Murphy’s Law and Three Flights Across the Earth

At the Gate in BahrainLast year I flew from Boston to Heathrow, Heathrow to Bahrain, and then Bahrain to Delhi.  The flights went super smoothly.  After a plush subway ride to New Delhi station, the insane rickshaw ride to a hotel wasn’t easy to manage mentally.

Just a few days ago, about a year later, I flew most of the same leg, on the same two airlines.  The difference this time is that my third and final flight from Bahrain didn’t take me to Delhi.  It took me to the capital of the forbidden kingdom.

Because last year’s flights went so smoothly, I’d anticipated a similar passage.

I wasn’t as lucky on this occasion.  My fortune dwindled on the first flight to London.  Last year I had three seats to myself.   This year there was an older British man sitting next to me.  He was very pleasant and in a good mood after his vacation in the states.  But this man wasn’t skinny.  His bigger than average build invaded my personal space.

One thing was better this year.  The connection in Heathrow was quick and efficient.  Last year’s connection was faster but stressful as I had to rush to catch my next flight.  This year I could take my time changing terminals.

Last year I had a layover in Bahrain before connecting for the four hour flight to Delhi.  Last year I had Internet in the Bahrain airport.  This time I couldn’t seem to connect. I really wanted to jump online.  After inquiring around, a service worker informed me:

Internet sometime work sometime no work.”

After asking a couple of other people, it was confirmed that a connection was not possible at the moment.

The flight to Saudi’s capital of Riyadh was smooth and took less than an hour.

Upon getting off the plane, I was exhausted and looking forward to a bed.

I couldn’t believe how many people there were arriving and going through customs.  There were six or seven long lines.

Most signs I’ve seen so far are in Arabic and English. The signs marking the customs lines are only in Arabic.

After standing in line for half an hour, I reached the customs agent.  He informed me that I was in the wrong line.  Since it was my first time in the land, I had to go to the one agent that had a finger print machine.  The machine was down.  I couldn’t go anywhere until it came back up and they could take my fingerprints.

After waiting for over an hour, the machine worked. I cleared customs and went to baggage claims to pick up my suitcase on wheels.  It was the only one there.  Everyone else had passed customs at least an hour earlier.

I walked into the airport lobby expecting to see my name on a placard.  There were a few people holding signs.  None had my name.  Deep down inside I became furious.

After walking around and finding out that there was no free Internet, I had to locate an ATM.

I paid about 10 Rials or $2.67 for an hour of Internet.

I looked up phone numbers and made calls through my skype account.  I sent an email to everyone I’d communicated with regarding the job I came here for. It was around midnight at that point.

After realizing that I wouldn’t get in touch with anyone, I went outside and started talking to cab drivers.  Even though I knew that I had no option but to pay at least double the going rate, or even more,  I couldn’t hide my desperation as I clearly had no idea about the city or where I was going.

Taxi rides in Riyadh can be extra pricey if you don’t know Arabic.

The Filipino driver was very helpful.  I stressed that I had to have a place with wifi or it would be impossible.  We drove towards the city center.  I noticed that the cars here are big, and many are American. I thought:  I don’t see any tiny cars like in Europe, and even the states.  The cars here are all mid-sized at minimum.

We got to a semi-expensive hotel.  The nice driver was willing to take me to a cheaper place if I wanted, at no extra cost.  But I just needed food and a bed.

After checking in, finding food, and taking a shower, I finally got to bed at around 4:00 am.  I awoke early that afternoon to find an email reply asking where I was.  I had no clue as the address was in Arabic.  I had them talk to the hotel receptionist.  A driver was sent.

I saved my receipts and have been ensured that I’ll be reimbursed for the cab and hotel.  I also received three apologies for not being met.  It turned out that the driver thought that I hadn’t shown up, since customs took much longer than it usually does.

Can you imagine the thoughts going through my fatigued mind upon arrival?  I’m getting on the next plane out of here.  Maybe I’ll hop on a short flight to Bahrain and job search there. Maybe I’ll just get a flight to Nepal and backpack.  Maybe I’ll cross the red sea to Egypt. Oh, wait, but I’m here.  I need to check this place out.  OK, suck it up.  Have a driver suggest a hotel.  Go sleep and figure out the situation with a clearer head tomorrow.

I continued to ponder:  I’m just a victim of Murphy’s Law:  Whether at home or abroad, things will go wrong.

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 Have you ever been the recipient of Murphy’s Law while traveling?  

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14 Responses to Murphy’s Law and Three Flights Across the Earth

  1. Simon Bravo says:

    Keep traveling Miguelito!

  2. Sandra Carroll says:

    Looking forward to learning more through your new venture.
    Good luck and stay postitive.

  3. Ayngelina says:

    That is definitely a challenging beginning to a trip but sounds like also the start to a wonderful adventure.

  4. Bridget says:

    Hi Mike,
    Enjoy the journey! Can’t wait to hear your next story.
    xoxo Bridget

  5. Glad you finally made it – looking forward to reading your posts and hearing about life in Saudi. How much is gas over there, by the way? Wonder if the proximity to oil drives the price down and therefore people drive larger vehicles?

  6. Al says:

    The main thing is you´re already starting to absorb and learn the culture!

    I think that one of the things that define how developed a countty is, has to do contingency and backup. I see it everywhere here. Developing a service goes as far as design and implementation, but little thought is given to quality assurance, testing, user feedback and backup systems. In the real world things never happen exactly as they´re supposed to.

    • EarthDrifter says:

      AL: Excellent point made. Yes, this land is a bit unique in that it’s rich and developing like crazy. And also, I agree, the world is unpredictable, to me, that’s better than predictable. We must accept the balance of good and bad and hope the good outweighs its opposite counterpart.

  7. Annie says:

    I Hope you are all settled in now. Jeez what an adventure just to get there! Hopefully that’s the worse you’ll have to deal with during your adventure. Good Luck!!

    • EarthDrifter says:

      ANNIE: Thanks, yeah, things happen, such is life, could have been a lot worse, could have been a lot better too but I won’t focus on that part. :-) I’m kind of getting settled in. The jet lag seems to be improving daily.

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