Tag Archives: travelling

travel clinic

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so we went to the travel clinic this afternoon, as we were pretty sure we would need anti-malaria medication for the trip and our GP said she didn’t normally prescribe it because it’s best to be prescribed by someone who specializes in knowing what is needed for each country.

it was a good appointment, we were able to book as  a couple, and they were open late.  i am all for offices that are open outside of regular business hours because we are already having to take so much time off work for various appointments and for the trips themselves.  the nurse practitioner who interviewed us about our trip and also the nurse who administered the shots were very knowledgeable.  here is a list of things we talked about and vaccinations we received today:

  • hepatitis A and B – we had Twinrix in 2011, so were all good
  • tetanus – hubby was up to date here, not me though – covered by provincial medical plan
  • typhoid shot for each of us
  • hubby got Dukoral to take before the trip, which covers traveler’s diarrhea (e-coli and cholera); due to some pre-exisiting intestinal issues, she did not recommend this for me
  • anti-malaria pills – there were two options here – one was about $1/day each, but you take it for the whole trip and then a month afterwards and it has lots of common side effects like nausea, and the second was $5/day, but you only take it for the trip and then a week, and has no side effects – we opted for the ones with no side effects, as we don’t want to be nauseated on the trip if necessary – so this will be the most costly thing at around $150 each
  • a set of antibiotics each, just to carry in case (not sure how much this will cost, as we haven’t had the prescriptions filled)
  • we both got a booster of the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine, as apparently folks born after a certain year (some year in the 50s i think) are recommended to get a booster dose because the “new” vaccine isn’t as effective as the old from before that time) – covered by provincial medical plan
  • all of these things are good for varying amounts of time, between a few months to life, so i highly recommend seeing a travel clinic if you have any doubts as to whether you are up to date
  • we were provided with a list of things we should think about taking with us, that may or may not be readily available there; from tylenol to anti-nausea pills to epi-pens for allergies, bandaids, etc.
  • a whack of information about various diseases that are found in India, including info about mosquitoes.  it is recommended that we use heavy DEET mosquito repellent while we are there, as there are Dengue fever mosquitoes during the day, and Malaria mosquitoes at night.  unfortunately, there is no vaccine or cure for Dengue fever, so that’s what the repellent is for, better safe than sorry.
  • because we are only going to be in the urban areas, there were things we likely didn’t need, but i can’t fill you in on those.  if you are planning on rural travel, it would definitely be best to talk to a travel clinic nurse.

here is the clinic we went to and the hours and price list.  there are likely all kinds of travel clinics in every city, and i would highly recommend going to one.  this is the first time we have done so, even though we have done a fair bit of travelling, and it was very informative.  we feel much safer now :p

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not so fast, buster!

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again, i get ahead of myself.  i realized that before we can apply for the medical visas, we need a letter from the clinic outlining when the procedure will take place and how long we will need to be there, so thank you to my clinic doctor for reminding me of this and offering to send the letters in preparation for a June treatment.

once we get the letter(s?), we can apply.  i also have to figure out exactly what other information i need to include in the application package.  one requirement that baffles me a bit is “Evidence of financial arrangements made for maintenance in India”.

i will email a few other Canadian couples i have been chatting with to see what they provided in this respect, and also call the visa office with other questions.

i have added the link to the medical visa checklist on my “Helpful Information” section on the right hand side of this blog.

checklist

contract!

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we got the contract today, via courier.  it’s all notarized and stamped on every page, it’s very official looking!

now to get copies of it and everything else so we can apply for the medical visas.

one small step for us, one giant leap for baby-kind… (ok, that was geeky)

surrogate, et al

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what can i say about our surrogate, considering we didn’t learn very much about her in the short time we spent together?  sure, we got a profile a day or two before, and it let me know her name, that she is 27, that she was disease free, has two children already, is married, is a house-maid, has a grade five education, is Muslim, her height and weight, and that she’s never done a surrogacy before, but that’s just on paper.

