Five Days on the Rollercoaster

Pardon me for not updating my site, it’s been a long time since I’ve this much excitement in the span of five days.

One disadvantage about living in residence is the rigid moving in and checking out dates. The administration has reasons for enforcing these dates strictly: we’ve to clear out for the summer students before their semester starts and vice versa. But this creates a major inconvenience for international students like me who have to schedule their flights according to these dates.

The situation was further aggravated this summer after WHO lifted its travel advisory on Sars affected countries and many Asian students rushed to book flights back to their home countries. I’ve only managed to book my flight at an inflated price and secured an August 28 departure date from Singapore, four days before I was allowed back in New College. That was not a real problem since I’ve made arrangements to bunk over at Todd’s apartment.

But things began to unravel in mid August. Todd was going back to Taiwan and I was desperately looking for a place to stay to avoid the fate of sleeping on the streets. Then I got news that one of my cousins is getting married on September 5 while another is tying the knot in Taiwan on September 7. What’s more, Megan would be celebrating her first birthday on September 6.

It made sense for me to postpone my flight, but this was only the start of my troubles. I need to transit in London before reaching Toronto, but for whichever dates SIA was able to arrange a flight for me to London, AC couldn’t provide a connecting flight and vice versa.

I was put on the waiting lists for three flights and as time slowly runs out, alternative plans must be made. I tried to upgrade my seat class but it wasn’t allowed; my ticket would be considered a round-the-world ticket if I change my return route to via the Pacific Ocean, which meant I have to pay a hefty sum for the change; and it would have been too risky for me to take a flight to London first and hope someone fails to turn up for the flight to Toronto.

Although London isn’t my favourite city, the best alternative was a 12-hour transit in Heathrow airport. This was when SIA dropped the bombshell: my ticket only allows me to stopover twice, and I’ve already stopped over twice in London and Singapore. I would have to check in for my connecting flight immediately after I reach London and hope that security doesn’t chase me out of the transit lounge if I have a boarding pass. At least now I have my flight confirmed, one day before my scheduled departure tomorrow.

I’m glad I have such wonderful parents who helped me out these past few days. My mum made countless phone calls to SIA and many travel agencies to enquire about my flight; she even called up my travel agent in Toronto.

And my dad’s the one paying for my flight, isn’t he wonderful?

27 August 2003 · My Life

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