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My Bittersweet Travel Experience

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by SGBV, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. SGBV

    SGBV Finest Post Winner

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    Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in this world.

    Amidst a lot of travel experiences, this one was a bittersweet memory that I would like to share with you all.

    Last year around this time, I had planned my Christmas vacation to Sri Lanka. For me, Christmas starts from Thanks giving, and it ends the day after the New year. Everything between is so special, and celebrated.

    As you all know, the air tickets would be very expensive around Christmas times, so I had to book them in advance to get the best price and comfy travel experience.
    However, last year I had so many other commitments in mind, that made me completely forgot to plan my Christmas trip to home.

    When I actually tried in early December, none of the usual carriers had seats available. Those who had a few seats proposed a hefty deal, which I could not afford that time.
    So, I had to look for some cheap last minute flights in between. As some of my colleagues recommended, I ended up booking my tickets with Ethiopian airlines halfheartedly.

    Before I could think or even browse anything about this carrier, my mind flashed a lot of information about the poverty, diseases, political instability etc..etc.. about that country. I dreaded spending those 2.5 hrs transit in Addis Ababa - The capital of Ethiopia.

    Like many women, I had worries about my safety, the safety of the things I carry, the cleanliness of the airport, washrooms, eateries, people etc..etc... because I was supposed to land there by 8.30 pm, and my connection flight to DXB was at 11.00 Pm.

    Nevertheless, there was no going back as I had already booked my tickets, paid the price and all.
    So, I made up my mind, and hoped for the best, by praying God to make this experience somewhat manageable.

    On 15 Dec 2018 afternoon, I was at the Kigali Airport on time, waiting in the que and was about to check-in.
    That time, my phone vibrated with an SMS alert, saying the flight will be delayed. When questioned the airport authorities had no information; thus they checked - in all of us.
    But at the waiting area, there were no signal about our flight, rather every other passengers en route to different destinations were taken in to the security check time to time.

    After almost 3 hrs of waiting with absolutely no information (of course there were rumors of all kinds), we were informed that our flight had arrived. Within the next 30 mins or so, we were in the flight and it was about to leave.
    Although I had lost my hope about my connection flight, I was amazed at the very fist sight of this huge Ethiopian airline carrier, and how it looked.
    Needless to point out the beauty of their flight crew members!
    It was more than a pleasant journey of almost 4.5 hrs from Kigali via Bujumbura to DXB.

    Many passengers who were strangers at the beginning became familiar within those 7.5 Hrs (3 hrs waiting & 4.5 hrs travel time); thus we had discussions about the purpose of our trip, connection flights, waiting time at the airport etc..etc..

    Once reached, we were told that we would be taken to the next connection flights as per our destinations; thus we were directed to different counters accordingly.

    Knowing my next flight to DXB would be in 30 mins, I literally ran up and down in that crowded airport to locate my gate. But it all ended in vain, as the gate was closed when I finally reached - The situation abandoned me in a place, which I dreaded even to spend my 2.5 hrs transit earlier.

    Many of my co-passengers were lucky enough to enter their gates on time; hence I felt so lonely and confused in that alien country alone. That too during mid-night.

    I approached every ground staff that roamed there to find a solution, but no one seem to have any clue, rather they directed me to different places.

    After almost 1 hr in agony, I finally met a Bangladeshi middle aged woman - who also happened to work for UN in a different country. She joined us in the same flight from Bujumbura, Brundi.
    Meeting her revived me from the shock to some extend. We then approached the airlines authorities together.

    To our surprise, there were number of other passengers from different carriers, who waited in a long que to reschedule their flights, and hotels.
    Somehow, we managed to get seats in the connection flight the next day, and the authorities offered us a free stay at a 5 star hotel (Hilton) in addis ababa for that night.

    When we could do nothing, we decided to enjoy whatever is offered. Those cozy beds, shower experience and the morning breakfast in Addis ababa hotel was a delightful experience which I cherished the most.

    Surprisingly, the hotel had arranged a city tour to the Enteto hill emperor, St George Cathedral and National museum of Ethiopia. The rich in archaeological, historical and cultural displays about Ethiopia was yet another treat which came as a surprise.

    Addis Ababa is the capital city of Ethiopia, meaning "new flowers" in Amharic. It is one of the world's most cosmopolitan cities in Africa, and is the second biggest economic, political and cultural centre in East Africa, following Nairobi

    The Clean and Green city caught my attention throughout my journey. Because, all I expected was a dirty and dusty outside.
    Those beautiful and friendly people are definitely an asset to the country.