when we went back to the clinic that day, we went into the meeting room and then she and her husband and her daughter came in.  they were all clean, well-dressed and looked healthy.  the clinic had informed us that they had been in the washroom getting ready for the meeting.  i was all hot and sweaty and red and flustered, so she (they) seemed a lot more presentable than i did, in my opinion.  i think they had all dressed up in their best, though none of the three was wearing shoes; i didn’t notice this actually, it was my MIL that pointed it out afterwards.  i can only imagine they can’t afford foot wear, because most people in Mumbai were wearing at least flip-flops.  i can’t say for sure though, maybe it was their preference?  maybe they had taken their shoes off at the door?  i dunno.  the surrogate was wearing a pretty green sari.

neither the surrogate nor her husband spoke any English at all, so one of the clinic staff had to translate.  we were both given the opportunity to ask questions and speak to each other, and hubby and i thanked her profusely for being our surrogate, and let her know that we were unable to have a child and that once we did have a baby, we would provide it with a home full of love and education and happiness, to the best of our ability.  she basically just nodded.  i don’t really know if this matters to her or not.  after all, i guess that is what you would expect someone to provide for their own baby; it’s not like we are adopting one of hers and she needs reassurance.  in hindsight, i guess we didn’t really know what to say either, so that’s just what came out.

when asked if she had any questions for us, she said no.  this surprised me, and it took me awhile for me to get over the surprise at this, probably days.

in my mind, i think maybe she was a bit freaked out.  i know this is her first surrogacy, and that would certainly freak me out.  there are so many things about it that would be scary, especially when you have two small children of your own.  she’s going to have to go live apart from them for months and months, and while i am assured that she will have visits with her family, she is used to being with them 24/7, so she’s got to feel some sort of anxiety about that… i can’t imagine.  seriously, i was nearly crying leaving my cats for six days, so i have no comprehension of what this must be like for her to think about.  plus the pregnancy part, and the usual risks of pregnancy, plus living with strangers, and i am not even sure if she lives in Mumbai normally.

so, in reality, while people can fantasize about how there are altruistic surrogates out there. and there may be (particularly in North America, or in cases where they are related to the childless couple), the more this sets in to my mind, the more i come to terms with the fact that this is a very clear financial arrangement, and the only motivation for a woman in this family-centric culture to leave her family life for 8-10 months would be a chance to better her (and her family’s) life financially.

this helps me to understand why she may have seemed indifferent, but i also realize that the language barrier, the tons of paperwork, the strangers with big smiles and mumbo jumbo, the medical staff (different cultures feel differently about medical staff), the photographing, and the fact that the meeting was a week early (as far as they were concerned), could have all contributed to how she felt, and i won’t jump to conclusions.  i will also perhaps try to speak to her more on the next visit, maybe come prepared with a few questions, and a functional brain.  maybe then there will be something more, or maybe not. either way, i am fine with it…. i actually want this to be as comfortable for her and her family as possible.  i have very little anxiety over it, and will take it as it comes.  i think it’s best if we do this on her terms, whatever those are.

anyways, she looked lovely and seemed like a very nicer person…. but that’s truly about all i can say, which surprises me.

the clinic appointment

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i wanted to process our appointment for a few days before writing (holy crap, i can’t believe it’s only been a few days since our appointment, it seems like it’s been weeks, so surreal), so here’s how it went down.

we got to the clinic and it was around back and upstairs of a building with shops in the front.  it wasn’t hard to find, because we had taken a hotel car, rather than a taxi, and i think the drivers have to do a very good job of finding places for the guests, so it really wasn’t a big problem.  the clinic was on a main street too, which helps.  so we pulled in and went around to the back and up the elevator to the third floor.  we had seen a video of the clinic, so knew somewhat what to expect, but one thing i have to say, is judging by videos i have seen come out of India with regards to airports, hotels, the clinic, whatever, it seems like they have fabulous cinematographers there, because the videos all seem so opulent, and the reality not so much.  so the clinic was smaller than i thought, but it’s spread over a few floors, which i didn’t realize, but it was clean and bustling, and most importantly, there was a couple there with a wee, tiny, success story.  we figure they were from somewhere in Europe, because they were speaking what sounded like it may have been German or something similar, and they were both blond and European looking :P.  they had the most gorgeous little newborn with them, snuggled down in a car seat/carrier thingy.  my husband said “oh, i see you’ve had a success!” but they didn’t understand.   there were several staff members at the clinic, organizing things, taking care of business.

