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General

I was living in Qatar, Doha to be precise. Being an educator in the richest country on the planet I was well payed. So basically all you do as an expat is work and then plan your next holiday. You actually plan your next trip whilst on you current trip. But I digress. I had a trip planned to go to Komodo Island to see the giant lizards. It was always a dream of mine. I boarded the plane in Doha, nothing is wrong, it is just going to be a quick stop in Dubai. Ya; no; Sand storm happens. It is supposed to be an hour flight but we get over the airport in Dubai and can’t land. The ‘Haboob’ (Arabic for sandstorm) was far too strong. So we circle. Over and over and then manage to land sideways and narrowly avoid any harm. It was jarring, but I’ve been on planes and helicopters that almost crashed; I slept through those ones. Am I lucky, or do I bring bad luck? The age old question is posed. 

We exit the plane and since I was just a backpacker I had no luggage so I was able to run through the airport with my backpack and meet the next terminal just before the plane finished boarding to fly to Kuala Lumpur. Problem solved, ready to go. Fast forward 7 hours when I arrived in KL it was raining. Not play in the park raining, it may have been liquid hail. I bolt from the plane into the airport and try to get my connection, for which I was very late. The line was long; huge. We all have been delayed and so there was a cue of frustrated people. Being the cordial guy I am I befriend a couple behind me in line and they were in the same boat (or grounded plane as it were). The three of us rushed to the front of the line to ask for our tickets. We had ten minutes to catch the shuttle to the plane. Needless to say, it was in the next terminal which was about a kilometer away across the airfield.

We blasted through the torrential rain which hit the bus hard as we drove. The three of us had to duck as we gathered our things and entered the plane. No lie, the rain hurt. On the plane now; Bali is the next destination where I was going to meet up with a ship to Komodo Island. It’s funny how traveling can make you complacent and know bad things happen and you just deal with them as you proceed. And here in-lies the issue, you just never know what is about to happen next.

I get over Indonesia and then what happens? A typhoon hit the island. We couldn’t land and were rerouted to Singapore. Seriously, how does this all happen on one vacation? I have a strong backbone so I took it in stride, but it was a gut punch. All the money wasted, all the time on jets, and worst of all the emotion I lost. Money cannot replace your feelings, no matter what anyone tells you. Disappointment sucks; hence the adverb. As a biologist who studies the dragons I wanted to go there to experience them for myself. Have you ever been let down by a sand-storm, a rain-storm, and typhoon all in one day. Yup, I have. I do not recommend it.

Turbulence sucks. But when you’re over the ocean you just have to grab your whiskey and hope for the best. We finally return to Singapore with myself slightly medicated with ethanol (wink) and cool as a cucumber. I don’t get scared flying; I was in the back of a cargo plane when the door opened and stood up to close it because I was cold. Once again i’m not lying. We land in Singapore, finally no issues except having to run to my gate. No biggie, I’ve run through a lot of airports in the past. Hop on a jet back to Dubai. No sand storm, thankfully. A brief layover before its back for the hour fight to Doha.

Keep in mind this was my Christmas holiday. I spent 2 days traveling half way across the planet for essentially nothing but crappy airport food and intense frustration. But you hold head high, smile, and be kind to others. I made friends from my ordeal that I still contact and chat with. I was able to reschedule my trip and went back the next year. I have my dive master whom is my friend in Bali and I’ll take my little girl there to learn diving from him (she’s a ‘Water Baby’ like her Dad).

Again, I digress back to the story. I returned to Doha on New Year’s Eve. I was supposed to be diving off Jurassic Park Island but ended up back in the desert. And as a matter of fact, I have photos of the island and you’d swear there are dinosaurs there. However, I get back home to Doha on New Year’s and have 2 friends that weren’t traveling for the holidays. So what do you when you're young; go to the club! So they picked me up at the airport and drove back to my place and we got ready to go out and party. I get decked out, and they did as well, and go to a nightclub. We’re western, and I don’t if you (the reader) is familiar with the Middle East, we carry a lot of clout. It isn’t fair, I didn’t invent it, but there is a caste system there still. Thus we got escorted to the VIP room.

My perhaps disjointed story shall end with this for this topic. I got on a plane, was caught in a huge sand storm, hammered by rain, then flew into a full-on typhoon. Traveling is no vacation, it takes dedication and caring about those around you. I travel with books to give to schools and street kids. I don’t hold myself on a high horse, but also don’t look down on anyone.

June 20, 2020 12:44

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2 comments

Zilla Babbitt
14:10 Jul 02, 2020

Here for the critique circle :). I like this one! My uncle is a math teacher in Qatar and I know quite a bit about it. He likes his job, especially since he gets summer vacations in Europe. The lesson for this story is: Traveling isn't all fun. I've actually not heard this message before and it's refreshing. Things to work on: Digression. You are sort of all over the place. Stay focused. You want to impart your theme/lesson and still make it fun for the reader. Dialogue. Every story needs dialogue! Also, this is more of a personal-backst...

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Eric Deitch
21:25 Jul 02, 2020

Thank you for the critique. yes, I know I can be verbose and scatter-brained and bounce around a lot. That is how most scientists are. I will try and tighten it up in the future. I appreciate you reading it. And I never consider my trips vacations, they are always hard work and I interact with the locals and do difficult things while I'm away. All inclusive hotels aren't my thing. Take care.

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