Business Trip to Bangalore... with Lots of Sightseeing Squeezed In!
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Travel destination: India

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When I first decided to start a blog this was one of the first trips that came to mind to write about. It’s somehow been over a year since I went to India, but the memories are still as fresh as if it were yesterday.

It all came about at pretty short notice… I’d just got back from another work trip abroad when my future boss asked if I would be willing to go to India for a couple of weeks to help out on a project. “Yeah, I guess” I said, trying to play down my excitement at the prospect. It was only a week and a half away though, so I didn’t have much time to plan or prep!

After a few frantic days of getting visas and injections sorted, my ears full of “don’t do this and don’t eat that” type advice, I packed enough stuff to last me a month and headed to Manchester to get the flight.

Travel

To try and maximise my time away I booked a Friday night flight with Oman Air on their new Boeing Dreamliner (with work expenses stretching to business class). With the flight scheduled for 8.30pm, I get to the airport with plenty of time to spare and make my way to the lounge to enjoy a few beers while I wait for boarding.

Unfortunately, 8.30pm comes and goes, and there’s no sign of departure… there’s a problem with one of the engines. Some passengers are getting irate, but the engine seems a pretty important part to me, so I’d rather they took their time to fix it properly rather than rush it to get us on our way sooner!

Just after midnight it’s announced the flight is cancelled and will be re-scheduled for midday tomorrow, but that doesn’t happen either. After hours of waiting around, I’m finally re-booked onto the 8.30pm scheduled Saturday night flight instead. And after the 24-hour delay, the excitement of flying business class has somewhat faded! However, seeing the plane and then being shown to my “seat”, it soon returns. I say “seat”, because I have a private pod, and the chair reclines pretty much flat into a bed… it’s amazing!!

I’m brought a glass of champagne and a menu and told I can order whatever I like (I end up having a 4-course meal and bottomless red wine). The choice of movies is also pretty good… I watch Bohemian Rhapsody (brilliant), Aquaman (slept through most of it), and Big (a classic from my childhood which I knew I could doze on and off through and still enjoy).

After changing flights in Muscat (where the premium lounge was nicer than most hotels I’ve stayed in), I finally reach Bangalore airport at about 5pm on Sunday… only 50 hours after I left work to head to Manchester airport!

I’m met at the airport by a driver from the hotel who leads me through the airport to the waiting car. As we leave the terminal, I’m not sure what hits me first … the heat or the noise! Why is every car beeping their horn?? On the 20-mile drive (which takes an hour and a half in Sunday evening traffic) I find out… there’s some crazy drivers here! As we’re speeding along, weaving in and out of trucks, buses, mopeds and rickshaws, I lose count of the number of times I nearly see someone get killed! Notable mention goes to the guy who missed his turning off the motorway, and so decided to stop and wheel his moped backwards into the oncoming traffic!! I’ve driven in lots of countries in Europe, and Italy will take some beating for crazy drivers and no road rules, but this is on another level!

I’m staying in the Double Tree Suites by Hilton on Sarjapur Road, and when we get there I feel a sense of relief… I’m not sure if it’s because I’ve finally arrived after a nightmare journey, or because I’ve survived the drive! Checking into the hotel is quick though and I go up to my room on the 10th floor, before checking out the rooftop pool and great views.

Food and Drink

One of the reasons I was so excited to come to India was for the food. For as long as I can remember Indian food has been my favourite cuisine, and on top of that, I’d read before I came that Bangalore is also known as India’s craft beer capital. Perfect!

On my first night I decide to go out for a walk and explore and see if I can find somewhere good to eat. Even though it’s after 8pm, the road is just as busy as it was earier, and since it’s also now dark, I decide my exploring will be limited to this side of the road as I don’t fancy trying to cross it!

