Sunday, 27 March 2011

It's a long way to Taipei

We've made it to Taipei! We're here visiting May's brother Jack and his girlfriend Lisa who are here teaching English as a foreign language at the Hess schools.

We had planned to visit Taipei for 6 nights, then Japan for 10 before returning home via Singapore for 3 nights to visit May's friend Jenny, her husband Raj and their new baby in Singapore. Due to the recent earthquake, we've canceled the Japan leg of the trip entirely and spent a stressful two weeks replanning a way to fill our spare 10 days. We finally settled on Thailand and will be spending 3 nights at the Conrad in Bangkok before flying to Koh Samui to the Bo Phut Resort & Spa for 6 days of relaxation.

We flew Heathrow to Taipei via Singapore (5 hour layover) on Singapore Airlines. I've just started to find flying novel again since switching jobs and putting an end to my business travel, so a ride on an A380 was pretty cool. After some deft online checking in, we ended up in the economy section of the upper deck, with us in a pair of seats and May's mum Judith across the aisle.

The A380 was impressively massive and the Singapore Airlines fit out delivers a very impressive economy flight. The seat pitch is long, meaning plenty of legroom and the cabin feels spacious rather than packed. Whoever designed this plane actually thought through the details of passenger comfort, and as we all know it's the little things that make the biggest difference. Examples are a screen that pivots out enough that even a lanky body like me can see it when the person in front is fully reclined and extendible foot rests. In flight entertainment is also excellent with over 14o films on demand, plus TV shows (around 6 consecutive episodes of each) and lots of music. Further, there's a USB socket to you can connect up your own equipment to either charge or view media on screen. The service is also excellent, very attentive with plenty of snacks and drinks - you can even ask for a Singapore Sling and get free playing cards. You even get real cutlery. In short, flying economy with Singapore is like flying premium economy with everyone else; would use again with preference.

The only flies in our delicious Singapore Air ointment were called Bob and Vanessa. They were sat in the seats in front of us, and in meeting they each found a kindred spirit, much to their delight and our chagrin. At the first drinks service, Vanessa ordered a beer and Bob a red wine, and from here on in, things went downhill. As each drink was finished, the call light went on and another was ordered. Initially May and I chuckled at their poor quality flirting and chucklesome cheap chat ("can't wait to have a ciggie", "let's write a thank you note to the hostess" etc), but as all the lights were switched off for our simulated night and their volume continually increased the novelty quickly wore off.

It was all a bit too much for Judith, who had a quiet word with the staff who then spoke to the delightful pair. Much hilarity ensued along with a lengthy discussion led by Vanessa who wanted to "find our who grassed me up" she'd "rather have been told to my face, rather than snitched on". With the noise continuing, Judith sensibly asked to be moved downstairs.

After tolerating 8 hours of non-stop drinking and high volume, I felt I had to intervene when Vanessa had turned her headphones up to maximum volume and started singing along with D.I.S.C.O. by Ottowan and gyrating her rotund frame in her seat in what I assume was her approximation of dancing.

"Would you mind turning your headphones down and not singing please? I'd like to get some sleep" I said, adding "I heard you say earlier you'd rather be told to your face rather than complained about". The music was turned down, and the singing stopped (for a bit), but rather than peace and quiet, there was a continual discussion about keeping the noise down and a lot of sssshhhhing. The only time we had any respite was after breakfast when the pair fell asleep, including Bob doing bizarre musical snoring. I guess the limit when flying is nine and a half hours of solid drinking and then breakfast will definitely send you to sleep.

I think the situation was poorly handled by Singapore Air as despite the obvious intoxication of the pair, they kept on serving them drinks. We assumed that there would be a limit, but the staff were overly polite and failed to take appropriate action, resulting in a detrimental effect for the surrounding passengers. Although getting no sleep was a pain, I consoled myself with two facts: 1) I'm neither Bob or Vanessa. 2) I bet they had stinking hangovers that even their much awaited ciggie wouldn't abate.

1 comment:

Norman said...


I love the labels, especially COMPLAINING.