(so here’s where i struggled with whether to include this part or not, and have decided to only do so because this is anonymous and nobody knows which clinic we are using, other than close friends and family.  if i remember way back to when i started the blog, i said i wanted to just record our experience from start to finish, so that others could use it as a guide for steps to take and things to expect, so i am going to stick by that, keeping in mind that i am not identifying our clinic to anyone at this point, and may never do so.  i guess this kind of thing can happen anywhere, to anyone, and it all turned out fine in the end, but it was a little strange at the time.)

i let them know we were here to see our doctor, and suddenly there was a blank look on the receptionist’s face.  she went off and checked things out, and it turns out that there had been some sort of a mix-up and our doctor thought we were coming the following week.  this kind of blew my mind, based on the stream of emails we had had building up to the appointment, me stating that i was getting excited to meet them, that our flight was “tomorrow” when we didn’t yet have a surrogate profile yet, confirming the address to meet them “on May 3rd”, etc.  i think i then had a blank look on my face, but the receptionist took it in stride and said that another doctor would see us.

the doctor who saw us was lovely and knowledgeable and obviously had lots of experience in the field.  she explained things to us and gave us all the paperwork, catching herself up as we went.  she made a very good impression on us, and was very open with answering our questions and providing information, we were very pleased with her.

one of the issues that freaked us out was that because of the mix-up, the surrogate wasn’t there, and they were trying desperately to reach her, because we all have to be together to sign the contract, this is really the whole point of this first trip.  as luck would have it, she was in town (not sure if she lives in Mumbai normally or not), and was supposed to come to the clinic anyways that day so she would be able to meet us after all (thankfully, because we were flying out that night).  we were sent away to have lunch for a bit and explore, and come back in a few hours to complete the paperwork and meet the surrogate and her husband.

this is the point where we did our wee bit of exploration in the tiny van taxi and looked for the other close-by hotel.  this is also when we saw the small beggar children, so i won’t go over that again.

when we returned to the clinic, we went into the interview room, and the surrogate, her husband, and her daughter came in. (i am going to devote another post to them, so won’t describe now.

we all signed the paperwork, and the clinic staff took pictures of all of us together, signing, in the same room, as proof that we were all together at the same time and were entering into the agreement with full knowledge of each other.

we had a bit of a conversation, via translation, and we were done.  it was over very quickly, and i dunno, it was very much like a business meeting (which is exactly what it was).  i think it was uncomfortable for all of us, except the staff, who do this all the time, which is why i have had to take a few days to process it.  when you read about it online, or are in touch with others who have gone through surrogacy, you hear all different kinds of experiences, and i think your mind kind of chooses one that you would ideally like your situation to be similar to, and then i think you might come to expect that, so when it’s not like that, it takes time to process.  i suppose even if it is like your ideal, you still need to process, but when it’s not, you have to bridge the gap and change your mind-set to align with what the experience was actually like and how the experience will likely be going forward.  for me, i had seen and heard many stories of people with relationships with their surrogates, videos of smiling surrogates gushing about how they were helping a childless family and felt so happy about it, and even people who had somehow chosen their own surrogate and had frequent contact with her.  i had also seen many stories and documentaries where the surrogacy is a very clear business transaction, with very little contact, and very little personal knowledge between surrogate and IPs.  in both extremes, i have seen successful stories and not so successful stories, so there is really no way to say which is best; it’s personal i guess and each couple/person feels their own way about it.  for me,  at the beginning i had hoped that there would be something more personal, and i suppose i can’t really judge from this one meeting, but it did seem very impersonal to me.  it was explained to me though, that this is much more emotionally healthy for the surrogates, who have so much to lose emotionally, when they carry a baby for all that time and have to hand it over to the IPs, it’s probably best to be able to compartmentalize that experience.  these fantasies of keeping in touch, providing our child with some info about their surrogate mother in the future, perhaps a trip in their teens; these are all pretty unrealistic, considering the language barrier, the literacy barrier, the fact that most surrogates wouldn’t even have a phone or be able to read a letter if sent, even if it was in their own language.

so, not much else to say here, but this is our experience.  if you are planning on surrogacy, and passionately want to have a close relationship with your surrogate, or any of the things i have previously described, you will probably have to search far and wide to find this sort of arrangement.  it’s far less common than what we experienced so far, which i think is the norm.  what i am passionate about, is parenting in the future, and knowing that our surrogate gets financial benefits that can lift her above what is clearly a very poverty stricken life.  those are the things i need to be confident about, and other stuff can be secondary.

that was a bit of a ramble, i guess i am still processing as i write…. so maybe there will be more to come, but i think this post is long enough for now, and enough writing for tonight, so tomorrow i will write about the surrogate and her family.

