This Journey Of More Than A Thousand Miles Begins With…

Waking up very early :p

I barely slept, I can’t even remember when I have fallen asleep. The excitement of being away after almost 6 months of travel hiatus and the fear and paranoia of flying from this country’s capital airport had me in mixed emotions. What I knew was, I had to sleep. However it takes… Or I might miss my ever-reliable phone waking me up with “It’s 3:45 time to wake up!”

I woke up just right to finish preparing myself and my stuff and do last-minute cleaning of my room. At 10 minutes prior to stage time, I was on my way to the staging area with 2 luggages in tow, my happy bag and my pouch. During the mission briefing, I realized I didn’t print my work permit so I hurried to the office and printed 2 copies. Better be safe than sorry.

Travel to the airport was uneventful. It was very dark still and fear was slowly creeping in as I realized going through the airport entry procedures “in the dark” and I was alone.

Traveling out of Kabul Airport wouldn’t be the same without the stress everyone goes through. I believe some of these stress are unnecessary and I am hoping that the airport officials would implement ways to make travelers’ experience a bit better.

Ok, so there is the Ladies’ Search # 1. Then x-ray screening of luggages and bags at X-ray Screening Area # 1. Then I had to trolley my stuff from this Search Area # 1 to the Ticket Inspection Area # 1. Instead of taking a bus to the airport terminal entrance, I went along with a random group of people walking to X-Ray Screening Area # 2. I felt scared waiting in the dark alone and as I scanned my potential busmates, I was the only female. I pushed my trolley to X-Ray Screening Area # 2 where they detected the iron pressure-cooker Afghan-version. I had to open my luggage in a poorly-lit search area, with greater paranoia sinking in to me. Yet I got some smiles and pride from the “searchers” when they saw my pressure cooker and I told them I’d bring it home.

Just outside X-Ray Screening Area # 2 is Ticket Inspection Area # 2. This marks the entry to the airport terminal area.

Done with few searches and inspections… But wait, there’s more!

Just a few meters from the international airport terminal is Ticket Inspection Area # 3. Just a few steps more… I am finally inside the terminal building.

Another body search, Ladies’ Search # 2. Then X-Ray Screening Area # 3. I have a phobia going through this last procedure since last time I was almost a victim of possible extortion as the person checking the x-ray accused me of having $20,000 in my possession. How I wish! Nothing happened with that ploy, but it certainly sent shivers down my spine.

The guy at the x-ray area was starting to play another trick on me when he called my attention. Luckily, another airport guy standing randomly after the x-ray screening area approached me and just checked my passport instead. I couldn’t be more thankful to the Heaven above when this guy said “Buru” which means “Go”. I escaped from a possible extortion attempt.

Now, to the check-in counter. I brought a semi-luggage/semi-handcarry bag that the check-in crew would not accept as a carry-on bag. He was about to charge me for excess baggage of 10kg so I had to explain that I shouldn’t be charged anymore since I technically don’t have the 7kg carry-on allowance. Another stress since he asked me to open my semi-handcarry bag and transfer some stuff to my bag. But finally, after asking him a few times whether “he will charge me for the 10kg excess”, he budged and decided to let me get away from it 🙂 Whew! Talk about persistence when really needed.

After that, everything was a breeze. I went up to the Immigration area where there was no queue. It was uneventful. After the Immigration is… You guessed it right! Another X-Ray Screening # 4 and Ladies Search # 3. This time shoes need to be taken off. I was taken to a small room for a body search and just when I got out of it, one airport personnel is close to opening my bag. I almost panicked. She explained that she had to open my bag and check. She went straight to my SLR, opened it and took a sample for drug/powder random testing. It’s almost over, I said to myself…

Now, the haven of this place… The boarding area. I cant believe I was only the 8th person there. This place has never been so deserted.

While Kabul International Airport still leaves a lot to be desired, a lot has changed since I set foot in this country almost 5 years ago. For one, we don’t have to be transported via bus to the plane but the airport now has a tube.

Second, the airport, or at least the boarding area, is now a wifi spot 🙂 Actually, most of this post was written while waiting for boarding.

Truly the journey of more than a thousand miles begins with… waking up very early, hurdling the stressors then finding some respite in another airport – with 12 hours to burn.

How am I gonna while my time? Hmmm… That will be a perfect topic for my next post 🙂


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