If you ask me where are my favourite places to be at, airports would be one of the answers on my list. There’s something about airports that attract me every time I walked into one. I love the feeling of taking trains/cab/any mode of transportation to an airport. It gives me a feeling of excitement (and sometimes sadness).
I love the feeling of walking to the check in counter and handing my passport and ticket over to the counter staff. I love the feeling of walking through the Immigration area with my passport scanned/stamped. I love the feeling of roaming around an airport. I love the feeling of simply sitting down by the huge windows facing the ramp watching planes lining up in rows and occasionally watching them taking off or landing on the runway. I actually think it’s pretty therapeutic to do so.
There’s something about airport that draws me to it. It’s a place where goodbyes were exchanged, hugs and kisses were given aplenty, where people sent their loved ones away on a trip, where they welcomed them back and embraced them with big smiles on their faces. Airport is a place that can provoke lots of emotions by just being at one place.
So far I’ve been to….. *wait ar, lemme count* I think around 23 different airports or so. Not many, but most of them hold some memories to me. Here are my favourites so far:
1. Changi Airport (Singapore)
I can’t emphasize enough on how much I love this airport. Ever since I first stepped my foot at its door back in 1993, I’ve been loving it ever since. They have never stopped developing and expanding. I love how everything is so organized here that you could walk out of the plane all the way to the MRT in just 15 minutes flat (True story. Tried and tested by yours truly. Ok, if you have a checked-in luggage it will take slightly longer than that)! I love how it’s just brightly-lit everywhere (I hate dimly-lit airport. It’s a public place, not something dodgy out of a horror movie). The facilities are super awesome it’s no wonder so many travellers love this particular airport. Movie theaters? checked. Massage chairs? checked. Swimming pool? checked. Lush gardens? checked. Massage and foot reflexology? checked. Supermarket? checked. Seriously, it’s so good I don’t mind living at this airport although it’s located at the end of Singaland. In fact, I always look forward to go there whenever I have the chance to. Big fan? I don’t think I’ve reached that stage yet, but I definitely am not comparable to hardcore fans who actually have their dinners/lunches there (information is based on my assumption and may not be true at the time of typing).
You will not be bored if you happen to have a long layover here. Everything you could possibly need is here, so how to be bored right?
Since I am staying in Singapore now, this airport definitely holds plenty of memories to me. From stepping in for the first time when I was 7, when I arrived in January 2010 to start my new adventure in the country, to when I go for vacations, biz trip, etc. It was and still is my #1 favourite airport to date.
My last time there was…. April 29, 2013 after coming back from Perth.
2. Hong Kong International Airport (Hong Kong)
My love towards this country extends to the airport as well. Some friends looked at me in confusion when I told them I love HK because to them, HK is way too crowded and not an ideal vacation spot. To me, I LOVE (note the capitals) the fusion of old and new in HK. I love their small alleys. I love their small eateries (茶餐廳 rocks!). I love their food. I love the shopping and I love how I can see my relatives whom I don’t normally see regularly (not even once a year, ok?). Although I have to say I HATE their summer. My goodness I literally broke into sweat the moment I stepped outside when I was there during summer -_- That’s why I prefer to go there in autumn/winter instead.
Eh, sorry hor why suddenly I’m talking about the city, not the airport -____- ok focus focus.
Ok back to main topic. HKIA looks so much modern and different compared to HK’s old Kai Tak Airport (speaking of which, it has been rechristened as Kai Tak Cruise Terminal earlier this month. I think it’s a good decision to turn it into a cruise terminal because the runway was one of the scariest in the world as pilots had to fly low and make a 45-degree turn in the densely populated area of Western Kowloon in order to land. Not forgetting how they had to avoid the mountains as well. Oh yea, check out these nice old photos of Kai Tak during its’ glory days).
What I love about this airport: apart from the modern style, it’s huge! Going from one terminal to the other (or the boarding gates) requires a lot of walking, train-hopping, and some running (if you are late). Another thing that I love is the Disney Store there! Hahahahahahaha. Ya la I love Disney, what to do.
Honestly I have never actually explored the airport thoroughly even though I’ve been there for more than 5 times because whenever I was there, I was with a group of people (my parents/cousins/relatives) and the last time I was there (in Jan 2013), daddy and I had to searched through the whole departure areas of Terminal 1 and 2 to look for an elderly relative of mine (she wanted to send us off but she had no mobile phone with her and we couldn’t find her anywhere. I can assure you it was not fun and I think my walking speed increased like 10x more than usual). Then when I was there in Oct 2012, I was actually short of time so couldn’t really explore as well. I would love to when I go to HK again next time!
Oh, just remember that I actually visited Kai Tak back in Dec 1997 en-route to the USA. I remember the airport was pretty dim and looked old. If I remember correctly, the walls were made of small tiles, like how they do in Hong Kong’s MTR stations. I was there for a few hours before flying off to LA which I clearly remember took 16 hours -____- non-stop -__________- I think by the time I reached LA my butt was as flat as pancakes wtf.