 

 

Mumbai in two days (or lack of Mumbai in two days)

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ok, i have to admit, we stayed in the hotel more than not, and that was a pity.  we were so amazingly jet lagged that we just couldn’t adjust, and only made it out for our appointment with the clinic and surrogate.

soooo… here is what i saw and noticed about the city.

the traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as i thought it would be.  actually, it was oddly not bad… so much so, that i wonder if maybe there was some sort of a holiday, or maybe we just didn’t go into areas that are as high traffic as i expected.  we had gone to Cairo in 2011, just before the crazy started, and the traffic was WAAAAAAAAAAAY worse.  yes, in Mumbai you still have a nutter system where there are no rules it seems, nobody has side mirrors, so they just either shoulder check and/or honk to say they are coming over.  i was marveling at the fact that i saw ONE CAR use their turn signal light.  i think horns are an indicator, rather than a warning like they are here, they basically honk to say “hi, i am moving in your direction, like it or not”.  traffic lights are a suggestion, and not one that people take very seriously.  i didn’t see any accidents though.

there are a wide variety of taxis, from auto-rickshaws to very nice taxis with a/c.  i didn’t see a person-powered rickshaw at all, though i have seen a documentary where they were in Mumbai and people were trying to save the industry.  i don’t think i would go in a rickshaw anyways, it’s just not my thing.  i mentioned this before, but our first taxi was something a strange older car, with no seatbelts, a/c, or shocks.  our driver had no clue where we were going, and had to ask directions multiple times, and it was us who finally found signs pointing to our hotel (thank gawd the hotel had posted those signs, or we never would have found it).  the next ride we had was from a hotel car, which was just a mini-van like any other, but had seatbelts and a/c.  the cost was totally ridiculous though, compared to taxis, in my opinion.  then, we wanted to go see a hotel that was supposed to be close to the clinic, and some guy in the clinic gave us some instructions that were totally wrong.  therefore, when we got into another taxi, the little van kind, we ended up driving around for about 40 minutes, never finding the place we were looking for, and asking finally to be let off where we had gotten in.  it turned out that the initial instructions were wrong, we were actually two minutes away via walking….that taxi ride was an adventure though, and probably the most “Mumbai” part of our trip, so it was fine with me.  hubby sat in the front, so his experience was totally different, and i can’t say he enjoyed it…. pretty freaky i think.

we only saw a few beggars, but that may have been because we were in taxis, the hotel, and the clinic much of the time.   yes, we saw poverty everywhere, and poor people, but the only people that put their hand out in the traditional way were two, then three tiny wee children near a cafe we were at.  i felt so bad for them, they weren’t wearing any pants/bottoms, and they were very snotty and small and sickly looking.  i just wanted to bundle them up and take them home for a bath and a meal, but it’s not really an option.  i am sure they were being watched by their handlers?  i don’t know what those people are called… assholes i guess, or beggar pimps?

in general, people are SUPER FRIENDLY in Mumbai.  even though there is a major language barrier in most cases, we got mostly smiles and kindness from people.  even when our taxi drivers were lost and we stopped to ask directions, everyone was willing to give their two cents or suggestions with a smile.  i never felt scared or uncomfortable at all (other than the heat).

so, it was only the beginning of May, and it was VERY hot.  when we stepped off the plane, i was dripping with sweat.  i am a face sweater, so i was really glad to have brought handkerchiefs to keep my sweat under control.  i kind of wish i had brought a fan, and i will next time.  i have a little battery powered one, and also chinese folding fans, so i may bring both.  it’s humid, so whether it’s the air moisture or your own sweat, prepare to be moist.  i would recommend not bringing any clothing but natural fibres and cotton; i brought one pair of slacks to wear to the appointment that had poly in them, and i will not do that again… ugh!  loose and flowing is where it’s at!!!  and sandals, only.  i wasn’t out in the sun enough to get a burn or need a hat, but i noticed lots of Westerners or Europeans had burns, so keep that in mind.  and it’s only going to get hotter!!!

