My boyfriend, Ashley, makes films. So, there was no option but for a film to be made of our travels together in Asia. Here’s the result…Enjoy! Oh, and the beautiful song that makes me want to close my eyes when I’m driving is by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros. No surprises, it’s called Home.
So here I am, typing away in my bedroom, sat on my bare matress getting ready to leave at 12 for take two. On the 2nd of August.
I know right, I should be sat in a Saudi Arabian airport paying 100000000 Saudi Riyal per minute to type this! Well, things didn’t quite go to plan. If you read the last post, you’ll know that I was pooping my pants a little about my Saudi transit. Thankfully, all the kerfuffle was this side of the check-in desk and I’m all booked to fly EMIRATES (yeah, uh huh, screw you Saudi Arabia Airlines!) through DUBAI (yeah, uh huh, screw you Riyadh!) to Singapore arriving a mere 5 hours after my expected arrival time of the past 6 months.
I’ll start from the beginning….
We arrive at the airport, I head over to the check-in desk, we queue for ages because quite a few people have more bags than there are people in the queue. One woman literally had 4 trolleys worth of huge suitcases. I’m glad I didn’t get on that plane it wouldn’t have made it very high off the ground. Anyway, we’re queueing, making friends with the woman behind me in the queue (who was, I would like to add, bigging up Emirates!)…..eventually, we get to the front of the queue. Man asks to see my passport and ticket. He says:
“Are you aware this is a 21 hour stop?”
“No, what, really, what, what’s an hour?”
“Yes, I’m actually rather good at incredibly simple maths.”
No, seriously, I played innocent:
“Yeah, I’m staying in the airport, it’s a long time, I know. Ha.” Attempting to laugh it off.
He calls his client over, we have the same conversation. She says “You’ll need a visa for being there more than 18 hours,” I tell her I know and that I’ll be staying in the airport and I know it’s a long time in an airport but I’m prepared for that and she says, “Ok, if you’re staying in the airport, it’ll be fine.”
I get called to the check-in desk, no time to say goodbye to my new found friend (who would have been in the airport for 3 hours – someone to talk to!). The man there was not as nice, very grumpy, very grizzly, very I’m-talking-about-you-on-the-phone-and-I’m-not-going-to-tell-you-what-I’m-saying…y. He said I wasn’t allowed to fly without a visa and that I’d need to see what the “airline ticket service” desk could do. Basically he passed the buck. Coward.
So we trot over to the “airline ticket service” desk. I’m feeling pretty angry at this point. Not surprisingly, I think it’s fair to say. The people there were lovely, still refused me but they were much nicer about it than grumpy grizzle guts at check-in. They said there was nothing they could do for me other than advise me to call my travel agent who sold me the ticket. At this point, I’d like to make it clear that I purchased the ticket as one product, therefore, as far as I’m concerned, meaning that the travel agent had deemed it possible for me to make this journey. The “airline ticket service” folk told me that it was an illegal connection and I shouldn’t have been sold the ticket without appropriate visa advice from my travel agent, which I was not given. Fuming, I left the “airline ticket services” desk and burst into tears. Again, not surprisingly, I think it’s fair to say.
Me and my boyfriend went and sat down and hunted for a telephone number for the travel agent. I then made a very angry 15 minute phone call to Shervin or whatever he said his name was. He started arguing with me! Surely if you’re representing your company, regardless of someone being rather annoyed with you at the other end, you keep as calm as possible, you can’t argue back!! Apparently “the system” is to blame for the whole thing because “the system” is responsible for making this a possible flight combination. Ridiculous.
My favourite line from the phone call was:
Shervmin: “How do you expect “the system” to tell you if you need a visa?”
Being quite taken aback by this and not feeling the need to reply with a rant about how computers and “systems” were controlling the entire airport I was sat in and were controlling the plane I should have been heading for I opted for:
“How do I expect a computer to tell me something?! Because we’re living in 2011, my friend!”
What an idiot Charmin was. No use. “non-refundable” and “non-changable” and “system” were clearly embedded into his little mind, and the fact that his company could make a mistake was beyond belief. “The system” avoids mistakes for them, of course!
After finding out from the Malaysian Airlines lady that the only ticket they could offer me via Kuala Lumpur to Singapore was over a grand, we headed over to arrivals to use the overpriced and underpowered internet. And that’s when we found my new flight. Luckily.
