Leaving on a jet plane

25 02 2013
Departure - 13 From the cab

The Control Tower at Singapore Changi Airport. Beautiful and all-lit up at night.

I HAVE as much love for being seen off or welcomed at the airport as I do for being on the other end.  As a guest of this amazing country for a while now, I feel I’m doing good with all the great things being here has afforded me when I return the favor – even in the little things.  Seeing great friends off at the airport is one of those.  I make them feel that I am their non-local “local” over here.

Besides, with all honesty, I make up every possible excuse to go to Singapore Changi Airport.  It’s one of my – drum roll please for the irony up ahead – happy places in the Lion City.  I say irony because in the distant past, I associated the airport to sadness.  I guess not so much anymore.

Especially in Changi where the multifarious pleasant noise of the many shopping and dining options at each of the three terminals could make the runway, airfield, control towers and hangars seem like an afterthought.  “Oh, since we’re made everybody congregate in this concrete tundra that we’ve created in the tropics, why not allow planes to take off and land on that strip over there?”  Hahaha!

Last Friday, the 22nd of February, the two MichelesKuya and the third Michele I’ve come to know – had to bid Singapore “arrivederci!

Micheles_eNTeNG_Italians_01

Time to say arrivederci… eNTeNG and the Micheles

Kuya left by way of Terminal 2, on the midnight Lufthansa flight that would take him to a layover in Frankfurt for his connecting flight to Italia.  Michele’s was in the four–year–old Terminal 3, the Singapore Airlines redeye to Milan.

And just like that, Kuya is once again gone.

Departure - 00 Alberto Kuya Michele

Alberto, Kuya’s childhood friend from Milazzo and now based in Singapore, saw the two Micheles off at the hotel. (All photos taken with my Blackberry Bold 9780)

 

Departure - 01 Terminal 2

We made it to Terminal 2! Kuya checked in first. His was the earlier flight.

 

Departure - 02 Skytrain to T3

Kuya’s check-in all took a jiff! Before we knew it, we’re on our way to the Skytrain to Terminal 3, where it’s Michele’s turn to check-in.

 

Departure - 03 Skytrain to T3

The skytrains continuously ply the routes between the three terminals that there really isn’t a lot of wait time.

 

Departure - 04 Skytrain to T3

Even in the airport, there’s only one thing to remember: “Berhati hati di ruang platform!”

 

Departure - 05 Skytrain to T3

“Aha, you’re taking a photo again!”

 

Departure - 06 Kuya

It is just here somewhere…

 

Departure - 07 Skytrain to T2

Back to Terminal 2 where Kuya boarded his flight.

 

Departure - 08 Skytrain to T3

… And back to Terminal 3 one more time.

 

Departure - 09 Time Check

Time check!

 

Departure - 11 Flight Information

I love going through the Flight Information boards.

 

Departure - 12 Flight Information

Oh, there’s the flight leaving for Frankfurt!

 

Departure - 10 Magazines

Whenever I travel, or find myself in the airport, I hoard magazines. On display last Friday were British Esquire with Leo Messi on the cover. He is not Italian but his name does sound Italian. Haha! Style:Men on the other hand has a cover story on the fashions from Milan.

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





SQ918

28 01 2013
SQ918 13 Wing

Just took off from Changi International Airport. I just always have to have a snap of the airplane’s wing against the land, the sea, and the sky.

IF YOU care for someone, it’s important to remember why they are in your life.

And everytime I’m up in the air that is exactly what I do.

I may have time for a movie – or a part of it (“Pitch Perfect” is on the cover of KrisWorld and “the perks of being a wallflower” and “Arbitrage” are also on the list!) – and most likely all the broadsheets on offer and a couple of magazines I’d pick up at times travel or any other book shop I pass by on the way to the gate.

SQ918 01 KrisWorld

Fat Amy is in the house!

But still, a lot of the three and a half hours I spend airborne is devoted to being breathless in anticipation of yet another homecoming.  And this feeling of being at home starts the very moment I get on board my Singapore Airlines flight.  Sweet.

SQ918 00 Panettone

On this trip, the Panettone was the most precious cargo.

 

SQ918 02 Longchamp Adidas

Before take-off, all carry-on luggage has to be stowed under the seat in front of you. I looked at my two bags and realized that I was traveling with a French and an Italian!

 

SQ918 05 Take-off and Wing

See you again soon, Lion City! … Before long, it was time to take off. I’ve always found my Singapore Airlines flights to keep their schedules really well.

 

SQ918 10 Wing

One of the views I love is when the sun breaks free from the clouds. So a photo is always requisite.