mosquitoes are EVERYWHERE.  someone had suggested to us that maybe we wouldn’t need to use anti-malarial medication on this short trip because we would be in the middle of a large city, and there probably wouldn’t be many mosquitoes  but that was not the case.  there seem to be lots of pieces of standing water, ponds, rivers, etc., in Mumbai proper, so there were mosquitoes even in the hotel (not in the room (which had no opening windows), but in the restaurant and lobby.  the hotel staff even had these little tennis rackets that they would swat the mosquitoes with and they would electrocute the mosquitoes.  i think i only got one mosquito bite, which is currently itching on my ankle, hopefully it wasn’t a malaria carrier.  we will be using anti-malaria medication on the next trip, no ifs, ands, or buts (and yes, i cleared it with the clinic doctor, that it’s safe prior to egg retrieval)

at the SCIA (Mumbai) airport, it can be a mad house.  we arrived in the middle of the night, and it wasn’t so bad, we got ushered through pretty quickly and were into our taxi probably 30 minutes after touch down.  i have to say, it was very strange but i feel like we were ushered through because we were foreigners, it seems like nobody wanted to check our bags, they just let us through.  we had one guy who helped us find our assigned taxi ask us for a tip, and when we offered him rupees he said he preferred Canadian dollars, and when we gave him $5 he said it was a very small tip.  we didn’t give him more, and later found out that $5 CAD is a pretty grandiose tip, so he was just pushing to see what he could get.  no biggie.  on the other hand, when we were leaving Mumbia, this is when the airport was madness.  we were also leaving in the middle of the night, but going in was harsh.  you  had to line up to get into the airport, and everyone was pushing and shoving.  one guy, maybe who worked for the airport (? he had an ID badge on of some sort and a light coloured shirt, which seemed a bit uniform like) just grabbed us and said “come with me” and pulled us through all the lines to the front, and got us through in minutes.  then he guided us to our gate.  we gave him 100 INR for a tip, and he was gracious and seemed happy with that.  i have to say, we were a couple of hours early for our flight, and had he not helped us, we may not have made it.  the security lineups and clearance to get out of India were much, much, much worse than getting in, so give yourself lots of time to get through CSIA airport when you are leaving.  take all the help you can get; our guy was a life-saver!

well, that’s enough for now, i will add more as i think of more…

taxi-old-car taxi-van

air travel

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so, there are many lessons learned from this trip, in terms of things to make air travel smoother and nicer when going on such a long flight. i will list them here:

