Sleepless in Singapore

There’s a 95 degree wind blowing through my sweat-matted hair. I lick the salt rivers that collect at the corners of my mouth. My tank top clings like I’ve entered a wet T-shirt competition.

The drive from Ubud to the airport usually takes a little over sixty minutes. We’ve been en route for two hours, bumper-to-bumper, breathing the noxious fumes of tour buses that clog the narrow roads. Motorbikes buzz like angry bees around us.

I arrive at the check-in counter looking like something chewed up and spit out. In the restroom I fish a clean shirt out of my backpack. A fresh layer of deodorant, a quick change, and I’m off. Immigration is a breeze and I find my gate with time to spare. The doors are locked. I’m told they won’t open for another half hour. The regular seating is occupied so I make myself comfortable on the floor.

It’s a great people watching opportunity. I notice a special couple. The woman has a curiously small head with a short-cropped cap of hair. She’s about seven feet tall. Her shapeless, mid-calf black dress covers most of the zebra leggings. These are tucked neatly into unlaced combat boots. The man’s height misses her shoulder by about two inches. His doughy complexion and blonde buzz-cut look sickly next to her dark presence. By comparison, he’s a non-event.

It’s hard to tear myself away from the unlikely pair, but the doors open and I move into the lounge area to await boarding. Time passes. More time passes. There is an announcement that our flight to Singapore has been delayed due to…well…that part isn’t clear.

Two hours later the intercom crackles. “Your attention please…” The gist is that the entertainment system isn’t working for seats 17 A, B, and C, and…. The announcer doesn’t have a chance to finish the sentence. There is an outraged roar from the waiting passengers who cannot believe the flight has been held up for such a minor detail. About 30 minutes later we’re in the air. The three people in row 17 have been assigned other seats. The group going to Frankfurt already knows they’ve missed their connecting flight. The delay reduces my layover time in Singapore to a mere 6 hours.

We land at the Changi airport at 11:30 p.m. It’s still 27 1/2 hours to Minnesota. I can feel fatigue settling between my shoulder blades. It’s too soon to be this tired, I moan, indulging in a moment of self-pity. A banner catches my eye. Rainforest Lounge. I take the escalator up to investigate. They have beds. For $10/hour I can stretch out and maybe even sleep. I explain that I don’t have a watch, don’t have a phone, don’t have an alarm clock, and could they please wake me in 3 hours to catch my connecting flight. I am told, very politely, that they don’t do wake-up calls. In the same breath they assure me that they will wake me in three hours.

I follow a guide down a quiet hall of curtained doorways to my room. They call the miniscule pods ‘slumberettes’ and the name fits.

Rainforest slumberette

Rainforest slumberette

Although small, it is impeccably clean, and that makes me happy. With as little noise as possible, I slip into my sleep shirt and settle into bed. The slatted walls allow for no soundproofing. They do, however, offer a fragmented view of the neighbor on each side. Unsettling. The curtain over the door does not enhance the feeling of privacy or security.

I have just achieved a semi-conscious state when a family arrives. There are four of them and they’re all talking at once. From the tone and the volume I know that something does not please them, but I don’t understand a word. They’re oblivious to those of us trying to sleep. One of my fellow pod mates utters a loud “SHUSH!” It accomplishes nothing.

Following that disturbance, I drift into uneasy sleep. At one point I think I hear a brown grizzly. I awaken in fright to realize that my neighbor on the left is rattling the walls with his snoring. A little later someone has a very happy dream. (I’ll spare the details.) But it was the panicked voice of the desk attendant saying, “Ms. Bronson! Ms. Bronson! So sorry! I forget about you!” that brought me bolt upright in bed. Whoops! My 3 hour nap lasted 4 1/2 hours. In a fuzzy grog I fumble out of my sleepwear and bolt for the gate. I still need to secure a boarding pass, clear security, and hopefully catch the plane. The sign says it’s a seven minute walk to Section D, my destination. I manage it in half that time.

This story has a happy ending. I arrive at the gate with 15 minutes to spare. My nap in Singapore makes the rest of the trip almost pleasurable. I watch six movies eat three meals, and time flies. My dear friend is waiting at curbside when I exit the airport in Minneapolis and the sun is shining. Now, a day later, I’m not utterly devastated by the effects of jet-lag. I’m sold. Future trips must include a pit-stop in the slumberette. But next time…note to self…bring earplugs…and an alarm clock!

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13 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Terri Finn
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 21:30:16

    Welcome back.

    Xo Terri

    Sent from my iPhone

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  2. writingforselfdiscovery
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 21:48:35

    Thanks Terri! Yesterday was gorgeous…what happened! Brrrrrrrrrrr

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  3. healingpilgrim
    Jun 28, 2013 @ 22:30:13

    What an ADVENTURE! Loved your description of the couple.. and the night-time goings on at Changi’s slumberette central 😉 xx

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  4. Diane Struble
    Jun 29, 2013 @ 07:07:37

    Sounds like usual travel. Be sure your new alarm clock is loud enough to penetrate the ear plugs. Thanks for the helpful tips in world transit. See you soon hopefully. And welcome home!

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  5. pat grimsbo
    Jun 29, 2013 @ 08:59:55

    Dear Sherry, Those surely were a long series of hours it takes to get half way across the world – but they do not sound at all boring! ! ! However, we are very glad that you survived all the ups and downs and are now safely in Minneapolis! ! ! Our weather has been very changeable lately so that will help you get readjusted to both cool, rainy and hot humid days. Very much looking forward to our time with you up north. See you soon. Love, Mom and Dad

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  6. Letizia
    Jun 29, 2013 @ 13:09:29

    A rainforest slumberette; how fascinating! At first I thought it might include one of those rainforest soundtracks (which may have been useful, in the end, to drown out the noise of your boisterous neighbors!). Glad you made it to your flight after all of your adventures!

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  7. Lottie Nevin
    Jun 30, 2013 @ 02:31:47

    You do make me laugh Sherry! I’m like a bear with a sore head when I do long-haul travel so I think I would have murdered the noisy family and the snoring man! I’m so glad you made your connecting flight, thank goodness they remember to wake you albeit one and a half hours late!

    Please forgive me for not visiting your blog for a while. I’ve been ‘off radar’ for a month. I’ll try to catch up with the posts that I’ve missed. Have a great time in Minneapolis. Lottie XXX

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