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The Fiasco

20 November 201812:00AMsg-2018travel

The fiasco began on a Tuesday afternoon, just before five, as I told an enquiring co-worker that I had, in fact, already packed, and that I was headed not for home but straight for the airport instead.

She raised an eyebrow.

"You're only taking one pair of shoes?"

I nodded.

"I hope you're okay with them getting wet."

I laughed, and the conversation turned to whether or not taking the bus to the airport was a bad idea - something I'd never tried before, but which turned out to be absolutely the least of our problems.

After a pit-stop at Woolies to grab a 65-pack of plastic sandwich bags - 64 of which were unceremoniously and unintentionally left at the bus stop - and a brief exchange with my dad, who having only just arrived home from the airport himself wanted to know where his garage door opener was, we stepped on to the tarmac at terminal one.

We laughed and high-fived, thinking we'd made it through the most unreliable leg of our trip, and stepped promptly into a queue. A queue, thirty minutes long, for a flight which (as it turns out) was delayed by about two hours. A nominal nine slipped slowly out to twenty past eleven - boring, for sure, but definitely preferable to the alternative - and rolled our eyes as we strapped ourselves in for the night.

Singapore, surely, would be smooth sailing after such a to-do. Right?

We sauntered through security, certain that our delayed plane would make us late enough to take the train, rather than trusting a taxi to take us to our hotel - but that would be too easy, wouldn't it? No, as we descended it became increasingly clear that we were a few hours early for even the earliest train, and after the queues and delays and the several hours trapped inside a metal tube with very insistent salespeople masquerading as stewardesses we didn't exactly fancy another wait.

Besides, the taxis in Singapore were supposed to be fine, right?

We gave our address and the name of the hotel. The driver nodded enthusiastically and pulled out into the night, taking great pains to point out the casino as we passed. We slid into the hotel with minimal incident. Except, of course, for the part where we tried to check in and were apologetically informed we were at the wrong hotel.

Back at the taxi rank, we were told in no uncertain terms that the trip was "too short" to turn a profit - a stunt that even we in our naivety could see was an attempt to solicit a little extra on the side. That was from the driver that stayed, having been thrown under the metaphorical bus by his mate as he squealed out to do a lap around the block at the mere prospect of driving a measly 2k.

By then we were tired enough that everything about this cascading comedy of errors was actually pretty funny in the moment, rather than just afterwards. And since we didn't have any cash anyway, we took a walk, trundling my one bag and her one case across the misty streets of Singapore at four in the morning, just as the call to prayer began to echo out across the city.

At one point she turned to me with a grin in her eyes, and said, "It's beautiful really, in a surreal sort of way."

And then the rain came.

Softly at first, but steadily more torrential, until we found ourselves trapped under a bus stop between one hotel and the next. After a useless wait for a break in the rain we swapped glances and then grins and decided, in her words, to "go for it".

It was the wettest kilometre of my life. And, as it turned out, of the entire trip.

We squelched into the hotel - the right one this time - to looks of bemused concern from the staff behind the desk, who at least had the decency to wait until we were mostly out of earshot before calling someone to mop behind us.

And we slumped onto the bed, peeling off wet layers and replacing them with new ones that were merely damp, and we watched the grey lightning-shot sunrise over the Singapore skyline. We dozed the surreal sleep of those who have just stepped off a red-eye into a monsoon, and who had decided, even as day broke around them, that their solitary set of soaking sneakers were definitely a problem for tomorrow.

standing in the rain

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