  1. try to get seats near the front, they are last on, and first off,  making your time on the plane less.  bear in mind that babies are usually in the front rows, because that’s where they can hook up bassinettes.  while we may all be on this quest for our own bundles of joy, it’s not always charming to hear someone else’s bundle cry/scream for 11 hours.  a couple of rows back makes it more tolerable and you can just peek in on the cuteness.
  2. pack as small a carry on bag as possible, take only what you will need on the plane.  we noticed that people’s carry-ons are getting much bigger, and we really don’t understand why they allow this, so there isn’t often lots of room in the overhead bins and it’s best if your bag can fit under the seat in front of you, as it’s easy to get at, and easy to keep your eye on
  3. check if your plane has any plug-ins so you can charge your electronics.  some of our Korean Air flights had USB chargers, but they charged fairly slowly; it still kept our stuff usable
  4. check the movies ahead of time, because if there is nothing of interest, you should make sure you bring your ipad or tablet with movies and a good book.  you can do this on most airline websites
  5. make sure all your electronics are charged.  we had done this, but for some reason my Kindle had charged all night before we left, but hadn’t actually charged.  we didn’t bring the charger because had it charged, it would have been fine, so i was without my books the whole time.  must have been user error, because i charged it when i got home and it’s totally fine.  most airports also have charging stations with all sorts of plug-ins, so you can charge stuff during your layovers as well
  6. ear plugs and eye mask, need i say more?
  7. get up and walk on the plane, it helps your muscles and also helps you to not get traveler’s thrombosis
  8. check if you need an airplane adapter for your earphones; the airplane earphones suck.  hubby insists upon sound isolating headphones, but i took my earbuds which are not noise isolating, and i was fine.  this is all a moot point if you forget an adapter and your plane needs one (ours did not)
  9. be careful if you have a food allergy.  Korean Air still serves peanuts (they were delicious and honey coated), and also a lot of their food was seafood.  i have a crustacean allergy, and i couldn’t read the ingredients on much of the packaging.  on the last flight, porridge was an optional breakfast, so i ordered it thinking it would be oat meal, but it was really rice porridge with seafood stuff to mix in.  good thing it had a big picture of a shrimp on the package, or i would potentially be dead now.  on this note, make sure you bring your epi-pen, or multiple epi-pens, but make sure you have one on the plane with you too.
  10. pack all your medication with you in the cabin; can you imagine losing your luggage with all your medications?   plus, if you are travelling as long as we did, you will need some doses along the way.
  11. lotion and chap-stick – the plane is majorly dehydrating, so make sure you can moisturize yourself, but make sure they are all under 100 mls and fit into your little plastic bag
  12. yes, you need to be able to pack all your “liquids” that you wish to carry on, into a little plastic bag.  here is the best description i could find, it’s from the UK, but most others use american standards, and when shopping for little plastic bags, it leaves you shaking your head. i would take a few extra of these bags, in case yours breaks before your return trip.
  13. travel insurance – i cannot stress this enough.  i work in health care, and i cannot tell you how many people don’t get travel insurance and then end up screwed on the other side of the planet.  sure, health care is inexpensive in India, but if you need medical transport back to Canada, that is NOT COVERED by your provincial or government health care, so you will be stuck with a bill for a medical transport, which often includes ambulances, medical staff, medical equipment and sometimes a private plane(s).  this could be up to six figures, and they often won’t fly you until it’s paid or guaranteed.  make sure your travel insurance covers “repatriation” to your home country.  considering for our six day trip, this cost us a whopping $32 for both of us, it’s well worth it.  you can check with your credit cards to see if this is included on one of your credit cards as a benefit, but sometimes it’s only included if you paid for your trip with that particular card, so read the fine print. also, banks also have packages, or your extended coverage through work may have a discount or plan for you.
  14. comfy shoes or sandals – i wore closed toed (open backed) shoes on the way to India, and my feet were too hot, even on the plane, and definitely when we got off the plane.  feet also swell when flying, so it’s nice to have something really flexible and cool.  you can take socks if you want to add warmth at any time.  i wore birkenstock sandles on the way home, and was much happier.  i think, actually, that i will not take anything but my birks next time we go, period.
  15. they have blankets and wee pillows on the plane, so bringing your own may not be necessary or may be.  we have Lug travel pillows, which have blankets enclosed, and we are always happy we have them (the pillows on board the plane leave a lot to be desired, though the blankets are nice)
  16. make sure you have your hotel’s WHOLE ADDRESS AND PHONE NUMBER with you on the plane.  many of the customs or immigration forms you fill out for security require this information , plus your passport number and passport information.
  17. hand sanitizer – put some in your wee plastic bag, travelling to foreign countries can be gross, especially for the germaphobe.  i have never traveled with so many coughing, sneezing, wheezing, snotty people in my life.  maybe it’s just the season, but holy crap.  make sure you have extra for Mumbai (or whatever city you happen to be in).
  18. kleenex packets are a nice-to-have, they have kleenex in the lavatories, but it’s just nice to have your own
  19. when you sit down on the plane, you will notice they have a HUGE PACK of magazines (mostly selling in flight duty free) in the pocket with your barf bag.  they discourage this i believe, but we put all the magazines in the overhead bin above us, because then you can use that pocket for your own stuff, like water bottle, book, iPad, blanket, whatever.  we didn’t use the overhead bins for luggage, so we figured we were entitled to use a bit of room to clear space for our own comfort.  nobody said anything, but then again, nobody saw us 😛

ok, enough for now, i will add if i think of more, my brain is still not 100%… hope this helps!

