Next part of the adventure started as we hopped into the taxi and headed for Dubai Airport Terminal one. A short trip and the driver dropped us off outside loading us up with our luggage and sent us on our merry way. Inside the terminal we located the Airline check in desk and then went to get the "sturdy one "(backpack) wrapped up in plastic. We decided its worth it after what happened to the flawed one on the first leg of the trip, so with that done we went to the check in desk. . .
We had to explain why we hadn't booked in Mildred previously, and got quite alarmed when she told us that they could only carry so many wheelchairs per flight and that the flight was full. I was just getting ready to mention that we had only got one bag, and that we could have had two, and that Mildred weighed less than the allocated amount anyway, when she said we will put it on at the end for you. I wasn't greatly hopeful Mildred would be there at the other end waiting for me as promised. To be fair to the check in girl, she tried to move our seats as they were halfway down the cabin but, as the flight was so full she was unable to do anything about it.
MIldred was to be tagged at the the boarding gate and taken into the hold from there. An assistant was summoned to the desk to take us through security as she continued to check our visas and passports. As we left the desk we were joined by another assistant, I'm assuming they took one look at the size of me and thought Christ, this heifer is a two man job. the first security check was for our hand luggage and visas... again, then were onto the next section which required the full works. again . I was taken into a small cubicle and patted down by a lovely lady. it wasnt much of a pat down if I'm honest, not that I'm complaining. As always it was completed very quickly and we were wheeled to the wheelchair waiting area. When we got there we were signed in, passport checked and told we would be collected for loading in a little while and put into a little gap by the window so we could still people watch. I think i may have liked a nose around the duty free given it was massive, but one of the women on the entrance to the meeting point was a bit scary looking, and glared at everyone as they came in. I gave it a miss and sat in the corner like a good girl.
The waiting area was pretty busy and we all set off in a convoy to the depature gate. We took the train, which was pretty quick and got us there a lot faster than it would have if we had to have walked it. (that's the royal we by the way). When we got off the train and the convoy arrived at the departure gate, I could see what the girl meant when shesaid that they were up to their maximum number of wheel chairs. There were about 10 people in wheelchairs jostling on the start line for the best place to nail the holeshot!
I was beaten to it by a man and 5 members of his family who all had to be checked again before being allowed through the gate. There were so many of us in chairs waiting to board that the line snaked back to about a 1/4 of the length of the airbridge. Eventually Mildred was labeled and I was on board. We settled Bob in to the seat pocket in front of me much to his disgust and took off about 10 minutes later.
The flight was a 3 hour one and went quite fast, the cabin crew were absolute sweethearts, and couldnt do enough for the passengers. We had some nuts in novelty tins ( i love a tin) and a Masala tea which was bloody lovely. We had to wait for the tea because the plane hit some turbulance and they weren't allowed to serve hot drinks. The tea came a few minutes before we landed and we were able to drink it while waiting for the other passengers to disembark. As we flew into the airport, we could see that it was surrounded by poverty. there were huts and shelters right up th the airports boundary fence. The noise must have been incredible, let alone the fumes from the planes. it was very humbling, but there was more to come. We were unloaded and wheeled through to passport control, stopping to fill out Disembarkation forms on the way. Once at the passport control they wanted to see our visa, again, which amused me greatly because it had already been checked twice in Dubai before they let us on the plane! we were then photographed and finger printed. You can expect to see us soon on India's version of crime watch. That was a strange experience, being on the other end of it! When the unsmiling customs officer was happy with our inside leg measurments and waist sizes we were allowed through to collect our luggage. I confess to having fingers crossed that Mildred. would be there waiting for us. The Sturdy one was making its 97th lap of the bag carousel and we grabbed it s she went by. No sign of Mildred though. A small fret startd in my tummy but all was well, she was just in a different place to the bags, and appeared to be unscathed by the journey. That said i think this may be her last grand adventure, she's getting rickety and things are breaking.
After the disastrous experience on the airline website and their lack of customer service, I can honestly say that i wasn't expecting much from them at all. So it was a pleasant surprise when we saw how fantastic the staff all were with every single passenger who travelled with them, and the lengths they went to to ensure everyone was comfortable and happy.
