SOUTH-EAST ASIA TRIP 2K18: THE DEPARTURE

The day of my long-planned trip to Asia has finally arrived. This day was the start of my longest backpacking trip in my lifetime and I went on it completely by myself. It could have soon become a nightmare instead when I arrived in Doha. For understanding what happened there we have to turn the clock back to the beginning of that day. It was a relatively cold February morning, streets were still covered with snow. I did not mind that, because I was going to a much warmer place soon. However, I did worry for a while. It did snow quite a lot just a few days before my departure day.

Qatar Airways pillow
On this trip I flew with the best airlines in the world for the first time.

Last year I started my trip from my domestic airport because I got a cheap offer. This year, however, I was flying from the capital of Croatia, Zagreb. There are several options on how to get to Zagreb airport. It is close to Ljubljana, so with every option, you can reach it in about 2 hours. I decided to book a Slovene shuttle company, called GoOpti, because of my previous good experiences with them and because they are affordable. You can choose to be picked up at your home address or at some different points in Ljubljana. When I travel with them, I always choose the departure point at the main bus station in Ljubljana, considering that it is the cheapest.

We departed at 10:30 am, at the exact time that they stated on the confirmation e-mail. Croatia is not in the Schengen area yet. When you arrive at the border there is still ID and passport control. That can take a while sometimes, especially during the busy summer months. There were just a few other cars in front of us, so it did not take us that long to pass the border. The ride was smooth and fast. We needed about one and a half hours to reach the airport. During the ride, I was able to watch the changing landscape as well as the weather, because when we were approaching Zagreb, there was less and less snow and around the airport, there was not any snow at all.

GoOpti
When I fly from nearby airports I often use GoOpti.

Zagreb Airport was until recently known as Zagreb Pleso Airport. Now they renamed it into Zagreb Franjo TuΔ‘man airport, honoring the first president of Croatia. This was my first time at this airport. That is why I did not have the chance to see the new terminal that was ceremonially opened last March.

We got there a bit too early, so there was not any information regarding the check-in counter number for my flight to Doha. I did not mind that, due to the fact I had to pack my jacket in my bigger backpack. Luckily, the weather on that day was not that cold, so I was able to wear a thinner jacket that could have fit my backpack easier. The check-in and the security checks went through quite fast and I was already in the international area of the terminal. I still had about two and a half hours until my flight, therefore I decided to find something to eat since I did not eat much till that moment. I was a bit disappointed with the food options because there were not that many of them to choose from. It seems like, they are focusing more on selling various kind of souvenirs and other duty-free items than taking care of this matter. I decided to grab a sandwich and something to drink at Costa CafΓ© while charging my phone.

Zagreb Airport
Waiting for my flight to Doha.

Time passed by quite fast and I was already in the line to board on my first flight to Doha. I was flying with Qatar Airways, known worldwide as the best airline in the world. It definitely did not disappoint me on any level whatsoever. The fact that they give you a menu for the meal or meals that you will get during the flight is really good. That means you have more time to decide what will you have. I had the slow cooked lamb in mint sauce with potatoes and vegetables. I went for this option, mainly because I knew that I will not eat that much lamb and practically none potatoes for the next couple of months. The main dish was great as well as the dessert, a caramel cheesecake. Besides that, there is always a warm piece of bun, an appetizer, and some other things.

It was quite late already when I landed in Doha because the time was already showing almost midnight. I kinda knew what to expect in regards to security checks and things like that. I did not know how long would it take for me to get past it and to find my next gates for my flight to Bangkok. All I knew was that I had less than three hours for that. And it was enough, luckily. What followed next could have become my worst moment on this trip, that did not even start yet.

Doha at night
Overlooking Doha at night.

So what happened? I always need some time to pack my daypack, because I have quite a lot of things inside, from electronics like my camera and tablet, to usually a book like Lonely Planet and some other things. Till now, I never had any problems with my camera. I never had to pull it out of my bag as well. This time it was different. I had to take it out not just from my bag, but out of my camera bag as well. They even made a sample search in case that my lenses were hollow and that something else would be hiding inside them.

Everything was fine, of course, but this process kinda confused me and stressed me to a certain level, when I was putting my things back inside my daypack. At that time, I still did not know exactly how much time I will need to reach my next gate for my next flight. Furthermore, it was almost 1 am. When I wanted to check my phone, I noticed that it turned off by itself. I turned it back on. At that moment I realized that my password for my phone dismissed from my mind. I already tried unsuccessfully a few times and I only had one last chance to get it right. At that moment I sat on a bench, took out my tablet and start to pray for the wifi to work so that I could have sent a message back home. After some effort, I was able to connect to the wifi at the airport and get my code. In the end, I was relieved. I was able to do this quite fast and still have time until my next flight, that departed at 2:30 am local time.

My next flight to Bangkok was special. It was special not just because it meant that I will be in Thailand soon again to start my new, even longer trip. It was special, because I flew with Airbus A380-800, the biggest plane in the world. The Qatar Airways version has 517 seats. That is almost 200 more seats from the previous biggest plane, that I flew with. It was much more luxurious from the previous plane as well. Even the economy seats and the entire economy class itself felt like a first class from my point of view. So now I was thinking, before falling asleep, that my new adventure can finally start now.

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