Istanbul Express

Istanbul Express

Story of an amateur traveller – how to try, fail, try again and always enjoy the journey.

So one day I decided I’m going to become a professional traveller. Took me many years to figure out who I would like to be when I grow up. During my early years, I thought of all possibilities. A novelist, movie director, later on, neurosurgeon or lawyer. I ended up waiting on tables in the restaurants. For 15 years.

Life just happened, as it does to most of us. One has to pay the bills. I got promoted a few times and stepped down from the position few times as well, realising that managing people is not my thing. Took courses, seminars, read multiple books on self-development.

Then finally I managed to get the ‘real job’. The proper office job for grown-ups. This came will all the important perks – more money and more leave time for my travels. Great!

But hey! Show me one person which would say that sitting at the desk for hours and not producing anything useful to society is their dream job. I personally don’t know any. But we need to be responsible, save money for the house, think about the future and sign up for the pension plan.

I’m so ungrateful, I thought to myself. So many people would do anything for this job – all the progress opportunities and security. And maybe I am ungrateful. Or maybe I’m just a hopeless dreamer and I truly believe there is so much more to life.

So I decided to combine my two biggest passions in life – writing and travel to become a professional travel blogger.

Hence I’m sitting here right now, writing my third article and reminiscing my failed trip to Thailand. This trip was meant to be the stepping stone. So many articles, memories, photos and stories could be produced of this one trip. Travel tips and useful information. But more than anything I just really wanted to be there. My dream holiday. Beautifull Thailand – the land of smiles, crystal blue waters and white sands.

Months of preparation and planning. Additional camera gear purchased. Hundreds of packing lists and travel videos watched later I failed to make sure that my travel documents are intact.

Boom! No Thailand!

My passport is actually ok. At least in my opinion. It is an 8 years old document, heavily used especially during the time I lived in Spain and worked in Gibraltar. Having to cross the border every day to travel to work left the mark on it. I naively thought I am saving it by taping the corner of it so it doesn’t tear any more. An important tip – you are not supposed to do that!

I’m sorry you cannot travel to Bangkok with this document, it is damaged therefore not valid – I heard.

Bye, bye plane to Bangkok!

I could rant here for hours how ignored and mistreated I felt at Istanbul airport. How no one would even look at my face when talking to me. How I could not believe that I’m supposed to purchase a new ticket just to go back home while I lost all the money invested in this trip. An infinite amount of times I was asked to wait, promised help and then left alone and forgotten.

The copy of my document was sent to Bangkok for approval. I have not heard the answer for 6 hours. The answer, in the end, was a ‘no’. I had to hand my self to the police given I wasn’t even able to enter Instanbul so I could go to the embassy and sort my document out. I was locked in the room for women and could not leave until my departure in the evening. I finally slept.

I met people trying to flee their countries in order to better their life or at least make it bearable. I felt ashamed. Who am I here complaining about my lost holiday to Thailand? Those people would rather fight, get arrested and be locked up as a result rather than go back home

It made me realise how lucky I am – I can just go back home and try again.

48 hours of hardly any sleep, stress and frustration later – I was going back home. Escorted to the plane with all my documents confiscated – an inadmissible person. A priority boarding with a class.

I felt sorry for myself. I could not help it. And then a crazy thought came upon me.

Internet and the whole world of social media are full of professional travellers. And they really know what they doing. I keep reading those articles and watch Youtube videos and ask myself how am I ever going to become like them.

And the question is – never. Because I am me. I make mistakes, make numerous plans and don’t execute them too well. Overestimating my abilities when hiking the mountains. Deciding to use public transport for a learning experience and having to take a cab back instead as I got lost. The list goes on. But guess what! I really enjoy it!

How many people sing about their failures? Not too many. I decided that I will. I will also tell you about all the trips which went well (there are few in fact) but I will not shy away from sharing my mishaps and mistakes. At the end of the day, I think there is more of us out there. Amateur travellers, just trying to see the world and be happy.

“IT IS NOT THE DESTINATION WHERE YOU END UP BUT THE MISHAPS AND MEMORIES YOU CREATE ALONG THE WAY.” ~ PENELOPE RILEY

From every failure, there is an opportunity to learn and grow. I would not be true to myself and my readers if I didn’t honestly share it. Disappointment is a bummer. Especially when we are disappointed in ourselves. This road forks into two possible directions – to give up and settle or to go on and try to be better and better every day. I choose the second road. One day I will succeed. And so will you!

Few Important learnings from my failed Thailand trip:

  • Always make sure your travel documents are in the required condition. What is fine to Paris might not be fine for Bangkok or Istanbul
  • When the worst comes to worst – don’t cry. No one cares. There are thousands of people like you. Put your foot down and fight for what you believe is right. You will achieve more with this kind of attitude (note to myself really)
  • Choose wisely the airlines you are flying with – in particular on long haul flights. It does matter. The extra pillow or amenity kit not so much. Check how the airlines deal with complaints. Airlines I flew with on that day have amazing reviews, that’s when everything goes well. With any kind of problems, customers were only met with rudeness, arrogance and complete lack of willingness to help. I observed a lot while sitting there for hours. Also, unfortunately, I did this kind of research few days too late. You want to choose the company which employees will treat you like a human being if anything goes wrong. This is when you need it the most.

Other than that – go travelling! I’m off to Rome next – watch out for the guide and stories from the Eternal City!

Bon Voyage!

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