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THE LAYOVER LIFE: WHAT I LEARNED IN HONG KONG AND SINGAPORE

Do you usually add connections to your flight(s) when you travel or do you prefer to fly direct?

For me personally, direct is the way to go.

Not only does flying direct save time, but sometimes layovers are long and tiring.

Take the example of the time where I ended up in Hong Kong for twelve hours.

I was coming from Dubai and had to take a layover in Hong Kong before going back home. (hey, I know you’re thinking that’s a route that nobody ever takes, but I guess I could say that’s the joy of flying standby – read more about standby travel here).

Taking a detour to Hong Kong meant having to go halfway across to the other side of the world. But traveling, especially traveling standby is an art form that nobody can really ever understand, until they experience it for themselves.

I landed in Hong Kong when I least expected it, because I had the crazy idea that perhaps taking a red-eye flight to Hong Kong would be the shortcut home if I didn’t want to be stranded in Dubai for any more days (refer to my post here to hear about my Dubai experience!).

Besides, after spending almost a week in Dubai and almost two weeks away from home (because right before flying to Dubai, I was in Tokyo), I just wanted to go home. A question of “hey, I know this sounds crazy, but how does Hong Kong sound for a stopover?” lead me to saying “anything to get out of here” and there I was. Flying back to Asia, after having flown from Asia to come to Dubai.

I was already jet lagged from taking a 14-hour flight to Tokyo from Canada. Then, from there coming to Dubai. When I landed in Dubai, I was exhausted. I saw some sights and did spend a few productive days there, but on other days, I didn’t want to do anything, except stay in my hotel room and sleep.

When I landed in Hong Kong, I tried my best to avoid getting bored. I was expecting a long layover, but I tried to come up with a list of things to do to make time go by quickly. The #1 tip I have for anyone who have no choice but to take a layover during their travels?

If you don’t need a visa, go out and explore the city (make sure you have enough time in between your flights though). That way, you won’t get bored and time will definitely pass by.

On my way to Hong Kong, I thought of a perfect sightseeing day-trip.

I dreamed of visiting the basketball court in one of the most colorful neighborhoods, at Choi Hung Estate. An Instagram hotspot. (I’ve always loved basketball so a visit there was something I didn’t want to miss).

A ten-hour layover is too short for a visit at Disneyland Hong Kong, but I thought maybe instead I could go on the Iconic Peak Tram. A hike along the Dragon’s Back Trail or a walk down the Stanley Market didn’t sound like a bad idea either.

But when I landed, I snapped back to reality. My daydreaming stopped and instead, I stayed at the airport. I was exhausted. I attempted to find things to do to spend my time. I figured, doing nothing all day would not only be a waste, but also, even more exhausting.

Because sometimes doing nothing drains your energy.

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My sunset view from the airport


Exhibit A.

At first, I walked around and explored the area by the gates. There was a couple of lounges that was pay-by-use. There were showers, food, Wi-Fi, newspapers, etc.

But, there were other options that were easily accessible to the public for free; such as walking around the duty free shops.

I tried to catch up on my sleep (but this may disrupt your body and give you more jet lag), I played some games on my phone (make up your own game if you don’t have a pack of cards or an app handy). I talked to the people around me, sat down and just people watched. But, some people even work out or meditate while in transit.

How do you make your time worthwhile when in transit?

Be productive.

Do some work.

Find something to read.

Write.

Do SOMETHING.

Exhibit B.

Sometimes, it’s possible to shorten your layover by trying to go on an earlier flight. But, this doesn’t apply to everyone or every type of ticket. Earlier standby is also restricted to airlines. Not all airlines have several flights in a day.

International travel is usually much more restricted. But, if standby early is a possibility then there may be a fee associated with it. It also depends on availability, whether or not you checked in any bags, etc. It doesn’t hurt to ask if that’s an option you wanted to consider.

My layover in Hong Kong felt unbearably long. Time didn’t want to pass by. I’d sleep and wake up, and it felt like time remained still. I took a couple of walks here and there (by the way, there are like 500 gates at the airport, so it was a lot of walking!). Yet, I didn’t felt like it changed anything.

The experience was dreadful, especially after I learned I had to spend another four hours to wait for the next flight.

But, not all layovers have to be bad.

Maybe, it just had a lot to do with me being really tired at that time.

The Time I Had a Good Layover

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The arrival sign in Changi Airport


When I had a transit at Singapore Changi Airport (also my favorite airport so far, because of how eco-friendly, nice and fun it is), I went out in the city to visit the Gardens by the Bay and walked along the harbourfront after a quick stop at the mall. I visited the half-fish, half-lion Statue at Merlion Park and snapped a picture of the Marina Bay Sands hotel from outside (they’ve got an infinity pool at the top with a view of the city but unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to visit). If I had more time I would have also liked to attend the Night Safari.

Changi airport offers two options for a free city tour, (check out the seven airports in the world where you can catch a free tour during your layover here) but I didn’t take it this time.

Maybe next time! (Or maybe I’ll just stay at the airport and enjoy the fun things to do there).

Singapore is probably one of those places I wouldn’t have minded having a transit at the airport, because of the amount of activities and options they have.

There’s a Hello Kitty themed-café, a gaming room, different types of gardens (like a sunflower and butterfly garden), the world’s tallest indoor slide at an airport that you can go on if you spend a minimum of $10 at the airport, free massage chairs, a pool and even an indoor rainforest with a waterfall. It’s no doubt why Singapore received the title of the best airport in the world (and six years in a row too), according to Forbes.

I’ve concluded that connections make you realize that you need to come to the country someday and explore all they have to offer.

Although direct flights save time (but costs more), layovers aren’t so bad of an option.

What’s the better options for you? Do you have any other ideas of how to make time go by faster? Do you prefer to just go out and see the city? Let me know in the comment section below!

#Layover #AirportLiving #RoamthePlanet #HongKong #InTransit #Singapore #A2F