Saturday, October 15, 2011

Day 144 - Kathmandu to Sharjah to Istanbul

After 4.5 months in Asia, I'm headed to a new continent finally! (...well I'll still be on the "Asian" side of Turkey, but I'll consider it Europe)

but I created an inconvenient situation for myself right before I left Nepal...on the very last day, I happened to lose my cell phone! (or have it stolen? I never really know)... so I'll have to find a cheap phone to buy when I get to Turkey.

The airport in Kathmandu was small, but pretty efficient to get through, maybe because there weren't really that many people there in the first place. I took an Air Arabia flight headed to Sharjah, U.A.E. It would be my first time in the Middle East, and I didn't know what to expect. I mean, the media has taught me to fear such places...and I can say it probably persuaded me not to even think about staying for a visit in any of these countries, but after landing there and seeing the possibilities and things to see, I wish I stayed...even for just a couple days just to get a small dose of the beautiful deserts and Arab culture.

Upon arrival in Sharjah, I noticed that the air looked hazy, probably due to the high level of dust and sand in the air. The airport was nice, and it was interesting to see some of the Arab men in their traditional attire, with the long robes (kaftan), head covering (ghoutra), and head circlets (igaal). There was a large presence of overseas Filipino workers at the airport, working for the airlines as well as the restaurants. I was excited to say "salamat" as thank you to them. I asked a McDonalds worker (yes I had a Big Mac) how often she was able to go home to the Philippines. She said she was able to go once, every two years, for two months. I think it's very brave of some of these young workers who travel to other countries to work in an unknown environment to help their families back home. I would think it would be stressful and lonely if things don't work out, but they do it to make things back home better for their families...

After a 4 hour layover, we finally headed to Istanbul. I went on another Air Arabia flight, and for the first time, I heard a Muslim Prayer before the plane took off on flight. I wonder if it was one of the 5 prayers that Muslims perform each day, or if it was just a prayer for a safe flight. Either way, it was quite interesting to see religion play a part in a commercial airline, much like other businesses who inconspicuously do so with their own owners' religions.

I landed in Istanbul just past midnight, took a bus and taxi to my CS Hosts' place, where he was also hosting another guy from Germany, and knocked out. The ride from the airport to the home brought me memories of my city in California. Maybe it was just because I was in a Western country, compared to all my travels in Asia, but it was nice to see clean highways, hotels, shopping centers, toll roads, etc...

Flight to Sharjah

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