Travel isn’t always smooth…

​I write this as I sit on yet another plane early in the morning. This sounds selfish and a tad arrogant but having moved to Dublin a couple of months ago I’ve spent a lot of time in the airport going home to my family in London, nothing to exotic or luxurious! This mornings events made me think of all those times when I’ve had bad travel…some are small and some make you question every decision you’ve made…

In my grand old age of 26 I’ve discovered I can’t cope without coffee. This morning proved that. Arriving later than I would like at the airport, 45minutes before my flight which is cutting it very fine in my eyes, I speed through the airport cursing the fact that I don’t think I have time to get a coffee. I stride through with the clip clop of my shoes echoing through the terminal. I arrive at my gate, I see a seat and happy to know that I’ve got there in plenty of time, no one has even started queuing yet. Very odd, people seem to love to queue before the gates open…panic sets in, I know something’s not right…crap I’ve gone to the wrong gate! I can’t see the departure sign and my flight is due to take off in 25 minutes, what if it’s the other side of their terminal? Calm, breath, it will be okay. 20 minutes till take off. Panic. Breath. Walk, just walk. I finally spot the departure board. The gate is close, I relax, I take a seat, and obviously there is so much time I could have crawled and got to my gate in time! 
Vietnam to Cambodia, its dark, its the middle of the night, okay it’s 9.30pm, but its pitch black and we are in the middle of nowhere. But let’s rewind and explain how we ended up there. We had done a “tour” on the Mekong Delta, really relaxing, saw coconut candy being made (was delicious!), got to wear a “traditional” Vietnamese hat (I was probably more excited than I should have been), went to a bee farm (cute) and saw a python (less cute!). It had been a really fun day. We all got back on this tiny very touristy bus but the two of us were soon turfed off and left at a bus stop ready to get a local bus but being told we would be dropped at our hostel. Didn’t think too much of it, must be totally normal we told ourselves. So we got on this sleeper bus and layer down and dozed…hours past, we were told it would only take two, something wasn’t right, we should have got there by now…it’s fine, we’ve learnt that nothing runs on time here it’s always a guess. It’s now dark. We have no idea whereabouts in Vietnam we are. The bus stops, a guy tells us to get off we are there, where there is I still have no idea. There was nothing, you could hardly see two meters in front of you. And low and behold there are two convenient motorcycles there, “happy to help”, “give us your bags we take you” they say. Oh hell no, I do not part with my bag and I do not get on strangers bikes (well in the middle of the night I don’t!). We look at each other and prepare ourselves for walking, we didn’t know where or what direction all we knew was we are walking quickly away from them. And that’s what we did…we walked until we spotted people. No English. They pointed and we thanked them in Vietnamese and carried on. Half an hour later we saw lights and instantly relieved. A hotel, not ours and very fancy looking one for the middle of nowhere but it meant people and a bed if we needed it. The concierge was amazing, so sweet and pointed us to where our hostel was. We had walked 2km in the dark with our backpacks and we’ve never been so happy to see a dirty smelly hostel. I still wonder what would have happened if we got on those bikes…
Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City – that moment when you arrive in a city having just got off a ridiculously long train and just need to dump your bags and get some food. Guy comes up to you and says centre? You assume he’s a taxi driver as that’s what they all do, you haggle and follow. So that’s what we did. But it got strange very quickly…we passed all the other taxis and he then pointed at his car…a plain white people carrier (very similar to one my grandparents had when I was growing up, comforting in a way). And then you see it’s full of cleaning products. This guy is definitely not in any way a legit driver. Safe to say we backtracked quickly. He yelled and we walked faster. We pretty much threw ourselves into a taxi, no haggling. We didn’t care. We honestly felt that that moment we could have had our finger tips burnt off and the car would have been bleached clean…we would have never been there. 
Netherlands, Amsterdam – early mornings are not my friend. Having left my friends at 5am I was tired, that’s my excuse anyways. This is only the second time I’ve left a foreign country on my own and not gone home. As I’m sure you’ve all realised I’m a nervous traveller. Once I’m in a country I’m fine. But getting there I panic, sweat and want to cry, every time without fail. And this time was no exception. I get off the plane and walk for ages. Amsterdam airport is massive!! Took at least 20 minutes to get through it. I queued for the ticket machine, and with lots of people behind me I wanted to be quick. It’s so straight forward it literally spells it out for you “city centre” easy. I choose that, get a return and rush to the platform, 2 minutes to my train. Run!!! I get on, get a seat. See the time. Crap. My train should have already left why is it still here. Ah, this is not my train, my train has definitely already gone. It’s fine, hop back off, and boom the doors literally close in front of me. Hmmm. Now what. I have a ticket clearly marked for the centre and I’m on a train to who knows where. Stay calm is what I keep saying. Don’t cry. It’s fine. Just get off at the next station and go back and start again. 15 minutes until the next stop, annoying but that’s just one of those things. Maybe if I had stopped and read the sign and not acted like a Londoner I wouldn’t have been in this mess. Then the ticket lady rocks up. Ahh no valid ticket. I start babbling, apologising a lot for only speaking English, didn’t even mentioned my ticket just babbled about only speaking English and how sorry I was that I hadn’t learnt Dutch, or German or French. She smiles, laughs and obviously replies in perfect English. She clearly pitties me. And tells me to get off in two stops time and there will be a train to the centre on platform five. I mange this, semi proud of myself before realising if I hadn’t been so stupid in the first place I wouldn’t have been in this situation! I get on the fast track train and realise still no valid ticket as it clearly states the airport to the centre. I’m so tense that by the time I get off I’m just so relieved that  I didn’t get a fine it takes me a few minutes to realise I’m in the picturesque Amsterdam! 
I’ve had many moments like these but these three stick out. These are the moments of travel that I look back on and always seem to wonder “what if”…so many different outcomes. I would like to say it’s been due to quick thinking, I’m smart and I worked it out. But in reality, I’ve been lucky. Some how it’s just worked out. What I have tried to learn is not not panic, clearly this morning shows I’m still learning that. But that’s really it, things will go wrong. Travel is not smooth but you’ll learn from it and at the end of the day, that’s what matters. 

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One thought on “Travel isn’t always smooth…

  1. This made me smile; not the bit about you being in danger, but the fact that you are nervous until you get there. That’s me too. Even though I travel so much, I don’t relax until I get there.

    Liked by 1 person

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