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Sustainability

One cold piece of bread later

 
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One cold piece of bread later

*spongebob narrator voice*

a quarter-century old

Last month I turned 25. My morning was relatively uneventful and I spent it with my loved ones, including a visiting cousin from Taiwan and my evil prince Memow (you may also call him 小王子 or 咪猫).

I was scheduled to fly back that night around 7pm something and land in SG around 9. I’d go home, call home to let Memow know that I was ok and that he could have his (my former) room back, scavenge around for something to eat, shower, and then go to bed.

What happened instead, was this:

(not) according to plan

Everything seemed to be ok, and I’ve taken night flights to Penang many, many times. But after circling Changi for a while, our captain made an announcement: we were literally flying in circles above the airport because there were sightings of an unauthorised drone, and if we didn't get clearance from Changi within the next 10 minutes, we’d be flying to JB. There were about 10 — 15 other planes airborne which were also diverting to Batam (Indonesia) or JB as well. Also we didn’t have enough fuel.

So 10 minutes pass, and Captain comes back on to inform us and the crew to prepare for our descent. The crew prepares. And then one final PSA: we were going to JB.

an unexpected delay

Several things: I wasn’t angry, or mad, or extremely frightened (even though the possibility of getting into an accident because of the rogue drone was real). Instead, I felt like the situation was kind of funny. Funny because there was nothing we, or our pilots, or even the Changi officials so far, could do. We could only carry on. And half and hour later we are parked in Senai International Airport. We can’t disembark and board a bus to Singapore (something I’ve never done yet), we can’t fly because the air controllers haven’t given us permission yet, and the ensuing congestion meant too many planes and too little space. We had to stay put, and at 1am (when I was finally asleep), we were given the green light.

The crew, which were very professional throughout, sprung into action. Usually when people board planes, they take their own time to stow their belongings, turn off their devices, and prepare themselves. This time everyone moved at lightning-speed. Seatbelts buckled, belongings stowed, lights dimmed. We made it back, safe and sound, and I think the crew and captain did a good job of pacifying us. During emergencies when the 💩 hits the fan, you learn a great deal more about your job and yourself.

so how does this all relate to sustainability?

Well, since I was on a budget flight, meals aren’t included in the airfare. I didn’t eaten dinner at the airport and didn’t book a meal either. My water bottle was only half-full when I boarded the plane, and by the time our plane was flying to JB, I knew that if I didn’t stay hydrated, my already-ticklish and dry throat would lead to a cough.

So I did what any reasonable person would do: I bought plastic water bottles and packaged food.

on tonight’s menu

  1. 2 bottles of water (the sticker has since been peeled off. I think I’m going to turn these into planters).

  2. 1 tasty but thawed, cold piece of ciabatta which my mum baked the day before. She usually sends me back home with a few frozen loaves and I’m very grateful to have had food on my person.

  3. 1 cup of mushroom & seaweed instant noodles for when I got hungry again sometime around midnight. Hot food would have been my #1 choice, but during the flight hot food already ran out. I didn’t wait long enough or properly stir the noodles with the plastic fork, and ended up with half-cooked ramen noodles (its hay-like taste and texture is very nostalgic and brings me back to my freshman year).

  4. 1 free cup of packaged water which the Airasia staff distributed about 3 hours in. I wish they had started giving out free water (at the very least) when the plane landed in JB, but I understand that the staff and ground staff had to get clearance and scramble to appease and provide for us.


And then there was also the free milo juice box and a packet of Oreos which the Changi customer service staff greeted us with when we were collecting our baggage at around 2am in the morning.

the moral of the story

  1. Don’t recklessly fly drones anywhere near any airport. Please. Use common sense.

  2. Traveling with snacks is always a good idea.

  3. While it is good to pledge yourself seriously to sustainability, there is always room for a little grace.

I’m grateful that there was clean food and water available for us and it was very welcome, plastic and all.

I think I’m probably (hopefully?) a little wiser than I was a year ago, and even looking back at my past post on perfectionism, I think I often set a lot of well-intentioned but unrealistic goals for myself. Although I want to keep pursuing a less-wasteful and more mindful lifestyle, habits take time to develop. It’s more sustainable 😉 to make small, doable, realistic, and thoughtful changes instead of grandiose declarations.

And with that, I wish you all safe travels and a bag-full of snacks!