I'd booked our accomodation some time ago and messaged the hotel prior to leaving Dubi to request their airport shuttle service. It was confirmed immediately and we were told that a driver would be waiting for us with a sign with our name on. Due to having taken such a long time to get through customs i was sure the car would have gone, little miss negative pants here. To our relief we located him and he loaded us in and off we went. As you come out of arrivals there are palm trees and shrubs and it all looks really pretty, right up untill you hit the main road. oh my days, the traffic is like vietnam on steroids, tuktuks weaving in and out of lorries, cars and busses. Motorbikes, doing the same thing. Riders with helmets on and pillion without. One lady in a uniform of some description that required hugh heeled shoes was sat side saddle on the back of a moped, reading her phone. We passed Tuktuks with people working on laptops and the drivers on their phones. Every single 4 wheeled vehicle had a dent or a scratch in such numbers you would have to work hard to find a panel without a ding in it. Being in the traffic I ca n easily see how they occured. The vehicles weren't mobing at geeat speed but all we could hear was meep meep of mopeds, motorbikes, tuk tuks and cars. everyone honks. constantly. For an individual who dies't particualrily like being in a car it was alarming , but also a huge assault to the senses. We were in traffic for two and half hours and it was jammed the whole way with literally inches to spare between vehicles. I have never ever seen so many male scooter riders pulled up on the side of the road to have a wee, i lost count in the end of how many I saw. . can you imagine that at home? YOu'd be fined!
There is a huge amount of demolition and construction going on, with tower blocks being built right on the side of the road, New bridges are popping up too and also signs everywhere advertising new developments. I feel its a city that is never quiet, its buzzing, full of life and colour, and you don't have to even look to see the abject poverty that some of the people live in. As ive already said its very humbling, and I am very much reminded at just how lucky and fortunate i am. The driver was a quiet soul, and to be honest i didnt want to make too much conversation, I was much happier he was concentrating on the driving. we were passed by a small Milk tanker with churns on the back, closely followed by an enormous works lorry that was so close i could count the rust particles on the lorry bed. deep intake of breath from the backseat.
As drove out of the city, the traffic stayed heavy but we could see that it was quite an industrial area. Lots of car show rooms brightly lit, big Hotels, conference centres, shopping Malls and busy side streets. Our Hotel is in Navi Mumbai, and appears to be quite a modern, relatively new area. we were delivered up a ramp through gates that were opened and closed by guards and came to a halt outside the reception.
Unloaded we went in through the big glass doors, into the reception that was floor to ceiling marble and furnished with heavy colonial style furniture. The gentlemen behind the desk both stood and bowed to us with the some of the nicest smiles. As we were checking in, a glass of cooled, fresh juice was bought to us. They wanted to see our visa's... AGAIN!! and requested we email them to the hotel for their files. All done we were given our room key and made our way to the room. Our driver accompanied us the whole way and Si wasn;'t alloweded to carry the Sturdy one, it was bought up shortly after we got to the room by a porter. Our room is on the 9th floor and has the same decor as the reception, so is cool under foot, and easy to clean i imagine. It overlooks the road, and is airconditioned. Current humidity level a mere51% Splendid, i'll have some of that thankyou very much, along with a balmy 30 degree temperature.
A bit peckish we studued the menu that was in the room, and it all made our tummies rumble so we went to hunt for some food. We located the bar on the ground floor and were immediately shown to a table and given the menus and a large bottle of water. The waiter was a sweetheart, and as we had no desire for european food asked for his recomendation. That was the best move so far, the soup was incredible, so mny flavours and smells, howeber the mains surpassed that. I have never eaten a curry that tasted so good. Yhe breads were the thin ones and had massive amounts of garlic on them, sides of red onions and green chillies were bougt out as well, and Si devoured them with relish. We shared the dishes between us as we had one vegetable and one chicken dish. again the flavours were amazing, not too spicy that you couldnt taste anything. Just every mouthfull was different flavour. The veg was firm and tasty, the chicken melted in our mouths. bloody lush. washed it down with a sweet and sour soda and lime juice. really refreshing and my new favorite! The plce was quite busy and the food cooked from scratch. there is a restraunt that allows you to watch the chef actually cooking your food for you right infront of you. The staff are sooooo attentive, checking if everything was ok, was the music too loud, did we require anything else, and, my favorite thing, they were all smiling and happy. No room for desert, and probably too tired to eat it anyway, we retired for bed.
Before doing so we set up the mosquito deterrent to try and stop getting eaten alive in the night. we could hear the road quite clearly, but it wasn't that intrusive really. some strange sounding horns through the night made me jump but thats what we are here for!