If you look at a map of the world, or even just a map of Asia, Singapore and Australia look pretty close. Those maps are no doubt based on fifteenth-century sketches by Columbus’s mapmaker, Toscanelli, because it was no less than seven long hours by jet from Sydney. I arrived just after midnight, not my favorite time to deal with Customs and Immigration officials. Why aren’t there any normal flights on this project? I wondered a thousand times before landing at Changi, voted the Best Airport in the World by business travelers every year for the past quarter of a century.
Changi is a big, sprawling place, just like dozens of other airports around the world. It handles roughly the same amount of passenger traffic annually as New York’s JFK, but there the similarities stop. Although it’s not an architectural marvel like some of its newer Asian rivals, it exudes an unusual combination of warmth and efficiency.
I breezed through the airport even faster than I’d expected (Changi had certainly earned its reputation) and was out on the street. In less than a minute I found a cheap, fast shuttle bus directly to my hotel downtown.
The next morning, I had the doorman of my hotel flag a cab and gave him the address of the main ORIX office. Of course, I had forgotten how small Singapore really is, and especially the downtown area. ORIX was conveniently located right downtown, a pleasant change from my travels in Sydney. And unlike the Australian ...