Where The Wind Takes Me – Day 44

Where The Wind Takes Me Series - Table of Contents

EntryNotable Places/EventsStart of DayEnd of Day
Day 0 - Apr 21-22 2024Plane (Edmonton > Calgary > Tokyo)Edmonton, CanadaTokyo, Japan
Day 1 - Tue Apr 23 2024Akihabara, Sensoji, Tokyo Sky Arena, Taiwan Food FestivalTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 2 - Wed Apr 24 2024Nezu Shrine, Tokyo National MuseumTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 3 - Thu Apr 25 2024Akihabara, Ginza, Yurakucho, Bocchi the Rock! Exhibition (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 4 - Fri Apr 26 2024Craft Gyoza Fes, Niku Fes, Odaiba, Kameido Tenjin ShrineTokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 5 - Sat Apr 27 2024Niconico Chokaigi 2024Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 6 - Sun Apr 28 2024M3-53Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 7 - Mon Apr 29 2024Train (Tokyo > Osaka)Tokyo, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 8 - Tue Apr 30 2024Tsurumibashi, Expo Commemorative Park, Osaka Station (with Miyu)Osaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 9 - Wed May 01 2024Kyoto, Takenobu Inari Shrine, SaiinOsaka, JapanOsaka, Japan
Day 10 - Thu, May 02 2024Train (Osaka > Tokyo)Osaka, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 11 - Fri May 03 2024Reitaisai 21Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 12 - Sat May 04 2024Japan Jam 2024 (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 13 - Sun May 05 2024National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (with Quintopia)Tokyo, JapanTokyo, Japan
Day 14 - Mon May 06 2024Plane (Tokyo > Taipei), Liaoning Night MarketTokyo, JapanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 15 - Tue May 07 2024Taipei Main Station Underground Mall, Ximending Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 16 - Wed May 08 2024Shilin Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 17 - Thu May 09 2024Raohe Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 18 - Fri May 10 2024Songjiang Market, Guang Hua Digital Plaza, Shida Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 19 - Sat May 11 2024Dihua Street, Huaxi Street Night Market, Guangzhou Street Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 20 - Sun May 12 2024Gongguan Night MarketTaipei, TaiwanTaipei, Taiwan
Day 21 - Mon May 13 2024Plane (Taipei > HK), Train (HK > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelTaipei, TaiwanGuangzhou, China
Day 22 - Tue May 14 2024Zhongfu Square, Alpaca Sighting (with Kel), Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 23 - Wed May 15 2024Panyu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 24 - Thu May 16 2024Nancun Wanbo (with Kel), Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 25 - Fri May 17 2024Train (Guangzhou > Xiamen), Zhongshan RoadGuangzhou, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 26 - Sat May 18 2024Xiamen Railway StationXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 27 - Sun May 19 2024Mingfa Shopping MallXiamen, ChinaXiamen, China
Day 28 - Mon May 20 2024Train (Xiamen > Guangzhou), Stayed with KelXiamen, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 29 - Tue May 21 2024Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 30 - Wed May 22 2024Tianhe Computer Town, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 31 - Thu May 23 2024Comic City, Shangxiajiu Square, Dinner with Kel, Stayed with KelGuangzhou, ChinaGuangzhou, China
Day 32 - Fri May 24 2024Train (Guangzhou > Hong Kong)Guangzhou, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 33 - Sat May 25 2024Wan Chai, Temple StreetHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 34 - Sun May 26 2024Chungking Mansions, Nathan Road, Ladies' MarketHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 35 - Mon May 27 2024Central Market, Sino CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 36 - Tue May 28 2024Tea at Minimal (with WingBenny), Dragon CentreHong Kong, ChinaHong Kong, China
Day 37 - Wed May 29 2024Plane (HK > Singapore), Tampines N2 Shopping StreetHong Kong, ChinaSimei, Singapore
Day 38 - Thu May 30 2024Tampines Regional CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 39 - Fri May 31 2024Lunch (with Debbie and Zixiang), Bras Basah Complex, I Light SingaporeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 40 - Sat Jun 01 2024People's Park Complex, People's Park CentreSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 41 - Sun Jun 02 2024BishanSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 42 - Mon Jun 03 2024Dunman High School, Katong Shopping Centre, Parkway ParadeSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 43 - Tue Jun 04 2024Hell's MuseumSimei, SingaporeSimei, Singapore
Day 44 - Wed Jun 05 2024Flight (Singapore > San Francisco > Vancouver > Edmonton)Simei, SingaporeEdmonton, Canada
Final ThoughtsFinal Thoughts!Edmonton, CanadaWe'll see

