A Rainy Friday Night in Singapore

Enroute to Borneo | Sitting next to a very nervous flyer

It was great to be back in Singapore, I’ve always loved its tidy orderliness, a place where things work, even zebra crossings, and in Asia that is some feat.

This time it was a little different. The masks were still on, hand sanitizers were out and hotel prices were up. This was Post COVID Singapore.

Lifeboss was searching online for Singapore hotels and mentioned prices had doubled and asked me ‘do you want a hotel room with a window?’

I’ve heard of wanting a room with a view but a room with a window? Some rooms were double the price because they had a window. Jeez. (Please no one tell the airlines about this). Whatever next? Beds as an upgrade? ‘Would you be wanting pillows with that bed sir?’

The rain was weak and refreshing, that type of rain when you’re in two minds on putting up an umbrella or prefering the freshness of a cooling rain-spray facial. At 80 degrees the choice is quite easy.

In Chinatown the roads glistened with reflections of neon lights, red paper lanterns and hazy petrol rainbows. Friday night was lit.

Rainy reflections in Singapore.

Shopping malls were a little quieter though. I didn’t even use Google erase.

The nervous flyer

The flight from London to Singapore was uneventful for me, but for the guy sat next to me it was an ordeal.

Now I’m not a big fan of flying, it’s not quite a fear of flying, more a fear of crashing, but the guy sat next to me was next-level.

I knew something was up when he kept looking around every now and again, at the toilet light, up the aisle, the drinks trolley etc. and he would occasionally stand outside the toilets and just come back to his seat again.

One hour in to the flight he told me sheepishly that he was scared of flying. A few months earlier he was sleeping on a flight and woke up to find the plane plummeting, people screaming, things falling upwards. He lifted his hands and prayed to Allah. He thought that was it, that his number was called. It was some seriously heavy turbulence that left him scared and scarred. This was his third attempt to board a flight after the ordeal, the previous two times he’d decided not to board after check-in, just at the gate.

I tried to help him with the usual facts about how safe flying is, and that you’re more likely to die from other deaths (crocodile attack, asteroid landing on your head, swallowing a pen lid etc.): some of this may have been poorly researched or just plain BS but I just wanted him to feel better. However when you have a phobia, hard scientific facts don’t really help; science is rational. Phobias aren’t.

Every time there was even a tiny bit of turbulence he would sit bolt upright, as if someone had put a broom handle up him, grip the handrests, and make a face as if he had severe constipation.

He said talking to somene helped him forget about his situation, so I started making up conversations with him to distract him. I found a few topics we both liked, like motorbikes, hiking and cricket, and although I love all these, I can’t really speak about them for 8 hours. So occasionally I would excuse myself to watch a movie and told him to tap me on the shoulder if he needed a chat. He tapped me at least four times during Top Gun Maverick.

When the flight attendant passed I explained to her that he was a nervous flyer so she came over, knelt beside him and tried to reassure him with further scientific facts. He was still a nervous wreck and just replied, ‘Please bring me a sleeping pill.’

‘Wait a minute,’ she said and went to the lockers. She came back a few minutes later. ‘This is for you,’ she said and placed a small packet on his tray. I was intrigued. Surely airlines don’t give out sleeping pills these days. He opened it up to find a Qatar Airways pen.

At the end of the flight he thanked me and left in relief, but I wonder if he ever uses his pen. It’s a nice gesture but I wonder if every time he looks at it it might just remind him that he has a return journey ahead.

Next stop: Borneo

Marina Bay Sands shoppes
Art Deco cafe


  1. It’d be a bitch to be afraid of flying, especially of big, safe, airliners – aka buses in the sky. The only time it got me concerned was once, way out over mid-Pacific, when we hit enough turbulence that even the flight attendants’ eyes were getting big. Well done for having the patience to deal with Mr. Fear of Flying.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re right Dave. I am never a fan of turbulence but then I just remember it’s like a boat on waves. this poor guy was on another level. I told him to look in to CBT or something like that, he may have some form of memory recall that’s affecting him.

      Liked by 1 person

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