After about 20-minutes of walking I haven’t found anywhere yet, so it’s back to the hotel to try out the buffet. And it’s really good! I get served with what seems like a never-ending stream of starters straight from the kitchen, before helping myself to a bit of everything from the buffet. I’m not sure what all of the dishes are, or how authentic the food is thinking the hotel probably caters more to the foreign visitor palette rather than the local one, but I enjoy it all nevertheless.

The next day I tell my host about my walk and he laughs, saying I should just get an Uber everywhere, and gives me some tips of places to go to. So, armed with the new knowledge of where to go and how best to get there, that night I go to Vapour Brewpub and Diner, a microbrewery on Sarjapur Road, close to the office and hotel.

I order the Uber and it takes us a ridiculous amount of time to take the short journey down the road due to the busy traffic, but when I eventually get there, I’m glad I’ve made the effort. It’s a very nice place, up on the 7th floor and has an outside terrace as well as indoor seating.

I ask for a table outside and order one of the home brews, a stout similar to Guinness although not quite as creamy. And for food I follow the advice from the guy at work in getting Karwari Prawn Tawa Masala, and then the waiter’s suggestion of Dal Makhani with Chur Chur Naan. After the warnings I had before I came I’m a little unsure on ordering prawns, but they’re delicious! And the Dal Makhani is really really good too!

The bill comes and they must have made a mistake… for 2 courses and a large beer in a pretty smart rooftop bar, it’s £9! But no, everything is on there. £9! That’s amazing!! A similar meal in a similar place in Leeds (where I live) would cost at least three times that.

Byg Brewski is another microbrewery close to the office and hotel just off Sarjapur Road. It’s a place I go to a couple of times… once for lunch on my first day, being taken by the guys in the office, and once after work after having had it recommended to me by my future TrovenTrip partner Sneha as a place to get good pizza (it was during my second week and I fancied a change of cuisine).

It’s really cool… an outdoor bar with the seating arranged around the edge of a big koi carp pond. And they had a big screen in the corner as the Cricket World Cup was on, making it the perfect place for food and a couple of drinks after work. Not to mention the tasty home brew beer and food… I went for a Belly Dance pizza and a Cryo Citra Wit beer. A highly recommended place!

One night I manage to leave the office quite early and so I decide to head into the centre of Bangalore to M.G. Road. A couple of people at the office told me this was the “happening place to go”, so I was excited to check it out.

Looking at the map it looks to be a pretty long road though and I’m not sure which part to go to, so I order the Uber to Trinity Church which looks to be at one end, and I’ll walk up it to see the sights. It’s only 7 miles from the hotel so I should be there soon and have plenty of time to look around before going somewhere to eat…

Oh wrong I was! An hour (yes, an hour) later I’m dropped off at the church, and to make matters worse I realise I’m on the wrong side of the road. And this road makes the one next to the hotel look like a quiet back lane! There are a few other people attempting to cross so I follow their lead and make a run for it when they do… literally putting my life in the hands of strangers!

We all make it across safely and I feel like I have a good bond with my new-found daredevil friends, but they all go off in the opposite direction and so I have to continue my journey alone.

As I’m still wondering how the Uber only cost £3 for an hours’ drive, a lady steps into my way and says something which I can’t hear (or understand). I shake my head and say sorry and continue walking. But, as I get closer, I’m not sure it is a her! She’s wearing a saari but I’m pretty sure that’s a man!! And she/he is not getting out my way! They say something again and I say sorry I don’t understand and try and get past. As I step to the left, they step to their right, again blocking my path. After a couple of sidesteps and being blocked off each time, I have to grab them by the arms and move them out of my way! Weird!!

After a few more minutes’ walk, I reach the busier part of town and head off down some side streets and explore. I stop in a bar and have a beer, before heading to 13th Floor Lounge Bar for some food. I get a seat on the edge overlooking the city, and the view is great.

