Filed in Indonesia (2005), Travel

(the first of a series of articles related to my trip to Java and Bali in Indonesia)

There are shops all around me but I have nothing to buy.

There is food and restaurants all around but I had lunch only two hours ago, and I'm supposed to be watching my weight so eating just for the sake of eating is out of the question.

There's a movie theatre but I've already seen one movie today and I'll already spend much more time sitting down today than is healthy.

I'm being barraged from all sides by music that I don't want to hear.

I'm surrounded by people I don't know.

I'll be here for another two hours and I'm not allowed out.

I'm in prison. I'm in the Singapore Changi International Airport.

(Next article in this series: "A starry journey")


Comments (Comments are closed)

21 Responses to “Imprisoned”
  1. Eileen says:

    I spent 7 hours at Taipei CKS Airport in June when transferring to Vienna, I spent most of my time in the bookstore.

    I had experience waiting at singapore also, when going to Indonesia, but that was only 1 or 2 hours, so I just got a cup of coffee :P

  2. sapphire says:

    Welcome back! Holiday is never long enough, eh?

    Our experience’s total different from yours. We had a trip in June last year from here to Lisbon, Portugal for Euro Cup 2004. Due to a mechanical problem, leakage of hydraulic fluid with our aircraft, we were stuck in Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam about 5 to 6 hrs for another transfer freight to Lisbon. Fortunately we found a guided local tour that’s specially designed for those passengers like us in Schiphol, so we decided leaving the airport and experiencing some Dutch highlights outside for 3.5 hrs. Schiphol is very close to the heart of Amsterdam. It’s a pleasant experience and we took this as an extra bonus to our Euro Trip.

    Btw, congrats on your 100,000s hits. Did you know that your 100,000th hit’s recorded around 6:32 AM on Sept 20, HK Time? Coincidentally I was your 100,000th visitor on my birthday. Is there any souvenir to me for this so-called historic moment? * hhok :-) *

  3. Winnie says:

    I never looked at waiting at the airport for transfer flights this way, but it is SO very true. 2 years ago when my mom returned to HK she had to transfer to HK in Korean.

    For some reason, when we confirmed the flights on the phone with the airline, the connecting flight was supposed to be 08:00ish. but when she arrived at Soeul somehow the flight ended up being at 8pm (20:00ish).

    That was a horrifying experience, because my mom is a lady in her 60s alone who don't speak English OR Korean.

    She was lucky enough to run into other Chinese people who brought her phone cards and called. We phoned the airport police, emailed, etc to try to locate her. We were glad the she FINALLY arrived home, although 12 hour later than we expected. My poor mom she didn't even get to eat because she can't communicate to buy food.

    Actually the Chinese family were really nice and offered to take her to spend the 12 extra hrs with them in their hotel. But being alone in a foreign country not speaking the laungage she didn't go with them. All in all it was a terrifying experience for all of us...

  4. Sarah says:

    haha.... that bad huh? That reminds me of an article that I read yesterday. Few reporters of Singapore and Malaysia voluntarily enter Jail for 24 hours just to experience the feel of a prisoner!!

  5. 河國榮 says:


    it's not the same. the reporters know that they'll be out in 24 hours and the whole experience becomes totally different. if you knew that you'd be in there for 24 years, how would you feel? the reporters would also have protection so they wouldn't have to feel the fear of being raped or beaten at any second by other inmates.

    people have tried the same things with other situations: being a maid for 24 hours, a street sweeper for 24 hours, etc. the only people I've seen do this kind of thing pretty well are the people who made the "Super Size Me" movie. they went on to make a TV series called "30 Days" in which they or volunteers were placed into unwelcome situations for 30 days, enough time to really feel the effects. it was a good series and will hopefully continue with a second season.

  6. 河國榮 says:

    I was in the transit area for 2 hours, long enough to be bored and feel locked down but not long enough to take one of those very welcome local tours. the Singapore airport is one of the best I've been to, but when you're involuntarily locked in one place for any amount of time, it's the equivalent of being imprisoned.

  7. yinyin says:

    wow.... glad to c new dates////
    It has been like 10 days without updates..... But apart from the long devasted boring waiting, u enjoy ur holiday?
    Wel..... you just finish ur holiday and im gonna being my school holiday//.// So Happy... Finally.... But after the holdiay/..../. OMG..... School certificate....
    Waiting at the transit area for 2hrs is bad, but once i went back to hk that is when the sars period and my granpa is suffering from cancer my family and i have to like look after him, so he could be happy in his last journey. And when we got to the airport, it is so scary, we have to be check so detail that it feels that i have no rights at all/////
    Anyway.. Hey im a bit lost! U said u have gone to indo but how come ur in the Changi airport.....
    Any way Regards Yin ^_^

  8. 河國榮 says:

    Hong Kong > Singapore, Singapore > Bali

  9. yinyin says:

    that is alot of flying.....
    Isnt there r planes that go straight to Bali...
    Probably Singapore as a holiday.. right??
    I dont know got it all confusion.
    Doest matter.....>

  10. 河國榮 says:


    flying via Singapore was cheaper than flying direct to Bali.

    the bombing of a bar in Bali in 2002 is still hurting the Bali economy. while we were there, hotel occupancy was still low, reportedly around 70% of what it would have been before the bombing. we were very aware of the relatively low numbers of people walking around the streets of Bali.

