Australia (Oz), affectionately known as the land down under and for good reason, takes an exhausting effort to visit. Much like an isolated island, Australia is perhaps one of the most expensive major destinations to fly to making it a trip that requires at least 2-4 weeks for said effort to pay off. From Europe, North America, and I suspect many other parts of the world, it takes 17-20 hours in transit to get there which, for me, is the longest flight I’ve had to date.
Traveling to Oz is making a commitment, and for 8 months it seemed that we weren’t destined to meet.
Australia was tacked onto the very end of my first 6-month, RTW trip (big mistake), but due to burnout and fatigue, I had to cut my trip short and fly home. My trip ended in Japan, where I had intended to spend NYE and then fly into Sydney in the middle of January. Oz was to be my final destination. I was so close, but no cigar. At the time, I figured it would be okay because I could just reschedule my visit later in 2013.
In April 2013, I had this brilliant plan to return to Japan and visit China and the Philippines for the first time. Sandwiched between those countries, I would go with a tour group to visit North Korea. When plans for both the Philippines and North Korea fell through, I thought, “Why not re-route to Oz? Seems like a good opportunity.” Well, my second attempt ended in a similar manner to my first where I was struck down with a nasty head cold and fatigue in China, left without the will to carry on. My spirits were low, and I didn’t want to finish the trip with a cloud hanging over my head so I flew home. Oz would, again, have to wait for another time.
Even though I felt disheartened from my previous efforts, I vowed to try a third time, keeping my hopes lower than normal. My flight to Oz from my first RTW trip had been refunded leaving me with an available airline credit, and my visa was already intact and wouldn’t expire until October 2013. It seemed the stars had finally aligned.
Six hours before I was scheduled to board my flight to Sydney, I went online to check in, and it said one or more legs of my trip had been cancelled.
“MAN, the universe really doesn’t want me to go to Australia,” I thought to myself.
Any semblance of hope and excitement started to tank. It turns out that none of my flights had been cancelled, but the flight numbers changed requiring my travel agent to reissue my tickets so that I could board the plane. Seems easy enough to take care of, right? Imagine my delight when I found out that customer service at this third party agency exists in the form of one answering machine with a promise to return my call within 24 hours. I quickly learned, through a slew of bad online reviews, that the company through which I booked my flight is unreliable to the point that they are considered a scam. So, why sites like Kayak and Momondo work with them, I haven’t a clue (more on this in a later post). Leaving a voicemail wouldn’t get me anywhere so I turned to bombarding their email inbox with borderline threatening messages instead. Worst case scenario, I could just show up at the airport and see what happens. Well, two hours before I had to leave for the airport, the miracle of all miracles happened. I got an email back from them stating that my tickets had been reissued and I was clear to fly. HALLELUJAH!
So it turns out that the third time is a charm. The struggle to get to Australia has worn out my soul a bit making the trip all the more special. To see the opera house in person, walk across the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and so many other things I never dreamed of coming true, it replaced all of my former frustrations with gratitude and awe.