My plane took off from Chennai, and I was on my way home for the summer. But I had one last pit stop to make – a three-day layover in Dubai. I was excited – this was my first trip to the Middle East. But when I booked my flight, I didn't think about the consequences of being in a Muslim country during Ramadan.
I gulped my water and realized that I might need five or six liters to avoid another episode of severe dehydration. The Melbourne hikers caught up with me while I rested. They said “hi” and continued up the hill, on a mission. When they were out of my view, my mental challenge increased tenfold. As far as I knew, there were no other hikers on this section. If the heat knocked me out, it could be a day before anyone would find me. Given my limited supply of water, would I even last that long?
I was confused. Our plane was only a few thousand feet above one of the world's largest cities, yet I barely saw any lights. Beijing's international airport is located far from downtown, but I still was expecting the city to look brighter from above. As we neared the ground, a thick haze blanketed us. Visibility was less than half a mile in all directions.