So it turns out that my first travel fail happened pretty early on. In fact, it was my initial fight to Bangkok. It had started off swimmingly. I was flying from Scotland with a 24 hour stop off at my parents’ house in Spain to pick up some of the rest of my stuff. Some unforseen circumstances had meant I had travel to Spain alone, hire a car and drive myself from and back to the airport. Thanks to the painstakingly precise directions given by my stepfather (Thanks George :)), this was an easy task. I arrived at Malaga airport, checked in and started to feel very excited about the trip ahead. I couldn’t believe I was embarking on this trip.
It started with a scratchy throat. No big deal. I probably just needed to drink some water. About 3 hours into my first flight (to Istanbul) it was clear that this was not dehydration. I had a headache, fever and sore throat. I recognized the symtoms. This was strep. First travel lesson?-don’t pack all your medication in your checked luggage! I would clearly have to suck it up, and purchase some when I got to Turkey for my stopover.
2nd travel lesson?? Don’t expect things in foreign countries to work the same way they do at home. It turns out that unlike the UK and USA, medication (even painkillers) cannot be found in any newspaper store in the airport in Turkey. They are only sold in pharmacies. At this point, I was shivering so much that at least 2 people had offered me their coats! Without a thermomemeter I could not be certain, but I was pretty sure I had a fever. This was at the height of the ebola crisis. My biggest fear was being turned away at the Thai customs for fear that I was bringing some lurgy to their country. I had to find a way to bring my fever down.
After searching every store in the airport and turning down the $200 airside airport hotel (I had four hours left before my next flight), I approached the information desk at the airport and asked if there was anywhere I could get something for “a headache”. She told me that there was a pharmacy on the “land side” that could bring medicine through security for me. She handed me the phone and returned back to her other customers. After finally getting the number from her (she seemed genuinely shocked that I did not know the number to call the pharmacy in Istanbul airport), it was arranged that someone would bring me some painkillers.
20 minutes later, standing outside Starbucks, I handed some guy $5 for some foreign medication and hoped I would not be arrested for mistakingly buying drugs in a Turkish airport. It was a tough choce -Ebola quarantine or possible prison-I decided to take my chances and at least feel better in prison after some Ibuprofen. It turned out it was the correct choice. I succesfully boarded the plane to Bangkok, and hoped that with some sleep on the plane, I would pass with flying colors in Bangkok!