Plenty to Love Besides the Candy at Changi

Photo courtesy Changi Airport Group

I’ve made no secret of my affection for Singapore’s Changi Airport. But perhaps you don’t know that I also love chocolate. Which is why I was intrigued by a press release sent to me by the airport today announcing that when Americans pass through Singapore’s airport, the thing they most often buy is, you guessed it, chocolate.

My fellow Americans – we are so out there in our obsession with chocolate,  that we purchased 1.35 million boxes of chocolate at that airport last year.

I’ve been to Changi airport 3 or 4 times. I don’t remember buying chocolate there, ever. I do, however remember buying a Kit Kat bar at Tokyo’s Narita Airport. But before I tell you the story, let me preface it by saying, I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP.

My sister Lee (R) and I in Tokyo

My sister, Lee and I spent 10 days touring Tokyo, Sapporo and Narita in 2010, and we were leaving Japan reluctantly  to return to the States. On our way past the shops in the terminal at Narita International, we were drawn to a display  of wasabi-flavored Kit Kat bars.

Well of course, we had to buy one, though we were certain it would be awful. We tucked it away to eat later. That was a big mistake. Wasabi-flavored Kit Kat bars are delicious! But by the time we realized that, we were about to board the plane, too far away from the shop to go back and buy more.

Yes, it's a wasabi-flavored Kit Kat bar

Ruefully we realized we would have to leave with just the memory of this oddly yummy confection. We also must struggle every time we tell this tale because nobody believes us.

But if you go here you will learn all about the variety of flavored Kit Kat bars in Japan. And when you are done, you will understand that that candy bar was just another reason to appreciate the quirkiness of Japan.

The airport orchid garden, no kidding. Photo courtesy Changi Airport Group

But how did I get from Singapore to Japan? Well, that’s an easy question to answer. It’s easy to get from Singapore to just about anywhere because Changi is one of the fastest growing airport hubs  in the world,  serving 206 cities with 100 airlines. Those are the dazzling numbers, but that’s not why I’m raving about Changi.

This is an airport that gets it. As in, it understands what air travelers need and accommodates those needs without crowding them, herding them or nickel and dime-ing them.

And here’s what I mean about that. This is an airport that has a butterfly garden, a napping area with recliners, wifi access, secure charging stations for electronic devices  a television lounge and a movie theater and  all of the above is free.

Power down or juice up, it's free at Changi

Photo courtesy Changi Airport Group

For a nominal charge, travelers  can swim in the rooftop pool overlooking the runway or check into the by-the-hour hotel.  With all these diversions, I would have expected that passengers wouldn’t have time to shop at the 290 stores . But I’d be wrong.

Along with Australians, Chinese, Europeans, Indians and Indonsians, the press release tells me that Americans are the top spenders at the airport. But we’re doing the old red-white-and-blue proud with what we’re buying.

Electronics and the jewelry? Fuggedaboutit.  Shot glasses and tee shirts? Getoutahere.

We’re buying the good stuff, we’re buying the chocolate. Imagine how much we’d buy if only they sold it with wasabi.


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