I was ready for the next leg of my trip. I absolutely loved New Zealand but it was seriously killing my budget. I didn’t know that it was possible to burn through cash so quickly if I wasn’t sitting at poker table with Grandma Leenknecht.
I had an 18-hour layover in Australia, so I booked a cheap hostel for the night and prepared for my 9am flight to Kuala Lumpur the next morning.
After a few hours of sleep due to obnoxiously loud dormmates (more on this in a later post), I got up at 4:30am, gathered up my bag in a groggy haze, and headed out for the airport.
As usual, I got to the airport far too early to check in, so I found a coffee shop and waited until that magical check-in window 3 hours before my flight.
I glanced up at the board and saw that my flight was delayed by an hour.
No problem. I still have plenty of time to make my connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur.
An hour later, I marched up to the ticketing agent and proudly handed my passport over.
The agent kindly informed me (and the many dozens of people before and after me) that the flight was delayed to an undetermined time later that day due to two separate medical emergencies on the very plane that I was due to board.
“Check back in at 6 o’clock tonight and we’ll know more about flight times,” they told me. Then they gave me a $10 meal voucher and ushered me off.
Alright… I suppose that I can keep myself busy and probably do some more baby Skyping. Because let’s be honest: everyone loves a good baby Skype.
I soon found out that the flight was cancelled and rescheduled for 7am the next morning. Air Asia would put us up at a hotel for the night and we would get on the flight the next morning.
This meant that I would miss my connecting flight in Kuala Lumpur and would be a day late in meeting my friend, Cass, in Sri Lanka.
Delay after delay continued to frustrate me, so I took matters into my own hands and called the airline directly and got put on a flight the next morning.
When I landed in Colombo, I had trouble with my debit and credit cards at the airport (this is the 4th time that it’s happened). I couldn’t get any money out of the ATM and the currency exchange wouldn’t buy my Korean Won or Japanese Yen. I tried to call my bank but the internet at the airport was so bad that it would kick me off every few minutes, making a Skype call impossible.
It was late, I was tired, and I had no way of getting money. Just great.
Thank goodness that I had a little over $100 USD in my wallet, which they happily changed into Sri Lankan rupees for me.
My taxi driver couldn’t drive down the road that my hostel was on because it was too narrow. So he parked on a nearby road and dropped me off.
I hoisted my huge bag onto my back and silently prayed that I didn’t just get dropped off in the wrong location in the middle of the night.
By the time that I found my hostel and got to the dorm room, it was already after midnight.
I flopped (carefully) into my bunk and didn’t bother to change out of the clothes that I had been wearing all day. I was unbelievably sweaty and gross, but I didn’t care. The only thing that I was concerned about was sleeping for as many minutes as possible.
We got up around 5:30am the next day and grabbed a tuktuk for the train station. After all the craziness of the city, we were finally able to sit down, slow down, and catch up with each other.
Our next train ride from Kandy to Ella was a little different.
The available tickets were second class tickets that cost 240 rupees (about $1.67 USD) for a 6-hour ride through the winding hills of Sri Lanka. Seats were not guaranteed and I was warned that it could get rowdy while people were fighting for those much-coveted seats.
I fully prepared myself to be pushed, shoved, and otherwise prodded, through the throngs of people hoping to cram themselves into the train. Not to toot my own horn, but I consider myself a professional people-pusher because I did live in China, after all. If you wanted to get anywhere, you pushed. And boy, did I push!
I ended up sitting in the doorway for a good chunk of the trip, alternating between sitting on my bag and standing. I was nervous to have my feet dangling out of the door, but it seemed like all the locals were doing it, and hopefully my legs wouldn’t get chopped off in the process.
We eventually found seats in the car where people were playing drums, singing, and clapping. It was fun for the first 30 minutes (ok, maybe the first 5 minutes), but after a while, the raucousness began to wear on me. I was tired and just wanted a bit of sleep.
I did sleep for a little while, only to be woken up by some bozo who thought it was absolutely hilarious to loudly blow a horn in the ears of people who had fallen asleep.
He cracked himself up every time he did blew that horn.
And it was often.
He’s lucky that he didn’t blow his horn in my ears because I would’ve snatched it and thrown it out of the window. Yup, I was that cranky.
Add to that some serious racism and sexism that I experienced (more on this later), and I can honestly tell you that I’m tired.
Not sleep-deprived tired. More like, “I’m tired of this traveling nonsense and I want to go home now” kind of tired.
I guess that this is normal at this point in time for a lot of people. Now is the time when it’s make-or-break; do you fight through the travel fatigue or do you succumb and book a flight home?
I refuse to give up.
Although… I often think about the warmth of my own bed, not having to carefully pack up my bag every few days to move onto a new place to sleep, cooking my own meals, driving, eating a “normal” diet, having regular bowel movements, wearing clothes that haven’t been stuffed in a bag all day… better yet, wearing different clothes than the same tank tops and soccer shorts that I’ve been sporting for the last 4 months, walking around naked in my room, going to the gym, having unbridled Internet access, playing with my nieces, and spending time with my family and friends.
Honestly, it’s all I can do to even write this blog post. I want to be done with all of this and go home to my beautiful and beloved Portland, Oregon. Just writing those words evokes strong feelings of happiness, safety, and homesickness. SIGH. Portland, I miss you.
But I will push through. I must push through.
Even though I’m exhausted, I know that this is just a small hump that I need to get over. Travel fatigue is something that long-term travelers feel and I’ll need to fight through and quit whining about it. I only have a little while longer before I return home and I know that I’ll always regret my decision if I give up now.