I again follow the advice of the waiter and order a Palak Hara Bhaba kabab, followed by a Hyderabadi Deewan E Handi, washed down with a Simba Wit beer. And again, the food is excellent! Both dishes are rich in flavour and have a nice (but not too hot) spice to them, and the breads they come with are delicious too! The beer isn’t the best though… it’s not bad, but I don’t order a second (I also want to keep my wits about me in case my friend in the saari is still lurking around)

Other places I tried out were Kanua, a Mangalorean seafood restaurant where I have no idea what I ate as the guys from work ordered everything for us (it was all delicious, other than the Chaas drink!), Moriz, where I tried the local speciality biriyani (and was quite proud that my UK palette held up better than one of the locals when he thought it was a bit too hot!), and the Biere Club, where we did get some snacks but as the name suggests this was all about the beer! They had a blackboard with 8 local brews on and so we set off on a mission to try one of each… unfortunately though half through one of the guys started to feel unwell due to some food eaten earlier (he was more concerned at looking out for me that he forgot to look out for himself!) and so we had to call it a night earlier than planned.

Also, special mention to the hotel breakfast where fresh dosas were on offer every morning, and the Panipuri I tried… a popular local street food which is like a hollow ball of batter filled with flavoured water. Both delicious!

Mysore

My first weekend gets off to a very early start… I’m picked up at 5am by a car to take me to collect the guys from work, along with their wives, before we head to Mysore for the day. Given the distance it seems a bit of an excessively early start, but I suppose the short journeys around Bangalore have taken much longer than expected so who knows what a journey out of town might be like.

As I’m getting ready I think I should probably have asked how I should dress for the day… as it’s going to be sunny and 30°C+, the English guy in me is obviously thinking shorts and t-shirt. But I know we’re planning on going to some temples and palaces, and I don’t know the local customs for if I’ll be allowed in or not. I settle on shorts but put some trousers into my bag just in case (I’m relieved when we get to my friend’s place and he’s also gone for the shorts and t-shirt option).

Our first stop for the day is at Chamundeshwari Temple, up in the hills above Mysore. The views on the drive up are great, and as we reach the top, we’re dropped off in the middle of a market before making our way over to the temple entrance.

Chamundeshwari is a Hindu temple named after the fierce form of Shakti… a spirit guardian revered by Mysore Maharajas for centuries who slayed demons and monsters. The site has origins going back over a thousand years, with the current temple having been built sometime in the 17th century. And it’s really impressive from the outside!

Before we go inside, I’m told of the first local custom… we need to take our shoes off and leave them outside. The ground is ridiculously hot as we queue up and wait to get in, and as we do, we’re given some flowers to put around our necks and a tikka painted on our foreheads.

Once we get to the entrance, we have to stand to one side as a procession comes out, playing drums and singing in some sort of celebration which is really cool to watch. And then we follow the crowd inside, with me stopping to show my respect as others say words of prayer, and we give the flowers to the women standing in front of the shrine. Unfortunately I don’t have any photos as they’re not allowed, and I decide against risking a few sneaky pics as I don’t want to offend anyone here so my phone stays in my pocket (I’ve been warned when taking photos of the Crown Jewels in the Tower of London and in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice in the past).

When leaving we stop for a few pictures outside, and see some monkeys roaming around trying to get food from the visitors. This one was particularly cheeky… going up to someone and stealing their Lucozade before trying to open it and drink it!

The next stop is at a viewpoint on the way back down the hills, and the views are spectacular! You can see right over Mysore, including the palace and gardens, and far far into the distance.

Before heading back into Mysore itself we make one final stop at the Bull Temple, but with a long itinerary and time getting on we decide to take a quick photo outside and then carry on.

Back in town, Mysore Palace is our next destination. We have a quick walk around the grounds before heading inside and… wow! It’s absolutely stunning! Luckily no ban on taking photos in here, so I capture plenty! (again, with no shoes though, and the ground is hot hot hot in the sun!)

The palace is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India and it’s not hard to see why… with expansive gardens and the beautiful rooms to tour, it really is a stunning place! The current palace was built at the turn of the 20th century after a fire destroyed the previous building, and was the home to the Wadiyar dynasty who ruled Mysore for more than 500 years until 1947, when it became part of the Indian Union. Entry is also ridiculously cheap… 70 rupees, or about 70 pence!

