Two hours of connection were a lot more than needed in SIN, when not changing terminal. I had therefore all my time for reading the latest news on one of these internet access terminal available free of charge in many places in the terminal.
Gate A16 was at the far end of Terminal 3 ; I could have taken a people mover, but I preferred walking, especially since there was no hurry.
I was to find out another time that there are plane spotting friendly terminals in SIN, but there were not in Terminal 3, where the passengers are separated from the planes by windows with a bluish tint and by boarding rooms. The passengers can enter their own boarding room only, an hour before take-off, and even from there, taking pictures could be uneasy.
Furthermore, Terminal 3 is used nearly only by SQ, whose fleet is particularly homogeneous.
It was not time before time had come, and the boarding room was still inaccessible. There were no shops either in the section where I was. There were no flight announcements on the PA, but they were replaced by piped music which I found unbearingly bothersome.
To keep you waiting, this is the children area at the end of Terminal 3 …
… and the toilets, which – of course in Singapore – were spotlessly clean.
The funny thing is that I owe to a vice that I disapprove of the only decent picture taken at that time : since the smokers’ room is open to the outside, it provided me a clear view of this SQ 777.
Singapore is nearly on the equator and all year round, the sun rises suddenly at 7 am. The boarding gate opened at ETD-60’, i.e. at 7:30, I went again around the terminal, but that did not make the pictures any better.
How about the "submarine" image setting that a reader suggested to me ? Nice try, but the bluish tint gave way to a greenish tint : see the result above. Planes are not really meant to go underwater, as an interesting try with an A320 in the Hudson proved it.
Time came to go through security check, and I was not the only taking a picture of this line which would had been shorter had it opened earlier.
Once I was on through – quite quickly so, I must recognize -, I reached a vastly oversized room,
… from where it was possible and reasonably easy to take pictures of some non SQ aircraft, on the condition of running across that oversize room in order to be on the adequate side, because the room was at the end of the terminal So this is a United Airlines744,
…and a Sri Lankan A340
The sun rose behind an umpteenth SQ 777.
Taiwanese (mostly) and Singaporean passengers neatly queued for an orderly boarding by zone that I would have expected of them, and it was all the faster. Once on board, I had a better view of yet another 777.
Pushback showed the extent of the SQ mono-culture in that area of the airport.
Well, not quite entirely. What was this Shanghai Airlines(Skyteam) 738 doing in the area reserved to SQ and possibly Star Alliance aircraft? And what about the Garuda 738 parked on the other side (two pictures down) ?
Ten minutes of waiting after pushing back, duly announced by the captain in English and translated in Mandarin by a FA, because of air traffic control, with nevertheless a promise to land on time at destination, thanks to favorable winds that the airshow will display to be reach 60-80 km/h.
Take-off from runway 02L, with a nice albeit distant view of the city of Singapore.
This green island is Pulau Ubin, part of Singapore’s territory, and a reminder of what most of the sultanate was before it developed.
[But the plane kept its north-north-east heading, and we very quickly left Singapore to fly above neighboring Malaysia, where there was no buildings apart from an oil facility.
The plane then veered towards Taiwan, and the rest of the flight until reaching the island was above water. A short walk towards the rear of the aircraft, to show you both cabins in 2-4-2 layout.
There was a baby in the second cabin ; I did not hear any sound from my seat which was just behind the J cabin.
This was the second cabin whose layout narrowed to 2-3-3 in the last rows.
A FA distributed headphones here on the left. I did not use them on this leg, using the airshow only.
This was the menu of the brunch, and also the drinks available in economy on the TPE<>SIN and SIN<>CDG routes.
I chose chicken : it was not good, but not exceptional.
I nevertheless gave a bonus to SQ on catering, because from Monday morning 8 am to Tuesday evening 9 pm local times, I survived on the food provided on board the two SQ flights only, since I went directly to my office from TPE.
The airshow let me hope during some ten minutes, and against all geographic logic that the plane would fly alongside the east coast of Taiwan and let me have a view of the island, but she veered off at the last moment.
You may not have noticed it, but this map of SQ’s airshow is a marvel of politically correct compromise.
Efficiency come first in Singapore which has adopted the simplified ideograms designed in Mainland China, and they are used to indicate the South China Sea. On the other hand, Taiwan (and Hong-Kong too) keeps using the much more complicated traditional ideograms.
The names north of the plane’s icon straddle the fence :
From left to right, MFM, CAN, HKG and Taiwan are written in traditional ideograms, those in use in Taiwan. But TPE is written in simplified ideograms (the first character is the same as that of Taiwan), and on the top left, 中国大陆 [Zhongguo Dalu] means Continental China, which avoids any statement on whether Taiwan belongs to China or not: this is the expression I use on both sides of the Straits of Taiwan to keep an ambiguity on my opinion on this issue. (It is not very difficult to guess it, though).
This picture was the first sight of that island that I called home at that time.
I did not expect to see Kaohsiung that well, despite terrible reflections on the window. You can see here on the left KHH, which like TSA in Taipei is now completed surrounded by the urban sprawl, and the remarkable natural harbor protected from the ocean by a long peninsula that the Taiwanese cut on the left in order to facilitate the movements of the freighters.
