Thursday, April 03, 2014

C is for Changi

Last week, Singapore's Changi airport topped the list of the best airports in the world in the 2014 Skytrax awards. It did so last year too, and this is the fifth time it has been named the best airport in the world. These awards are based on nominations from 12.85 million travellers across 110 nationalities, and includes 410 airports worldwide. Of course, it won't come as a surprise to most people because Changi is truly a phenomenal airport.

I love different things about India and different things about Singapore. And Changi is one of the top things I love about Singapore. The airport literally stands for what the rest of Singapore is.

I have loved Changi since I set foot on it almost 16 years ago. It was my first international flight, and I was coming here from a town so small that I had to take a bus, a train and a flight to land in Calcutta, from where I flew to Singapore. I was 18 and travelling by myself for the first time. I must have been in a state of trance because I felt no fear. But when I stepped out of the plane and into Changi airport, the song 'Yeh kahan aa gaye hum' played in my head. Very loudly. I simply gaped. My first impression of Changi was... "How freakin' clean is this place??"

My relationship with Changi airport grew stronger over the years as I passed through it to travel to about a dozen countries. And yet, every other airport I saw simply paled in comparison.

So here are the top seven reasons why I heart Changi airport.

The efficiency
Changi airport is the only airport I've been to where you can get off the plane and be in a cab ten minutes later. Even though it is one of the busiest airports in the world, catering to millions of passengers a year, the efficiency is amazing. It's crowded, yes, but the crowd moves along fast and in an orderly way. You'd be shocked at how long the taxi queues are, but you'd be even more shocked at how within minutes, a marshall is ushering you to your cab.

The cleanliness
As I said, the first thing that struck me about Changi was how impossibly clean it was. I was even sure that they dunked the free massage chairs in boiling water after every use. No seriously, the squeaky-clean floors shine like mirrors and everything is always bright and clean and shiny. Even the toilets. Even the toilets. When I first saw all this, it was almost blinding, especially to someone like me who had only seen Indian airports. (Though I'm told that some Indian airports are now very cool and clean and swanky, I hadn't seen any back then. Hopefully I'll make that much-desired trip to India soon; just waiting for the green light from Xena's doctors.)

The amenities
Singapore is such a tiny island that I'm always amazed at how much space and amenities Changi has. Other than the usual amenities such as hotels with pools and gyms, there are indoor playgrounds, arcade games, a butterfly garden, an orchid garden, a koi pond, spas, including a fish pedicure spa (yikes, but wow), art installations, a four-storey tall slide, and an aviation gallery.

The free stuff
Who doesn't love free stuff? And Changi sure has plenty of it. Free two-hour city tours for passengers on long transit, free foot massages, free wifi, free phones, and even free movie theatres!

The food
I think there must be at least a hundred dining places (maybe more) in Changi. From local food to international cuisines. From hawker style to fine dining. The free skytrain makes it so easy to travel from terminal to terminal, you can eat any kind of cuisine you crave. In fact, a lot of people go to the airport just to eat.

The hangout place
When I was studying at NTU (it's on the other end of the island from Changi), some of my crazy friends used to take the train all the way to Changi to study for their exams. Seriously. I never tried that though. It was a bit too much for me. I know people who take their kids to Changi and just let them run around and blow off steam. Airplane buffs can watch planes take off and land barely four metres away from the Terminal 1 viewing gallery. I'd have never thought of an airport as a hangout place till I saw Changi.

The welcome
Every time I'm flying back from somewhere, the immigration staff always smile and say, "Welcome home." And somehow, it does feel like home when I touchdown at Changi. It's always sad when a holiday ends, but when it ends through Changi, I feel like some of the pain goes away. Believe me. So all you bewdas who are planning your next holiday, don't think. Just come. And look me up.

Okay, I have finally come to the end of my government-sponsored publicity post. Thank you for reading and wish you a pleasant experience at Changi.

On a serious note, you can tell that I really do love it.

Changa hai Changi. :)




15 comments:

Arun said...

:)

But you didn't touch on the most important thing for guys like me. Is there a good place from which to watch the planes taking off and landing? :) :) :)

Sayesha said...

Arun,
YES! From the T1 viewing gallery, you can watch planes land and take off barely FOUR metres from you! :D will add this to the post now. :)
PS: So when are you coming? :P

Sri said...

Wow...never knew so much about Changi!

Free stuff got my attention!;)

Will definitely meet you if I ever travel to Singapore..have some relatives there so hoping to travel!

kanz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
kanz said...

love to see you post daily after long.... log on to see 1st thing everyday...

love the city myself... but didn't know about the free stuff at Changi tho have traveled to Singapore twice... will definitely meet u next time I travel....

kanz said...

love to see you post daily after long.... log on to see 1st thing everyday...

love the city myself... but didn't know about the free stuff at Changi tho have traveled to Singapore twice... will definitely meet u next time I travel....

Thisisme said...

wow! now u have given me one more reason to be in singapore! i m a huge fan of the place and have been looking for a job there since quite sometime! hope i get a good break soon :) ..somehow over the yrs..coz of the things i hear from ppl in spore..its become my dream destination to settle in!

Prathima said...

Good to know all this about Changi. Singapore does seem to be one of must-visit places. Especially to actually see the efficiency and cleanliness that you mention so often in your posts. :-)

V said...

Enjoying this series, sayesha! I know what you will write about when you come to X though, everybody does :D !!

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

YaaY so awesome to see a new post everyday! and me too love Changi!!

Nobody said...

I was in Singapore for just a couple of days last year and I loved, loved, loved it. Changi is truly the best airport in the world.
I am in the UK now, but Singapore felt much more homely than UK does :)

P.S. This A-Z challenge, 26 posts a month from you.."I am loving it" :D

Sayesha said...

Sri,
Yes, do come! We will discuss our kids' (non)eating! :P

kanz,
Thank you. :)

Thisisme,
All the best and hope you get a job here soon! :)

Prathima,
Yes, please come! :D

V,
LOL! I might surprise you. Muahahaha! :D

Porkodi,
Thank you. :D

Nobody,
Thank you! :D

Arun said...

C is for Chai and Coffee, I try to limit to a max. of two per day. Now C for Chocolate is different matter :)

chengiz said...

I love Changi. First time I went to Sg, I was a little suspicious of how friendly immigration was, and that I was out of the immigration in no time. What, that's it, cant be right, my desi brain went.

Sayesha said...

Arun,
Hehe... I love both chai and chocolate, but very specific ones. Adrak ki chai with no kanjoosi in milk or sugar, and dark choc with rum and raisins. :P ~

chengiz,
Hahaha I totally get what you mean. It's so fast and efficient, it's scary. :)