Australia WHV Diary - London to Singapore

Two days ago, I was in the rural English countryside of Lincolnshire. Twenty four hours ago, I was over a hundred miles further south in Hertfordshire, following a quick stop to say goodbye to a friend in rainy London. Twelve hours ago, I was climbing out from Gatwick and heading east on the first leg of a day-long journey which will eventually end in Perth, Australia - a place whose country, continent and hemisphere I've never visited before.

For the moment though, I'm taking a welcome break among the corridors, brightly lit shop-fronts and unexpected scenic oddities of Singapore's Changi airport. I didn't see much on the way in as it was still dark outside, and I was half asleep from the intermittent hours of rest I'd managed to grab on the flight. The day has since started to brighten, and the terminal is now coming alive as people navigate the complex system of Transfer Lounges, Skytrains and huge Arrival Halls which make up one of the world's busiest airports.

The first thing that caught my eye after stepping off the plane was a sign in a fairly secluded corner offering 'Free Singapore Tours'. There was even a schedule giving registration deadlines, departure times and the earliest return times for passengers with same-day onward flights. As my stopover here lasts seven hours, I thought I could easily take a morning tour and get back to the terminal before lunch. In reality though, a few things ended up conspiring against me and forcing me to miss this fantastic opportunity!

First, it took over half an hour to actually find the tour operators. There was a map on the sign, but it didn't help that You Are Here arrow was pointing to a different level of a completely different building. Second, the tours were obviously better publicised than I thought, as there was already a long queue at the small desk even though it was barely 7AM. Finally, I needed to print a boarding pass for my onward flight which forced me to pass through immigration, leave the arrivals area and come all the way back into the system from the front. Even though this whole process felt pretty quick, by the time I finally got back to the tour desk, only the afternoon times were still free for booking. Looking on the bright side, at least I had a chance to get a bit of morning air once I'd passed out of the airport and briefly into Singapore itself.

While it would have been amazing to get out and see what the tiny city-state has to offer, the airport terminal isn't really a bad place to be. The miles of corridor are home to the usual tax-free shops which seem to be twice as expensive as anything on the high street and enough fast-food outlets to feed a small town, but there are plenty of unique features alongside which help to give it some personality. There are a few smaller restaurants and stands selling more local foods, which for a newcomer like me will provide a tiny splash of culture when I'm ready to eat. Some of the open spaces have also been filled with little oases of nature and artwork, with orchid gardens, palm trees and even koi ponds making great places to sit and rest. I also don't get the same impression of urgency and haste that accompanies a regular day in Manchester or Heathrow; there's a quiet background of smooth jazz along with intermittent nature sounds which actually go a long way to helping you travel a bit calmer.

My limited first impression has made the idea of a few full days in Singapore seem very attractive; something I'll have to try and do when I eventually head back this way in the direction of home. For the time being though, my early afternoon flight to Perth is getting closer and closer. I'll soon cross the equator for the first time before heading over the Java Sea, passing a few more slivers of South East Asia's landmass and eventually following Australia's west coast down to one of its most populous cities. Here's hoping my arrival plans translate from theory to reality.