Transit went smoothly. SilkAir MI184 from CNS to SIN, and then SQ362 from SIN to ARN via DME. I had initially planned to get out of the airport in Singapore, and get on my feet for a few hours and do some exploring, but two people warned me against it, and seeing the precautions in place at the airport, I fully understand why.
As of 11th February 2020, the novel Coronavirus outbreak is still going strong, with over 43'000 cases globally. (Full sitrep from the WHO) but, less than 400 of those cases are outside China. Regardless of how serious the disease actually is, it's for damn sure people are aware of it and taking decisive action. Each of the three flights I took from CNS all the way to ARN had announcements about the arriving destination's test and control procedures. (Each country, apart from Sweden, had some form of body temperature screening. In Singapore, major gateways through each terminal were hooked up with military and medical personel, manning arrays of IR cameras, pulling over anyone likely running a fever. In Moscow, before we were allowed to disembark and transit, several serious looking military personel screened each passenger with an IR camera. At least in economy, no-one was detained - I wouldn't like to be detained in Russia...
In Singapore specifically, face masks are sold out completely. I'd say maybe 5 out of 10 people were wearing one, in some effort to combat getting infected. I went to try find some nasal decongestent, and as soon as I entered a pharmacy in the terminal, I was swarmed by at least three people trying to sell me at least the following: Vitamin C tablets, fishoil tablets, tissue packs, chicken soup bases, homeopathy... Set to cure the nCOV2019 it seems!
Probably the biggest hitch was in Moscow. The wings iced over while landing, and after sitting at the terminal for our 1.5 hour stopover, we weren't able to take off until that was remedied. We sat on the tarmac for an hour while they got out some machines, and sprayed the wings down and applied anti-freeze. That was a pretty cool thing to watch from a window seat.
I breezed through immigration in Sweden, so I'm officially here for the next three months. I've also never been here during winter, so this is a totally new experience for me - I love it so far.
A couple of thoughts, from someone's who spent their whole life in hot, tropical northern Australia:
1) Cold water from the tap is cold. I measured it with a food thermometer early this morning when it's at it's coldest and it read 7.7 degrees C... No need to chill water in the fridge!
2) The temperature is not friendly to a lot of wildlife that you'd see in the warmer months. There aren't any insects (thank god there are no cicadas), and there aren't many birds (they've all migrated south), so in the quieter parts of town, it's like being rural in terms of noise levels. Sounds do travel further in the cold though, so a highway off in the distance is more like a gentle rushing noise, which makes the landscape a bit serene.
3) There's much less daylight at this time of year. In north QLD, it varies by up to an hour or so, but here the sun has set by 16:30, and doesn't rise until 7:30, which makes it weird waking up and going to sleep.
4) Across Sweden, most times are represented in 24-hour format, and frequently, fluids are measured in centilitres (cl) and decilitres (dl). 1cl is 10ml, and 1dl is 100ml.
5) Furniture is cheap at IKEA. That's nice.
When it's snowy and wet and cold, roads become a hazard. The Swedes combat this with a combination of "Everyone needs special tyres during the winter months." and "Cover all the roads with gravel and salt to help with traction." It means you have to wash your car at least twice a month, or else it becomes absolutely filthy, AND the chassis starts to corrode. It's like driving your car around on a salt flat all the time.
I had a lot of fun writing this post up, sorting through my best photos, and laying it all out nicely. That's a good sign, I reckon - it should mean I do it as much as I planned to initially - at the very least I need to make sure I get my money's worth from the hosting and the domain name.