It was quite a rush as we scrambled to get our air tickets confirmed. Yes, apparently our flights had just been confirmed even though the names for the conference had been submitted at least a month ago, if not more. Nonetheless, we managed to get our tickets after calling up the ticketing agent a few times in Jarkarta, who will be handling Alice’s air ticket and at least 20 ticketing agents for my tickets. The organization ended up only sponsoring 1 ticket in the end while another organization agreed to sponsor the other ticket through a reimbursement process. I have a feeling I will have to wait till Christmas before I will be able to get any cent back.

Through all our planning and load reductions and planning, we still ended up with a 15kg load on my side and a 12 kg load for Alice. We don’t really know what went wrong, but that seemed to be an overkill for a 6 day trip in India.

We met up with Nicole to hand her the tickets for the Chevrolet F1 party event that she will be covering here, which also ended up as a send off session. That was when we realised that we forgot our Lonely Planet India book – which is almost like our bible when we head for overseas events. We made the mistake of assuming that the books sold within the checked in area would be cheaper, but we were WRONG. Not only did the books seemed to be of the same price, the book that we were looking for was sold out! Of course, we ended up scrambling everywhere for the book before finding a copy at the bookstore just in front of our boarding gate.

It was almost an uneventful event until we realised that we didn’t make arrangements to meet the coordinator at the Hyderabad Airport. A quick check on gmail, thankfully, revealed her full name from which we asked the boarding counter to check if she was on the same flight. Thankfully, she was checking in while we were at the counter and it was quite a huge relief.

The  flight to Hyderabad was quite alright. We were told horror stories about how the entire cabin would carry the scent of coconut oil and hair gel… well, that’s all WRONG too! The flight on SQ438 was very pleasant and we thought that the cabin crew were very attentive too! So much for the rumours that Singaporean passengers were treated second class, although I tend to believe that it’s a one off case (or perhaps a couple of one-offs).

The in-flight entertainment was nice, although I was a little disappointed that there was no screening of The Simpsons. I ended up watching the Police Story starring Jackie Chan and The Terminal starring Tom Hanks instead. I didn’t manage to finish the second movie, but I thought it was a little laggy.

When we arrived at Hyderabad, we realised that the queue that you are at at the immigration counter does not necessarily mean that you would be served by that counter. People were shuffled everywhere so that some queues can be cleared faster. I waited at my queue with no less than 3 people cutting into my queue through a controller standing at the head of the queue.

I didn’t face any problems at the immigration counter, but most of us were enticed into shopping at their Duty Free shops. The only thing that prevented me from getting anything was the consideration that my bag would really be overloaded. From here, we moved on to the baggage lanes where we waited… and waited… and waited till the cows came home – and they did! Without our bags.

Apparently, the airport understands the meaning of Fragile baggage and unloaded our baggage separately! That’s the first time that my fragile baggage had been unloaded in this manner and I thought it was really great service, unlike most airports that just throgh our bag onto the conveyor belt – fragile or otherwise. Alice definitely had a bad experience with Tiger Airways. It’s either the airlines or the airport (our prestigious Budget Terminal) and I hope the airport do realise that Budget Travelling does not equate to budgeted service. I am so ashamed of telling people about our Budget Terminal. The handling was just terrible.

Anyway, I digressed.

So, we met the coordinator at the airport and we happily hitched a ride with her to our hotel. We were suposed to be staying at Katriya De Royal but we ended up going to Katriya Towers and Resorts. We got another cab to the hotel finally but that was not the end of our horror. For some reason, our reservation was never keyed in event though the travel coordinator in India charged our credit card for it. Worst, he had been uncontactable for the entire week or 2 up to the event. It’s quite a pity that things are handled this badly.

Luckily, we managed to get hold of him in the end and got our rooms. Time of check-in? 1:30am after an hour ride from the airport and 45 minutes of contacting the India coordinator,

And it’s going to be a long day the next day.

This post is made on the Lenovo U110 – a great lightweight notebook to bring with you everywhere (you may however need a solid state hard disk for the bumpy roads in India). =)

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