home again, home again…

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we are finally home after what seemed like the most air travel we have ever done (wait, i think it was the longest air travel we have ever done!). for me, it was also the worst air travel, because i was basically unable to sleep on any of the flights, which is unusual for me.  maybe i was stressed or had too much on my mind, but i just couldn’t sleep, so it just dragged on and on.  we got home yesterday, and i promptly took a lovely shower and had a six hour nap, so while not perfectly recovered, i am feeling somewhat better.

we are still digesting the trip; it was such a strange trip, so much to think about and because it happened so fast, there was no time to think while it was happening.  the whole time, i had no idea what day it was either in Mumbai or in Vancouver here.  i kept having too google “what time is it in Mumbai?”

there are so many lessons learned from this trip and so many things to talk about, i think i will break them up into littler posts, so people can focus on what they find important or interesting.  so, there will be a bunch of small posts to follow this one.

Touch down

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So we have safely arrived in Mumbai, after a veeeeery long trip. We has a seven jour layover in Seattle, then an 11.5 hour flight to Seoul, then a very short layover there, then 8.5 hours to Mumbai.

Even though it’s not full summer quite yet, the humidity blasts you as soon as you are in the ramp from the plane. With it, a foreign smell you can’t quite figure out; bodies, food, mildew, lack of clean, I dunno, it was mostly the airport, but there are still smells everywhere. I have a terrible sense of smell, so I am probably not getting most of it.

You need to get a prepaid taxi so you don’t get ripped off, and you can get them with a/c or not. When we said we didn’t need the a/c, he laughed/snickered. As soon as we stepped out, we understood why. The air hits you physically; it’s damp, thick, and cloying. HOWEVER, once our taxi was moving and the windows were open, we were fine.

The taxi was some seriously old Russian jalopy with no seat belts or shocks or side mirrors or anything, and our taxi driver had no clue where we were going. He did know the neighbourhood, if you can call it that. After asking several people along the way, we found the hotel. As with lots if big hotels in countries with risk to tourists, we had security guards scan our suitcases and bods and the underside of the taxi for bombs. We are all safe and sound now, and super tired.
One more thing…. Holy crap, I have never seen so many street dogs. They are EVERYWHERE. We have yet to encounter a beggar, not even one so far, but it is very late….

So far I love it, and I am not sure why, but that’s how I feel at this instant.

G’night!

getting ready.

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we spent much of the weekend preparing for the trip.  we picked up our rupees, which we had ordered last Monday from the bank, because banks give a better exchange rate.  we wish we had requested smaller bills, because they gave us only 500 and 1,000 rupee bills, which isn’t really what you want to flash around when paying for taxis, etc.  i think we will see if the hotel will swap us for some smaller bills once we check in.  we also (on my MIL’s suggestion) made a wee little chart for each of us, so we could easily see the conversion (it just lists how much 1, 10, 50, 100, 200, 500, and 1000 rupees are in CAD at a glance); we will carry these around so we can figure out if something is a good price.  the other thing we always do when travelling, is split the money in half and each carry half, in case one of our pockets get picked (this was a major worry in Italy), then at least we have half left.

the funny thing about the trip, is that we are packing almost more for the travelling time than for the Mumbai time.  i don’t mean more in space or weight, but we need more things for the travelling, because we will be on the plane or in transit more than we will actually be in Mumbai i think.  so we need some things to entertain ourselves and some comforts.  in actuality, we are only taking one suitcase between the two of us, and then each a carry on bag of necessities.  this worries me a little bit, because normally when we travel we take two suitcases, and split our stuff into each, so in case one of our suitcases gets lost, we still each have half of our clothing.  we thought of this on a cruise, when we saw these funny sets of basic clothing for sale in the gift shop, for people who’s luggage had gotten lost and not found before the cruise embarked.  for about $100/US you got a pair of socks, pants, a shirt, and a pair of underwear and a pair of shoes.  they were all black and white, so you would look like a waiter, but still, at least you weren’t nekkid.  my nightmare is losing our luggage; so far, so good… knocking on wood now!

we have the cats all set up to live without us for the week, with their “uncle” to come take care of them a couple of times per day, so that’s good.  tomorrow after work i will do things like order the taxi (we leave pretty much in the middle of the night tomorrow, so it’s good to have it booked), do online check-in (i tried already, but it’s too early), and do the final packing.

this may (or may not) be the last post before we leave…