Across Continents

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Unexpected diversion

We were sat on the tarmac at Sofia international airport, Bulgaria. A short stopover, but one I’d missed in my haste to book flights online. Earlier, as the pilot had announced our imminent arrival, I’d a sudden sinking feeling. Was I on the wrong plane? Surely that wasn’t possible, too many checks and balances? But if it was the case, what of my checked-in luggage, baggage handlers desperately rummaging through the hold of the right plane to find it, once I was found to be a no-show? I’d not be popular, that was certain.

I’d already exhausted the in-flight airline magazine, which I’d found to be quite a good source of information about my eventual destination. Admittedly this was, in part, due to my boarding with a pretty scant knowledge of the place. I’d a hand sketched map and little else. But I’d worked with less before, and, in any case, this time I knew I’d be fairly fluent in one of the local dialects, and that always made things much easier.

I was committed to the plan – we’d be taking off shortly, then a couple more hours in the air – but sought to reassure myself by reviewing the scribbled deductions I’d made in my notebook back in Turkey. There were a few unexpected matters I needed to attend to before heading further east, and it had come down to where best to deal with them.

I glanced down my list of considerations. Practical stuff like decent, affordable accommodation, the ability to self-cater and avoid a diet brimming with bad cholesterol, facilities to ensure I returned to the road fighting fit, and good communications. I’d also found somewhere which had a consulate for just about every country I needed a visa for in Asia, so there was a fighting chance I could machete my way through much of the oppressive bureaucracy whilst there. And in much nicer surroundings than some of the places further along my route.

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