I arrived back home in Singapore, two days ago at 2am in the morning. It was a long journey leaving Philadelphia at 6:50 in the morning. In total, the trip lasted 32 hours including the stopovers in LA and Tokyo.
I was initially annoyed that I had to stop in Tokyo, adding more hours to the trip, plus the hassle of departing the plane and boarding back in again. Why can't we just go directly from Los Angeles to Singapore? But judging from the half-empty plane, I assumed it made more financial sense to get more passengers to and from Tokyo.
By the time they served the first meal, I was no longer upset with the Tokyo connection. To cater to the Japanese passengers, there was naturally Japanese food. It was a brainless decision for me to choose between Baked Chicken or Unagi Don. I was happy with my choice of delicately delicious Japanese fresh water eels glazed in a sweet soy sauce served with cold green soba noodles and an appetizer of california roll. Beautifully presented, it erased all traumatic childhood memories of airline food's unpalatable smell, taste and appearance. Kudos to Singapore Airlines for the great food, excellent service, and the nice touch of serving Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream for dessert.
The swine flu scare is seriously addressed in Japan. A team dressed in white uniforms, goggles, and masks entered the plane using a high tech machine with a red light. They aim it at passengers to get their body temperatures. Then each one is given a yellow piece of paper to signify they had passed the screening. It was like being an extra for a science-fiction TV series.
But most amusing was my visit to the Ladies Room in Narita International Airport during my brief stopover. The toilet was thoughfully equipped with a bidet. It was no ordinary water contraption. I pressed a button and it made a loud melodic tune mimicking the sound of a toilet flushing. I'm not sure why you'd want that when you use a bidet. But hey, it was fun and funny. A detail perhaps only the meticulous Japanese would attend to.
Overall, this has been one of the most comfortable long airline journeys I've had in years. With fewer passengers onboard, I had no seatmates all the way from Philly to LA, LA to Tokyo, and Tokyo to Singapore. I had the row of three seats to myself. It allowed me to sleep lying down, with my legs curled up. Some passengers had four seats to themselves, giving them an instant narrow bed to lie down with their legs all stretched out. I managed to get many hours of blissful uninterrupted sleep. Nice!
The photo shows my second Japanese meal: Japanese Beef curry served with cold soba noodles. I couldn't reach for my camera when I was served my unagi meal. My tray table was already in place and my camera bag was in the overhead compartment.