it was around 7.10 PM when the wheels of the smallish A320 craft made contact with the thick asphalt tarmac of the runway. right on schedule as the captain promised. the rain was pouring heavily. the SilkAir Airbus fleet, which numbers to about 14, is composed of these small A319 and A320 models. quite small. it is the same type of aircrafts used by PAL (Philippine Airlines) in its domestic routes, e.g. Cagayan de Oro to Manila. i was quite surprised that i should be riding on one for an international flight. i was expecting a bigger plane like a Boeing 747, or those twin-aisled cousins of the A320s. the SilkAir flight, codenamed MI588, from Mactan-Cebu International Airport to Changi International Airport took around 3 hours and 40 minutes. this scheduled trip was packed to almost full capacity at over a hundred seats.
the flight was mostly smooth on the way to Changi. turbulence was less at more than 11km above sea level. but 30 minutes to its destination it turned into rocky road. the tiny craft was wildly making dips and rolls as it was maneuvering down towards the island city-state. and it continued to shake for several minutes until it cleared the rain clouds. “this is why i always hate to fly,” i thought. my hands were at my sides and one was gripping the armrest so hard. my eyes were wandering rapidly from out the window and then to the barf bag tucked at the back of the seat in front of me. “oh the chicken curry.. .it tasted good,” i closed my eyes and remembered. this time, also, as my eyes were still closed i realized that my memory didn’t fail me on the Our Father. a ridiculous grin formed on my face after that. i was not amused at myself for being a scaredy-cat, but on how quick i was to remember and how it had been such a long time since i last recited The Lord’s Prayer. i looked out the window again and this time i could see land. thank God!
down below the night lights were already on although it wasn’t that dark yet. still at hundreds of feet above ground, i could make out what seemed to be a very long bridge-like structure connecting 2 bodies of land. maybe it was the Tuas Second Link? if conditions permitted me, i would probably have been over it twice just to see the Petronas Towers. i could see a lot of cargo ships of different sizes and probably passenger ships going all around. a very busy shipping lane, obviously. as the plane continued to near its destination i saw 2 small boats speeding inland, its wake white over the still visible water.
water streaked on the clear window glass as the plane taxied towards Changi terminal. i could see several aircrafts already parked. huge boeing 747s sitting idly and wet from the myriad of raindrops falling endlessly over the Lion City. when flight MI588 finally grounded to a halt another Singapore Airlines giant was parking beside it. the people were already up and about, busily going over the overhead compartments for their luggage. while i was still looking out the window, relieved and glad that i was back on the ground. i really hate flying. it was the end of the almost 4-hour trip and the beginning of a weekend of fun.