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My Long Journey to Thailand: 4 Missed Flights and Volcano Eruption

A tuktuk in Bangkok, Thailand - My Long Journey to Thailand

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[dropcap]I[/dropcap]t’s been about three weeks already since I’m in Thailand. But my journey to Thailand, oh, it was an interesting one. Because of a few reasons we had decided to travel to Thailand separately. My plan was to travel from Latvia to Bangkok with 2 short stopovers in Jakarta and Bali. And I wanted to make the whole trip in 7 days. Una had a direct flight to Bangkok. We were planning to arrive on the same day, and meet at the airport.

But, as you have probably understood already (or you are following me on Instagram and We Are From Latvia on Facebook) it didn’t work out like this. My journey to Thailand took me 15 days, and it was quite an eventful trip.

My Itinerary

Initially my itinerary looked like this: Riga – Oslo – London – Singapore – Jakarta – Bali – Bangkok.

Because I wanted to get to Jakarta and Bali at least for 3-4 days. And because it was very cheap to fly like this. In total my flights cost me slightly more than 300 EUR (about 350 USD).

In Oslo I had an overnight layover, and my plan was to stay the night at the airport, sleep somewhere on the chair or just sit and wait for an early morning flight. From there I had a short flight to London. Three hour layover there. Then a 12+ hour direct flight to Singapore. About 10 hours in Singapore. A flight to Jakarta. 1.5 days in Jakarta. A flight to Bali. 2.5 days in Bali. And then a 4-hour long midnight flight to Bangkok.

But, yeah, it didn’t work out like this.

Man and woman walking across the street in London - My Long Journey to Thailand

My First Ever Canceled Flight

And… unplanned visit to London.

First flight went well. I got through security super fast. Like in-5-minutes-from-the-entrance-to-the-gate fast. Same like on all the following flights, by the way, which was a big surprise to me. I wanted to go through security and find a comfy chair where to spend a night and learned, that you can’t go through security this long before your flight, which makes perfect sense right now. Had never thought about it before.

But I found  a comfy chair just before the security. And slept there. Same like few other travelers.

At about 4 AM I went through security. As the only passenger at that time.

Boarding started as scheduled. But the flight got delayed for about an hour. Initially because of some technical problems. Afterwards – because of the heavy snow. So we arrived to London a bit later than planned. But still with enough time to change the planes.

Not knowing how big is the airport and how long will be lines ahead I hurried to my gate. Same like few others, who as I learned later, also had a connecting flight to Singapore. All to discover that our boarding have been delayed. Ok, I thought, no problems, I have enough time in Singapore to make it to my next flight anyway.

About an hour later, when we already were supposed to be in the air, an announcement came, that our flight is delayed for at least an hour or two because of some technical problems.

Few more announcements and about an hour later I received an SMS from Norwegian saying that the flight to Singapore is canceled.

There were few moments when I couldn’t really understand, what should I do next. So I just followed others. But all in all Norwegian handled the situation very well.

Another hour later we were taken out to the arrivals hall.

And there we were given 3 options:

  1. Full refund.
  2. New flight to Singapore about 30 hours later, with Norwegian + a free overnight stay at the Hilton hotel, situated opposite the airport + free dinner and breakfast at the Hilton.
  3. New flight to Singapore 12 hours later with British Airways from another airport + a free transfer to that airport.

River view in London - My Long Journey to Thailand

I chose the second option. Because I couldn’t make it to Jakarta anymore. I didn’t see a point in buying a new flight from Singapore to Jakarta to go there for less than 24 hours after this tiring journey from Latvia to Singapore.

I’ll better rest today in a nice hotel, visit London tomorrow (a city I haven’t been to) and get myself a new flight from Singapore to Bali. That’s how I was thinking. And that’s how I did.

And I’m very happy about my choice.

Because this way I could have a proper rest between my flights. And weather was great. So I fully enjoyed my short visit to London. The city surprised me. And now I’ll be eager to return for more.

Compensation For a Canceled or Delayed Flight

Speaking of a flight cancellation. I filed a claim for airline compensation, and a week ago got a reply, that I’m getting a 600 EUR compensation. I’ll update you on this later!

If your flight is operated by an EU-based airline, chances of getting a compensation in these situations are pretty high.

Since I was very busy, and didn’t want to deal with the hassle of all this (and didn’t want to be too late or forget about this), I made the decision to use Airhelp. Their services are costly. In my case it will cost me around 150 EUR. But you are paying only if you are getting a compensation. So far I’m satisfied with their services and communication.

Another option would be to know your rights (what you are eligible to) and contact your airline directly.

A beach in Bali - My Long Journey to Thailand

Isn’t Your Flight to Bangkok Cancelled?