Wednesday, Jun 05 2024 (Day 44)

Time to fly home! My itinerary today looked like this:

Wed Jun 05 2024
Flight: UA 2
Takeoff: Singapore 08:45 (GMT+8)
Arrival: San Francisco 09:15 PDT
Duration: 15h 30m

Layover: 1h 36m

Flight: UA 2051
Takeoff: San Francisco 10:51 PDT
Arrival: Vancouver 13:12 PDT (Main terminal)
Duration: 2h 21m

== Separate ticket ==

Wed Jun 05 2024
Flight: WS 172
Takeoff: Vancouver 15:00 PDT (Main terminal)
(Check-in by: 14:15 PDT)
Arrival: Edmonton 17:36 MDT
Duration: 1h 36m

The 13:12 to 14:15 PDT transfer in Vancouver was dangerous, but the ticket was an Econoflex ticket with Westjet, so at least if I missed that plane then the hope was that I could pick a later ticket that same day that wasn’t too terrible. The 15:00 ticket was a lot cheaper than the next couple of “safer” tickets that day, so it was worth that risk to me that I might not make the plane due to the flexibility of being able to potentially rescheduling the plane ticket if needed. I also learnt during check-in that I would have to retrieve my bags and check-in again during the San Francisco layover due to USA policies, and that was an even shorter layover, so if that was possible then the Vancouver one hopefully would be safe too.

I met John, Belinda‘s husband, downstairs in the lodging at 6:10 am or so, after a brief delay because the other person I share the bathroom with hogged the bathroom starting from about 5:30 am and left my door locked as he took his own sweet time wandering in and out of the bathroom and his suite as he got ready for his own day. I had been given a little stick to pick my bathroom lock with if he “forgot” to unlock it after using it, and I knocked a couple times and got no response at one point, so I picked the lock at around 5:55 am and took it over to use the bathroom (and then heard him try the door from his bathroom after I had locked it).

John took me to Changi Airport in his car as promised. It took closer to 10 minutes than 5, but he deposited me right at the Terminal 2 entrance with no issue at all. We chatted as he drove me there, and it seemed like they were considering emigrating somewhere as well in the next few years. I tried to be a good ambassador for Canada. Free health care! Good weather! Lots of land and smaller-sized cities with better housing prices than Singapore! I told them to reach out (through Whatsapp via Belinda) if they ever decided to move to Canada or anything like that.

Check-in went quite flawlessly, and I ambled up to one of the two available air-side lounges for my free Dragonpass lounge access to sit down and blog and eat there for an hour or so. The general lounge area looked like this:

And my meals looked like:

And a bowl of porridge that I forgot to take a picture of until the end.

The laksa seemed like a trap that would give me bowel problems on the plane itself so I decided not to have any of that. And I didn’t have that much time anyway — after those three rounds it was 7:30 am and my plane’s gate opened at around 7:55 am, plus Changi Airport has bag scanners at each gate’s entrance rather than just after immigration, so I needed to pack up and leave the lounge to be able to ensure I got to my gate on time and without incident.

