Ahhh, the sweet price we pay to travel on the cheap.
My flight from Bali to Budapest took me to Jakarta, Singapore, and London first. On paper, it seemed reasonable. I leave on Wednesday night and arrive Friday afternoon. That’s not so bad, is it?
The reality set in as I began to kill my first eight hours, without even setting foot on a plane.
I left my hostel in Ubud on the latest shuttle bus of the day. Which left at noon. My flight was set to depart at 9:40 pm. At the airport, I lugged my belongings from the international terminal, where the shuttle dropped us off, to the domestic terminal, where my first flight departed from. By the time I sat down for a coffee, I had sweated through my sweet smelling t-shirt and hippie pants (smelling sweet courtesy of the lovely Indonesian laundry women of Ubud, bless their souls). I didn’t even want to think about how I would smell when I finally arrived in Budapest.
Power points were nowhere to be found and I quickly ran out of battery on my laptop. Luckily, I had an extra battery for my phone and there was plentiful free wifi to be had. This first eight hours passed relatively painlessly, courtesy of the Guys We Fucked podcast show that I had downloaded many, many episodes of.
My flight to Jakarta was only two hours and would be followed by another painful eight hours of time killing before my next and once again brief flight to Singapore.
I arrived in Jakarta late at night and was the last flight to enter the airport. The other passengers quickly dispersed, either to connecting flights or to the outside world, and soon I was alone in a very small, unexciting airport terminal. I found a bench and lay down, hoping to fall asleep but soon realizing that sleep would not come. I found a Costa Coffee and got yet another cup of coffee and sat down to do some writing.
When I got up just before my flight was set to board, around 7 am, I looked at the departures board to see that my flight’s terminal had been changed and I had about twenty minutes to make my way to the international terminal, which meant getting through customs at an ungodly speed. I ran to the line and rushed to get my stamp, only to find out that since I had already been out of the terminal, I now had to go see the head customs officer in order to get through. I don’t know if the poor customs officer had ever witnessed an angry American before, but I really let him have it. He took me into the office of the head officer, who took one look at me and, with a whimper of fear, gave me the stamp I needed to get through. I had a brief moment of satisfaction before remembering my current situation and set off running once again.
I miraculously made my flight and was in Singapore within a few hours. I’ll take this moment to say that Garuda Airlines is hands down the best airline I have ever taken. Also, the Singapore airport is AMAZING. It’s huge and even has a butterfly garden. Unfortunately, my layover in this airport was only 45 minutes. It was truly a tragedy.
Because I was carrying on from Singapore to London, the airline gave me a $30 coupon (Singapore dollars, which are valued much higher than US dollars) to use anywhere in the airport. Obviously, I ran to the nearest Duty Free shop and bought a bottle of vodka to take with me to Budapest. I mean, free vodka!?! Garuda forever!
The flight from Singapore to London was about thirteen hours and was not full at all, which meant this girl had an entire row to herself (WOO!). Still somehow not tired, I watched about three movies and had two glasses of red wine before even attempting a nap. It lasted only four hours and then I was up again for the duration of the flight. I pulled into Heathrow in the early evening on Thursday feeling very relieved that the trip was nearly over.
From Heathrow, I caught a transfer bus to Stansted, which took about an hour. Being the cheap girl I am, I was going to spend one more night in an airport. There weren’t many seats available and the wifi was only good for an hour, so once again podcasts got me through the next twelve (!!!) hours until my flight to Budapest was ready to board.
Another great tragedy befell me in the security line at Stansted; my bottle of vodka was not allowed through the line, despite still being in its sealed Duty Free bag. I kissed my sweet, unopened bottle of Absolut good-bye and lowered her into the trash bin. My heart broke, but alas I was forced to move on and finish the journey. Time will heal all wounds.
As per usual with flights to party cities, there were roughly thirty twenty-something men on the flight heading to Budapest for bachelor parties. The flight was loud and rowdy, so sleep once again escaped me. I touched down in Budapest at noon, grabbed a bus and train, covered myself in a fresh layer of sweat, and within a couple more hours was at my hostel and reunited with my family of Stokie hobos.
By the end, I had been traveling for 56 hours, 30 of which had been layovers. I had a total of between 4 and 6 hours of sleep. But hey, I was finally back in Europe.
Let the games begin.
**Unfortunately, due to the loss of my phone in Budapest, I also lost all my photos that would correspond to this article. Sadness and apologies for the high word to photo ratio!**