(January 2, written retroactively)
With drained shoulders and stiff neck, I arrived in Singapore on January 1, ringing within the New Yr at the airplane. I’m lately writing from my lodge room within the middle of Singapore’s Chinatown, the place I served my transient self-isolation whilst looking forward to my on-arrival COVID take a look at effects (fortunately, destructive!).
New Jersey to New York
My adventure to Singapore started on December 30 with a 2-hour power from my house in South Jersey to JFK Airport in New York. Being the over-punctual individual I’m, I arrived 5 hours sooner than my flight. From there, I might embark at the first a part of my reputable adventure – a 6.5-hour in a single day flight to Frankfurt, Germany for a 12-hour layover.
Whilst this was once no longer my first time flying across the world, it was once my first time flying solo. As an green flyer intimidated by means of the theory of a layover, a slew of questions crammed my thoughts: Will my baggage be robotically transferred to the following flight? Do I’ve to move thru safety once more in Frankfurt? What if I don’t have all of the paperwork that they ask for (even supposing I will have to’ve checked 100 instances)? And even supposing I requested those inquiries to the precise team of workers on the counters and gained reassuring solutions, for some explanation why, I used to be no longer 100% eased by means of them. The one solution to know evidently, I assumed, was once to get to the opposite facet of the sector and spot for myself.
After a relatively overwhelming and intimidating safety procedure being stuck in a rip present of vacation vacationers, rummaging thru my baggage whilst being rushed by means of TSA, I discovered myself on my solution to the boarding gate, the place I might nervously mess around with my passport and boarding move for the following two hours. As I texted my farewells to my folks, friends and family, the cabin group made a modern front in the course of the gate, stewards of their swish military fits and stewardesses donning their colourful sarong kebayas.
New York to Frankfurt
The flight was once a short lived respite from the apprehension, partly as a result of this wouldn’t be my first time in Frankfurt (I had flown into Frankfurt some years in the past for a highschool alternate). I even had a short lived alternative to apply my German comprehension abilities when the airplane bulletins had been translated to German! And naturally, flying with probably the most best-ranked airways on the earth intended that I might be sorted in true Singapore taste.
For dinner that night time I opted for a pulled red meat mac and cheese served along a mini cup of Haagen-Dazs strawberry ice cream – no longer too shabby for plane meals.
I braced myself for gentle sleep and, after a couple of naps, discovered myself at the different facet of the Atlantic six hours later, triggering the following wave of questions: What will have to I do for the following 13 hours? The place do I examine in for the following flight? Am I allowed to move outdoor? Will I catch Omicron whilst ready within the airport for this lengthy? What is going to occur if I take a look at sure in Singapore? On the identical time, different passengers started awakening from their shut eye, lifting their window sunglasses to let the morning gentle filter out thru. Quickly sufficient, we touched down in Germany round 8am, a little bit previous than anticipated.
Upon disembarking the airplane, I straight away headed to the airport comfort retailer for my first order of industrial… to reunite with a few of my favourite German meals pieces: Bitter Haribo gummy bears and Apfelschorle, then to the airport cafe for a heat, cushy Brezel (pretzel).
Maximum of my day was once spent aimlessly wandering up and down the terminal to move the time (and to get my day by day steps in sooner than the overall leg). I couldn’t go away Frankfurt with no need some German meals, so I feasted on some crispy, juicy Wiener Schnitzel garnished with lemon and served with fries and lingonberry jam, momentarily whisking me away to my closing recollections in Germany.
As I sat on the gate expecting the following leg of my commute, it was transparent to me that I had overcomplicated the entire layover procedure in my head. I’d indubitably do extra solo flights sooner or later for the exhilarating feeling of independence I felt in this commute. On the other hand, the relaxation of this realization was once short-lived. Within the ultimate hours sooner than boarding the following airplane to Singapore, I grew a little bit paranoid once more, shuffling thru my folder of neatly-organized paperwork for the a hundred and first time. Additionally, this subsequent leg was once a chosen Vaccinated Go back and forth Lane (VTL) flight, a flight for totally vaccinated vacationers to Singapore that permits one to circumvent the standard 7-10 day quarantine requirement of standard passengers. A couple of days sooner than, I had learn some articles on-line reporting that an vast majority of Omicron circumstances in Singapore were imported by means of VTL vacationers, including to my anxieties – what if I in point of fact do take a look at sure in Singapore?
I sooner or later approved the truth that I’ve executed up to I may just at that time. The instant I make it thru Changi Airport, get to my lodge, and obtain my subsequent COVID take a look at effects can be when I will be able to in the end prevent being concerned. On the finish of this adventure would be the resolution to all my worries, both a pot of gold or a good take a look at; I simply must stay following the rainbow.
Frankfurt to Singapore
The second one leg from Frankfurt to Singapore, a 12-hour flight on New Yr’s Eve, was once probably the most at ease and easy in spite of being just about two times so long as the primary. I used to be fortunate sufficient to have all the row to myself, so I kicked my ft up and succumbed to the exhaustion of an extended day.