This time everything went well. I made it to Singapore. And afterwards – to Bali. I had dinner in a restaurant next to my hotel, and went to sleep. Early the next morning I rented a scooter, and headed out of the city to explore Bali. Late in the afternoon I arrived to Ubud, where I met with friends.

And the first questions I got was – isn’t your flight to Bangkok canceled? How is the situation in Kuta?

What’s happening, guys? Turns out there has been a volcano eruption, and a lot of flights have been canceled because of that.

Oh, well!

However, there aren’t any news about my flight, which is scheduled to depart in about 30 hours. As I find out later in the evening. And accordingly I decide to just continue exploring Bali as planned.

In the morning I checked the news one more time. There wasn’t anything about my flight. I packed my backpack. Left it at the reception. Checked out of the hotel. And headed out for the beaches, as planned. If my flight gets cancelled, I’ll just book a room for another night in Bali, and will figure out what to do next – that was my plan.

Few hours later I received an SMS – your flight to Bangkok is canceled.

Ok, I can wait a day or two.

I booked myself a room in another hotel, a short walk away from the first one, while having a lunch.

And later I learned, that the airports of Bali and Lombok have been closed.

Ok, I can take a 10-hour bus to Surabaya and fly from there.

And in the evening, just before returning back to city, I got a flat tire. There was no place where to fix it. Because it was dark and there was a power outage. So I just left the bike and took a taxi back to city.

Ok, I’m not going anywhere tomorrow. Because I need to come back to my bike, get it fixed and take it back to the rental shop.

And then I read on the news, that there is a tropical cyclone coming to Java and Bali, and roads to Surabaya might get flooded.

Flooded street in Bali - My Long Journey to Thailand

Flooded street in Bali – My Long Journey to Thailand

Ok, I’ll better then take a train to Surabaya or even to Jakarta and fly from there.

I got to the bike. It wasn’t stolen. Got it fixed for about 6 EUR. Explored a bit more of Bali. And returned the bike to the shop. And booked myself a train ticket to Surabaya two days later. Couldn’t get anything sooner because all trains were fully booked.

Kaspars and kids in Surabaya, Indonesia - My Long Journey to Thailand

An Unplanned Visit to Surabaya…

Already in the beginning, when getting myself a train ticket to Surabaya (a city I had no idea existed; also the second largest city of Indonesia), I had made a decision – I’ll travel over land all the way to Jakarta and fly to Bangkok from there. Because I wanted to see Jakarta as well. And if everything was as it was, why don’t use this opportunity.

Since I didn’t know a thing about Surabaya, I didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t even Googled Surabaya, because I was busy with other things. So I was thinking – if it turns out that Surabaya is just a boring, small town, then I could as well take a night train to Jakarta and leave the city few hours after my arrival.

Boy was I wrong! Surabaya turned out to be a real gem. Authentic, with very few tourists, and a home to millions of extremely friendly and welcoming people. Of course, I didn’t know anything of it at first, but as the city looked very modern I was interested to see more of it.

So when in the train station I had to make a decision – take a train to Jakarta 3 hours later or wait for at least 3 days – it was an easy choice. There weren’t any other options this time, because it was a national holiday and the rest of the trains were fully booked. Actually I didn’t even think twice. If I will not like it here, I will find a way – maybe not the easiest – to get to Jakarta, that’s how I was thinking then.

And it was yet another great choice.

Kids on bicycles in Surabaya, Indonesia - My Long Journey to Thailand

I Made It to Jakarta

I made it to Jakarta feeling very ill. After a night on a train I had got a cold. As a result I didn’t see much of Jakarta. Because I slept most of the time I was in the city. But otherwise everything continued to happen as planned. And on the next day I made it to Bangkok.

What a journey it was, huh! Maybe this could be also a good idea for your next vacation? My itinerary I mean, not all these flight cancellations and delays.

Yes, not everything and not always happens as we want it. But everything happens for a reason, I guess. That’s how it feels. At least in our experience. If before we were thinking of going to Indonesia only for a couple of weeks in January, then now, after this good first visit to Indonesia, we have decided to go to Indonesia for 2 months.

2 thoughts on “My Long Journey to Thailand: 4 Missed Flights and Volcano Eruption”

  1. Good deal Kaspars! You found a positive in a rough situation and even got pulled toward a pretty cool spot. We have flown over 100 times. Only a few delays, thank goodness, but all are a part of travel. On a side note we are heading to Bangkok in about 2 weeks. Excited! Then after 3 days, off to Chiang Mai for a 6 week house sit. Super post dude and great blog.


    1. Thank you! True, all of that is a part of traveling. And we must accept that there will be situations when we can’t control something, and that’s OK.

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