It was nice though that I was able to both enter as well as leave the country without incident and with barely speaking to any official at all, the automatic gates at immigration handled both my entry and exit without incident. Singapore did throw me a curve ball at that scanning line just before the gate though — I was queued up near the back due to when I arrived but the attendant looking through my passport matched me to a list of people who had been picked for random deep scanning, so I got ushered to the front of the line, put through it, and then brought aside to a table where another officer used some sort of wand and waved it over me and the insides of my bags. They didn’t find anything though, just like the Canadian ones didn’t find anything during my outgoing flight over a month ago. Thanks, Tigey.

I had planned to not sleep the entire night before at all, but I did doze off a couple times, once around midnight and once around 2 am again despite listening to Twitch channels and writing my blog, so my plan to make myself sleep-deprived enough to fall asleep on the long intercontinental flight didn’t quite work as planned. However, I still dozed off a couple of times on the first 15 hour flight, and then a little bit more on the final flight to Edmonton, so that was fine in the end. I even came away with a short dream memory from my first flight, my second plane dream this trip, which is interesting.

When I woke up from my little nap, this snack was on my table, which had been set into the down position by someone.

The entire 15 hour 30 minute flight ended up taking “just” 14 hours and 45 minutes instead, according to my notes and the in-flight seat entertainment’s flight app. The first actual meal we had was 1h 25m or so into the flight, and was either chicken noodle or vegetarian pasta. I picked the former, and it looked like this:

One thing that I really admired about United Airlines, or perhaps it was just that my seat was near the front of the regular Economy section, but they picked up the food trays very quickly for every single meal, which was really nice after suffering through Air Canada and Westjet and how they can take 30-45 minutes before collecting the trays. For this first meal, United took 20 minutes after delivery before they picked up the tray, which was perfect timing for me as I had just finished the meal when the attendant pulled up with the garbage cart.

They then turned off the lights for most of the trip, and I dozed off a bit here and there, but spent most of it closing my eyes and not actually able to sleep, I think. The dream I had was from this segment of the trip though, and it only ended because I was awoken by the other two people in my row who wanted out to visit the washroom. That was fine though since without that I might have forgotten the dream and been unable to write it down. I did get up to stretch my legs at least eight times during the trip. I also spent a chunk of time in the last five hours or so playing Deep Rock Galactic: Survivor on my Steam Deck, after watching the Suzume no Tojimari anime movie via in-flight entertainment.

They served “breakfast” with about 7h 10m left to go in the trip, and picked it up with about 6h 55m left, which was so fast that I hadn’t finished my drink yet and had to wait for someone else to come by with a garbage bag for me to toss that away. There was no choice given for breakfast, it was just a piece of bread, a muffin, and a chocolate bar, and the cabin lights weren’t on so my picture was darker than normal.

The last meal came in with about 1h 20m left in the flight, and I was surprised that they kept it so late — I thought they were going to skip this meal entirely with how late they left it, since it would have been even later for the people nearer the back of the plane. Again, they picked the garbage for this one up 20 minutes after delivery, right around the hour left mark in the flight. We had a choice of egg and sausage, or nasi goreng, and I picked the latter as I wanted a last Singaporean-ish meal. This was actually really nice, and the red stuff is chilli sauce and was actually pretty spicy.

The San Francisco layover was a dainty 1h 36 minutes or so, but due to the plane arriving about 30 minutes early (we touched down at 8:38 am whereas our original arrival time was 9:15 am, though time was still needed to coast to the gate and unload and stuff), those of us going onwards to Vancouver had around 2 hours to go through customs, collect our baggage, then deposit it again at a special United counter on the way to the transit gate. The customs agent asked me how long I would be in USA, and I said an hour, and he nodded and handed me back my passport and waved me through.

The security scanning was interesting — despite there being a long line and despite signs saying we needed to remove shoes and electronics and keys and such, the security officer said to leave everything, including the laptop, inside their bags, and not to even bother removing shoes unless they had metallic parts in them, which mine did not. So that part went by really quickly. However, just before the scanners, everyone had to walk, two at a time, past a cordoned off section where an officer was holding a leashed dog and walking it back and forth as it sniffed at everyone passing by.

