So, my Asia jaunt ended about two weeks ago when I took a 30-hour trip from Singapore to Washington, DC, including a 7-hour layover in Doha, Qatar. It was a long trip, but not quite as hellish as it sounds. For around $40, I was able to use the Oryx lounge in Doha, which provided fun snacks such as za’atar croissants and fresh dates. I even took a shower there and managed to nap for a couple of hours on a makeshift 4-foot-long bed created by pushing two chairs together.
Immigration and customs at Washington Dulles took longer than ever (well, definitely longer than in most of the other countries I’d just visited) and by the time I got outside to wait for my ride, I was feeling pretty out of it. The only reason I ended up chatting with the other people waiting was because I needed to borrow a phone to get in touch with my sister and let her know I’d arrived.
I first turned to a guy to my right, who was around my age and carrying only a small backpack. I noticed he had bandages all over his arms and legs and couldn’t help asking, “Wow… what happened to you?” Expecting one of the usual backpacker misadventures – a motorbike accident in Vietnam, a drunken night at the full moon party – I was shocked to hear that he’d nearly been abducted in a taxi in Guayaquil, Ecuador the night before, and that he’d managed to escape with his passport (and his life) only after wrestling with the driver and two other guys and jumping out of the moving vehicle…
But he didn’t have a phone I could use. So I turned to the people to my left, an older couple with big suitcases. They did have a phone for me. After I used it, they asked me where I had just arrived from. When I said Singapore, they said that’s where they had been too. But they hadn’t planned to be there. The reason they were coming back from Singapore was because their cruise ship had caught fire. They had been stranded at sea for several days (“with no air conditioning!”) before being ferried over to Singapore.
As I got into the car to head back to Rockville, I couldn’t help feeling fortunate to have made it back home in one piece!
Anyway, I realize I’ve been more of a full-time wanderer than a full-time blogger during my travels… Now that I have some down time, I’m working on filling in some of the gaps and summarizing my experiences, so I should have more to post here soon. If you do read these posts, feel free to let me know – it definitely motivates me to write more when I hear from you!