Visas, Bloody Noses and the Long Flight Halfway Around the World

The day finally arrives and I head to LAX. I get in line for the Singapore Airlines counter.  When it’s finally my turn, as they’re checking in my bag, they ask about my visa to enter Australia.  I stood there, frozen.  I didn’t have a visa to enter Australia.  And believe it or not, I even checked in advance to make sure I understood the requirements for entry.  I knew you could apply for a visa online, which for some reason I did not do, as I was under the impression I could obtain a visa upon entry.  I explain this to the ticket agent only to be told that I was wrong.  But no worries, they tell me; they can handle the visa for me… at a charge of $100.  It was only $20 to get one online.  Nevertheless I have no choice and I pay the $100 to have them do it for me.

Travel lesson learned – always apply for the visa online when possible. A great resource for Visa information is Project Visa: http://www.projectvisa.com/fullcountrylist.asp

I finally board the flight and settle into my seat.  I chose Singapore Airlines specifically, as it is rated #1 in the world for coach.  I figure if I am going to be on a plane for an obscene number of hours in a coach seat, it might as well be the best there is.  We each have our own TV with at least 50 movies to choose from, TV shows, music, video games, etc.  The flight attendants waste no time delivering headsets, little travel bags, a menu with the full list of options for the many meals and snacks we’ll get on the flight.

About 15 minutes into the flight I feel my nose run and I simultaneously put a napkin to my nose and look down to see blood on my shirt. I then look at the napkin and it’s soaked on blood. WTF? I realize my nose is bleeding and the little napkin I have is not going to contain it. I high tail it to the flight attendant and they take one look at me and spring into action. They tell me it’s normal and give me a stack of paper towels and a wet washcloth full of ice. They told me to pinch my nose and keep my head down on my tray table. And so I did. For two hours. That little nose bled like a faucet for 2 straight hours. All I could think was (1) I really hope this faucet turns off soon (2) I really hope I don’t miss the first dinner service and (3) I really hope I can get the blood out of my shirt because it’s the only real tank top I have! (Thankfully it is reversible, so I was able to flip it and at least not walk around like a bloody mess for the rest of the flight.) It finally stopped and after, I drank what I believe was my body weight in water. I actually did miss the 1st dinner service but they saved a meal for me.

Travel lesson learned – HYDRATE!

All in all it was an easy flight. A quick stopover in Tokyo, where we actually had to deplane, only to walk around to go through security and wait a half hour to get back on the plane. The whole exercise seemed pointless (did we become security threats en route?) but we were ready for the next leg – Tokyo to Singapore.

We arrived in Singapore at 3am.  I had 6 hours before my next flight to Perth.  Spending 6 hours in an airport is one thing; spending 6 hours in the Singapore airport is quite another.  This airport was beyond what I thought an airport could be. Without going into detail (butterfly garden, koi ponds, lounges galore, free foot massage chairs everywhere…) suffice it to say if you are going to be stuck in an airport, let it be Singapore Changi Airport.

After another 6-hour flight, I finally arrive in Perth.  It’s game time.  And I’m ready!

Shout-out’s to the Vico’s for your superb Californian hospitality; Singapore Airlines for living up to its reputation; and AK for making a long and potentially boring flight not boring at all.