 

SQ918 03 KrisWorld Movies

The New Releases line-up has some of the best movies I’ve ever seen. I didn’t know which to start with.

 

SQ918 14 Fast Facts

The Philippines is featured on the latest issue of KrisFlyer. I love this boxed feature on my country’s “fast facts”.

 

SQ918 18 Passport

Before the food arrives, I make sure that I fill out all the disembakation forms required at the NAIA.

 

SQ918 19 Passport

I love my complimentary Singapore Airlines leather passport holder!

 

SQ918 20 Food

Yehey! The food arrives. That happens to be my third can of Campbell’s Tomato Juice! I always love it when they say, “Would you like the whole can?”

 

SQ918 21 Food

I asked for the fish with vegetables! Delish!

 

SQ918 25 Tissot

I wore one of my Tissots on this trip. And yes, a Charriol.

 

SQ918 26 Tissot

Right on time, we’re taxiing down the runway at the NAIA.

 

SQ918 28 NAIA Arrival

I’m home!

 

Copyright © 2013 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





I heart SQ

21 08 2012

I always take photographs of the wing of the airplane I’m on. (Wing, Boeing 777-200 Twin Jet)

WHILE MOST of my Singaporean and Malaysian friends expressed concern about my family’s welfare when monsoon rains submerged 90% of Metro Manila, I had more pressing concerns in mind.  Mama had been ill – getting confined in the hospital twice in a couple of weeks, spaced less than 12 hours apart – and just like any child thousands of miles away, I knew I’d rather be home.

Fortunately for me, I always have a Singapore Airlines ticket ready for me when I am.

I was anxious the whole time during this trip.  But somehow, flying with Singapore Airlines felt like flying with family.  On the Singapore–Manila leg (SQ918), I got my favorite seat and almost instantly, I was already home, up in the air, 30,000 feet in the skies.

Since the flight wasn’t even half-full, I could be quick to charge the impeccable inflight service to be due to the low flight attendant-to-passenger ratio.  There was plenty of attention to be spread.  But having been a loyal Singapore Airlines passenger all these years, I know better that the service was just their usual – top notch and uncompromising.  Actually, the operative word here is “usual.”  Why?  It is because they have been consistent at this excellent service level that anybody will be quick to dismiss any new experience to be – there’s that word again – the usual.

But having my anxieties brushed away, even for the three and a half hours I was airborne, I couldn’t help but feel grateful to the inflight crew.  Hui Hui (I hope I got her name right) was especially helpful that I just had to write her a thank you note.

I realized I was wandering aimlessly when I reached Gate E20 and when I looked up my flight’s boarding gate, it was E8. I was way off! It was on the other end of the terminal. Hehe.

 

On the way to my gate, I had to take a snapshot of Gate E5. It’s my favorite letter and number.

 

Whenever I pass by a mirrored wall…

 

Finally, Gate E8!

 

Comfortably ensconced in my favorite seat, the first at this section.

 

My favorite seat

 

I can’t look at this emergency door – right beside a flight attendant’s takeoff/landing station – without having images of action movies in my head. Haha!

 

I get all the papers available by the plane door – Financial Times (FT) Weekend, The Business Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Straits Times.

 

The moment I get in my seat, I work on the disembarkation card and the customs declaration.

 

As you can see, I always have my favorite pens with me – the Parker from my good friend Jian Cheng and the Bic from Timothy.

 

Amidst turbulence, I had to write down a quote from the movie I was watching.

 

Tiger Woods was giving me the eye. “Finish your papers, eNTeNG!”

 

Time check!

 

All of my travel papers and stuff – passport, e-Ticket, boarding pass, EP – are organized in this Muji passport holder. This was one of the first things I ever bought in Singapore.

 

I always travel comfortably, which this time meant my red Zappi shoes and khaki Topman shorts. My top was my five-year-old custom fit Ralph Lauren piqué polo shirt.

 

After the movie “The Lucky One,” I caught up on an episode of one of my favorite TV shows Grey’s Anatomy. That’s one of my favorite characters, the feisty Dr. Cristina Yang.

 

Dinner has landed!

 

I had stir fried fish in dry chilli and Chinese wine, seasonal vegetables and fried rice. For starters, I munched on a pasta salad of marinated seafood and penne.

 

For dessert, it was tiramisu “Ais Krim”.

The Manila–Singapore leg (SQ921) was full.  Getting yet another one of my favored seats was just half of the pleasant flight.  The other half was taken care of by the attentive, thoughtful crew.  I took note of one name – Lynn.  Again, I hope I got it right (her last name starts with H).

While some of my fellow passengers opted to drown the occasional turbulence with gin and tonic or Johnny Walker Black with orange juice, I chose to wash everything away with my favorite Campbell’s Tomato Juice.

