Traveler's Playground: Changi Airport

Monday, 17-11-2014. Day 89.

At Play in the World's Greatest Airport.

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While we fully acknowledge that we have not (yet) been to all the airports in the world, we're pretty certain that none of them will be better than Singapore's Changi Airport.

There are three terminals in the airport, each with its own special attractions and features. Fortunately, the terminals are connected by an efficient shuttle system that runs back and forth every four minutes, so getting from one terminal to the other is a pretty simple and relatively quick affair.

Kaya Toast

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Our first order of business upon arriving at the airport was food. Samantha was keen to try Kaya Toast, so after we checked our bags, we headed over to terminal three and found Ya Kun Kaya Toast Family Cafe. They've been making the same food since 1944.

Kaya toast is very thin, very toasted toast that's spread with coconut jam and a thick pat of butter and dipped into runny soft-boiled eggs. Samantha loved it, but the flavor combination was not to the liking of me or the girls.

We also tried yuanyang, a drink that's part coffee and part milk tea, which I liked a little better.

The Big Slide

Yeah, I know. But it's hard to take a landscape picture of a tall slide.

Yeah, I know. But it's hard to take a landscape picture of a tall slide.

In terminal three you'll find The Slide@T3, which is Singapore's tallest slide. There are two slides, actually, a big one—which is 12 meters tall (four stories!)—and a small one that's only one-and-a-half stories tall. The small one is free and the big one (which was closed when we were there) is 10 Singapore dollars. The girls rode the small one a few times.

Waiting for the big slide.

Waiting for the big slide.

Durian Shake

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So. Durians: the world's most feared fruit. We wanted to try them. So just before we left terminal three, we headed over to Durian Mpire, which sells all sorts of durian pastries and desserts—and every one of them is delivered in an airtight container.

After much deliberation, we opted for a durian shake. It took eight minutes to make, which seemed like a long time to whip up a shake, but one can't rush the durian experience.

And what an experience it was. I only had one sip and ... wow. What a smell. And because smell is a large component of what you taste, it didn't taste any better than it smelled. But the fun part was when the stomach rebelled and tried to kick this stuff back out, you got to taste durian all over again when you burped it up.

I know some people (bafflingly) like these things, but any time a foodstuff is sold in an airtight container and is a prohibited item on the subway, you've just got to wonder.

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Kinetic Sculpture

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Terminal one, where were would be departing from, was home to the Kinetic Sculpture, one of the many art installations that Changi has on display. This one was a collection of copper-colored raindrops that danced and moved and formed all sort of different shapes. It was fun to watch it for a little while before we continued on to pass through immigration.

The Social Tree

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Right after we cleared immigration, we came upon The Social Tree, a series of wraparound television screens powered by eight touchscreen terminals. From these terminals you can upload or take pictures and post them to the tree's 360-degree screens (as well as all the usual social media sites) for all to see. The airport says that it'll be keeping any media shared by travelers via the Social Tree "for decades."

Free Internet

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There's really nothing else to say about Free Internet other than Free Internet! These kiosks are all over the place.

And More!

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There's also a free movie theater, swimming pool, laundry facilities, more shopping than the Shoppes at Marina Sands (well, maybe not, but it's gotta be close), massive options for food, and plenty of play areas for the kids.

We didn't have all that much time to play around here—only a few hours—so we didn't experience everything that the airport has to offer. But for a report of the full Changi Airport experience, read Singapore Airport: A Disneyland for Backpackers by Bren on the Road.

Departure

So after a few short hours enjoying the wonders of the World's Greatest Airport, the call came to  board our plane to Hong Kong. One of the more interesting things about Changi is that they do security screening at the gate. This allows more people to easily acquire goods at the many shops that can be found in the airport.

Hong Kong

After an uneventful flight, we arrived in Hong Kong at 7:30 p.m. By the time we got through customs and immigration and a high-speed cab ride, we arrived at our hotel in time to grab a late dinner and settle in for the evening.

All We Knew About Singapore We Learned from Shonen Knife

Okay, so that's not entirely true. But we're on something that resembles a schedule (which is currently all tied in to getting our visas for China) and we're also trying to save money. These two factors limited the time we could spend in Singapore, and two days just wasn't enough  to explore it properly. We'll return to finish the job someday.

Notable Statistics

  • Slide rides: 4
  • Taxis: 2
  • Airplanes: 1
  • iPadographers: 1

 

is a writer of things with a strong adventurous streak. He also drinks coffee.

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Traveler's Playground: Changi Airport
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