Dubai airport, actually.
This is the longest transit I’ve ever had in all my travelling, except for flight delays and cancellations.
Arriving a quarter past midnight after watching seven hours of movies and making sure the big guy next to me wasn’t drunk or puking from consuming the free alcohol on board, I followed the other passengers like sheep in a pen out to the massive airport.
For a moment, I thought I was in Manila airport. Almost every service staff is Filipino. They’re everywhere – selling baklava, serving my sandwich, promoting champagne, handing our perfume samples, giving instructions about the airport. It’s weird.
I read expats make up 87% of UAE workforce and a friend who’s living in Dubai confirms that the majority workers are foreigners. You wonder what do the Emirates do besides owning oil fields and real estate. I suppose they don’t have to work at all. Lucky people!
After an hour of soaking in this man-made oasis, I looked for a place to sleep in one of the many reclining lounge seats along the corridor with all the toilets. Picked one between a sleeping Muslim lady and a scholarly chap reading a book. Settled down and immediately went to lala land.
Next conscious moment – a piercing cry echoed the entire universe of the Arabian travellers’ haven. The sleeping lady and the scholar were gone. Instead I was lying with a row of men dressed in robes and coats, all sleeping in different postures.
The cry again. It’s more familiar now. I’ve heard it before from the kampong next to the old housing estate I grew up. It’s the Islamic call to prayer. Must be 5am.
Flight in another 4 hours. Picked up my bags, good they’re still with me. The airport was abuzz with people at the start of day. Got to check my boarding gate in case its in another terminal.
Passed the duty-free shops with same-old stuff found in every airport, souvenirs made in China and international brands of liquor, cosmetics, watches, electronics. Not much of history, culture and custom.
Decided to head straight for my gate and start reading the books I bought in Heathrow. That’s if I could still keep awake and not miss my flight after waiting for so long. Anyway I’m sure the staff will wake me if the last call is made and they see someone flaked out in the waiting area.
Well I did it. The book was interesting. I’m home.