade acquired in Seven Eleven walk-in store. Later: watched Manchester City/United at a nearby Tiger Beer open-air local greasery spoonery. Great atmosphere. High-pitch high-decibel fans split pretty evenly for and against each team.
It’s all a blur. Monday we learn we can get fresh tickets, but only for a flight on May 6th. (Yes I remember. Date of UK General Election and three weeks away.) No guarantee of a room beyond a few days. Dismay. Obsess over maps of the pollution over much of Europe and experts suggesting we may have to wait even longer. Then some more positive news. Maybe the air traffic authorities have been over-cautious. We wait for a call. Hello, is that Mr Godot? Your two friends are still in room 3.01.
Little triumphs. We keep renewing our room. Organise medical supplies from a local practice. Also sincere thanks to Moorlands Medical Supplies for their 48-hour special delivery service of our urgent request, once flights to Europe resumed.
Do something useful. So Saturday we stand in for colleagues who can’t get to the Singapore graduation ceremony of Manchester Business School WorldWide graduates. Returning to our hotel planning the next ten days, we discover we have been booked on a flight the following Monday.
Is it really happening?
Curious sense of not believing it will happen until we are on the plane… judging from the line of people at the check-in desk three hours before take-off, the entire planeload of refugees had been of a similar mind.
Image from Stephan of Icelandic volcanic activity which did not have such dire global consequences.