19 October 2013

Alleppey to Mumbai Airport, India (26)


Alleppey, Kerala, India

Sadly, our last night in Alleppey and India.
After 4 glorious weeks, filled with life in India we have to start packing to leave!
16th October 2013 was a Muslim holiday so the beach suddenly became packed after 16.30 hrs with everybody catching up with friends and family and the welcome sea breeze. To witness this is something - the buzz of many people, the horns of the tuk-tuks, the ice-cream carts doing brisk business, the street vendors, all this makes for total local atmosphere. We headed for our final meal at Dreamers - sitting upstairs in this open-air restaurant which is so rustic, one has a bird's eye view of the beach. Once darkness descended, the people started trying to get back home. Yeh right!!
Traffic jam so that even the scooters struggled to make their way out of this area. It was total chaos and took ages for the traffic to clear. The downside of  celebrating on the beach but nobody seemed to mind - they sat on their horns and jostled for that minor gap before the tuk-tuk's squeezed through. Crazy to watch and made for a memorable spectacle on our last night. The food always good, the staff excellent at Dreamers. Thanks guys!
Our last day dawned - after a late breakfast, we had a shower and did the last minute packing before our 2 hour drive to Cochin Airport.

Our thanks to all the staff at Panoramic Sea Resort for very good service, always delivered with a smile. Unfortunately, Aneesh was unable to drive us to the airport as his 6 year old daughter was taken ill.

The drive took forever as we were so sad to be leaving this peaceful place - yes, despite the honking horns and squawking crows!
We did not have too long to wait at Cochin Airport as there is not much too see from the waiting area. We had to pay for 5 kg of excess luggage at IR 250 per kilo with Jet Airways. It pays to read the small print prior to booking!!!
The pilot was a very young looking lady which freaked me out. Don't worry says James, she has 4 stripes so must be competent!
Fair do's the flight was fine and the landing pretty good!
After 4 wonderful weeks in India, we get to Mumbai Airport. Domestic from Cochin looked fine but one has to catch a shuttle bus to International. Nobody tells you that there is NOTHING at Mumbai International prior to check-in. Not even chairs to sit on. Small coffee bars have no seating and virtually no food choice either. So do not ever get to the airport more than 3 hours before your check-in as you will end up sitting on a trolley or standing for hours on end. It is totally pathetic for an international airport and leaves a really bad taste in the mouth.
To make matters even worse, we ended up at "Spice Bazaar" where they totally ripped us off for a tiny beer which they charged USD 8. And 450 IR for a beer is criminal. To add insult to injury, they dish up change in Rupees!! Now nobody is supposed to have rupees once they have checked in for an International Flight.

It seems that there are double standards here and the owner of the franchise is rather suspect when they make up their own exchange rate. A rather disgusting end to a holiday in India and extremely off-putting to international travellers.
Oh well, I suppose things cannot always go smoothly. Feeling very ratty and still have to wait for hours for our flight.....
Eventually, on the plane back to South Africa. As the plane only takes off at 02.00 we wondered if we would be fed. I was so tired by this time but we did get beers and food at the ridiculous hour of 03.00 or thereabouts. Our flight steward was  a bundle of smiles and energy, most probably having slept for the entire day! He offered me a Kingfisher - great, I thought only to be told that he could not possibly promote Kingfisher on an SAA flight so it was Castle or Hansa!!
Eventually, lights out and then the uncomfortable 8 hours or so. The flight was fine with a very smooth landing in Johannesburg. The same steward was just as chirpy at breakfast and when the couple in front of us asked for mugs of milk, he said with a totally blank expression that the cows were on strike in South Africa! This same couple also asked for 10 bottles of water - his reply was " Yes, when we land you can buy it all at Makro" His dry sense of humour was a breath of fresh South African air and made for a pleasant flight despite cramped condition in cattle class. Oh to be so rich as to be able to afford a business class seat one day......

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