The last sight in Mysore before stopping for lunch and heading back to Bangalore to go drinking is St Philomena’s Cathedral, and after spending the morning visiting Hindu temples and the royal palace it feels quite strange going to a very European feeling Catholic Church. It is impressive though… it’s one of the tallest churches in Asia and was inspired by the Cologne Cathedral, somewhere I’ve seen many times during trips to Germany.

Bangalore

After my Mysore trip I’m feeling a bit tired on the Sunday, and so consider having a chill day at the hotel pool. But on the other hand I am only here for another week (most of which will be at work), so I don’t have many more opportunities to explore.

While having breakfast (have I mentioned how good the dosas are??) I look at what there is to do and see in Bangalore, and make a hastily put together itinerary for the day.

With breakfast finished and Uber ordered, I head for ISKCON Temple on Hare Krishna Hill in Northern Bangalore. In contrast to the temple I saw yesterday in Mysore which has been around for over 1,000 years, this temple was only built in 1997, and so has a much more modern feel being covered in glass, and could almost be mistaken for a smart apartment or office block.

Now I’ll be honest and admit I don’t know much about the Hare Krishna movement, and as with yesterday I’m a little unsure on the local customs. I’ve opted for shorts again and since they were fine yesterday, I haven’t brought the back up trousers either. But as I’m stood in the queue waiting to get in, I can’t see anyone else in shorts… oh dear!

As I get to the entrance I follow everyone else’s lead and take off my shoes again, but as I go to walk in a guy stops me and shouts something! I have no idea what he says, but I guess it’s to do with my shorts, and he points somewhere past the shoe store and ushers me that way. I stop at the next table and realise what’s going on… I need to get a sarong type thing to wear over my legs. 

With the sarong on I re-join the queue and we make our way slowly through the entrance and up to the temple. The floor is again super-hot under my bare feet, and as I try to stand in any bit of shade I can, I realise I’m attracting a few strange looks! I guess I am standing out a little… I’m a quite tall white guy wearing sunglasses and a shorts/skirt combination, hopping around on the hot floor, and am clearly on my own. Not many others have sunglasses on, hardly anyone has the skirt on, and I’m definitely the only white guy here!

Once inside I start to get the feeling back in my feet, and the temple is really cool! As with yesterday photos are banned and I’m already standing out enough without getting my phone out, so I have to make do with a few outside shots. I also skip the free food being handed out at the end of the tour… I’ve tried a lot of the local food since I’ve been here but I’m not sure my stomach will be able to take that.

Leaving the temple I order another Uber to take me to my next stop, Bangalore Palace. As I’m waiting for it to arrive I’m stood in the sun and it’s seriously hot today, and I’m relived that the aircon is blasting out when I jump in. The journey takes about half an hour but I could happily sit in the cool car a lot longer!

The entrance fee for the palace is cheap (approx. £4) but I feel a little aggrieved at having to pay twice as much as the locals! And I’m also a little confused at the extra fees… they ask if I’m going to take any photos and whether they’ll be with my phone or a camera, as a camera requires a more expensive ticket. And there’s also an option of an audio guide. I opt for the audio guide as this seems cheaper than paying to only take photos, but also says that photos are allowed with this ticket. Confused? I certainly was!

Anyway, with the ticket sorted and the story of the palace playing away in my ears, I wander around the grand building and grounds. The palace is built in a very Tudor-like style, with turrets and towers, and I’d say it resembles a castle more than a palace. It and the gardens are beautiful though and well worth the entry fee, and there are some interesting soundbites on the audio tour, but to be honest I usually get a bit bored of them and end up skipping the tracks as I walk around at my own pace.