    Finally at around 3PM, we were taken to the airport for our connection flight to Dubai.
    We spent another 5 hrs in the plane to reach DXB.

    In Dubai, everyone of us got separated towards our respective gates for the final legs of our journeys.
    I reached Sri Lanka/My home, the next day through Emirates airlines.

    Though the journey started with bitterness, it will last as a very sweet experience :)
     
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  2. swiss

    swiss Silver IL'ite

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    Sweet writeup.:clap2: I wish I could travel all over the world like this.
     
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  3. SGBV

    SGBV Finest Post Winner

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    Thanks much.
    It was indeed a very sweet experience that I had never planned before
     
  4. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    I had been to Addis A. It is a challenging place to live; but quite OK for rich people (who fly in airplanes) to visit. A group of us coffee aficionadas, were on a tour to inspect and buy some exotic beans that had not been wiped out by mono culture promoted by commercial interests.
    Many Indian professionals had moved to make a living in Ethiopia during the time of the emperor Haile Salassie. There is a (fictional) book by a doctor Abraham Verghese which describes life in Addis rather well (He lived in Addis). This is an excellent novel (was on the NYT best seller top 10 for a few weeks, and was recommended by Oprah Book club as well), and describes the plight of the poor ethiopian girls, their medical problems (early marriage, pregnancies for children, and what ensues...), and how the foreign doctors cope.

    One reporter from BBC described Addis in early mornings when their garbage dumps are visited by hyenas. Early morning joggers may run into an odd hyena in the street corner. An excerpt from this report:

    But hyenas played a less savoury role during the Red Terror of Ethiopia's military dictatorship in the late 1970s, when each day the bodies of those executed were dumped on the city's outskirts. There are also present-day tales of beggars sleeping rough losing a toe or finger, or even a baby being snatched from its mother's arms. Urban myths, one hopes - though I wouldn't want to test the neighbourliness of a pack of hyenas in the dark, as happened to a friend of mine, a competitive cyclist, when he left his home in the early hours to go training.

    After assessing the number of pairs of eyes glinting at him in the dark, and the sinister yelps and mutterings emanating from the pack, he rapidly backtracked - very thankful that he had not pulled shut the entrance to the walled compound where everyone else was still sleeping.

    You only had a transit mishap. Living there would be an awful deal.
     
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  5. SGBV

    SGBV Finest Post Winner

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    You are absolutely right.
    I have read a lot of articles about Ethiopia before I landed there. None of them were positive about the country or the people as you have rightly mentioned, living there could be an awful deal. That's why I dreaded those 2.5hrs of transit within the airport itself.

    However, those 15+ hrs of experience, roaming in and out of the city of Addis Ababa wasn't awful at all. It was a very pleasant experience for me, as an air traveler.

    In fact, I didn't expect any such facilities in that land at all. Blame my ignorance.

    Just adding a few pictures of the city for those who have never been there. It can certainly change their perception and fear about that part of the world

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Amulet

    Amulet IL Hall of Fame

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    Addis has a nice skyline, but the foreign owners of those buildings find it hard to get long term (the so-called crown-jewel) clients to occupy them. Their fire departments are not equipped to handle emergencies in those towers. It is a nice thing to look at from way up high; but not when you are a pedestrian in the street.
    Anyhow... I had read that you had called Rwanda, heaven on earth. That shows that you have more than ample tolerance to be a social worker in Africa.
    Good luck with your plane reservations in this year.
     
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  7. SGBV

    SGBV Finest Post Winner

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    @Amulet
    Yes, opinion differs to person to person. I understand what you are trying to prove here.

    Perhaps you are right. Because i did not go into inspecting each and every building on the street. I didn't look at their ownership or how they were equipped to handle any emergencies. That's irrelevant for a 1/2 day transit stay.
    Hence i chose to enjoy that rich, yet diverse experience of roaming this ancient city.

    My snippet explains ONLY that experience in detail. It has got nothing to do with the life in Ethiopia. Bcz i never lived there.

    I definitely have a lot of tolerance and open mindset whenever i see new things & new people in life.

    In fact, I have learnt to separate goods from the bads like swans do. With age and maturity i have chosen to see the goods in everything.

    Not just places, but people too have good and bad qualities. Its the matter of what we chose to see!
    Because we see what we want to see!

    As they say, the beauty lies on the eyes of the beholder.


    BTW, I am not a social worker but a UN human rights professional.

    Many thanks for your view points
     

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