And thus ends my Australian experiment. I liken the experience somwhat to being repeatedly sodomized with an old, splintered broom handle and being expected to say thank you for it. They don’t like it when you don’t say thank you.
Unfortunately, leaving Australia was just as terrible an experience as when I first arrived many moons ago. Sydney Airport is just awful. After passing through security, I stumbled a bit while putting on my backpack. An official quickly offered to help me, though I soon discovered it was just a ruse to get me to cross the security line for yet another security inspection. He assured me that this had nothing to do with racism, while I, resigned, assumed the usual position. I did not say a word. We both knew he was fooling no one. I did not let it get me down, however, as I knew I was finally out of there and on to bigger and better things.
My flights with Singapore airlines involved about a four-hour layover in Singapore before proceeding to France. The flights were fantastic, with meals ranging from pan-fried fish to egg noodles with seafood. Hosts were so nice, there was absolutely no charge for extra luggage (the stated limits were 20kg checked baggage and 7kg carry on, but I brought 26kg and 10kg respectively), and all in all it was one of the best flights I’ve been on (second only to a LAN flight to Brazil). “Western” airlines (Australian, Canadian, and the dismal American ones) could learn a thing or two (or five billion) from them. Oh I forgot the best part: they had those little airline peanut bags for snacks (apologies to those with peanut allergies, but they are THAT good)!
Incidentally, I used an Osprey Porter 46 for my carry-on luggage, as it came highly recommended on the web; it fits the 115cm linear dimension requirements of Singapore Airlines and only weights about 1.5kg itself. Very handy to have the backpack straps too. I got it for about $130 AUD from the Mascot location here: http://www.sydneyluggagecentre.com.au/store_locations/
My four-hour stop over in Singapore was a breath of fresh air. I had just enough time to stay at an airport transit hotel. The one at T3 was booked out, so the friendly staff booked one at T2, which was just a short Skytrain and walk away (about 10 minutes tops). I had a nice room with twin beds, shower, tub, toilet, TV, etc. for about $50 AUD for four hours. I slept for two hours, had my shower, and then left to roam around the airport feeling very refreshed - in fact, better rested than when I began the flight. Transit rooms like this NEED to happen at more airports. Changi Airport impressed me enough that I’m quite eager to return to Singapore for a proper visit.
Finally, landing in Paris was a breeze. I arrived, went directly to the non-EU passport line, had my passport stamped without the official so much as looking at me and that was it! No checking for suspicious behaviour, no security check for the umpteenth time, no huge quarantine warning and check, no officials fighting over which line to dump me in, no two hour dramas collecting baggage or trying to exit, etc. I still even had an egg-salad sandwich that Jellybean had made me for the flights. It all served to remind me of how shitty some airports *cough* LAX, SYD *cough* really are.
So now I’m in Paris and there is a lot of work to be done, but I am happy and hopeful. I can already tell that this will be a much better fit than The Land Down Under. All the same, I will miss a few things: running ‘round Centennial Park, Bonsoy, Café Umago, salsa with UNSW LDS and at Pumphouse, and of course, my favourite peeps (you know who you are - I love you!).
P.S. It’s actually omelette AU fromage.