After an hour or so I’ve had enough and so head back outside to order another Uber (good job they only cost a couple of pound otherwise I’d spend a fortune on them!), and as I’m waiting I get talking to a rickshaw driver waiting for his passenger who is inside the palace. We have a chat about Bangalore and what else there is to do and see, and I say I’m going shopping next and heading to Commercial Street to have a look around, and then want to get some souvenirs to take back home. He recommends going to Cauvery Emporium… this is the same place I was told about yesterday and before I came by the guys at work. After a few more minutes chatting my Uber turns up, so saying bye to my new friend, I climb in and off we go to Commercial Street. What a lovely friendly guy!

When I get dropped off I realise I’m a few minutes’ walk away from where I want to be, so I get my bearings, and after taking a couple of wrong turns I find Commercial Street. And yes… this is what I wanted to experience! A hustling, bustling busy street, full of people, mopeds, street food carts and shops selling all sorts of things. I walk the entire length of it once, making a note of which shops I want to take a closer look at on my walk back. I’m wondering what to buy… I’ll check out some clothes, I really need a new laptop (but not sure buying one here would be the best idea in case it goes wrong and I need to return it), and I want some sort of souvenir too.

After wandering around for a while, I go into a smart looking clothes shop (partly because I think that one will have air-con), and within a few minutes I have my own personal shopper choosing some jeans in all sorts of fits and sizes! I say I’m only after 1 pair but he points at a sign and it’s 4 pairs for the price of 3 on Levi’s. I don’t really need 4 pairs of jeans, but doing the maths, I work out that buying them all will be cheaper than 1 pair in the UK. So I try a few different fits and colours and get them, wondering if I have space in my already jam-packed suitcase!

Next on the shopping list is the souvenir, and I get an India cricket shirt with MS Dhoni on the back. Considering it costs £4 I’m pretty sure that it’s not an authentic one like the ones I saw on MG Road the other night, but it will add nicely to my collection of other fake football and basketball tops I have as souvenirs from other places. I never wear them, I just like to collect them when I go away, so if I can find a cheap fake top of the local team, I often get it as a keepsake.

I’m starting to feel tired and to get a headache… I’ve not eaten since breakfast, I haven’t drank enough water, it’s really hot and sunny, and it’s really busy and noisy! With all that mixed together I’m getting a bit stressed out and could do with a rest. But, I’ve got one last stop to get the souvenirs from Cauvery Emporium and then I’ll go back to the hotel.

As I’m almost at MG Road I’m approached by a guy asking if I want a taxi… “no thanks” I say. But he doesn’t seem to listen. “Taxi for you sir” he says, and again I say “no thanks”. This still doesn’t seem to put him off, and the more I say no, the more he pesters me! He follows me all the way to the shop offering to take me to a market where I’ll get souvenirs at a much better price (I may like a cheap fake local sports top but I don’t want to give friends and family a cheap knock-off souvenir), and he doesn’t seem to understand that “no I don’t want a taxi” doesn’t mean “please follow me and pester me!” I only escape him when entering the shop, although for a moment I think he’s going to follow me in there as well!

I spend the best part of an hour looking around the shop, admiring some of the amazing pieces they have, and picking out some things to take home as gifts. Picking out some Mysore sandalwood animal figures for everyone, I pay up and leave the shop, planning to have a walk up to the 13th Floor bar and get a beer to relax for a while. As I get outside who’s standing there waiting for me though… my good friend the taxi driver! “I’ll take you to the market”… is he being serious?! He’s waited outside for an hour for me! He continues to follow me until I finally lose patience and snap at him… and after some not so friendly language, he finally seems to get the message and leaves me alone!

I get to the 13th Floor and am disappointed to see that it’s not open yet, so weighing up my options I decide to head back to the hotel. Right, I need a taxi… I wonder where I can get one from around here…

Bannerghatta Biological Park

After another long week at work it gets to my last day in Bangalore before I have to head home. I had actually tried to change my return ticket to stay a little longer, but with India playing England in the Cricket World Cup in Manchester that week, flights were all fully booked.