In the bottom right, the narrow original opening, locked by forts on both sides. Their Taiwanese garrisons did not really try to resist when the Japanese took control of Taiwan in 1895. In front of the wooded area, the Love River has become a favorite tourist site with boat tours, after a thorough clean-up campaign.
Flying above Taiwan’s west coast provides reminders that in front, not that far, there are other airports which like LCX are mostly air bases, although you can fly from there, see here.
This is Gangshan air force base.
And TNN, Tainan’s airport which had then three daily domestic flights to MZG and one to KNH,but was mostly an air force base. So was RMQ, that the passengers on the right side saw, which is another major Taiwanese air force base.
I had nearly forgotten the winglet…
With or without the reactor
You probably know that Taiwan is a unique mix of China, Japan, the US… and Taiwan. This dispersed settlement in the descent to TPE looks quite Japanese,
But this oversized building and extra-wide avenue which stops in the middle of nowhere are typical of 21st century China.
And this urban mess is the worst that Americans can create out of a picturesque and inextricable Japanese urban maze. Do not keep your initial impression of Taipei on your first visit there : this city does not have the beauty that others bought with a pact with the devil on the Mainland, but that of a saint who turned to good deeds while keeping on her face the marks of her past misconducts. For at the end of the past century, Taipei was ugly, polluted and jammed, and one generation before was living under a military dictatorship.
Touch down at 13:00 sharp, and deployment of the thrust reversers.
… and some plane spotting before reaching the terminal at 13 :05. I did not identify the cargo planes parked behind the CI 744.
One, possibly two VN A321
Again the Skyteam livery CI 744, already seen on the way in.
A JL 738
And a ZH 738
There was a long line at immigration for foreign passport holders, and only two counters for foreign residents, but the latter like me at that time were always very few, and I waited only a couple minutes. I waited longer for my luggage: priority tagged luggage came quite quickly, but mine which had no status emerged at 13:37, after at least a hundred of others. Compared to CDG, it was not bad.
Nobody was waiting for me at the airport, but that was no reason for not noticing how those who come to welcome passengers were themselves welcomed. See the corridor used by the passengers after the last automatic doors. There were no barriers, but an alignment of thick flower boxes, behind which nobody was crowding to wait for incoming passengers, since they would rather be sitting. The seats in Taipei ? Have a look at them !
These were comfortable sofas which would not be out of place in a business lounge in other airports. You could be sitting while waiting because cameras directed at the passengers arriving landside broadcasted their images on the far left, which made it possible to looking at them without crowding alongside a barrier. There were simply signs like this one for a Mike Chua telling him the numbered meeting point where he was expected.
Taiwan was not only advertising in Singapore : there are tourist offices in many locations (including some rather isolated ones), providing excellent tourist information leaflets and maps with little or no advertising. You might have overlooked this leaflet stand under the screens indicating the luggage delivery conveyor numbers, thinking that this would be concentrated solid advertising stuff.
This would have been a bad mistake : these were excellent road maps drawn at various scales (from a single island to the entire country) graciously provided by Taiwan’s Tourist Office and much better than the ones that can buy in bookstores in town (I did not know about that when I first came, and wasted considerable time trying to buy good maps, when the best ones were for free). There were three stands, for Chinese, Japanese and English versions. These maps are indestructible too. I had one which spent a rainy night in the pocket of a scooter, then the next day being folded and unfolded under the rain which had not abated and survived the ordeal. The most detailed information leaflets are in Chinese, but the volunteer staff are trained at circling all points of interest in 60 seconds with a marker.
You can’t possibly miss the tourist office when landing in TSA or TPE : it is right in front of the exit landside, and you should be all means stop there : they will provide you some of the keys to a successful visit, no matter the duration. Staffing is usually a volunteer activity, and so is this promotional pitch at the end of this report : )
I had taken this pictures on the way in, when I had ample time for that, since they would not be outdated anyway. The bus terminal was very close to the exit landside and at 13:43, the bus that I had boarded was leaving towards the city center.
Work on the viaducts of the future subway line to the airport had of course not made much progress during the Chinese New Year. The Taiwanese seem to love building flyovers on top of each other in the cities, so an aerial subway line is standard for them. They simply should avoid building them to waterproof, because they tend to because swimming pools when a typhoon pours heaps of water. It is better than having a typhoon drown underground subway lines, though. (Both disasters occurred in Taipei, at different times).
Singapore - SIN
Taipei - TPE
All my ratings of my TPE-SIN flight with SQ two weeks earlier apply to this one, and I can just as well copy paste my evaluation of SQ on this flight :
The catering was correct, with a good meal, metal silverware and a real glass. On the other hand, the fake china / real plastic cup was disappointing. The FAs were flawless: kind, smiling, present at all times. The IFE screen was excellent, with an overwhelming audio and video offering. The seat comfort was the real bad point on that SQ flight: the seat did not recline much, was really to hard (getting painful after three hours), the seat pitch was substandard and the 2-4-2 layout was unworthy of a business class…
… but this was ONLY the economy class. Grading it was a challenge; comfort is the only criterion which IMO does not make the standard 8/10 threshold (a power port would have compensated the too hard seat, but there was none).
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