I arrived at the gate with over an hour to spare. This second San Francisco to Vancouver flight was interesting, because they didn’t have enough overhead bag room for people to store their carry-on bags, and didn’t have enough volunteers to check in their carry-on luggage, so they warned that after a certain point they would force people to check them in instead. Even though I had paid a bit extra for a seat near the middle of the plane and the front of Economy class, I was still in the last boarding group (perhaps because I was an aisle seat?) and this cutoff applied to the group I was in, with the person in front of me being the first one made to check in their luggage. One attendant told the other one to make sure to only wave through people without bags for now as they had no more overhead room.

However, I was still thankfully waved through since I only had a backpack and a sling bag, both of which would be things that could go under the seat. My bags still didn’t quite fit perfectly under the seat though, which tends to happen for the smaller planes like the Boeing 737s, but the other thankful thing that happened here was that there was no one in the middle seat in my row for this flight, so I put my shoulder sling bag under their seat instead of mine.

Just before takeoff, the captain announced two upcoming birthdays from passengers (and he announced their seats too, which were nowhere near each other) who had birthdays the following day, which I thought was interesting. This flight itself was short and boring, which is a good thing, but the flight snack was a horrible fruit bar that felt mushy. I laughed at the name of the actual bar itself though.

I also tend to ask for normal tomato juice for my flight drinks, but this time I was given an option of spicy or non-spicy, and I picked the spicy one, which tends to be a Canadian flight specialty.

The flight arrived in Vancouver at 12:55 pm, about 15 minutes early, and I was glad for this as this was my most dangerous transit, since I had to completely check out through immigration and grab my luggage from the carousel, and then head to the Westjet desk in the public departure terminal to check in again instead of using one of the transfer desks, since this was a completely separate ticket.

The original arrival time for the plane was 1:12 pm, and the check-in limit for a domestic flight was 45 minutes before the plane leaves, which would have been 2:15 pm for the flight that I had booked. I actually reached the luggage carousel before it even started moving, so that was the limiting factor in the end, and when I finally reached the Westjet desk, which involved a long walk through Vancouver’s arrival terminal, and checked in my bags, it was 1:41 pm. Without the plane reaching the airport 15 minutes early, it would have been 1:56 pm, which was only 19 minutes before the time limit for checking in my bags. It also helped that I had already done online check-in through my phone while in San Francisco,. so all I had to do once I reached the WestJet area was print out my boarding pass and my bag tag from the self-serve machine there, and then bring all that to the baggage drop counter.

I had also signed up for something called YVR Express while doing online check-in at San Francisco, which supposedly gave me access to a quicker line at the luggage scanning/airport security part of checking in, after dropping off my checked bag. I was not worried about timing by this point, but it was free, so my siblings suggested I do it anyway, and I did so, picking a 1:45 pm to 2:15 pm window (as anything past that would have meant that I had missed the window to get onto my plane anyway). My siblings both said that there was no penalty for missing it if I was unable to make the exact time, and that they had actually both missed their appointment before. How terrible. I arrived at 1:44 pm so I was exactly on time for mine.

The line itself was not really any faster than going through the normal security line though. It was a lot shorter for sure, but there were still easily 10 people in queue, and two of them were in wheelchairs, and we shared a body scanner with one of the normal lines, so even though the normal lines were a lot longer, they also moved a lot faster since there were four or five scanner lines serving them compared to the one single line for the YVR Express signups, and our scanner line was very backed up, with tons of trays backed up so people were through the body scanner before their luggage was through the item scanner. Either way, this didn’t take that long — I was through the queue and had packed up my stuff by 1:55 pm.