With my flight leaving early on the Sunday morning I had one last day to do something… and I think I saved the best till last!

When I did some research before I came, one of the first places I saw to visit was Bannerghatta Biological Park… a safari, animal rescue centre, zoo and butterfly house, all based within Bannerghatta National Park. It looked amazing… I’ve always wanted to go on a safari, and this looked like the best chance I’ve had so far.

The park is a little way out of Bangalore and while trusty Uber has served me well so far and it says it will take me there, I’m a little concerned that it’s too far out of town to be able to get one back. But, I’m here now, and this is the best chance I’ll have of seeing some of the animals in a more natural habitat rather than a zoo in Europe, so let’s risk it!

The taxi seems to take a scenic route to the park avoiding the main toll road (if it was an effort to charge me more it still cost less than £10 for a 45-minute drive!). But I’m glad he does… while it may take a little longer, we go through some of the little villages on the edge of town which is quite humbling to see how people live.

Once at the park I manage to figure out the confusing tickets, and it only costs about £6.50 for the top of the range one… an air-conditioned bus safari tour, plus entry to the zoo and butterfly house and photos allowed (I do wonder if I got a ticket without the camera allowance who would come and police it?!)

With ticket in hand, the next challenge is to find the bus. I have a number to look out for, but I can’t see any buses! After a few minutes walking around I eventually find them hidden around the corner from the main entrance towards the butterfly house. I show my ticket to the driver and climb on the bus, spotting a spare seat at the back. “No, no, don’t sit there!” the driver shouts after me. What have I done now I wonder! “Sit up here, in the front with me, best seat!” he says. “No, I’m fine back here” I say, feeling myself turning red with embarrassment. “No come in the front sir”. I hate having preference shown to me… I know it’s because he’ll expect a tip but still, I feel the eyes of everyone else on the bus on me as I walk to the front and climb through to the passenger seat (Once the shame wears off though, I have to admit, it is a pretty good seat!)

We set off and enter the national park, and driving along the track the view opens up and it’s great… the lush green landscape of trees and forest in the foreground and the mountains in the distance.

After a short drive we pull over, and looking out of the window to my left, I see a herd of elephants playing around in some water. It’s amazing to see!

After a few minutes of watching and nearly filling my camera with photos, we move on and come across a bear roaming around near the gate to exit the elephant sanctuary.

Next, it’s to the lion enclosure, but they’re all asleep behind fences and so we can’t get a good look or photos. So we don’t stay here long with nothing to see, so move on to see the tigers. And this is more like it! It’s absolutely incredible… a couple of tigers are walking around and start stalking the bus as we get close… at one point it looks like he’s going to try and climb into the bus with us! He’s absolutely gorgeous, and seeing him up so close makes the journey well worth it!

The last animals to see on the safari trip are white tigers, but as with the lions they are taking a nap and so we don’t get a good look at them. And as we’re leaving the park my mind turns to the tip… how much should I give?? I’ve been (embarrassingly) given the best seat on the bus, and both the driver and spotter have taken my camera at times to get better photos for me when the animals were on their side of the bus. If this was in Europe, I’d probably give a fiver, but considering the all access entrance ticket for the park was less than £7, giving a fiver tip might be a bit too much! This is stressful!! I try and check my wallet discretely to see how much cash I have on me, and settle on giving them 200 rupees each (a little over £2). They both beam with delight when I hand it over, so I’m pleased my choice! And to be fair, I would have paid more than that for a couple of the photos that they took for me if they were being sold in the gift shop.

I get a drink and chill for a little bit… outside of the air-conditioned bus it’s really hot, and still suffering a bit after being at a party until 3am last night, I need to re-hydrate. And as I’m heading to the butterfly house next, I’m expecting it to be hot and humid in there if it’s anything like Tropical World back home in Leeds.

But when I get in it’s not too bad… although I guess walking into a tropical humid butterfly house in Leeds is a little different than in India, where the outside climate is pretty much the same!