My naps had been it sounds as if goodbye that the flight attendant needed to wake me up for every meal – SIA no doubt prepares your palate for the Singapore flavors with foods like fish with rice and sambal and stir-fried ee fu red meat noodles.
My different in-flight actions ranged from studying, to paying attention to song (the leisure machine had a perfect number of k-pop, j-pop, and classical song!), to extra senseless rituals, like decluttering my telephone and peering in the course of the window crack to gape on the miles of empty wasteland underneath. Sooner than I knew it, we had been hovering over the azure waters of the Malacca Strait, descending in the course of the mist and rain-saturated clouds to fulfill the runway.
We arrived at Singapore Changi Airport at about 4:45pm on Saturday, January 1, additionally previous than anticipated. The air thickened as quickly because the airplane got here to a prevent, and within the warmth of the anticipation, I grew agitated as I waited to disembark the airplane.
Alright, right here we pass…
From disembarkation to exiting the airport, all the arrival procedure was once very environment friendly and orderly (as anticipated). The airport signage obviously directed passengers in the course of the airport in English and Mandarin.
I adopted the circulation of passengers to my first queue in Singapore (of many to return): the immigration checkpoint.
This was once it, the instant I’d been looking ahead to. Feeling my middle starting to pound, I proceeded to the counter, pulled out my folder of paperwork, and passed my paperwork one after the other to the ICA officer, scrutinizing her facial expressions as she tested them and typed on her pc. After handing my paperwork again and taking my iris and thumbprint scans, the officer motioned me to transport alongside. I used to be now status on the different facet – I had effectively entered Singapore!
After a short lived sigh of aid, I driven directly to luggage declare, the place I crossed my hands and was hoping that my baggage wasn’t nonetheless caught in Frankfurt someplace. A couple of mins of frightened ready handed and lo and behold, there was once my fortunate inexperienced suitcase using across the carousel.
With baggage in tow, I weaved thru the following go with the flow of passengers headed towards the on-arrival COVID trying out web page, the place I stood in every other queue and therefore had a swab shoved up my nostril.
In the end, I used to be directed to the airport taxi stand outdoor the place I used to be greeted by means of the humid Singapore air and a pleasant taxi motive force who, to my marvel, were given into the driving force’s seat at the proper hand facet of the automobile. Proper – Singapore, a former British colony!
At the East Coast Freeway, site visitors appeared to transfer in opposite, evoking recollections of my time in South Africa. We coasted westward down the ECP en path to town heart, passing trees of magenta flora planted alongside the median. As we neared town, I stuck a glimpse of a few of Singapore’s maximum iconic buildings: the Esplanade, the Singapore Flyer, the mystical supertrees at Gardens by means of the Bay, and naturally, the wondrous, implementing Marina Bay Sands.
After 20 mins, we reached my lodge within the middle of Chinatown. I paid and thanked my motive force and watched him power off. As it was once drizzling, I didn’t even make the effort to digest the attractions and sounds of town; I rapidly headed inside of to test in, my closing time seeing the sunshine of day till Monday.
Self-Isolation to Self-Rest
Regardless of having no home windows, my lodge room was once beautiful comfortable, the very best measurement for a solo traveler. It was once dinnertime by the point I arrived at my lodge, and because I wasn’t allowed to go away self-isolation but, my first meal in Singapore could be a meals supply. I downloaded Grasp, Southeast Asia’s Uber/DoorDash identical, to reserve my dinner that night time. The lodge positioned a foldable desk by means of my door for deliveries that the entrance table would kindly deliver as much as my room.
Seems that Chinatown was once the very best position for a foodie like myself to self-isolate. Amazed and crushed by means of the number of meals choices, but in addition in dire want of a few convenience after the 31-hour adventure, I in the end determined on Singapore’s nationwide dish for my first meal: rooster rice.
And for making the commute in a single piece with out a hiccups alongside the best way, I additionally determined to praise myself with a refreshing bubble milk tea from Chicha San Chen.
My tummy was once glad and entire, however my thoughts was once stressed and jet-lagged. Whilst looking to unwind in mattress, I additionally discovered myself continuously refreshing my inbox for the e-mail that will resolve my destiny for the following week – my tranquilizer, if you’ll. My makes an attempt to distract myself with random Malay dramas and Chinese language information had been a little bit futile, however the clock sooner or later struck middle of the night (in truth, extra like 11:24pm) and the message got here:
Despite the fact that I finished up staying up the entire night time anyway with my messed-up frame clock, I couldn’t prevent fascinated by how I were given right here all by myself – from New York, to Germany, to Singapore – principally midway all over the world. So far, this adventure by myself has been certainly one of my largest private achievements. On the finish of the day, I felt like I may just do the rest.
However the following problem awaits me on Monday: Get to NTU at the different facet of the island.
A Message from the Place of business of International Engagement:
The security and safety of Drexel scholars is a concern for the College. As a part of the efforts to strengthen Drexel scholars which are finding out in a foreign country all over the COVID-19 pandemic, the Place of business of International Engagement has performed a rigorous evaluate of programming and supplied further strengthen to collaborating scholars with custom designed pre-departure orientations and common check-ins all over the desired self-isolation length and the time period.