Traveling is great fun if one did not have to spend so much of time in transit. Looking back at the long hours spent at various airports, being in transit does not seem like such a boring occupation now. There have always been plenty of things to see and do on the way to any destination.
The longest hours have been spent at various airports. Some are well equipped for transit passengers. For example, the Changi airport at Singapore is so well-equipped with duty-free shops, play centers for children and even a specialty food store. There is also a bus to take transit passengers around the city and back, provided one leaves the passport behind. Baggage can be left in one of the lockers and picked up later. The bus shows the passengers all the sights of Singapore, but it’s a brief preview to entice tourists to stop over here the next time they are in the country. Raffles Hotel, the Singapore Lion and other sights are pointed out from the luxurious coach. A brief stop at Chinatown to pick up some souvenirs and we are then returned to the airport well in time for the flight to Australia.
Other airports where we have spent pleasant hours waiting for connecting flights have been Heathrow, Frankfurt Geneva and Amsterdam. The shops at Heathrow are a delight and there is always someone from the Sub-continent to speak to us in Hindi. The cuckoo clocks at the Duty-Free complex at the Frankfurt airport seem to be more expensive each time we pass-through. The long queues at the immigration counter even to transit the airport are a nightmare and one could easily miss their flight at this point. Geneva is a chocoholic’s dream come true. The gold bars displayed at the banks are enough to dazzle anyone not wearing sunglasses! Jewellery shops at airports all over the Middle-East are very opulent and well-stocked. At Schipol Airport, what strikes the eye is cheese and cheeseboards of all kinds. The Dutch are famous for their cheese and souvenirs are in the form of cheese sold on fancy cheeseboards made out of porcelain and wood.
Some airports take great pride in their sky-trains and other means of transport. In the Far-East, beautiful orchids and mini-waterfalls adorn most airport lounges. In Europe, easy-chairs that massage the weary traveler can be operated if one puts in some coins. Bars and coffee shops, even fast food restaurants are everywhere. Some airports have Beauty and Barber shops, others have clubs and Discos. Airports like the one at Hong Kong warn passengers to beware of pick-pockets.
When there is nothing else to do, one can just sit and watch people go by. Some travelers seem to carry little or no personal luggage, and I always remind myself to travel light the next time, but some others seem to be even worse than me and look like there are carrying small suitcases instead of light cabin bags.
The one incident that stands out in my mind is when my son was a toddler and we were spending long hours, dozing first at Heathrow airport and then at Copenhagen, waiting to catch the connecting flight to the port of Aarhus. My son was heartily sick of waiting and decided to do something to wake both of us up: he ran into the Gent’s toilet and would not come out. My daughter and I could do nothing but wait for him to come out on his own. He took his own sweet time but came out a few minutes before the flight much to our relief!