Backpacker’s Journey to Hell

April 14, 2018

in Odds & Ends Stories

In my backpacking days I was travelling once on the final few legs of a couple of months exploring India, Nepal and Southeast Asia. I had grown accustomed to delays and setbacks, but this journey home was especially trying.

We had been waiting in the airport for three plus hours and the flight just kept getting delayed. Eventually they sent us to a nearby hotel. They wanted us to all share rooms for the night with complete strangers no less. I was having none of this and managed to get a room to myself in the plush hotel, but wasn’t comfortable. I was starting to experience the symptoms one would have from having eaten something that does not agree with the system.

I had been out the night before in the backpacker area of the city, and had become quite ill from whatever food had been consumed. Some light-fingered folks had also relieved me of all my medications including sleeping tablets, anti-anxiety medication, etc. I barely slept that evening, and in the afternoon we were shuttled back to the airport. During this time my malaise had pushed up a notch, and I was feeling quite unwell and sleep deprived.

I was sat at the front near the galley. Everyone had been given $100 of duty free coupons as compensation. For almost the full duration of the flight I was just inches from the trolley, and a constant stream of people were trying to buy things from their duty free magazine with the coupons; literally every passenger on the plane at some point or other. It was a very difficult flight; the area directly next to my aisle seat resembled some kind of high energy market place.

On arriving late at night in Rome, my hotel wasn’t available as I had arrived a day later. They had no vacancies, so I had to find a cheap place near the Termini train station.

I had damaged my laptop in India and had no way to book new flights late at night, so I decided to get up early and just head to one of the airports. My food poisoning was now in full swing. I was perspiring and borderline delirious throughout the evening.

I collected my wits about 6:00 am, and was able to get on one of the first Terravision buses to the airport where my original connection would have been. Of course I was a day late and the flights that day to my destination were full. My only choice seemingly was to purchase an expensive ticket to Stansted landing at the other end of the country. As some kind of cruel cosmic joke, the full flight to my destination city was boarding at the next gate.

At Stansted I had to take a train to central London and then 13 hours of coaches and buses. I was near to weeping at times on the coach. I did fall asleep a few times, but for whatever reason kept rolling onto the floor waking up with a start.

It was the biggest relief in all my travels to finally be home after a monstrous journey. A stiff whisky, a hug from my nearest and dearest, and some of the medicines I had not been able to take, and I was out for the count having the best sleep possible.

This truly was a journey from hell. In retrospect, I should have possibly retained the services of a doctor at the first hotel, got my medication replaced, and possibly been checked over for the food poisoning, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

At least now I can take a more philosophical view. I still have those $100 dollars worth of duty free coupons (even though they have expired). I should have probably got a watch or something at the time as a souvenir, but I was past caring then.

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