Mike’s comments regarding his recent stopover in Japan struck a chord that has been resonating within me for a week or two. Redgannet was originally conceived as a way to encourage my colleagues (in case you haven’t read the profile, I w...
Mike’s comments regarding his recent stopover in Japan struck a chord that has been resonating within me for a week or two. Redgannet was originally conceived as a way to encourage my colleagues (in case you haven’t read the profile, I work as a flight attendant for an international airline) out of the shops and their hotel rooms to experience something that the local natural scene has to offer. My success in this respect has been very modest, but Mike caused me think that instead of trying to drag folk from their beds, I should be sharing with people who are passing through, either in transit or on a layover.
I usually write about sites accessible from the cities that I visit, but seldom make any mention of sites that can be reached from the airport. For passengers passing through with transit times of more than a couple of hours, such an opportunity could be just what they are looking for. Perhaps I have missed my calling.
Let’s take Singapore’s Changi International Airport as an example; it is a huge hub airport with large numbers of people passing through in transit to Australia, Indonesia and south-east Asia. Anyone with more than a couple of hours to kill could easily make a quick birding foray out from the airport. The clean, easy and modern Subway/Metro system here is known as the SMRT (map, and fare/time calculator link) and there is a station at the airport (Google Earth cut and paste ref; 1°21’27.49″N 103°59’20.64″E (If you don’t already have Google Earth, it can be downloaded for free at this link)). Alternatively, taxis are cheap and plentiful.
Asian Glossy Starling
Here are two sites that I visit regularly which can easily be reached from the airport by SMRT or taxi cab and given a cursory look within a couple of hours. If you knew there was an Asian Glossy Starling close by wouldn’t you want to go looking for it? But, remember to be back in plenty of time for your onward flight!
Some time management tips;
It may take some time to disembark and fulfill the formalities. Allow 30-40 minutes from landing to getting out of the airport and return to the airport with a minimum of an hour before your next flight.
Check your hold luggage all the way through from your airport of origin to your destination and obtain a boarding card for your next sector at the same time. This will leave you less time stressed on your return to the airport.
If you wish to leave the airport during your transit, you will need to present a landing card to immigration. Request a card and complete it on-board to make the most of your time.
Have a small amount of Singaporean dollars to pay for taxis, trains and drinks. A taxi from the airport to Singapore Botanic Gardens could cost S$20 – 30 depending on traffic, so bring at least S$60 (Exchange rate calculator). If you don’t get to spend it, you can use it on board, or change it back later.
Taxi v SMRT – The SMRT is the excellent, clean, safe, reliable, cheap transport system of Singapore. It will cost just over S$2 per passenger for the same journey to the Botanic Gardens. The SMRT is predicted to take 50 minutes to the gardens, but a cab would probably manage it in 30 minutes. Taxis can usually be found quickly and easily unless it is raining.
Don’t carry too much hand baggage. You will either have to leave it at the airport and collect it later (using up precious time), or carry it with you in hot, humid conditions.
Below are details for Paser Ris and Singapore Botanic Gardens.
My favourite site in Singapore is Paser Ris. It is easy to get to and from and very easy to get around. The birding is not exceptional, but you can easily see some of Singapore’s and South-east Asia’s more common species and it does throw up the occasional jewel. Occasionally there are days like this!
Paser Ris is a small park within 10kms of the airport, probably about 15 mins in a cab. Taxis are easy to find from the airport and would be easy to