By the second refill I heard the most beautiful words, “Would you like a whole can?”  I heard that in both flights.  I heart Singapore Airlines.

Before I knew it, it was time to go back to the Lion City.

 

NAIA was full! There lines everywhere.

 

As an Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW), I had to fall in line to get my papers validated.

 

Ladies and gentlemen, the King of Pop!… “I’m starting with the man in the mirror…”

 

This flight was a bit delayed, but nothing disappointing. We were kept posted on the progress. By the way, it was raining when we took off.

 

For inflight reading, I brought a book from my bookshelf at home, Deluxe: How Luxury Lost Its Luster by Dana Thomas.

 

This show “Cupcake Wars” caught my attention.

 

Of the many movie choices, I decided on the 80’s classic Ghostbusters starring, among many others, the very beautiful Sigourney Weaver. I remember seeing this movie as a kid.

 

A young Bill Murray. I still think he should’ve gotten the Oscar for “Lost in Translation.”

 

Finally the food has arrived!

 

I had couple of these warmed rolls!

 

Dinner is served! – pork spare ribs with preserved soya beans (rendered like a most sumptuous sauce), chicken rice (yum!), and steamed seasonal vegetables (though the menu did say Chinese mushroom).

 

The spare ribs were actually served boneless. The meat was really tender, moist and flavorful. Having watched enough Top Chef, I know exactly the exacting skill needed to dish out such a scrumptious meal.

 

I fell in love with this smoked duck and green mango salad. I have to say, I was mesmerized by the tangy dressing.

 

I must’ve gone through three of these. I lost count. I wouldn’t be surprised if the flight attendant would decide to start charging me. Hahaha!

 

Back in Singapura! This was my first time landing at Terminal 3. The place is just breathtakingly beautiful!

 

The place is huge!

 

I turn into a kid in a candy store whenever I’m faced by this Visitor Information rack. I have to say, I get my fill of the latest. Hahaha!

 

Please proceed to Belt 41 to claim your baggage.

 

I said I had fragile stuff inside. Little did I know, my luggage would get this treatment. Haha!

 

My excel spreadsheets at work are always colorful. So I love looking at this flight indicator board.

 

I love taking the last flight out of Manila all the time. Because I arrive in Singapore to a taxi queue that looks like this.

 

This was the lightest I have ever traveled in years. But still I managed to pack in some stuff for some special people back at my second home.

 

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





INXS

17 01 2012

A couple of tickets for excess baggage

OVER TWO decades of traveling internationally and I have managed to charm my way out of excess baggage charges every single time.

Well, until the 31st of December 2011.

I actually knew I would be going over way too much the moment I had gone through all the permutations in my head in how to squeeze in “the Dior” in my check-in luggage.  ToNoAvail.  It ended up sandwiched in between a brand new laptop and its bag’s cushioning.

I have always been quite fortunate to be well taken care of by Singapore Airlines, getting approval for extra baggage allowance every time I requested for it.  But I miscalculated my request this one last time and still ended up with 13.8kg of excess, on top of my approved extra.  At US$ 8.00 per kg., roughly S$ 10.40, it was a considerable sum – the images of Swatch watches within that price range, incessantly buzzing like neon in my head.

But I immediately snapped out of it, the moment I realized that the reason I was traveling with all that weight was because I have accumulated a lot of surprises for my family back home.  Whatever I paid for at the airport was small beans for the appreciation and gratitude I saw on their faces.

I thought that coming back to Singapore would be “lighter.”  But no, I chalked up in record time my second “excess baggage moment” – in the space of four days – for this time, I was bringing back stuff for the “family” I have made here in the Lion City.

Excess baggage from Singapore to Manila.  S$ 10.40 per kilogram.

Excess baggage from Manila to Singapore.  US$ 8.00 per kilogram.

To be the bearer of things to make many “someones” happy.  Priceless.

My pieces of luggage make it to the door!

 

My luggage right under my favorite number

 

I love standing in front of this huge flight status billboard.

 

My luggage made it through the door! I have to tell you, that big one was so heavy. A lot of pushing, shoving, and dragging was involved. Hahaha!

 

I brought home a couple of really special presents for Mama – the TV, and her brand new laptop, which was in her favorite color of pink. It was pink on the outside, and on the inside.

 

The happy look of someone who had just settled excess baggage payment. Hahaha!

 

On my way to board

 

This is not totally related to the post, but I just thought about putting it here. Haha! I debuted my new Parker pen on this flight, using it to fill out all my travel forms.

 

I heart Singapore!