It’s not as impressive in here as the safari was, but it does give me a chance to practice my photography skills a bit more. And I’m quite pleased with some of the photos I manage to get…

And so it’s on to the zoo. As the park is a biological reserve park, I’m hoping the animals are well treated and happy.

I won’t go into great detail of the different animals I see in the park, partly because I don’t want to bore you too much, and party because my memory is failing me and I can’t remember the order I see them in, but I’ll include some of my favourite photos I took. The highlight has to be the monkeys though… I love monkeys and having them roam around free and be able to come up to you was really cool!

Work

I know this is a travelogue but work was the reason for the trip, so I better give it a small mention. But don’t worry, I’m not going to talk about actual work… just the journey there where I took my life in my hands, and then the amazing welcome I got in the office.

I’m met in the hotel reception on the first morning to be escorted to the office despite my protests that I’d be fine making the 5-minute journey there myself. But when we get outside and wait to cross the road, I realise why my hosts were so insistent… if I thought the traffic and noise was bad on the journey from the airport last night, this morning it’s absolute carnage!!

The road would be considered a 2-lane dual carriageway in the UK, but this is something else! There are at least 3 lanes of traffic jostling for position, with other cars, mopeds, and rickshaws weaving in and out of any and every space there is. And then of course, the noise! Beep beep beep beep! It’s unbelievable!

I turn to my host and he says “yeah, this could take a while”. After a few minutes we go for it… he holds out his hand to the constant stream of oncoming traffic and cautiously steps out, telling me to follow him. Well, here goes nothing!

We manage to weave our way in-between the traffic which barely so much as slows down, and we somehow make it across intact! For anyone of my era it reminded me of the arcade game Frogger… where you had to direct a frog across a busy road without being squashed by the cars!

My heart has just about returned to a normal pace by the time we reach the office and head into reception, and it looks like there’s some sort of celebration going on… this will be cool to see on my first day here! However, after a few seconds I realise everyone is looking at me, and the celebration is for me! Panic sets in as I look over to my hosts, who shift from foot to foot looking almost as uncomfortable as I feel! (they later tell me they tried to stop it happening)

Anyone who knows me will know that I hate being the centre of attention, and what’s worse is I haven’t got a clue what I’m supposed to be doing! I’m handed a candle and told to light the wicks as photos are taken of me looking awkward, and I’m given a big bunch of flowers (I think my face turns the same colour as the bright pink petals in the bunch!) I’m also later told that I shouldn’t have stepped on the flowers on the floor… sorry…

The rest of the trip was very productive, and I managed to tackle crossing the road alone after that first morning!

Home Time

And so there we are, my first ever visit to India, but I’m certain it won’t be my last! What an amazing place… although I didn’t have much spare time to do as much as I would have liked, I still had a great time there. The people were amazing… I know I told a couple of stories about being accosted but they were the only 2 weird incidents, everyone else I met were the friendliest and most helpful people I’ve ever met. And then there’s the food… wow! Everywhere was delicious, ridiculously cheap, and I didn’t have any illness problems at all.

The only thing that’s left is to fly home, and here’s hoping to a smoother journey back than I had coming out…

The drive to the airport and check-in goes fine, and before I know it I’m eating my final dosa in the lounge before heading to the gate for the flight. As I’m leaving the lounge there’s an announcement on the tannoy though… and I’m sure that just said my name?? Oh no… what’s happened this time?!

I find the nearest airport employee and after a short chat on the radio, it turns out I’ve left a powerbank in my suitcase and so need to go and take it out! Cue me being rushed back to the check-in desks, rummage through my suitcase to find the powerbank, before being rushed back through security by armed police, and I make it to the gate just in time and am the last to board the plane! Well I say just in time, I’ve actually managed to delay the flight by 15-minutes!

The rest of the journey goes fine though, and after a change in Muscat, I’m back in Manchester and made to feel right at home with the lovely summer evening view from the window (Manchester is not quite as impressive as Muscat)…

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