(I started writing this while I was at the airport last Thursday night in KL)

Recently, I realized that my life has been revolving around airports. I realized lately while I was deleting some email that I’ve been getting out of Jakarta more often. And by getting out it’s not just a car ride but mostly airplane rides. I’ve been checking Traveloka or Skyscanner more often and most of the time I end up booking a flight somewhere – in or outside Indonesia. Everytime there’s an upcoming holiday my automatic response is to open Traveloka and check flights to wherever possible then next thing you know I’m at the airport early in the morning for the first flight to wherever.

I don’t have the travel bug yet, but I guess that’s just because I want to get out of Jakarta as much as I can – it literally made me feel tired and worn out.

What makes my “traveling” more entertaining is that I get good deals most of the time. When I started using Traveloka, I was able to buy some good priced ticket. Plus, it’s really convenient because it shows me ticket prices from different airlines so I get to compare, just like Skyscanner just more local version. Then after or before I book tickets, I open Agoda and look for hotels. It gives me an idea of how much would it cost me for the place I am going. So it became my travel consultant – Traveloka and Agoda.

Traveling is good. It sounds so cliché because everybody seems to promote that now. But I can actually say it is good simply because it’s good. The experience you get from traveling is not something you will get from books. Especially when you are put in a situation where you have to decide what will happen next.

But even if I am enjoying this “traveling” thing, let me tell you this: I’m not a fan of traveling for the sake of collecting passport stamps or taking photos in popular place. Nope, I’m not really up for that. When I travel, I try to get out of my comfort zone. They say traveling is expensive, well it depends what kind of traveler you are. If you want to be a tourist then yes, it will be expensive and you better have enough cash to fend for your traveling spree.

I usually travel solo because I find it fun and challenging. And I literally have to figure things out for myself so I kind of like the “responsibility” it gives me. It forces me to socialize with people around me and it’s always fun to get to know people and hear/share stories – when I am in the mood to talk to people. But in general, I just enjoy solo travels. I find it more relaxed.

But what I seem to find amusing with all this traveling lately are the people I meet during the waiting time. Usually when I travel solo, I end up chatting with other passengers be it at the boarding area or at the plane. And more often than not, I get really amused by the stories I heard from these people I meet. Here are some of my recent favorite airport story.

Eat, Pray, Love in Bali

While I was waiting for a delayed flight to Bali there was this guy beside me who seemed very anxious about the delay. I wasn’t bothered but I seemed to worry about how anxious he was until he couldn’t hold it any longer he started talking to me.

He was a guy from Norway, going to Bali to meet this girl he’s been chatting with from an online dating site. He wanted to surprise her but because of the delayed flight it won’t be possible so he was really getting annoyed. I told him he could have landed directly to Bali instead of Jakarta to save him some time. He thought he would see Jakarta first then go to Bali afterwards, turned out it wasn’t a good idea.

He told me he wanted to complete his “Eat, Pray, Love.” He followed the book after breaking up with his long term girlfriend. Meeting this “internet girl” was a decision made in a heartbeat because why the hell not – that’s what he said.

We parted ways when we landed and I wished him the best of luck.

The war veteran

Like all expats in Indonesia, going to Singapore is a common routine. One time, after getting my visa I was asked by another fellow expat if I was headed to the airport and would it be okay if we go together and share the ride. I said yes immediately since I was headed that way and I don’t really mind.

He’s been living in Indonesia for 15 years after he decided to leave the army upon causing a permanent injury to his legs. During the taxi ride we were talking about our experiences in Indonesia, comparing notes on the things that makes our patience snap. Typical outsider conversation.

“The world is full of bad people, I’ve seen different kinds of them.”

I was a bit curious with that remark and he probably saw my reaction so he started telling me stories. There were times he couldn’t help but tear up when he was recalling some events. He told me about losing some of his good friends at the battle field, seeing his fellow soldiers or other civilians getting tortured and so on. It was too much for me at some point. But I also realized then that I am lucky and I should always be thankful for this life I have.

Hope springs eternal

I was humming to a song when the guy sitting behind me said “That’s a nice song, please continue.” As always, I started talking to him and exchange stories. This one really hit me so hard and made me cry.

He was a doctor back in Syria, after what happened he lost his job, his passport and everything else he owned. Good thing his family were all together and no one was harmed. He said “everybody is saying in Syria it’s chaotic but they don’t know exactly what is happening inside. What it feels like to live there while everything is falling.” He is currently holding a temporary passport provided by England because that’s where they are currently residing after they got out of Syria. There was a time he lost hope and didn’t want to find a way on how his family will survive. But he met good people who were willing to extend a helping hand, gave him job and give food and shelter to his family. So he decided to make good use of the chance he was given and tried going back to his profession.

He shared a lot of stories, sad ones that shows how hard life was. Despite those moments, he was thankful because there are good people out there.

My dear friend, never lose hope. The world is full of challenges. I am sorry you have to experience those moments in your life. I will include you in my prayers and I will always wish and hope that good things happen to you and your family. Never lose hope.

***

” Be kind, because everyone you meet is fighting a harder battle. ” – PLATO

Thank you to those I met for the stories, good or bad they are all appreciated. You let me see a different world. More stories next time!

 

(Currently at the airport waiting for my flight. This article started at the airport and ended in the airport as well. Off to another destination.)