  11. yinyin says:

    Wow wow wow.
    Quick answer....u r always online....
    Oops few typo "I dont know got it all confusion" suppose to be i dont know, got it all confuse.... Damn, mistakes. So so so sorry, T.T
    Wel, 2hr is enough to bored almost every people. Just wonder how those people who found themself guilty and have been put for jail for like 20years like Corbbey, i think i mis-spell her name. Seriously life without freedom is no life at all, no wonder so many people die for freedom. " life without freedom is like a bird with broken wings".
    Haha, this reminds me one of the Leslie's movie is about this bird, it never stops flying. It sleeps on the cloud when its tire and the only time its land is when it die, which is quite remarkable....
    Okay... I better stop for flooding this blog with my "fei hua" ( cant type chinese via in internet cafe)
    Vanish be4 getting kill...
    Seriously i need to get rid of the habbit of using sms languages.
    Nway. regards de Hapie Yin^_^( haha, u remember my chinese name^_^hapie)

  12. Elizabeth says:

    I love reading your's written so well. Anyway, do you know the author of blog? Apparently, he's also an extra in HK & I just found out about his blog. Both are your blogs are written so well...much better than the usual bloggers.

  13. sapphire says:

    OIC! 我還以為你坐的飛機突然壞了,所以要滯留在機場用 sleeping bag 過夜那麼慘無人道,好像坐監一樣。既然你的機票是 non- direct flight,你應該一早就知道要等兩小時才可轉機,事前做好準備,難道你沒有帶 "旅行三寶" 來傍身消磨時間嗎?
    看來你這篇文章一定不是旅行回港後寫的,從文章中的 tense 知道你應該是當日在機場等機悶到"發慌" 時用一些 handheld electronic device 記下來的?
    P.S. 請問你第二篇中文文章在 am 730 刊登了未?好心急想睇呀!

  14. yinyin says:

    Hey sapphire what is "旅行三寶"?

  15. 河國榮 says:


    thank you for the comments. it might seem weird but I'm actually familiar with the author of flyingchair. Phil and I used to work together on a radio talk show discussing IT related topics every week. that was several years ago.

    personally, I think his blog is great; full of wit and intelligent comments. he's a real sharp writer. I can understand why you would like to read his blog. his reader hits are naturally very very high.


    the Singapore airport has free internet access but all of the computers were being used. the airport also has desks with power sockets and ethernet sockets for people with portables to connect to the internet. I had my trusty green iBook with me but had locked my ethernet cable in my big luggage so was not able to connect to the internet.

    after walking around the airport for 45 minutes or so, I discovered the computer desks, sat down and wrote the above Imprisioned prose, so you were right. it was written during my trip; not after.

    after writing the prose, I began working with my music learning software on the iBook. I'm trying to train my ear to hear all kinds of music properties like intervals, chords, rhythm, etc. I was so involved in the exercises that I almost missed my connecting flight to Bali!! I arrived at the gate with just 2 minutes to spare.

    I'm working on my next am730 article. you'll probably see it within the next week or so ;-)

  16. Elizabeth says:

    Do you actually go work at an office location for your IT work everyday or do you usually just work from home? I wish I can work from home & have such freedom!

  17. 河國榮 says:


    the only IT work I do now is this blog which I work on from home.

  18. Elizabeth says:

    So your main job right now is in TV work? I guess it takes up most your time.

  19. sapphire says:

    >>>Hey sapphire what is "旅行三寶"?

  20. yinyin says:

    OH I C, usually 我去travelling 我好中意TRavelling within Australia,international 太贵拉 For time killer 我会带MP3(听来听去都是哥哥的歌同张学友),我部好old的NIKON4300 Camera 同埋 Lemony Snicket 的 A series of Unfortunate Events 书. (满好看得),以前是MP3,JUNK FOOD and 睡觉,不过现在要manage 一下weight, not lose weight but certainly not gaining weight lol.

  21. yinyin says:

    Last saturday there is these terrorism attack again and my friend were having holiday at Bali.... Luckily she was undamage....
    ....It seems traveling become one of the most unsafe thing to do.....
    Wow... luckily you left days before the attack.....
    Cannot imagine the scenery....