A few days ago, I was in Velana International Airport for my flight to Manila. I arrived at the airport at 11:30am and my flight is, still, at 8:55pm.
I’m good at wasting spending time alone however, 9 hours is quite long for an airport as small as Velana Int’l Airport.
The airport is small and packed at certain times of the day. The waiting area is open-air and Maldives being a tropical country is humid at times. It is also not recommended to immediately get inside the air-conditioned area so many hours prior to your check in time as there’s really nothing you can do, nor food you can buy once inside as the shops and food court is accessible only after checking-in.
Not having any plans on how to spend my next 9 hours, I went to Burger King, ordered a Whopper meal and ate it slowly but with gusto. I haven’t eaten a BK burger for several months and you can imagine how I felt when I saw the burger.
I sat in BK for a good 3 hours, reading a book while slowly sipping the cola and munching on the remainder of the fries. It was noisy at the airport but I was so glued to what I was reading and I didn’t even notice how noisy it was till I stopped reading. I‘m amazed at how sometimes, we find peace in the midst of chaos, like how we find comfort with strangers, familiarity with the unfamiliar.
After sitting for 3 hours, I thought I’d like to move somewhere but I was thinking about the hassle of walking around with a luggage. Then as I headed to the washroom and for the first time (even though I’ve been to the airport plenty of times already) I noticed the baggage storage area and the wellness lounge beside it where one can have a massage, or take a shower at a fee and asked myself why I never noticed something that has always been there. Then a plan emerged in my head to leave my luggage, head to Male’ for a walk or other things then get refreshed later on in the wellness area before checking in.
I took a boat to Male’ and headed to a café as I felt like I wanted to have a coffee and dessert while reading and it was still too hot to walk outside. I really missed being in a café, sipping good coffee while reading a book, listening to light music or watching people come and go or just staring into nothingness.
I spent another good 3 hours in the café and I thought it was already time to leave after hearing the song Buses and Trains for the 3rd time. I guess the café just had one CD playing the whole day. It’s funny that knowing all the songs on that playlist, it was only Buses and Trains that got stuck with me.
So I walked under a bus, I got hit by a train
Keep falling in love, which is kinda the same
I’ve sunk out at sea, crashed my car, gone insane
And it felt so good, I want to do it again
I had a short walk in Male’, that song playing in my head while watching the mundane; motorbikes passing by, people rushing out of the offices, some chitchatting while some walking away quickly, tourists taking photos and videos, waves crashing on the seawall, boats leaving and arriving at the port, kids running to the birds at the park, birds flying away at the sight of a human being and the continuous rise and fall of the water on the fountain. I felt like I was in a short film complete with surreal cinematography and a great sound track.
I snapped back to reality when an old man approached me and asked where I came from. I wasn’t able to react; my mind was still processing his question. I looked at him for a good 10 seconds without uttering a word, and then he said, I have a souvenir shop there, pointing to a shop few meters away. I smiled and told him, I’m going to STO (a shop), indirectly telling him that I’m not a tourist and I’m not interested in buying souvenirs.
After a good one hour, I took a ferry back to the airport.
I checked the wellness area and asked for the details. Taking a shower costs USD 29, and if I’d like to stay after taking shower and have some refreshments in the lounge, the fee will be USD 40. I was so tempted to get in because it was humid and I felt so warm after my walk in Male’ but I thought of other better things I could get with that USD 29. I thought of books and lipsticks so I skipped the wellness lounge. I only had just less than 2 hours left anyway so I just checked in.
I headed to the gate and sat while waiting for the call. As there were only few minutes left before the boarding time, I thought of how my 9 hours have passed by and how my next 4-hour flight, 4-hour stop over and another 4-hour flight will be spent.