Someone said to me Singapore airport might be the best in the world, and it seemed that way today; we strolled out of the hotel and to the check-in counter without having to take an escalator or elevator or anything, and the whole process took about ten minutes. As airports go, it’s a cousin to the mall I described yesterday – enormous amounts of shining empty space, which somehow connotes classiness. Our flight to Hong Kong was easy too. Skewing to the lighter end of the film menu this time, I watched Gambit with Colin Firth (screenplay by the Coen Brothers, but I don’t think it was ever released at home). It was an easy changeover, and we got to Toronto almost an hour ahead of schedule, which confused us a bit because they never even acknowledged the fact, let alone boasted about it! My plan to watch my nine and a half hour Holocaust documentary – which still seems to me as though it should have worked – fell laughably short: I arrived home with about seven hours still to go. But at least I finished all my reading material. We both got a reasonable amount of sleep on the way and got back feeling, once again, that it had been about as painless as a whole day’s traveling could ever be.
Some people might think it’s an odd formula, to spend more two whole days, more or less, in transit, for the sake of eleven days or so of experience. But we’ve never worried about that. The eleven days are transcendent – you remember them forever, they shape you in ways you can’t define; they’re high on the list of how you sum up your life achievements. Any annoyances of the travel days are soon forgotten, and anyway, it’s not all wasted time - you can still read, watch movies, do other things you’d want to do anyway. We thought this was an astoundingly full trip. It didn’t have the spiritual aspects of our trips to Africa or Israel say, but now we can add another major city to those for which we possess a pretty good internal map (on the last evening we strolled around with total ease and sense of our bearings, which is a wonderful feeling to have, for somewhere that so recently was just a name on a map). And we'd had so little sense of Singapore before we went there – without seeing for yourself you can’t anticipate either its stunning, vast modernity on the one hand, nor its diverse pockets of beauty on the other.
And then we got to learn something of why Bali is such a hallowed destination, but also to obtain at least a sense of what that image simplifies and misses out. And we stayed in two of the very best hotels we’ve ever stayed in – they may even be the very top two if we thought about it. So the trip was an enormous success. Not a cheap one though, as I’d indicated before – for Singapore in particular we couldn’t even imagine how it would lend itself to any kind of tight budget.
Well, to wrap up. the biggest delay of the whole trip, probably, came in waiting for a cab at Toronto airport (maybe it’s because the film festival is starting). But then the roads were emptier than we might have expected, so it all evened out. Our place looked great. We went out for a drink that night, and slept in a bit the next morning, which I think was enough to fix any body clock issues. We went to the market and then I got Ozu, who was deliriously happy to see me, and pretty much ran all the way home. And so, as I like to, I end with an image of our happy dog.