India 2018 Day 25, 29th December

Flight at 02:35 with boarding at 01:35.

I waited at the gate. Got a coffee and cheese and tomato sandwich.

My aisle seat on the plane had a space next to it. I think at one time they had another seat beside it. So I have lots of leg room to stretch out.

Watched three films including "Pad Man". The story of a rebellious girl who buys a book at the railway station that changes her life. The character in the book is so like her it could have been about her. She sets out to find the author via the publisher. The publisher, the owner of the printing press in fact wrote the book but put his friends photograph and name on the cover as author. She finds the printing press and wants to meat the author but can not get to write to him. The exchange of love letters goes on until the printing press owner has to find his friend to impersonate him meanwhile falls in love with the girl.

The third film has two photographs being hired to spy on the shady dealings of construction company owners who are building a substandard fly over. Everyone but them are on the take but they are the ones who are eventually locked up.

Arrival at Heathrow. No jacket on and my coughing starts up. It is not cold but colder than Mumbai. On the plane I swapped the SIM in my mobile phone. I now switched it on and messaged the GPS Tracker and if said "hi" with a location at the end of the baggage belt only a few hundred metres from me.  Couldn't find passport although I had it only moments before at another check point. Try to put it back in the easy to grab pocket but sometimes miss and it drops deeper in with all the other papers I had collected.

Told to go through the automated gated. Scan the passport and it opens up. Had to take the plastic cover off the passport as it failed to scan with the cover on.

The long walk to the tube. 6 for the ticket. Got off at King's Cross. Queued for ticket to get the next train to Ely. Then a 40 minute wait for the train.

At Ely station the walk from the far platform to the front. My bag might only be 8 kg but very soon it feels like more. The backpack is better balanced and also some 8kg with the camera, tablet, battery pack  and tripod.

No taxi's or at least none licensed to pick up from the ranks when they dropped people off. Soon enough two arrived and I had the second one out. 30.10 for the 12-13 miles home.

Took the key from the wall safe and let myself in. It took until 21:00 for the house to warm back up from the 10 degrees Celsius. I got some groceries in from Aldi.

A perfect hassle free return home and for the first time since trying to get a taxi on 4th December it all went so very smoothly.


A few points to note on the travel and tour.

In 25 days I am now recharging the tooth brush. Over all it was worth taking but I wish they used a standard USB cable for charging and not the special one.

The four way charger was put to full use only once but frequently charged the tablet and phone at the same time. It is a shame that not all current devices uses USB C.

Didn't need the compass as Google maps worked so well on the mobile phone.

Several times I has to use the battery bank charger. Sometimes twice in a day.

Not being able to charge and use the tablet with external hard drive or link to mobile phone or camera was a nuisance.

The electronic versions of the Lonely Planet (do buy the latest version even if you manage to get an older edition downloaded for free) is harder to use than expected. The mobile phone mobi version is particularly bad. It needs a 'go to' and better search interface.

Thermos flask I used only a couple of times to store hot tea. The mini boiler was useful in the cheaper hotel although they would have got me hot water if I asked. Other hotels had kettles to use and complementary tea bags and coffee.

Watching some films I brought on the external drive was worth the extra carry. It made evening train journeys pass fast and sharing a movie with people was fun. I was watching mainly Indian movies with subtitles.

I packed too many clothes but would have had less if I planned only 25 days and not 60. I did use three white collared shirts (two in the wash). I did use three under pants and four pairs of socks. I also used both sweat shirts and both long sleeve tee shirts. I should have washed the trousers but had wanted them for the wedding day and ended up too rushed to change into the clean unworn pair.  Laundry was okay except getting clothes that did not belong to me and loosing a pair of pants. The named labels would have been a good choice - have them just didn't sow them on.

Probably should not have got the jacket. Have to see if I will wear it or if the tight arms end up bothering me too much.

The large 200mm power zoom lens was of limited use. It might have come into it's own on safari in Kerala. Yasmin's smaller zoom of 50-210mm makes more sense (is lighter and packs smaller) but I wanted the power zoom for video recording.

Using the tiny 8" tablet worked. Tethered to the phone for data and internet connection worked so well. Remotely logging into my home desktop and home server worked even though Yasmin had to run up TeamViewer on the desktop for some reason two weeks in. Next time I think the lager 12" convertible tablet would be more comfortable to use.

The Bobby Bizz daily carry bag was so good in making me feel confident about wearing it and not having my stuff pick pocketed. The shoulder backpack straps could be more substantial. But over all it was great swapping is as backpack and brief case. Many locals commented on the good clean design.

The Tortuga Set Out Divide was great for being able to lock up stuff in my hotel room although only in Pune did they enter to clean out and relay the bed with clean sheets and covers daily. The only place where staff (? a lady) entered without knocking. How much of my fully naked body she saw I don't know! Just came out of the shower!

The Tortuga was exactly right for my clothes but no room for the present I took or the jacket and medications I bought in India. The fold up duffle was perfect. Okay the coat hanger ripped it and I had the sewing kit ready to stitch it up but it seemed to be happy to take the strain of stuffing too much in. As Tortuga say on their web site there are many travellers taking a carry on back pack and a duffle to check in. On flights I packed the rigid Bobby Bizz into the Tortuga which had nothing else but the jacket in the front pocket. If it held internally the stuff that the Bobby Bizz has pockets for it would have worked as a larger (heavier) daily carry. It does not really hold the tech stuff well - camera as well as computer and cables. One of the two compartments needs to be a full 10 cm deep not both 8cm. If I needed both winter and summer clothes (Shimla and Kochi in December) then I would need at least 40 litres. The 40 litre Torgua Set Out and Riut Crush foldable daily backpack might have proved a better choice. Just loved the professional aspect of the Bobby Bizz and being able to stow away the straps. I did not use the foldable carry bag to cover the Bobby Bizz. I didn't go into many places to knock stuff down, but at the furniture exhibition did get pushed in tight and knocked a fruit press off the stand when I turned.  I often failed to fully zip up both backpacks but never lost anything as they still held the contents deep enough and tight. I did loose some tissues out of the duffle on the train. Everything else was zipped up in packing cubes but the last minute purchase of some tissues. The Eagle Creek Spectre-

I used the large bath towel instead of fussing reception for another towel. The small one wasn't needed. A standard bar of soap and the Lush bar for hair shampoo would have lasted the 60 days. 50-75ml of tooth paste is enough for two months.

Notepad was useful to jot down address to show drivers who could read English even if not clearly understand it spoken (particularly when you get the names mispronounced and traffic volume forces you to shout).

Don't buy anything except that which you already know you do want. Never book a tour. Book trains through Indian Railway and flights through one of the many providers; one or two may give you 500 to 2000 rupees off. Hotel might book a train for you and you pay them in cash with 5% or less for the hassle and transaction charges they incur. Early on check your credit card company will pass the purchase. Both my credit card and debit card sent keys to my mobile phone - the UK one. Visa also did separately because I had not used the debit card for online transactions for over 6 moths. Than means putting your UK SIM back into the phone - okay if you have a tablet connected to Wi-fi but not if it is tethered to the foreign SIM for data or worse on the mobile phone with only one SIM slot!  Make sure that your accounts are fully up to date with phone numbers and passwords needed when contacting them.

If exchanging money insist upon a receipt of the transaction so you can exchange back if needed later.

I packed sandals which were not really needed. I did use them when I washed the shoes a couple of times.

The sleeping bag liner was never needed. The hotels I used did provide clean sheets and covers. Even in the cold nights (7 degrees) covers were adequate.

 GPS Tracker would have been great had I got it to work outside of the UK. 

 Last updated 30th December 2018