As we were getting ready to land in Singapore on Sunday 5th June at 6am local time (1am Turkish time), it dawned on me that I had been on my way for almost 24 hours, already. I still had not had any sleep and I had a bit of a sea-sickness feeling. I drank lots of water and asked the air stewardess if I needed to pre-book the free tour in Singapore. Unfortunately, she informed me they were no longer available due to Covid restrictions. I now had 12 hours to kill in Changi airport and it was the busiest I had ever seen it. We landed at the same terminal which my next flight was going from so there was no need to worry about going to a lounge anywhere else. I thought I would try to find a place to sleep for a bit first. Masks are still required and are enforced in Singapore so it would be a long and uncomfortable lay over. I got the free WiFi to update people on my journey but there were no quiet seats available anywhere. In fact, it was so noisy everywhere, as if the world had forgotten that headphones for phones existed. I decided to head for the lounge and would be there from 6.50am until 10am, I wasn’t boarding my next flight until 4.30pm so the staff at the lounge said I could book another slot later on if I wanted to, which was nice. By 7am I was having paneer tikka and rice with a Tiger beer and it was lovely, you had to keep putting your mask on and off though, to go up to get drinks and food, which was a bit of a pain but I obviously adhered to the rules. I had another beer, some more food and tried a pasty which I have no idea what the mystery filling was. I had a chicken stew, more curry then tried to get some Prosecco but it was finished because it was breakfast time! I had a couple of vodka and oranges as I was determined to get my money’s worth and then had ham, cheese and salad sandwiches. For afters I had lots of fresh pineapple but then had more bread and some more drinks. I left at 10am, although no one came to kick me out, I was going to have a shower but the queue was long. I decided I wouldn’t book the lounge again for later as I just really needed to get some sleep.
The day dragged a lot, I managed to write a couple of lists for my blog which were things I’d miss in Dalyan and things I was looking forward to in Phong Nha. I took the opportunity to rehydrate and pee a lot. I eventually found space in a group of sleeping Indian men and took my chances to make a bed out of 2 chairs, with my hand luggage under my thighs, and my trusty neck pillow from Chung and Uy. I slept for 1 hour and woke up when my ‘neighbours’ became loud. I walked around looking for better places to sit/sleep but none of the places I went for were good enough to get any sleep. I kept checking the boards for flight information and there were no changes to my gate, terminal or flight time and I set an alarm. At 4pm there was an update that my flight was now leaving from a different terminal and I had to take the sky train then walk, quite quickly, through the new terminal to the gate, the furthest away possible. I met a robot hoover on the way and took photos and a video, not realising I was running late. The robot was great as he blinked when people got in his way and I liked him – clearly I was depraved of sleep. I only just made it in time to the gate and then noticed that my seat was a window one when I had requested an aisle. I asked a Singapore Airlines staff member at the water cooler if it was too late to change it and he sorted it out for me. We left at 5.15pm local time and were due to land in Saigon in 2 hours and 10 minutes.
On the plane I was so tired I have no idea of the passenger next to me, only to recall the flight was full. I remember having a water and an apple juice with a meal of Singapore noodles which were super tasty.
I must have nodded off on the short flight because I woke up to the jolt of us landing at Tan Son Nhat airport at 7pm. It was 3pm in Turkey, I had no WiFi and still had to collect my luggage, find a taxi and get to the apartment in Thao Dien where Captain Caveman would be waiting, hopefully!
I headed for the passport queue and, as is usual, it took quite a while to get to the front. I had to move to a different queue twice as the official at the desk went for a break. I got my stamp in the passport and I remembered to check the date was correct before leaving the passport control section. Next, I waited for my suitcase which arrived wet, slightly damaged but still wheeled. I headed to the exit and was astonished as to how busy the international arrivals section of the airport was. The heat, at almost 8pm, was pretty consuming and I could tell the humidity was high. I booked a taxi, as advised previously by Captain Caveman, which was 380,000vnd (£13.33) and was a bit on the pricey side. I also had to wait quite a while for a car to come and the staff organising it suggested I should share with a Vietnamese bloke in front of me. He was also going to District 2, but if I didn’t share, I would have to wait 30 minutes but, as I’d already paid, I said I wasn’t sharing. Without a working phone I knew that option was likely to be fraught with disaster and the Vietnamese are not known for their sense of direction at the best of times. I got chatting to another westerner in the queue and he was trying to calm me down by kindly explaining how things work with taxis in Vietnam. The taxi was big, comfortable and had lovely Aircon on which made me feel better as we drove for about half an hour to where I would be joining Captain Caveman for the next 4 nights. When I arrived outside Melia River View apartments, there were no signs of life and a barking dog was trying to see me off. I looked for a reception or a staff member but couldn’t find anything, a man came out of the dark and asked if he could help. As I asked which way was room 101, I saw Captain Caveman look out of a window upstairs. He came to get me, and took my cases to the lift, I got in with them but there was no room for him so he did the stairs. When I got to the room it was nice but there was no time for a rest or much else. I had a quick shower, put the cheese and fruit cake in the fridge then Captain Caveman hurried me out. It was already 9pm gone and he was worried we wouldn’t get fed. He had chosen a nearby Lebanese restaurant, called Beirut, and neither of us were quite prepared for the experience.
It would be 5pm in Turkey now and we let family and friends know I had arrived after 42 hours of travelling. I was so tired that I seriously could have slept in my soup, had I ordered any. As it turned out, it was a great choice for dinner as it certainly kept me awake. We had Baba Ganoush and hummus with flat bread for starters while 3 belly dancers gave us a show. There were only 2 other couples in the restaurant and we didn’t know where to look as the girls isolated their ribcages and got their boobs shaking.
Captain Caveman was more interested in the falafel and chicken liver while I seemed to be hypnotised by belly dancer boobs, as I tried to work out their nationality. It was a pretty tasty meal, the white wine was good and I would definitely eat there again. It was 11.15pm when we left, by this time my sea sickness feeling was taking over and I really needed to go to sleep. As we got in bed, I expected to be having a long lay-in tomorrow, as requested. Unfortunately, Captain Caveman told me that it was no longer the case and we needed to be up early because he had a surprise planned. He set the alarm for 7am!