It was night time when we arrived in Dallas, and early morning when we left. I dozed off after all, despite having tried to stay awake the entire night. Overslept, after sleeping for a grand total of two hours. So from then on it was a mad rush to the airport to get everything checked in.

The security policies at the checkpoint were rather stringent. They had to check all fluid items brought on board, as well as all cameras and laptops. At one point I even had to take off my shoes! What a hassle! But of course, safety comes first.

American Airlines plane

Said one last goodbye to America, and it was time to board the plane!

Thirteen hours on a plane… That’s no joke man. Luckily this time round I got an aisle seat. But I sat next to a Korean lady who was very unfriendly and very rude. At one point when I was sleeping, she decided to crawl over me just to get out. Couldn’t she just go the other way?

The flight attendants looked pissy too. I’m starting to think it’s a race thing. Don’t wanna play the race card here, but if we were caucasians we probably would have received better treatment. Don’t get me wrong. I love America and its friendly people. But too many of them assume that Asians cannot speak English. I had an American man telling me he wouldn’t come to Singapore because he “wouldn’t know the language”. Hell, most of us speak at least two languages here.

But let’s get back to the flight. The meals were decent. Pasta and pizza!

Lunch on American Airlines

I thought those lemon cookies would taste weird. But they were yummy!

Dinner on American Airlines

It was really difficult going through those thirteen hours. That’s equivalent to the length of time from waking up at 9 in the morning to sleeping at 10 at night! And for almost the entire time I had to be sitting in my cramped seat next to a pissy woman and served by a pissy crew. Argh!

The plane finally touched down in Tokyo. yatta! And I bought a ton of cosmetics from the duty-free stores. One cannot leave Japan without buying any cosmetics! Unless you’re a man of course. And the variety of snacks and candy they have is just amazing!

Hello Kitty strawberry & milk chocolate

Hello Kitty strawberry & milk chocolate! I love those!

Chicken-shaped pastries with white bean filling

White bean pastries in the shape of chickens. Totally adorable!

Rice cakes with milk

Rice cakes with milk!

Rice cakes with chocolate

Rice cakes with chocolate! Yummy!

Rice crackers in kimonos

Kimono-wearing rice crackers! Haha!

Assorted cakes

Assorted cakes in various colours!

Hello Kitty sponge cakes with cheese, green tea & pudding cream

More Hello Kitty! These are sponge cakes with cheese, green tea and pudding cream. Sounds yummy, but what’s pudding cream?

After this trip I really learned to appreciate our Singapore Changi Airport. Checking in and out are a breeze. And the skytrain system is just awesome. I had to bring 80kg worth of equipment and personal luggage back to Singapore on my own. While I could check in 60kg of it, it was still a challenge lugging the remaining 20kg around, especially when you could travel only by bus from one terminal to the other.

The seven-hour flight back on Japan airlines was a real luxury though. It was a night flight so there weren’t many passengers. I managed to get the entire row of three seats all to myself! Yay! If I had bothered to ask for a business-class seat, I probably would have gotten it.

Flight safety video

I don’t normally watch the flight safety video they play at the beginning of each flight. But this one made me pay attention because it was so cute! Instead of using real people, Japan airlines has designed an animation instead.

Meal on Japan Airlines

The meal of moonfish rice with curry was awesome! In addition to having great food and a spacious seat, I got to do all my favourite things as well. I completed Michael crichton’s sphere, which is my most favourite novel of all time (I think I read that novel at least ten times in my life!), and saw my most favourite movies in 2006, the devil wears Prada and the lake house. It was pure bliss!

Pontianak is a real place!

Plus, I learned something new too! Did you know that Pontianak is a real place? For those not in the know, a Pontianak is a kind of vampire that preys on virgins. Reading those ghost stories about them really terrified me when I was young!

Vanilla ice cream

Nearing the end of the flight, we were treated to vanilla ice cream! It must be a bonus because it wasn’t printed on the flight menu. Yummy! I love Japan airlines! It ranks next to Cathay pacific as my favourite airline.

Overall, this has been a very fruitful trip that wasn’t just about work, but new experiences as well. I learned quite a number of things. How to be nicer to strangers, for example.

In Dallas, people are extremely polite to one another. They smile at strangers, and take time to ask “how are you”. They are very outspoken too. When I was at Victoria’s secret browsing through their hair product range (yes, hair products), a man who was doing some advanced Christmas shopping started conversing with me about gifts for his wife. Haha!

Now that I’m back in Singapore, I try to smile more as well. But the smiling culture here is almost non-existent, which explains why we had that bizarre smiles campaign earlier this year. Even if I tried to smile more, the thought of other Singaporeans finding it weird is quite discouraging.

As Singaporeans we tend to avoid the gaze of other people, and we walk around with a perpetually tensed or bored look. Why don’t we all start smiling more?

I’m gonna start a smiles campaign too! From now on let’s all start smiling at strangers, shall we? If someone happens to catch your gaze, smile! If someone knocks into you by accident, smile! If someone smiles at you, smile! This way we would be a much happier and more pleasant society!

Who’s with me?