And so having shut our house down, we catch an early morning train to
London (this picture shows that the art of taking a selfie is something yet to be acquired) followed by over an hour on the tube (29 stops) to the airport so that we can check-in at Terminal 2 and eat a second breakfast.
The journey to Heathrow is as tedious as it usually is and check-in is
straightforward despite our luggage weighing an heavy 57 kg and why not when we are allowed 37kg each? Only about half of this weight is clothes, we have learnt from previous trips that there are numerous things which can make life on the road a little easier and we have packed many of these.
Airports are now a place to go shopping as well as a place to catch a plane. Never pass a make-up department without going in seems to be the idea, you can usually get a free make-over and free samples!
It is interesting how much information you can find out on the web if you hunt hard enough.
For example, this map shows us that the A380 planes from Terminal 2 depart from one of the satellite piers.
The web then tells us that Singapore usually use Gates around the 42 area and that it takes 20 minutes to walk there. This fact tells us that we cannot linger over our second breakfast for too long when we arrive at Heathrow because Pat’s mending foot may require longer than 20 minutes to walk to the gate and boarding is likely to start at around 1030.
Our 391 tonne A380 is awaiting us at Gate 42 and we are fortunate to have economy seats in the upper cabin. Although there are 88 seats in
the Upper Economy Cabin (usually the quietest of the economy cabins) as compared to between 60 and 100 in each of the Economy sections on the lower deck, the big advantage is that the layout of the upper deck is 2-4-2 as against 3-4-3 on the lower deck. Sitting in one of the “2” seats on one side of the cabin means we do not have to share our seat section with anyone else - Pat has a window and I have the aisle and we are both delighted.
As we taxi out to the runway in the heaviest passenger plane in the sky, we pass one of the British Airways Concordes kept as a memory of that age in air transport when it was the fastest passenger plane in the sky.
Many years ago when we were in Singapore, we went to the Raffles Hotel with the intention of trying a Singapore Sling. Once we saw the hotel, we decided we were too scruffy to go inside and so never tried one.
Singapore Airlines have this cocktail on their pre-lunch menu and hence we have to try it (twice in my case).
The International Bartenders Association require the ingredients to be
- 3 cl Gin
- 1.5 cl Cherry Liqueur (cherry brandy)
- 0.75 cl Cointreau
- 0.75 cl DOM Bénédictine
- 1 cl Grenadine
- 12 cl Pineapple juice
- 1.5 cl Fresh lime juice
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
Whilst Singapore Airlines do not mix it all on the plane but pour it direct from a premixed bottle, it tastes ok to us.
The airline website is also not too forthcoming about the food we might get on the flight. Some airlines serve very poor food (in our experience Virgin from Heathrow) or very little food (BA) and so we have been known to buy food at the airport to eat on the plane and turn down or supplement the inflight meal. YouTube had the answer because someone has uploaded a video of the menu and food he was served on the same flight number we are travelling on - question answered and no pre-purchase at the airport seems to be required.
Because I tend to find the standard vegetarian offerings a bit bland, for this flight I chose the Indian Vegetarian for lunch and it was very good indeed with ice cream yet to come for a dessert.
I always regard long flights as a way of catching up on what I have not seen at the cinema.13 hours on a plane is a long time and therefore I always watch a number of films. I managed to include the latest StarWars epic (rather long but very good special effects) and “Last Cab to Darwin” which was very good indeed.
The Singapore Airlines website is particularly poor on information about the totality of the films available and it was a relief to find that there were far more films in the catalogue than those listed on the web.
It is a long flight and some 12 hours after we leave Heathrow (an hour ahead of schedule) when our bodies are thinking it is time to go to bed, we are approaching Changi where it is breakfast time, Singapore being seven hours ahead of London.
We are both very impressed with our flight, it is possibly the best economy experience we have had. The cabin staff worked very hard, the food was good, there was plenty available to nibble in-between meals - we would willingly travel Singapore Airlines again.
We have over two hours between flights and have time to get a shower at the Ambassador Transit Hotel on Level 3 at Changi.
The price has doubled to just over $16 Singapore (£8.65) since we
were last here in 2009 and there is no soft drink available. It is simply “take your shower and leave” - not as good as it has been in the past but still very welcome.
Onwards to Perth
Our next flight to Perth is on an almost brand new B777 which is 3-3-3 in the economy cabin
so we have booked two seats in the middle section so that we are not disturbed if we try to get some sleep.
But it is a daylight flight although our bodies think it should be a night flight. We get some sleep but we know we will have to rely on a combination of the British Airways Jet Lag Advisor and Melatonin Tablets to help us time shift as quickly as possible once we get to Perth which is seven hours ahead of the UK (GMT+8).
Perth Airport has a poor reputation for Immigration, Customs and Bio-Security processing. For us, it was remarkably easy - Immigration took seconds (literally), we did not have to wait too long for our bags (a relief to see them), Bio-Security control was straight through with no searching
and we soon found a taxi to take us to our hotel.
And so about 26 1/2 hours after locking our from door in England, we unlocked our hotel room door, tired, grubby but delighted to be here.
Our Jet Lag calculator tells us to get outside and not to go to sleep until 10 pm, so it is off for a walk around town and dinner at Fast Eddys
which seems to be a Theme Pub serving a rather good Caesar Salad
and a somewhat dry Veggy Burger.
With some effort, we made it to through 10 pm when we were relieved to be allowed to go to sleep.