Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Frugal Bastard's Cruise 2008 - Day 1 - October 4th 2008

Time for another trip. This time as an anniversary present as well as for a holiday. We had planned to take a cruise from Singapore to Malaysia, Thailand and back three months earlier but were unable to obtain a cabin that we were happy with. It didn't have to be anything special. No need for a porthole because if we wanted to look outside we would go outside. All they were able to offer us firstly was a room with an obscured view for A$900 more than we were willing to pay. So, we waited three months until the next holiday period.

Finally the time came around. We'd only had three days to pay for the initial booking but had to wait seven months to take the trip. You can imagine how excited we were.

My itinerary informed me that we were taking a Qantas flight at 12pm. Therefore we rocked up to the airport at 10 to 10 because we had plenty of time. After a quick check of the e-ticket, which said our booking was on Singapore Airlines, I thought that it was a bit strange that Singapore Airlines and Qantas would be doing a codeshare flight as they are competitor. Then it dawned on me - my itinerary didn't match the ticket and we had missed our flight which was scheduled for the morning. That was an "Oh shit!" moment. And a rather large one at that.

Unfortunately Singapore Airlines' desk was closed at this stage so I had to ring our travel agent - Flight Centre. It hurt having to pay $2 for a local call as I didn't have any change. And I was kept on hold for some 45 minutes whilst waiting for the travel agent to contact Singapore Airlines. I explained that the e-ticket didn't match the itinerary and three months after the ticket was created I'd paid for something else or received a quote and the paperwork produced still informed that my booking was with Qantas. The travel agent couldn't understand as there had never been a booking made with Qantas - that was a bit difficult to swallow seeing as I had paperwork stating otherwise. There was absolutely no mention of Singapore Airlines in an itinerary and, in fact, an updated itinerary was never presented to us. A little bit later I recalled changing the initial flight to an earlier one to Singapore but the rest of the paperwork being incorrect was still very mysterious. And it wasn't going to help the fact that we had missed our flight. And the ticket says if you miss your flight you've missed your flight.

Waiting on the telephone for some 50 minutes for help from the travel agent.

The travel agent managed to get us booked on a flight at five past one the next morning but that would mean our hotel booking was lost and we would have nowhere to stay for half a day before boarding our cruise. Not ideal. Our best bet was to waitlist for a five to four flight that afternoon and wait it out. I went upstairs to Singapore Airlines' office, which was closed but they answered the doorbell, and they informed me that the flight was already overbooked. Another lady came who decided to try her luck as she wanted to go to Paris a day earlier than planned if she could. Once we'd had lunch and waited downstairs there was another chap who was waitlisted also.

Had to ring my friend Vanessa from a public phone and tell her that we wouldn't be arriving until late in the evening, at best, and that it wasn't possible to use the tickets that she had purchased for a ride that night on the Singapore Flyer. As luck would have it the call only cost me $2 and I found a two dollar coin near the phone.

We could have purchased three business class seats which were available at the cost of A$2600 each and saved a lot of hassle but I couldn't see the logic in spending $8000 just to be guaranteed of landing in Singapore a few hours earlier as we were booked on a flight at 1:05 the next morning if the waitlisting didn't come through.

It was a nerve-wracking wait. We had to wait until 40 minutes before the flight was due to leave and if people hadn't checked in by then, and only then, the seats would be allocated to people on the waitlist. Thankfully everyone who was waiting was allowed on the plane. We hastily checked our bags and grabbed our boarding passes. Miky wanted to buy a handbag in the duty free area and asked if she had time. And I thought that she was kidding. When we reached immigration there was a large cue. Then we had to go through a security screening area. Only then did we reach the gate with some 10 or so minutes until the plane departed. We weren't the last to arrive but were pretty close to it.

Service on Singapore Airlines was good. I wasn't impressed with the middle-aged women in front of me who were out for a good time as they fail to consider others. You know, the sort of people who push their seat back as far as possible so that you can't see your screen properly and talk quite loudly about what they are watching on their own screen. Managed to read the Financial Times from front to back.

At the airport I found the information desk ladies to be quite helpful. Couldn't understand the taxi driver and he probably had as much trouble with me. The staff member at the Holiday Inn Park View was most kind. When I replied that our holiday had been started off so poorly he gave me an iPod shuffle for my trouble and said, "When I go on holiday I would like to have a nice holiday." Man, I was enjoying the Singaporean hospitality already.

We wandered around the eateries on Orchard Road and visited Istana Park. The night life appears to get going around 10pm.

Busy place late into the evening.

La La, Gon Gon and Su Su. This made us laugh.

Istana Park by night

Litter in Istana Park. Shock, horror.


Anonymous said...

Wow congratulations. Have a blast. Everyone is jealous and wants to go lol Annette

Iris Flavia said...

Holy crap, what a start of a holiday! 50 minutes waiting for a proper phone call?! Nightmare!

Hope the holiday itself turns out just great in return!