3. Kuala Lumpur International Airport (Malaysia)
The name cheats people one lor! Though it says Kuala Lumpur, the location is so far away from KL. In fact, it’s actually located near Sepang (yeap, the racing arena). It takes about 45 minutes to get to KL city centre from KLIA by car, or 28 minutes by KLIA Ekspres (or if you wanna have more stops along the way and see 3 more stations, take KLIA Transit, the sister).
KLIA looks kind of similar to HKIA (to me, at least). The style is quite similar: modern and minimalist. It’s pretty big too and the departure area is actually quite well organized. However, they are lack of interesting shops as compared to Changi and HKIA, for example. Nothing much is interesting there, to be honest, but the plane viewing area is pretty good and there are quite plenty of seats for travellers to rest.
I think this airport holds the most memories to me to date (or maybe equal with Changi now that I think of it). My first time there was in December 2003 and I studied in Malaysia for 3 years afterwards, hence I believe you could do the math on how many times I’ve been in and out of there. The last time I was there was in October 2011 when I was en-route to Shanghai and when I was on the way back to Singapore afterwards.
4. …………………….. (Ok, I think I only have 3 favourites so far)
Actually I think LAX (Los Angeles World Airports) is not bad IF my memory doesn’t fail me. I was there for a transit en-route to Las Vegas (god, flying to the US really takes up a lot of time and energy). I don’t remember that much but there’s one thing I will always remember:
Picture taken from World Viator
So it was year 1997 and the traveler’s restriction was less than it is now. I remember I brought a water bottle (it was a plastic one with a red strap from a Strawberry Cream flavoured water HAHAHA why I still remember this! But I don’t remember the brand. I think it’s some American brand or something) and I filled it with drinking water at the airport. When we were about to board the plane, the airport staff saw my bottle and told me to drink some of the water. They were afraid it’s poisonous and I was gonna poison all of the passengers in the plane to death.
Another memory I remember was when I was transiting at Narita Airport, Tokyo (again, it was en-route to the US. Going to the US just once actually gave me lots of memories at different airports cos of all the transits).
Picture taken from WAttention
I went to the restroom and jeng jeng jenggggg… there was a lady with a dog (on a leash)!! Yes, a dog! And it’s not a small breed kind. It’s big! (I remember it to be big la, dunno if it was actually fatigue that made me hallucinate wtf). I stopped and stare at them with fear (I was still very afraid of dogs that time). Then I decided to rush out and look for another restroom. Hahahahahaha!
Now how about the bad ones?
So far, these are the airports that don’t really appeal to me:
1. Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (Jakarta)
Yeah, talk about my own home country. It sucks la I won’t deny it. The parking is incredibly badly managed (and the parking area is so limited!), the terminals are not connected to each other and travellers have to either take an airport shuttle bus (which has no air conditioning and dim and it’s troublesome to bring your luggage on and off the bus) or a car to move from one terminal to the other. The airport design is… too old! Yea it’s true that it kinda shows some Indonesian style, but IMHO, it is just… not nice. Simple as that.
And I especially hate the arrival area of the domestic terminal because people can’t go inside but have to wait outside for the people they are picking up at the airport! And people smoke outside!!! Waiting in hot weather and smelling ciggy smoke is not fun!! I can only pray I wouldn’t turn into an angry suckling pig if the waiting is long >=(
This is the domestic departure area
Good news is, the Terminal 3 (which is the newest of all 3) is a lot better than Terminal 1 and 2 (although I would say the choice of tiles make it looks cheap). And supposedly they are gonna renovate T1 and T2 as well. So yea! Let’s hope for a better and nicer airport.
A lot of things definitely need to be fixed here. The illegal taxi operators need to be shoo-ed away! And the supposedly “international” airport actually experienced a power outage end of last year -______-
2. Charles de Gaulle (Paris)
Personally, I think CDG is like a slightly modernized version of Soekarno-Hatta. The lighting is dim, the whole place feels and looks old and just… grey (like the sky of Paris), nothing much to see, and not too convenient IMHO. Not as impressive as the city itself.
One thing I like is the transparent giant pipes thingy at the center of the airport which are actually covered escalators. Feels like I’m in a sci-fi movie when passing through it :p
Oh, there’s an unforgettable moment happened here albeit a bit silly. So it was on the day of Xuan and I’s departure back to Singapore. I spent quite some time queueing for tax refund and then we made our way to the immigration and still had some time to kill, so we sat down and ate the big strawberries I bought the night before, did a lil bit of shopping (she, not me), etc. As we made our way to the boarding gate, suddenly I heard my name being announced on the loudspeaker (just mine and not Xuan’s too), asking me to come to the airline desk counter. I instinctively looked at my watch and thought we were the last passengers they were waiting for. We literally ran all the way through the travelator (it was going up, mind you) in our winter coat.
Yes, this travelator
Once I reached the security check at the gate, a staff approached me and asked, “Are you Amelia?” and directed me to the counter. I genuinely thought there was something wrong with my ticket or something. Turns out they forgotten to key in some information from my passport.
Yes, that was all. -________-
And I ran like I was chasing a matter of life and death -_______-
But it was funny now that I think of it. Hahahaha!
3………………………… (Wah how come there’s only 2? Hmm maybe these are the ones that I can remember for the time being…)
So yea, that’s a little bit about some of my favourite airports to date. Hopefully I’ll get more chance to visit even more nice airports in the future ^^.