26 January 2019
We were up at 06:00 ready and excited for the long day ahead! I dressed Cornelia while she was still three-quarters asleep, then let her lie in bed until I’d taken most of the bags down to reception. She wasn’t best pleased about being woken so early again, but when I reminded her that we were starting our journey home, she became far more interested in getting up! I lugged her and the final bags down to reception where we waited for our 07:00 taxi. And waited. And waited. This was why I’d asked Ian to confirm the taxi booking with Mattia, the manager, last night… and then just as I was thrusting Mattia’s business card into Ian’s hand and demand he called him, lo and behold, a flustered taxi driver came running around the corner showing us his phone with our room number on it. He had gone to the wrong apartment block…! Phew! It took him another five minutes to return to his car and drive around to us, but finally we were on our way.
Annoyingly, I had woken with a deep discomfort in my chest, and I could feel it sinking into me as the drive progressed. I thought, when I had a scratchy throat last night, that it was probably just a bit of sea water that had tickled it, but I bet that by the time I get home, I’ll have my first cold in at least nine months!
The drive was very busy again with rush hour traffic, so it took over an hour to get there, but there were no accidents or scary moments, which is always a relief in the crazy traffic! We arrived safely at Phuket airport, where we discovered that the only long queue in the terminal belonged to our Scoot flight! We haven’t flown Scoot before and the reviews online aren’t brilliant, but they were really good. When we check in four bags, we always worry that someone will make us pay for the extra one, but they didn’t blink an eye and happily took all four cases and the car seat. By the time we’d made it through security, Bugsy was tired and hungry, and whilst I knew she wouldn’t sleep, I was pretty confident a pain au chocolat would sort her out. Happy four year old – tick!
The crew on board were also friendly and Cornelia was her usual confident little self, greeting everyone nicely and smiling at them, so they would probably have let her get away with murder. As it happened, she sat watching her Kindle for the duration of the flight, which was a little under two hours, and we were in Singapore by lunchtime.
As is always the way, so Ian told me, our luggage was on the carousel before we even reached it, and we piled up our trolley and headed off to find a playground and some lunch. Once the play area had been spotted, Cornelia had absolutely no interest in lunch whatsoever! With cries of “A superhero never gives up!” Cornelia climbed under and over and around the little obstacles, herding along a small group of kids who shrieked with joy as they chased each other around. Ian went off for a wander, while I sat and felt sorry for myself, trying not to breath because breathing hurt my chest so much. By now, I was also sweating quite a lot and feeling pretty awful and, if I’m honest, a bit sorry for myself! Whilst I was waiting for Ian, I looked online at the check in options for our flight, which wasn’t until 23:55. It was good news – Qantas open their check in desks at 15:45, for all their flights, which meant that we could at least get rid of our suitcases early. We were hoping to meet Laura, Howard and Sofie later, as (by some incredible coincidence) they were flying home from their four-month travels at 23:45 from Singapore, and as they would be in transit, we needed to be on the departures side of security and passport control. We just hoped that we could move from one terminal to the other (we were flying from T1, they were flying from T3).
We had some lunch – fried katsu chicken – before heading over to the Qantas desks, where we joined a long queue for check in. We tried printing our boarding passes and luggage tags at the kiosks first, but because we were so early, it just told us it couldn’t help, so the queue was our only option. The queue was long because, despite saying the desks opened at 15:45 online, the staff advised that they wouldn’t open until 16:00. No matter – we didn’t have anything else to do! Check in for our final flight went smoothly, and once we’d dropped off Cornelia’s car seat at the “oversized luggage” area, we ambled through security and into the departures area.
First up was the play area for Cornelia, of course! It was a much bigger soft play area, and Ian bought teas while I held my head in my hands and tried not to feel too sorry for myself. I failed!
Once Cornelia had had enough of playing, she came and sat with me at the table, and had some crisps and watched her Kindle for a while. She was also quite hot again, and I was immediately regretting packing the sachets of Calpol in our hold luggage.
We left the play area eventually (a man was playing the same repetitive riff on his ukulele over and over and over again) and found a TV area with four TVs forming a square, surrounded by rows of double chairs, into which speakers for each TV that the chairs faced were built. One of the TVs was showing kids’ programmes, specifically Spongebob Squarepants, one of Ian’s favourites, so he and Cornelia settled down to watch it while I went to see if I could buy that gold bar celebrating the Chinese New Year of the Pig, which I’d seen the last time we were in Singapore Airport. Hurrah, success, and that’s Cornelia’s 18th birthday present now sorted!
