Going through hell to get to heaven

Trip Start Nov 29, 2005
Trip End Nov 21, 2006

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Flag of United Arab Emirates  ,
Wednesday, May 3, 2006

Mainly, I just wanted to leave a posting from Dubai, because, hey, I was there for 11 hellish hours, and when's the next time I'll be in Dubai? So why not? The flight, though, turned out to be a lot more adventurous than I really needed. I got on the plane still sweaty and disgusting following a windsprint through Khao San Rd to catch my shuttle to the airport. I wound up sitting next to one guy who was nice enough, but he snored like a buzzsaw and his breath would make dog shit smell rosy. The more significant problem was across the aisle from me (I had the aisle seat in the middle). My other neighbor was an Arab man who had clearly lost the plot many many years ago. As the plane was taking off, he started shouting at one of the stewards, and that would be more or less the theme for the six-hour flight. First he started ranting and raving in Arabic and then refused to talk to any of the female crew members. When finally a steward named Shady (who performed admirably I have to say) presented himself, the guy got up and started screaming and shoving his finger in Shady's chest. He said he was being mistreated because he was Arab. There were plenty of other Arabs on the plane, though, this guy was only being "mistreated" because he had lost his mind. After he finally sat down he started mumbling to himself. I had the thought that just as long as he wasn't mouthing the prayer you say before the final jihad, I'd be perfectly happy. It wasn't that, but whatever it was, he didn't stop mumbling the entire flight. The entire flight the man didn't shut up. At one point while he was watching a movie he even started flicking off the screen. I would've gladly traded him for a screaming baby, but there's no way that trade would've gone through, we already had that base covered.

On the way out, I wound up bumping into two English girls I had met in Koh Pha Ngan. It was odd because, while I've gotten used to the idea of running into people who are on similar routes, I figured I'd be permanently breaking off the route of most European backpackers once I left Bangkok. But sure enough, there were two girls on my same flight. It worked out because through them I met another English girl who I could pass the first couple hours of my 11-hour layover with. After she got on her flight, I was forced into sleeping on the floor of the airport because the "quiet lounge" with the recliners had construction going on nearby, so the whole quiet thing went out the window. At one point when I woke up from my wonderful ground slumber, I had bizarre run-in number two. When I woke around 6 I sat up still not quite right from the half-sleep I was getting and turned to see a blonde girl staring at me. I knew I recognized the face, but I was still half-asleep and wasn't processing things at normal speeds. When she said my name, I knew exactly who it was, but a solid amount of time, anywhere between 10 and 30 seconds passed before I could get my head around the fact that Kate and Helen, my two English friends from Phnom Penh were sitting next to me in an airport in Dubai.

Eleven hours after touching down in the UAE I was back on a plane, destined for Athens. No sleep would come on that flight either as the guy in front of me decided he would recline the whole way, so bye-bye leg room. The guy was one of those Mediterraneans who are of the theory when it comes to chest hair, "If you've got it, flaunt it." He was even one of those that takes the extra step of burying a gold medallion somewhere in the forest. Once in Athens, I had to deal with the blustery 13 degree weather, a shock to the system, since I was a) in shorts and a t-shirt, and b) haven't been in weather anywhere near 13 degrees in at least three or four months. I know, cue the violins, but it was still not what I was hoping for. It was then only a matter of waiting eight hours for my overnight ferry (again, sleeping on the floor, this time in a boat with the AC cranked so high it felt as if they were trying to simulate Arctic Circle conditions) to Ios, in the Cyclades, an island group in Greece. This will be my base, hopefully, for the next three months as I'll "work" over the summer to keep my money in neutral while living in paradise. I'm in a bungalow with good people and cheap rooms and three pools. And the ocean is literally across the street. You can cut off the violins now.
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