London to Melbourne via Colombo; a beautiful 50 hour journey.
Travelling to the other side of the world really is a tiring as it sounds and it gets even more tiring when you’re on a budget so choose the cheap yet long long long flights. I was fortunate that even though I took a budget flight I only had one single layover in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
So what was the actual journey like?
Well it started off with tears. I’m terrible with goodbyes, always have been so when I said goodbye to my Dad at his security gate (the final goodbye before leaving the UK) I ended up in the toilets crying for ten minutes as the realisation that I had officially begun my solo trip dawned on me. However, I picked myself up, walked to my terminal and waited to check in. Due to my Dad’s cancelled flight, I ended up at Heathrow about six hours early for my flight so had some time to kill. I FaceTimed my Mum, drank some coffee and managed to pass the hours fairly quickly.
My journey to Australia was with SriLankan Air and after stepping onto my first flight I was pleasantly surprised at how nice the planes and staff were! The women we’re wearing traditional saris along with a traditional Sri Lankan welcome; “Ayubowan” (meaning long life) whilst also holding their hands together and against their chest. It was somewhat refreshing to have a cultural welcome and it certainly set the tone for the flight.
I had initially been sat next to a very chatty elderly gentleman (we talked about life, politics and travel for the hour I was sat with him before and during take-off) before moving to an empty two seats towards the rear of the plane so I could sprawl and sleep. The entertainment onboard as well was brilliant. They had many good blockbuster films on there as well as some older films including one of my favourites, 500 Days of Summer. Safe to say that was quickly being watched.
The food then arrived and honestly I don’t think I’ve ever enjoyed airplane food more. To begin I had a refreshing fish salad, followed by a chicken curry main (what curry I can’t remember, sorry) and a pudding (again I’ve completely forgotten what one, my brain turns to mush on planes). Not only was the food delicious but there was one small touch which made the meal…metal cutlery. Yes that’s right, none of that plastic that about breaks when you try to cut something but actual metal cutlery. GOD SEND.
For the next seven hours I slept, watched some more films and slept a little more. Before I knew it, it was time for some more food before landing in Colombo.
I’ve done layovers before but never one that involved me leaving the airport for nineteen hours without having to collect my luggage. The way this layover worked was going through customs and immigration on a 48 hour transit visa and making my way to the SriLankan Air layover desk. When I was there they gathered my details and arranged my transfer. I waited for around twenty minutes before the transfer arrived and I was taken to the Hotel Ramada Katunayake which was roughly a twenty minute drive from the airport. All of this was included with my ticket (along with three meals at the hotel) due to how much I had spent on my airfare, pretty nifty for a budget traveller!
At the hotel I simply relaxed, got some more sleep and had a couple of meals! Again, time flew by and it was time to head back to the airport and catch flight number two. This flight however was a little less enjoyable.
I had expected the flight to be full, which it was, however I didn’t expect a few things…
- My flight was delayed; not by the airline or airport but by a customer on board who had a “medical emergency” (I managed to get these details towards the end of my flight off one of the cabin crew). I had witness an elderly woman struggling to board the plane who had help from two of the cabin crew to reach her seat. However, I soon saw her being wheeled off the plane. Here’s where it gets interesting… so she returned around an hour later to a different seat but this time was walking unaided and completely fine. Turns out she had been shouting at fellow passengers and cabin crew due to a knee problem so the crew wheeled her off the plane to see a doctor due to being unfit to fly however as soon as she saw the doctor she got up and was fine. It’s very rare you ever see fury in cabin crew faces like I did on this day (and I’ve been on some Ryanair flights with some serious idiots).
- The level of service dropped on this flight. It remained at a very high standard for most the flight but you could see that during the food service the cabin crew had a lot of special requests to handle which resulted in me receiving the 2nd to last meal on the flight over an hour after the first people received their food. Not exactly the most fun, especially as the smell of food for an hour had made me so hungry and thirsty. However, this didn’t ruin my flight as it was clear to see how many fussy customers were onboard.
As with all long haul flights, you eat, sleep, watch some films, listen to music, eat and then touch down in your new destination. After ten hours I finally touched down in Melbourne. I collected my baggage and honestly jumped with joy in front of about 200 people when my bag showed up, passed through customs and caught the SkyBus to the CBD. A quick fifteen minute walk through the city and I arrived at my hostel.
Now I could relax. Next job: sleep.