The Flight to Thailand

Friday 19 June

Well. This has been the longest journey of my life, and I am exhausted.

I arose from my tent in Botswana bright and early at 6:30am this morning, so I could get everything packed down and in the truck, to get ourselves on the road to Zambia by 8:00.

I didn’t sleep great in the night, as a hippo was grunting not too far from my tent… Amazing, but also scary!

And, to add a little extra hardcore-ness to the experience, when I began folding my tent this morning, this guy scurried out!!

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He was quickly stomped.

So, of we went back to the border to get the boat back over, away from beautiful Botswana and over to lovely lovely Zambia.

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Truly, I am going to miss it here.

At the Border, I said goodbye to the rest of the gang for whom Matt was waiting with the truck, and Paula, Dan and I made our way to Livingstone Airport.

We had an emotional goodbye, particularly Paula and I who I have felt so close to these last few weeks and then off they went to leave me to start one hellish journey…

Wednesday 17th June
13:10 (11:10 UK)
Depart Livingstone, Zambia

Wednesday 17th June
14:55 (12:55 UK)
Arrive Johannesburg, South Africa

Wednesday 17th June
20:00 (18:00 UK)
Depart Johannesburg, South Africa

Thursday 18th June
06:20 (10:20 UK)
Arrive Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Thursday 18th June
08:25 (12:25 UK)
Depart Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

Thursday 18th June
13:05 (08:05 UK)
Arrive Mumbai, India

Friday 19th June
01:05 (20:05 18 June UK)
Depart Mumbai, India

Friday 19th June
06:55 (23:55 18 June UK)
Arrive Bangkok, Thailand

I would moan about the 5 hour wait in Johannesburg, but with the 12 HOUR WAIT in Mumbai that follows it… I guess I’ll just shut my mouth and get on with it.

Being such a small airport, it wasn’t actually completely open when I arrived, in fact security didn’t open until 11:00. Unusually, compared to other airports I’ve been to, there’s actually two security belts; one before and one after check in. This means ALL your bags will be scanned initially which could make you very nervous if you were, say, smuggling a sausage pod…

…But I got through with no worries, and continued on with weighing my bag

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(now four KG heavier with the addition of the sausage)

And collected my tickets

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Woohoo!

Although signs will promise you such attractions as bars and cafes, there is next to nothing in the departure area of Livingstone Airport, but a small duty free and the equivalent of a corner shop selling pasties and beer. So I treated myself to a rather odd breakfast

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One last Mosi… Best beer ever.

Then, off I shot!

I managed to sleep the entirety of this journey (must have been the pasty), so within a blink I found myself back in South Africa! Had it been an option (had it only been an option), I would have gone straight to Cubata! However, as that wasn’t possible, that left (so far as I’m concerned) only one choice.

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Having moved very swiftly through security, I managed to remain a good four hours here indulging in tasty meats

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A proper cup of tea

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And, as is essential to any well rounded diet…

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Cake and Wine.

Then I headed out for stop number two:
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This flight was amazing! They even handed out this posh little menu before take-off!

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I felt like a right fancy pants!

Way back when I was in India, I made a friend there (Diana, my cooking buddy) who had to change at Abu Dhabi on her flight from Brazil to India. Thanks to her, I knew for sure that there was a Burger King at Abu Dhabi that could satisfy my craving for a Double Whopper Cheese Extra Pickles very nicely. So, I woke up an hour before we were due to land, readying my taste buds for this delight, only to be crushed by this announcement,

“Ladies and Gentlemen, please be aware you are landing in Abu Dhabi during Ramadan. For this reason, eating, drinking and smoking is forbidden in public places. Thank you for your understanding.”

My stomach cried out in agony.

Thank goodness, it seemed, this rule did not apply in airports!!

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Abu Dhabi, I must add, is the HOTTEST PLACE I HAVE EVER BEEN TO. I stepped from the well air-conditioned plane in my hoody and jeans and felt sure I was going to DIE! So, if you ever are changing flights here… Prepare for that sudden change in temperature.

So, on with my next flight to Mumbai! As I was boarding at Abu Dhabi, they checked my passport and ask me if I had a Visa for India. HORROR!! I didn’t even think of that! Luckily, my Visa from February was a multi-entry and still in date, although I did check with officials later and it was confirmed that a Visa isn’t necessary if you are only using an Indian airport for flight changes. In other words, as long as you don’t try to leave the airport, you’re safe.

My existing visa, however, did present the potential to shoot me in the foot once I arrived at Mumbai (which is suffering from torrential rain today).

They explained that my current ticket (despite what I was told all the way back at Livingstone) does not check my bags onto my next flight, and that I will need to collect my bag and leave the airport. I can check in again 5 hours before the flight.

“No.” I said. “No. With all due respect, no. I have been travelling since yesterday morning. I am tired. I don’t want to go out, on my own, in the middle of Mumbai in this rain while I’m this exhausted and I really don’t feel it’s right for you to ask that of me. Please, please, just let me check in my bag and move through to the departure lounge. I just want to go there, freshen up, and sit quietly for 12 hours. Please.”

It could have been the rant, or it could have been that I’d been wearing the same clothes for 24 hours (and had at some point dropped food down myself), but for whatever reason they took pity and agreed to let me through!

I love this airport. I really do! It’s big and it’s fancy, it has a shop for everything and big comfy plushy chairs! It has charging stations and all the staff are polite and friendly! So, after a refreshing sink wash, I made my way here

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Which may well be a cop out from real Street Food, but it’s still a good place to find something new to try!

In the end though, I went with good old familiar Pani Puri!

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It was delicious, and more spicy than the one I had in Delhi. I got talking to the chef who explained to me that this is the Mumbai way. I’ve given him my email and pleaded with him for the recipe! Fingers crossed.

After a little shopping

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And some sitting around waiting, I got talking to this woman Shannon. She was from Canada and also travelling alone, so I watched her bags while she went to get something to eat, and vice versa. It was a nice little set up! I also learned that she owns a café in the Kampot region of Cambodia called Kayaks. I told her the area of Thailand I’m going to is right on the border of Cambodia, and promised her if I happen to drift my way into that country, I will absolutely visit her café!

Finally, it was time to fly one last time. By this point, I’m so exhausted I can barely walk. As soon as I was on my flight (my noisy, unnecessarily bright flight), I tied my scarf around my head and slept and slept and slept.

When I opened my eyes and removed the scarf, I saw this:

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Oh my god. Finally.

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Can’t quite muster one of these ‘smile’ things, but I can’t deny I am happy to be here!

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