‘Travel on Christmas day’, they said. ‘The airport will be quiet’, they said. ‘The plane will be empty’, they said. By ‘they’, I mean ‘I’. Was I wrong, or what?!
It turns out Christmas Day is a busy travel day. We got to the airport quite early – I have a thing about being late – and after checking-in, we had some lunch and waited for our long journey to begin. We obviously did some duty-free shopping – you can’t not do it! Ross was very excited about Toblerone. I have trained him well.
We eventually boarded our flight. We decided to fly with Ethiopian Airlines because we needed to save money wherever we could and the flight was PACKED. Every single seat was taken. And our window seat was stolen. Not one for confrontation and making a scene, I left it and figured there wouldn’t be all that much to see. We were trying to adjust our circadian rhythms to the Thailand time zone – five hours ahead, and tried to sleep as much as possible. Well, I didn’t sleep at all, as I’m incapable of sleeping if there is anything but silence. Ross snored. Obvs. The flight was five hours long, and everything was pretty decent, I was pleasantly surprised. We soon landed in Addis Ababa. And holy cow, was that a culture shock or what?!
As you enter the airport, the smell of strong spices and cigarette smoke hit you. There were people smoking in the airport which was bizarre to see. I was extremely thirsty, and there wasn’t a single bottle of water for sale in the entire airport. I wasn’t going to dare drink the tap water. The bathrooms were shocking. Urine all over the floors and toilet seats (good thing I’ve been practicing my squats), and women spitting in the basins. Ross reported back that his bathroom experience was much the same.
We then decided to get some sleep as we had a four hour layover in the hellhole. So, we made our way downstairs. Neurotic Ross thought someone who looked sweaty and was covering his mouth with a cloth and coughing had Ebola and speed-walked away. We found a quiet and dark area, and to my relief, I lay down to try get some sleep. Suddenly, a plane must have landed because around 100 people infiltrated my personal space. Most of them wearing face masks and coughing all up in my business. Being a nurse makes you a bit of a germophobe. Look at my face, freaking out, clutching my Haribo froggies for dear life.
We moved away to another area, and just as we sat down, someone came and spat in the dustbin right next to us. We just weren’t winning at life. It was really cold, and we soon figured out why – the airport is so badly constructed that the roof does not meet the wall. You read that right. The roof was about a meter short from the wall, so we just had the cold, midnight air coming in above us.
As you can imagine, we were extremely excited to get the hell out of there. We boarded the next flight (also Ethiopian Airways) to BANGKOK! It was an 8 hour flight but the great thing was that it was a two-three-two seater so Ross and I could sit together in peace and quiet with no one stealing our window seat.
Ross slept. I watched more movies, I read, I didn’t sleep, but before we knew it, we started our descent and saw Bangkok all around us out the window. What a view. The excitement started bubbling up – we had arrived!