 

On the flight back, one piece from my luggage tipped the scale at 34kg. I knew I would be paying for the excess again, after the officer asked me to load everything on the scale.

 

Still quite happy because my request for extra baggage was again approved. So I paid really just a small amount.

 

On this flight out, the line at the immigration was so surprisingly short, it was virtually non-existent. I was shocked.

 

I shall cherish these excess baggage tickets forever. Hahaha!

Copyright © 2012 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved





On one of 105

7 11 2011

A can of Campbell's Tomato Juice all to myself.

I WAS so well taken care of by the ground and inflight crews of Singapore Airlines on my last flight back that I swear, I did feel staring at the precipice of falling in love.  One slight further nudge could have done me in.

When my agent made the internet check-in for me, they weren’t able to secure the seat I had been eyeing.  But I had them put a comment in.  And as it is always with “comments” or “special instructions,” nobody really cares about them.  So I had totally dismissed it from the get-go.

Check-in at the NAIA was a breeze.  And quite pleasantly full of surprises.  They let me go over my check-in baggage allowance.  That was not a first, though it was definitely something I would look forward to with breath that is bated and with fingers that are crossed.  But what was even more surprising was that they totally allowed, with a smile, my packed 12 boxes of honeyed banana chips and my couple of Starbucks paper bags full of Manila demitasse souvenir cups to be part of my carry-on.

At the boarding gate, I was greeted by someone with the line, “Are you Mr. eNTeNG™©’s MunchTime™©?  We got you your preferred seat.  Let me change your boarding pass, Sir.”  And by the time he said, “This way, Sir.  Let me accompany you,” to walk me to the front of the boarding area, I knew there was a point to taking all those SQ flights in the past.

On board the plane, the ultimate affirmation of Singapore Airlines’ excellent service took the best form that appeals to me – FOOD.  I had the most sumptuous Chicken with herb cream sauce, seasonal vegetables and potatoes and Chicken adobo Sa Gata (chicken braised in coconut cream) with yellow rice and vegetables.

I love it everytime the meal arrives! This is the dinner on my flight from Singapore to Manila.

 

Chicken with herb cream sauce, seasonal vegetables and potatoes

 

This piece of boneless, herbed chicken was so flavorful and tender!

 

Roasted herbed potatoes

 

Roasted vegetables – carrots, baby bok choy, and young corn.

 

Marinated Chinese seafood salad

 

The light meal on the Manila-to-Singapore flight finally lands on my tray.

 

I've started to ask for a second roll on my flights!

 

I love French butter!

 

I would tear the roll into pieces, each of which I smother with lots of the French butter.

 

Chicken adobo sa gata becomes fancy, served with fragrant yellow rice and vegetables.

 

This chicken dish was just so scrumptious!

 

Tomato and eggplant on the side

 

Chicken and pineapple salad

 

Chocolate truffle gateau for dessert

And between flying to Manila and back, a total of eight cans of Campbell’s Tomato Juice.

“Would you like apple juice or wine, Sir?”

“Do you have tomato juice?”

“Would you like a whole can to yourself?”  S–W–E–E–T.

There was Bloody Mary on the cocktail list. But I'd rather have just Campbell's Tomato Juice every single time!

 

It's time for dinner!

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





Twenty minutes before takeoff

4 07 2011

The symbol of our flag carrier, as seen from the window of my Singapore Airlines plane, taxying down the runway, getting ready for takeoff.

 

“BUTI PA umuwi ka na lang!”  (Know what, you better just go home!)

Trust friends to snap you out of a really depressing situation seemingly impossible to surmount.  The opening line above was a text message from one of my closest friends as a response to one of my “to-the-minute” updates on the progress of my departure for Singapore last Wednesday afternoon.  I was sobbing like a little child whose toy got snatched from him.  Quite understandable if it were the circumstances.  But I’m a grownup man.  And I was at one of the gates of NAIA waiting to board the 2:10 PM flight to Singapore on board Singapore AirlinesNakakahiya.

I arrived about an hour ahead of check-in counter opening. I was first in line. Now that's a first!

I was first in line. First, not "next in line"! Hahaha!

See, I was early!

Finally checked in!

So this is how it feels like to be a "bagong bayani"...

Prior that message, I was actually having a comic relief of my own after a frantic search of my carry-on luggage revealed that the handkerchief I had set aside the night before – yes, for any tears that might fall – was nowhere to be found.  It was a case of selling the drama short.  Props were incomplete.

That's my flight, SQ917!

The long walk to Gate 6

Boarding Gate

My own "someone to watch over me"...

"Batman" gave me Batman before I left...