For this final flight, I thought I had lucked out at first because I had an aisle seat again, and it didn’t seem like either the middle or window seat person for my row had arrived. They eventually did come though, and were some of the last people to board the plane. My seatmates turned out to be an African mother with one kid and one baby in tow, with the baby strapped on her back with a piece of colourful cloth, so basically they had three people for two tickets. There were still other open seats on the plane though, and the male flight attendant who told her to be careful of the baby while seating down (no mother needs to be told that…) also invited me to move to one of those empty rows to give them more room, and I gladly accepted.

I shifted into the window seat for that row, and a little bit later, someone else came onto the plane and was deposited into the aisle seat in my row too. The attendant apologized to him about something while sitting him down, and I don’t know what exactly that part of his story was but I think he was on standby or something and also had had a couple beers before coming aboard, so he was slightly drunk and the flight attendant apology was possibly something to do about not giving him any more alcohol.

Either way, this guy was talkative as heck, and he talked me up while we were waiting for takeoff. His name was Dave, and he worked for a gold mining company called B2Gold out at Goose Lake in Nunavut, way north of Edmonton. He worked there for three weeks at a time, he said, before heading home to his place in a small town between Prince George and Kamloops in British Columbia. Edmonton was the only place with a flight that far north though, since we were basically the gateway airport to Canada’s frozen north, which was why he was on the plane today — he was going to stay overnight at the airport hotel and catch a direct connecting plane north tomorrow for his 3 week work shift. He said he operated heavy machinery there, talked about technology and his general like for it (except when the computer in his machine broke down), and jokingly bemoaned several times about not being able to drink alcohol on the job for 3 weeks at a time when he was up north. He asked me if I drank alcohol, and then whether I would order alcohol on his behalf for him (he said he’d even give me his credit card number and pin for it), but I laughed and refused and told him to order it himself if they would let him (he jokingly said he’d bet $20 that they wouldn’t let him, but I don’t think he ever tried in the end). He also showed me some pictures from Thailand, where he had apparently just returned from.

Thankfully, once the plane took off, the sounds of the engine were loud enough that I told him that I was 95% deaf in my left ear and more or less could no longer hear him speaking, so he mostly left me alone after that, and I spent time staring out the window (and at our location on Google Maps, which was working even though I was in airplane mode and didn’t have WiFi) until I dozed off. We did receive a snack in the form of a chocolate bar along the way, though.

And here’s a photo of some farms just outside Edmonton as the plane was doing its final descent down to the Edmonton airport.

I had been in touch with Jon and Kel the entire trip, since Jon had kindly offered to pick me up once I reached Edmonton if I arrived in the afternoon after his work hours were over. This flight was perfectly timed for that, and both Jon and Mom were there waiting for me when I came out of the arrival section, even before I reached the baggage carousel. My bag was one of the first 15-20 or so bags to come out, which was nice, so we picked it up and Jon drove us home. His car was parked at a special nearby “free” parking lot which he really liked, but apparently that parking lot was temporary as renovations were being done to another parking area nearby. He also showed me a parking area operated by a company named jetSet (local) on the way out, which was located a little bit away from the actual airport but apparently had a 24 hour shuttle bus to and fro from the airport to their carpark.

They brought me home and came up to my apartment with me, where I gave them a bunch of stuff from Kel and from the Singapore portion of the trip. I found that one item had shattered and broke — the pink bowl that I picked up from that sustainable store at Hong Kong on Day 35. It had given up its life to protect the three otah spread bottles from Singapore on Day 43. Oh well. No other casualties were reported or found as I gradually unpacked my stuff over the rest of the night and the next day, and even most of Dad‘s chips had survived the long journey home, though some of the chips definitely were slightly crushed inside their packaging.

There was also a big hole in my wall thanks to the housing management people, and a bunch of dead bugs on the ground, but those can wait for the weekly blog entry this weekend!

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Day 43

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Where The Wind Takes Me - Final Thoughts

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