Hello hello dear Wanderlusters, to another nugget of WanderInspo, today delving into something that isn’t really talked about but will more often than not lurk at the back of any traveller’s mind, whether one is a savvy traveller or not. This month’s #travellinkup deals with travel fears and scares, which in my world range from anywhere between the logical to the totally nonsensical, but nonetheless they still exist and are shoved to a little corner where they aren’t acknowledged. By me, at any rate! For the most part, travel IS fun but there are those moments where the fizz can be totally deflated from the otherwise bubbly world of exploring. Thank you for spending a part of your day with me as I ramble on and confess a couple of my travel fears: thankfully not too many, emanating from personal experience, and one that is totally conjured up in my sometimes negative Nellie mind set!
Turbulence…the worst of the lot!
I am one of those people that LOVE flying because I am from the school of thought that getting there is half the fun. I love the pre-trip buzz of planning, packing (yes I am one of THOSE crazy people), getting to the airport and the cherry on this cake: the plane ride. M on the other hand wishes he could have a pinch of floo powder and transport himself through some fireplace network Harry Potter style…our travel personas are like chalk and cheese but once we get to our destination the urge to explore kicks in for both of us and it is all unicorns and butterflies.
As much as I love flying, my otherwise calm disposition melts into cheesy shreds when the plane starts to rock thanks to dreaded turbulence and I hear the words “the Captain has turned on the fasten seat belt sign”. This alone is enough to turn me into a dithering wreck, thanks to some particularly bumpy flights where I didn’t think we would land on solid ground again. One of these was a local flight from Malindi to Nairobi, where my good friend TheFitFabFoodie and I held on to each other’s hands so hard that we left fingernail marks in them: this flight was so turbulent that when we got onto solid ground we couldn’t help but burst into tears! The other was a longer flight from Asia to Dubai on what should have been a fantastic flight because M and I were flying First on Emirates! Anyway, so much for flying First because the turbulence was SO BAD that all service within the flight got cancelled, so as well as no fancy shmancy food or drink experience there was no luxurious flat bed and duvet experience either! Quite apart from the nerve racking ride that felt like Oblivion at Alton Towers, I didn’t think we would land in one piece in Dubai thanks to an overdramatic flight Purser who shall remain unnamed though her name sticks in my mind as though this flight were yesterday. Our Captain also happened to be a bundle of nerves and Ms. Purser thought it perfectly acceptable to repeat his concerns to her team in the galley in loud, melodramatic tones, and thanks to my proximity, I heard every word! I don’t think I have ever chanted the Hanuman Chalisa or the Chaupai Sahib on a flight so hard in my life! Well, I lived to tell the tale but for the next couple of hours I had sea legs and dreaded my connection to Nairobi, which was thankfully turbulence free, restoring my faith. But, thanks to these two experiences, a slight bump and the turn on seat belt sign will bring that fear bubbling onto the surface again!
Missing a flight
Yes, there’s this one too. Other than the intense dislike for turbulence, I love the whole experience of flying and would rather spend 3 hours sat at an airport knowing that I WILL board the aircraft than rushing by the skin of my teeth to make it to the airport in time. Have I missed a flight? Yup I have, all courtesy of a gate change at Frankfurt International en route to London. Thanks to the frequency of flights to London I was able to get a connection and arrived at my destination not too much later that day, but needless to say I now check airport TV screens a bazillion times to make sure there are no last minute gate changes!
Being the holder of a Kenyan passport means that I need to get a visa for most countries which some may view as a hurdle but I choose to see as a small bump in an otherwise smooth road, because, newsflash: it IS possible to travel the world on a Kenyan passport! I won’t deny that it is a pain to get all the paperwork together, and there is that little matter of Embassy appointments and all that goes with visa applications, but it isn’t impossible.