When I went back to the TV area, there was a group of teenage boys from Australia all watching Spongebob, alongside Cornelia and Ian, laughing away at it. I loved that this group (which turned out to be part of the Australian swim team) found it so funny, and it reminded me of Charlotte and Matthew watching it years ago with Ian. I think they’d still laugh at it today too!
My chest discomfort became unbearable at times, and I was struggling to walk at any decent pace without feeling as if I were gasping for breath. My heart resting rate wasn’t going any lower than 63, so I knew something wasn’t right. (It has been hanging around 51 for the last few weeks.) Eventually, I had to ask Ian to get me something from the chemist, to reduce the temperature I knew I had, and hoped that the Panadol he returned with would do the trick. He also bought some Calpol for Cornelia, who was now getting very tired too, and we all dosed up and sat quietly for a bit cuddling on the chair.
I then went for a walk to see if I could clear my fuzzy head but (and don’t laugh) I was confused, I ended up getting lost in the terminal and couldn’t find my way back to where I’d left Ian and Bugsy. I was almost in tears – definitely a sign that I wasn’t well – before I recognised a set of escalators and found the TV area again. Phew! We were due to meet Laura et al at around 20:00, so we went off for something to eat at around 19:00. We bought Cornelia a sandwich from Pret a Manger, and although she only ate half, it was hopefully enough to see her through. I didn’t want to force her to eat and procure some hideous meltdown at the eleventh hour!
Laura then messaged me to say that they’d landed early and were already in the terminal, and Cornelia and I set off down the corridor to find them. We were so happy to see them! Sofie was carrying a gigantic cuddly dog and Cornelia wrapped her arms around them both as best she could! Sofie had had just five minutes of sleep on the plane as it had landed, so was as tired as Cornelia, but that didn’t stop them from racing around chasing each other.
We found a little play area, but it was pretty unimpressive, so instead we found a bar near a fishpond, so the girls were amused while we ordered Singapore Slings and G&Ts and ate nachos. The girls joined us again at the table but their tiredness was starting to take over, so Laura gave them some colouring to do and we brought out the Kindle too, to keep them occupied for as long as possible. Of course, it was now way past their bedtime and something was bound to go wrong sooner or later!
Cornelia and Sofie were playing noughts and crosses on the packet, but managed to have some sort of an argument about a pen, which left Sofie distraught and angry, and she rushed off. Laura and Howard weren’t too concerned, thinking she’d just gone off for a quick sulk, but when she hadn’t returned a minute or two later, Laura went off to find her. She then came back a few minutes later to say she couldn’t locate her, so I jumped up and we set off in opposite directions to track her down. My blood ran cold as I realised how terrifying and confusing the airport would be to a five year old (remembering how easily I got lost earlier). I tried thinking like a five year old (not too hard!) and checked the Lego wall first, before wondering if she’d prefer somewhere quiet, like the benches along the windows. I headed off in that direction, when I saw Laura ahead of me, with Sofie in tow. Thank God! Laura said she’d almost fallen asleep underneath one of the barriers, on top of her large dog teddy. Sofie was very tired and very grumpy and very sad, bless her. At least she has nice quiet growly tantrums, rather than Cornelia’s epic eardrum-busting ones!
It was time to head off now anyway, so we had final hugs goodbye and with promises to stay in touch and get a visit in the diary, we went our separate ways once again.
We made it back to our terminal without any issues, and once we were through the boarding gate, it was a short wait before we settled into our seats on the plane. It was, amazingly, only about a half full, which meant that there was plenty of space around. We had three seats together, but the four seats in the middle of the plane only had one occupant, so Ian said that once we’d taken off, he’d move into the aisle seat there, so that Cornelia could lie out on two seats. She was very happy to discover that the Lion King was available, and as we had a bit of a wait before we took off, I said she could watch some of it, until we were in the air, then it was sleep time. She agreed, but it was meaningless – I turned back to her five minutes later and she was sound asleep!
And she stayed that way for eleven and a half hours, only waking briefly to take off her clothes, whilst still half asleep. It was amazing! The flight was fourteen hours, and I managed about seven hours too and having taken my contact lenses out and brushed my teeth beforehand, felt quite refreshed by the time I woke up. What a fabulous final flight! Now, just the final push to get home…