I was half way across my flight to Dubai en route to Iran, (from Manila) when I realized that I only have 60 USD in my wallet. I forgot to withdraw money before I boarded the plane!

First hiccup

I was in a rush that day that I forgot to do a lot of things before my flight. I wasnโ€™t sure whether my employer would approve my additional leave request that day I was literally waiting for the approval the whole morning and it was only given that afternoon leaving me with 3.5 hours left before the flight.

I hurriedly ran to the nearest booking center and exchanged my flight voucher I got from a credit card promo for a ticket. I went back to the office and gathered my things and went straight to the airport.

Credit card declined

While in line at the check-in counter, I was trying to book my flights from Dubai to Iran when I encountered another problem. My Philippine-issued credit card was declined several times when I tried to book a flight to Iran.

I got extremely worried so I called a friend who lives in Dubai to help me book that flight. I promised myself that before I lined up at the immigration, I would withdraw cash for my travel, but I was too preoccupied with the fact that I cannot book my next flight.


The very slow and long line to the immigration is another story. For some reason, immigration officers are very strict with the people traveling to UAE due to some people posing as tourists when they are really job seekers.

I was looking at my watch and it was 7 minutes before the boarding gate closes and Iโ€™m in still in line. I heard an airline personnel shouted โ€œAnyone still going to Dubai?โ€ I shouted back โ€œMe!โ€ and hurriedly ran towards him. He assisted me to transfer to a faster immigration lane.ย 

Almost passing out at the boarding gate

By the time I finished with the immigration, I already heard that my flight is already on final call status. I panicked and ran to the x-ray machine and had my things scanned, then ran again to the boarding gate.

I arrived just before they close the gate and was out of breath due to running. They were worried I might pass out so the boarding gate crew decided to escort me up to my seat. It was an extremely embarrassing moment but at the same time, I was just thankful I was able to board the plane.

No cash

I was half way across my flight to Dubai en route to Iran, (from Manila) when I realized I only have 60 USD in my wallet. I forgot to withdraw money before I boarded the plane! I tried to keep a calm faรงade inside the plane but my insides were panicking.

Upon landing, the first thing I did was to look for an ATM inside the airport, and there were, but they could not read my card. I tried to use my credit cards to withdraw cash but to no avail.

I have another flight to catch in 12 hours going to Iran and I needed to resolve my money issues immediately as there are no money transfers from and to Iran due to sanctions placed on them. Only Iranian-issued debit and credit cards would work there.

Also, the next flight to Iran would be 3 days from that day, so I badly needed to catch that flight as I only have 10 days to travel and I have booked my tickets as well.

After numerous withdrawal attempts at every ATM in the airport, I accepted the fact that I am in deep trouble and decided to ask help from friends and family.

The reaction of family and friends

When I told a few close friends and my sister about my situation, all of them were stunned and not in a good way. They were all furiously shocked at me for forgetting to bring cash. Messages of WTHs and WTFs were all over my Viber from my friends.

I was taking a beating left and right from them and I was in no position to get angry. It was really stupid of me to forget to bring cash for my travel, which is basically the number 1 rule on what you should bring when you travel anywhere โ€“ cash!

After their initial reactions dwindled, we started discussing my options. I found out that one of the money exchange centers inside the immigration area is also an agent of Western Union.

My friends were willing to send money to me but I had to wait until Monday, as it is a weekend in Manila. My sister told me she could send me some money but I had to wait for 10 hours, as thatโ€™s the time the Western Union opens. I told her I might miss my flight to Iran if I had to wait that long and that I needed to receive it earlier than that but we found no way around it.

At one point a friend suggested for me to just return to Manila seeing how unprepared I was but I was just too determined and stubborn to continue with my travel.

Tired, desperate, and hungry

I found myself sitting on the floor, thinking of all the disastrous things I had gone through the past 24 hours. From time to time my friends would check up on me but I wasnโ€™t in the mood to reply anymore. I was physically and mentally drained and I just wanted to lie down for a while.


Airport couch in Dubai where I slept


I realized I havenโ€™t eaten anything for the last 13 hours so I exchanged 20 USD to AED so I could buy food. I went to the nearest fast food chain I could find and quietly sat there and ate my burger.

I figured that if my sister would not be able to send me money before my next flight, then I would just book a hotel room for the weekend and just stay there in Dubai and maybe hop off to other neighboring countries.

I realized that I needed to be open to the idea of adjusting my initial plans, to just go with the flow and stop fighting the current, to accept that sometimes things are out of your control and that there’s nothing you can do about it except to wait on how things will unfold.

So I decided to look for a place to rest and prayed silently until I fall asleep.

Sister saves the day

It was already 7:00ย am in Dubai, and my scheduled flight to Iran was in 2 hours when I received a message from my sister that she had sent the money. I slowly walked to the money exchange center, I was anxious to see if I would be able to receive the money or would another disaster strike again and ruin my plans.

I prayed silently that everything would be fine, and when the cashier handed the cash over to me, I almost cried.

Iran, here I come!

Varzaneh Salt lake

I wasted no time and immediately ran to the transfer desk and had my boarding pass printed then boarded the plane. I was sitting on the aisle in low spirits convincing myself that I should be excited about the trip. The pilot had just announced that we had started our initial descent.

After several minutes, I peeked through the window and I was stunned by what I saw! It was an unbelievably striking view of the mountainous terrains of Iran. It somehow jolted me and brought back the excitement I initially had.

Yazd, Old City

I could not stop smiling! I was so kilig! My seatmates were laughing at me seeing how elated I was looking at the view. Then I whispered to myself โ€“ Iran, here I come!

Read:ย Iran Part II: A Traveler’s Guide


10 thoughts on “Iran Part I: I experienced a series of unfortunate events and had the trip of a lifetime

  1. I enjoyed reading your post. It was so “real” to read. I am very much looking forward what you have to say about Iran. ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป


      1. I am very much interested in traveling there and one does not see too many posts about it, so I am really looking forward hearing about it. ๐Ÿค—


  2. Can’t believe what you had to go through, but at least you made it to Iran.

    Will wait for your next posts. Iran is one of my dream destinations. ๐Ÿ™‚


  3. Whyyyy did I see this just now. DX Kaloka, I thought your problem was just limited to “tatay employer”, seems like there had been more… Nonetheless happy to see everything got sorted out — Looking forward to see your part II! ๐Ÿ™‚


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