The nail biting time is actually the waiting period between submission and collection of your passport because there is that niggly little chance that your visa just may not be granted. Touchwood in my years of travel, I have yet to have a visa rejected (I’ll knock on wood again lest I tempt fate) and I always feel a sigh of relief when I see a shiny visa sticker in my passport! Though I must add here that it has become a lot easier these days to apply for and get visas, because travel as a whole is so much more accessible and Embassies way more efficient than they were even as recently as 3 years ago.
Not getting the right number of entries
M and I learned a very expensive lesson with this ahem, rookie mistake that we made very early on in our travels. For some countries you need to know EXACTLY how many entries you need when you apply for a visa otherwise you can get stranded pretty badly.
So, what happened with us? Well, a couple of years ago M and I decided in our wisdom (and in hindsight – what were we thinking?) to combine Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and part of Indonesia in one trip. Our itinerary went something like: Nairobi – Bangkok- Siem Reap – Phomn Penh – Hanoi – Bangkok – Bali – Bangkok – Nairobi. Logic would dictate that we needed 3 entries into Thailand, however one of the officers at the Thai Embassy in Nairobi suggested that we needed only 2 entries because the Hanoi-Bangkok- Bali leg was just a transit and we didn’t exit the airport in Bangkok. Simple enough? One would think.
So, on said leg from Hanoi – Bangkok – Bali we did transit as anticipated in Bangkok however as we were flying in to Bangkok and out to Bali on different airlines we couldn’t check our baggage through from Hanoi to Bali because these two airlines didn’t have a code share arrangement between them. This meant that on landing in Bangkok we had to exit at the airport and clear immigration, collect our baggage, check in to the next flight and then head on to Bali. This inevitably meant that we used our second and last entry into Thailand, during this transit!!
What. A. Mess. It was as though Sod and his Angels were totally working against us that trip because it was a classic case of everything that could go wrong: DID. Our flight into Bali left Bangkok at 6 am which was too early for us to get an extension of our Thai visa at Suvarnabhumi Airport. Said flight landed in Bali at 1 pm at which point the Thai Embassy in Bali was closed, not just for the day but given that we were landing smack in the middle of the Christmas holiday period, said Embassy was closed for the festive season until the New Year which meant that there was no conceivable we could get another visa entry in time to head back to Bangkok for our international flight home.
Our first few hours in Bali were spent trying to google every possible option from calling the Thai Embassy in Nairobi, to calling the emergency number in Bali to try and get an extension of visa, to contemplating sending our bags home by DHL and transiting through Bangkok to catch our flight back to Kenya. Nothing worked. The only thing we could do was call the loss on the flights back to Bangkok from Bali and then back to Nairobi from Bangkok and google the cheapest flight out from Bali back home. The most painful part was having to fork out well over USD 2000 on the cheapest economy ticket we could find to get us both back home. What would the third entry have cost? A mere KES 3500 or USD 35!!! This experience left a really sour taste as far as entries into a country are concerned and we haven’t been back to Thailand since, but these days whenever I fill out an application I double and triple check and get an extra entry…because you never know!!
And this one…is all conjured up in my mind folks!
Natural disasters. Every time I travel to a place that has had the unfortunate luck of being struck by an Act of God, I cannot help but feel a bit of fear. A classic example (that I haven’t even confessed to M yet) was when we spent a couple of nights at Waikkal beach in Negombo, Sri Lanka and all I could think of was the tsunami that had hit Sri Lanka a couple of years ago. Our time out in Negombo was completely event free and my fear is irrational I know, but I was happier when we moved inland to Dambulla! You’ll be glad to know that I give my mind a stern talking to these days and I am becoming better at not conjuring stuff up anymore!
So folks, I hope this has given you something to nod your head in agreement with, learn from or laugh at, but either way, I have enjoyed writing this post for you all!
Do check out some of my fellow travel bloggers fears and scares on: SilverSpoon London, Follow Your Sunshine, Adventures of a London Kiwi or Planes & Champagne and as always, thank you for spending a part of your day with me! Xoxo.