I didn’t take my friend up on her advice and made it on my flight.  But I just have to admit how really hard it was to leave behind family.  I’ve been away before for a year and a half but that was a temporary assignment.  There was always the thought that I’d be coming back.  But this move?  It has the potential of “long-term” written all over it.  Though it’s good that Singapore is quite near and I could go home whenever I need or want to.  But still, leaving one’s family behind is quite hard.

As always, flying with Singapore Airlines was such a delight.  I devoured the inflight meal – of course, asked for the one with the rice, and not the potatoes – and was pleasantly surprised to be given Campbell’s tomato juice all the time I asked.

The meal has landed!

 

Stir-fried prawns with dried chilies, steamed seasonal vegetables, and steamed white rice

 

This meal came in a compact dish that revealed, surprisingly, plentiful shrimps! I did attempt to count 'til all the sumptuousness made me lose track.

 

"Seasonal" vegetables turned out to be carrots and Taiwan pechay.

 

Really gorgeous, gorgeous... gorgeous prawns!

 

The meal came with macaroni salad on the side. It was dressed with a really citrusy vinaigrette. Loved the lone tomato wedge on top.

It came to the point that the flight attendant didn’t even bother opening a can and pouring me some on their short glasses.  She started handing me my own can!  Hahaha!

After attempting to satiate me with one refill, the cabin crew realized that my second request had to be fulfilled with a can all my own... and another one later.

I love tomato juice.  Looking out the airplane window, I took sips – each one promising a deluge of lycopene and other antioxidants into my system – and I got reminded of loved ones I left back home.  They will always be in my heart and in my mind no matter what I’m doing.  Like just sitting there by the window and having my juice.

My requisite photo whenever on board a flight

 

We arrived at Gate E8.

 

On the travelator on my way out

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.





For Genie

29 03 2011

Tender chunks of lean chicken meat worthy of its title

AIRBORNE AT 12,192 meters, I’m writing this in honor of one of my NFFs (newfound friends) – the very beautiful Genie.  She used to be a flight attendant for Singapore Airlines.  Now, she works with someone equally beautiful, Partner.  On her days away from the office – or when the work day is through – I gather that she is quite the dancing diva.  I just couldn’t articulate here her “the moves.”  Genie, this one’s for you.

Writing this at 12,192 meters up in the air!

Singapore Airlines economy class sure puts the others’ to shame.  I’ve always flown economy.  And frankly, I love it.

Late lunch on board my flight was a choice between chicken (Chicken Imperial) and fish (Pan-Fried Fish Fillet with Tomato Coriander Sauce, sautéed vegetables and parsley potatoes).  I’ve reduced my criterion in choosing my entrée to one simple thing:  whichever has rice wins!

Though I had flipped through the menu a good number of times, I felt the need to sound like I was on a bind and when asked by the very pretty flight attendant, turned my head to one side, heaved a deep sigh, and whimsically enunciated, “Whichever has rice.”

So it was Chicken Imperial for me.  The menu described it as “Oriental style chicken with Chinese herbs and rice wine, leafy greens, red capsicum and fragrant rice.”  Everything was perfectly scrumptious.  The chicken meat was quite tender and not stringy at all.  Eating each piece was a rhythm of piercing each with the lovely fork, then tempting my mouth as I drew the tine-pierced chicken meat closer.  I engulfed it with my lips, licked it with my tongue, and proceeded to bite, releasing its juices with every chew.  The perfect doneness that translated to tenderness couldn’t be denied.  I hate it when I would have to fight with my food!

The rice that came with the dish had all the right to be called the clincher to my decision.  It was not just “fragrant” rice.  It was “Hainanese chicken rice-fragrant” rice!  I had to stop with my first spoonful.  Almost scornful, I had to chide myself, “Just when you had shunned all reminders of that lustful, sinful night at Wee Nam Kee, here you go asking for this rice.  I tell you eNTeNG, this will haunt you!”  Love – and lust – for food is a vicious cycle.

The lunch menu

 

Whichever has rice wins!

 

At 12,192 meters way up there, heaven takes the form of the food tray!... And, it has arrived!

 

Chicken Imperial in all its glory! Yum-o!

 

The vegetables that came with...

 

The "not-a-potato-salad-person" that I am, I devoured everything you see here!... to the point of licking!

 

Dessert was this ice cream bar that came all the way from...

 

...Thailand!

 

Anything on an inflight food tray doesn't stand a chance of being spared by me! Hahaha!

 

We've arrived!

 

As Michael Bublé would sing, "Another airplane..." ...This was the one that brought me home safe! I heart SG! I heart SQ!

 

Copyright © 2011 by eNTeNG  c”,)™©’s  MunchTime™©.  All rights reserved.