Monday, August 16, 2010

Another journey from hell.

While i'm in a journey from hell vein it would be fitting to mention a flight i took with Jordanian airways some time ago.
                 The stopover in Amman was scheduled for nearly 30 hours. Myself, and 2 friends had purposely booked a flight with such a long stopover because our intention was to get out and about and see a brief glimpse of Jordan.
                             We arrived in Amman quite late in the evening and were bused out to our complimentary hotel. After a couple of warm beers from the fridge with no plug we retired to recharge our batteries for the whirlwind sightseeing trip the next day.
                             Up early and after feasting on hard boiled eggs, stale bread and strong coffee we secured the services of a taxi driver outside the hotel entrance. The other stopover passengers thought it would be far too dangerous to venture outside and passed the next 18 hours wrestling with self-inflicted boredom.    We spent a pleasant day taking in such places as the site for the sermon on the mount, the walls of Jericho, the dead sea and the town of Madaba.  We swam in the dead sea. This was a strange experience due to the massive salt content of the water. Things turned altogether unpleasant when we emerged , coated in oily water and became human fly paper for the blanket of insects that rose from the debris strewn shoreline and stuck themselves to our greasy flesh. A local entrepreneur was selling buckets of unsalted wash down water at a hugely inflated price which we gladly paid for.
                                                  There was a Jordanian wedding procession in Madaba which is something that you don't get the chance to see every day. I thought it somewhat amusing to watch the bride and the rest of the wedding party stepping carefully around small rivers of blood that were flowing from the freshly slaughtered goats outside a local butchers. The goats heads had been severed and skinned and took their grisly place alongside the rest of the fly infested carcasses.
                                                 Back at the hotel the other passengers were surprised that we returned safely without being taken hostage or shot at. They were even more surprised later that evening when we shunned the shuttle service and, shouldering our rucksacks, set off on foot across the desert towards the lights of the Queen Alia Airport in the distance.
                                                 The transit process was much more confusing than it needed to be. Essentially we had to check in again to receive a new boarding card. All transit boarding cards were issued from the same desk. It seemed to take forever but we needn't have worried as our flight to Colombo in Sri Lanka was delayed for another 3 hours. So, there was nothing else to do but hit the duty free shop. The shop had 3 choices. Whiskey, vodka and marshmallows. (don't ask)   I boarded the flight just over 3 hours later having consumed at least half a litre of neat vodka.  I wasn't drunk, in the sense of the word, but the alcohol was certainly going to do it's job. Namely, make me sleep.   With heavy eyelids and laboured motions i managed to buckle myself into my seat. I didn't even pay any attention to the group of leggy models from the Czech Republic who were on their way to do a photo shoot in Sri Lanka. I was going to sleep. And sleep i did!
                                The flight time down to Colombo was roughly 8 hours. When i awoke to discover i had been asleep for nearly 5 hours i was really pleased with myself. I had cut the flight time by more than half. The slight headache and gummy taste in my mouth were a small price to pay. As i stretched and yawned i started to take in more of what was going on around me. Hardly anyone was seated. The aisles were filled with people milling around. Some people hung over the headrests behind them and i noticed that a lot of the overhead lockers were open. I turned and looked along the row towards my 2 friends and they returned my gaze with tight lipped expressions and a slow shake of their heads. A dull sickening feeling took hold of the pit of my stomach. I turned and looked at the small plexi-glass cabin window away to my left.
                               Confirmation!   We were still at a standstill on the tarmac in Jordan.  The dull throb in my temples began to gather momentum and my lower back began to ache in sympathy. I felt sick. I could easily have cried.    It turns out that a young Turkish couple had boarded the aircraft and announced that their bag in the hold contained a bomb. They were bundled off and the baggage handlers had to remove every item of luggage from the hold to be searched.   It was just a stupid prank but it may have cost them their liberty for some time.
                                       I spent the next 8 hours or so in the depths of depression. I still don't understand, to this day, why we were not evacuated from an aircraft that potentially contained a bomb in the hold.

15 comments:

  1. Waking up thinking that I've arrived at my destination and finding out that I'd yet to depart would certainly make me a bit miserable. It is strange that they didn't evacuate the airplane.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Paul,
    For that very reason i will never fly with Jordanian again.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Cried...I would have been blubbering! I too cannot sleep on planes, unless I have an inflatable neck pillow, and then I only get microsleeps. Like you I spend most of the flight with one eye on that bleepin' little plane on the TV screen, 4 hours later we're just then leaving Australia.

    You have some very interesting routes from the UK to Thailand, to say the least.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Snap,
    On that particular trip i went via Sri Lanka to take in the England cricket tour. I stayed in Sri Lanka for a month and arrived absolutely flat broke in Thailand. We lived on Laongs wages of 1600 baht a week from the travel agents where she worked. I was in the dog box until i found some work.

    ReplyDelete
  5. When I moved to Thailand originally it was coming from Saudi Arabia where I’d been working as a nurse. In fact the shenanigans at Riyadh airport on that trip had a lot to do with my decision to stay on here. We wasted a lot of time in the Saudi airport that day queuing in line. The plane was delayed because the Matawa (religious police) felt that the men's line was too close to the women's line. It took an unbelievable long time to sort out. The crazy thing was that we were all going to be sitting beside each other on the plane anyway. It was just a power trip so these people could have one last chance at ordering people about. That was probably the final straw for me and I never went back to Saudi again - of course this wasn't the only reason.

    ReplyDelete
  6. There's just something about a uniform that seems to transform people into tin pot Napoleans running around drunk with power. I've had more than a few run ins with people like that.

    ReplyDelete
  7. There is someone else in Thailand that likes cricket!

    ReplyDelete
  8. Yes Dan, but i seem to be a rare breed.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Well, there are two us, shame we are the same sex.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Hi Dan,
    So you're looking for a woman who likes (or even understands) cricket. I think they might be even rarer.
    I'm quite lucky as Laong likes cricket. She was at old trafford with me a few years ago when we regained the ashes. Happy days!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Russell its the last time i fly with you, but we always have a story when we do as on this trip

    ReplyDelete
  12. I took Ploy to a John Player match, (whatever they are called now), by way of a gentle introduction, at my home ground in Southampton. She enjoyed the day out, (although she will deny it when asked), and Hampshire won too, which was rare at the time.

    It was one of the first matches at the Rose Bowl when it was just a building site so the day was tarnished somewhat by the 2 hours it took to get the car out of the car park.

    ReplyDelete
  13. There's always a price to pay for a good day out.

    ReplyDelete
  14. I took my wife to a Test match on our honeymoon. I had tickets to the first three days. The first day we went together. The second day I went alone and the third day we went shopping together! Married for 7 years now and she has still hates the game. :(

    ReplyDelete
  15. You went shopping together! Must be true love.

    ReplyDelete