One thing our friend Shervmir had suggested (I say one thing, really the only thing, he was absolutely useless) was to ask the airline for a partial refund. So once we were all sorted I suddenly remembered his little bit of advice and we trotted over to ask at “airline ticket services”. The same nice woman was there, and she remembered me. She said she’d need to ask her manager – who was the first woman who had said it’d be ok. She ok-ed me flying and said they could fax something over!!!!
What a joke! That really was
the cherry the icing, on top of the cherry, on top of a huge, dirty cake of bad luck.
What I learnt from yesterday:
- Be prepared for the rest of the trip re: visas, onward travel info etc
- Boss knows best – don’t listen to the people at grassroots level, if you want something ask for the big boss, worth a shot
- Saudi Arabia sounds pretty dull, or so according to my new found and never to be found again friend behind me in the queue
- DON’T USE TRAVELPACK
- “The system” can be blamed for anything
…I’ll be on a plane to Singapore from Saudi Arabia…hopefully.
This week I’ve been double checking the visa situations in the countries I’m planning to visit. You don’t need to apply for a transit visa for Saudi Arabia – oh, that is if you’re there for less than 18 hours.
I’m there for 21.
Ok then, so it looks like I’m gonna need a transit visa.
Right, scroll down the page….you cannot apply if: you’re a lady travelling without a male relative.
Oh right, ok, brilliant.
So am I going to be detained?
Thrown to the wolves that are so common at all international airports these days?
I’m hoping none of the above. I have no choice but to risk those three teeny weeny hours not causing me any problems. And then, this time next week, I’ll be on a plane to Singapore from Saudi Arabia…hopefully.
It’s gradually sinking in. Just how long I’ll be away from people I’m so used to being around, routines I’m so used to following…
It’s starting slowly, the realisation hit me this morning that I won’t see my boyfriend’s mother for 6 months. But I’m still blissfully unaware of how long I’ll be away from him, or even my own mother!
I’ve tutored French and Spanish to pay for the bulk of my trip and my first last session was today…if that makes sense?! I finished with one of my tutees – the first one I’ve finished with…hopefully that’s a bit clearer! Why are we finishing? Because I’m nearly leaving!! < That’s it sinking in!
Then I went to my second class of the evening and she took a photo and I realised that this is my last hectic Wednesday!! I’ve cursed the late Wednesday for ages now it’s over and I’m going to miss it! So at 8 o’clock next Wednesday, and the Wednesday after that, and the next Wednesday after that, I will have eaten my dinner by 8pm rather than walking though the door to heat it up. Nice thought but also kinda sad – I think the word I’m looking for is bittersweet.
After months of waiting, and smiling sweetly at the continual “not long now’s”, and thinking “Oh, I’ve got ages to wait before I need to start buying the little stuff”, it’s now actually rather close and ebay is calling for last minute tops that cover my shoulders (not only to avoid offending the locals but also to keep the sun burn peel at bay!), travel adapter plugs with USB holes and all sorts of things that I purposefully left to the last minute….hang on then, am I now in “the last minute?” ooooo!
I’ve been lucky enough to spend last weekend with my fiancée friend Grace at Whittlebury Hall Spa (closed this weekend – when we originally wanted to go – due to the Grand Prix at Silverstone!) and to be whisked off to Paris next weekend by my amazing boyfriend so it still feels like a while until I head East.
But maybe, this frantic ebaying is a sign that I actually do accept, even subconsciously, just how close I am to heading out to Singapore. I think so. 🙂
This month has been rather successful. Maleria tablets are now sat on my chest of drawers, the perfect backpack now sits in my wardrobe; both poised ready for the 1st of August! All that is left to arrange now is travel insurance. That’s gotta be a half an hour job surely?
I have 6 weeks left until the final exam of my current Open University course and then the countdown really is on. Bring it on!
buy maleria tablets
Done!…well, strictly speaking not yet. BUT, I do have the best price now and will buy them later today!! Exciting!
So here we are. Less than 4 months until I leave for Singapore, my springboard to the rest of SEA.
- Saving cash? Check!
- Injected? Check!
- Everything else I need? Err…not quite….I think the to-do list is longer than the done list at the moment!…
To- Do List
- Buy backpack
- Buy maleria tablets
- Buy travel insurance
- Buy all those things I see in the travel shops that will most definitely, undoubtedly have a purpose somewhere along the journey. Yes, they will definately get used…
Ooo, maybe only slightly longer, that’s positive!
Question 1 is normally “Where are you going?”. Well, I have no set list but lots of ideas. Hopefully…
- South Korea
I guess only time will tell.