Seasoned traveler?

Luggage; an essential part of your trip.

I was really starting to consider myself a bit of a seasoned traveler… that was, until last week.

So, I get off the plane from Bali and land at the Bangkok airport. I have been to the Bangkok airport like 10 times now. I have the places I go if I want a coffee, a beer, a pedicure, some good smelling lotion… I am pretty comfortable there.

After landing on a flight on Thai airways (pay attention to this fact) I have about 5 hours to kill to wait for my friend from Delhi to meet me and then we are going to fly to Phuket (on Air Asia) on our way to Phi Phi.  I walk around the airport for a while, feeling super relaxed after 8 days of yoga and meditation, look at books, leisurely make my way into an Internet cafe, I am relaxed thinking to myself how comfortable I feel traveling, checking the time, “oh, I have enough time to get a manicure”, when all of a sudden it hits me, “holy shit, my luggage!!!!”.

See, yes, I have been to the Bangkok airport a bunch of time, and during my time there not once has it ever included me having to worry about my luggage (it’s always been checked straight through). So, now it has been about 4 hours since my flight landed, I have no idea which baggage claim area it’s in (or was in… IT’S 4 HOURS AFTER THE FLIGHT LANDED), I can’t find the baggage claim tag, and now I have to go through immigration to get it and I have left myself about 45 minutes to do all of this. Breathe. (this breathing thing works wonders!)

I make my way to immigration, quickly fill-out the necessary forms and go stand in line to get through. From where I am standing I have a view into the baggage claim area … and omg, there’s my bag off to the side. Super relieved to see it! Amazing that it’s still there and I picked the right baggage claim area (Thank God!). But I have to get there ASAP because I don’t know what I did with the baggage claim ticket and if for some reason someone comes and asks me for it, I am screwed. So, I am waiting and there are two people in front of me. “Come on, come on!”  Ok. my turn. I swear, as soon as I get up to the immigration agent, I see this guy with a cart right next to my bag and he is about to grab it. I am waving at this guy with the cart, “that’s my bag“, while the immigration guy is looking at me and asking me questions, “how long are you going to be in Thailand? …. “what?, um like 5 days I think” as I am waving at this guy, “that’s my bag!“. The immigration agent is like, hello?!,  what are you waving at.” Oh yeah, reality check, I am in Thailand at the immigration desk and I need this immigration guy to like me so that he let’s me into the country so I can get my bag and meet my friend to keep traveling; he kind of deserves my undivided attention, which I give him for the next 3 minutes before he let’s me through.

Made it, grabbed the bag with no problem and was back through security in time to meet my friend. Deep breathe again and very thankful.

Little travel trip from me: No matter how much you travel, don’t ever take anything for granted … and don’t forget about your luggage.  (especially if you just spend $300 at Lulu Lemon on yoga apparel right before you left to go on vacation). Oh, and see the picture above how my clothes next to each other rather than stacked, I just started doing this and it’s so much easier to find things! (& no I don’t have OCD, I just like to have a very organized bag. lol.)

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Eat. Pray. Work. My life in India revisited

globe-india_i-11“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”– Neal Donald Walsch

Namaste friends!

When I was offered an opportunity to work abroad in India, I remember desperately searching for any information/stories about American women working there, and all I could find was a downloadable 10-page brochure about how Expat wives could adjust (obviously, not helpful).

Bad news was, I had to learn the hard way, good news is, if you happen to be offered a similar opportunity, you don’t have to.

Eat, Pray, Work … A Single Woman’s Guide to Working Abroad in India is a collection of posts from my time in India from my blog Going with the Flow

Although this is a way for me to share my work-related/personal experiences from my perspective (as someone that moved to India alone, as a single woman), regardless of whether you work in India or not, are a man or a woman, single or married, my hope is that you will not only enjoy these stories, but they will somehow encourage you to be open to experiences that take you out of your comfort zone, force you to live in the moment, or do something that not everyone else is doing. Trust me, it’s not as scary as it initially seems. 

Eat. Pray. Work… My life in India, a different kind of love story:

From the “WTF am I doing here” stage, to the “my hair is falling out” stage, to the moment India and I feel in love (December 2009 – March 2011) 

An Insider’s Guide to Doing Business in India via Executive Travel Magazine

Bryan Adams is extremely popular in India and a few random things you may not know about this fascinating country

  • It is totally acceptable and common for guys to hold hands and rub each other (however it’s a huge no no for guys and girls).
  • Guys can pee where ever they want. It’s totally fine.
  • You don’t ever pay full price for anything; or at least you don’t have to. Even at department stores you can ask for a discount and most of the time you will get it (ask for 10%-20%).
  • As crazy as the traffic is in India, if a black cat crosses the road everything comes to a halt until someone comes along that didn’t see the cat and is the first to “cross the path”.
  • If someone invites you over to their house at 9pm, you would never dare show up before 10pm.
  • At parties, dinner is the last thing to be served (usually around 11pm or 12am) and once you’re done eating, it’s time to go home.
  • It’s common for your co-workers or customers to call you at 11pm, even on the weekends.
  • When you order a beer in India it will be presented to you before they serve it … your job is to touch it to ensure the temperature is to your liking and then say yes (or theek hai if you want to be fancy and speak in Hindi) to accept, or no to get another colder one.
  • If it’s your birthday, not only do you bake sweets (or buy them) for everyone (and feed everyone by hand – really) you also have to pay for everyone if you go out for dinner or drinks. Happy Birthday?

Incredible India

Go there! Love it or hate it, India is nothing less than incredible.

Playing Holi

Holi 2009

What’s funny, is I asked a bunch of people what Holi was and no one could explain it; they would just look at me and laugh … and now I get why. Words can’t really describe it. This is one thing you should definetly experience in your life. One of my top 5 “funnest” days for sure! If you are ever planning on coming to India, you can’t miss this! Happy Holi!

How to get the Holi Colors out of Your Hair … My advice, don’t even try to cover up your hair, it may work for a bit, but it’s kind of hopeless. Also, don’t say “no, don’t get me” … that just makes things worse for you. My hair was pink and green for over a week!  Click Here for some tips on how to prevent the colors from staining, and if they do, how to get them out. But I have to admit, once the pink finally washed out completely, I kind of missed it.

Travel Tip – Departing from the Delhi Airport

You won’t be leaving India if you don’t have your Travel Itinerary Printout
You HAVE to have your itinerary to get into any Airport in India (both Domestic/International). I changed my flight on-line and only had my original itinerary with me when I arrived to the airport. The guard (with a scary gun and freakishly yellow eyes) at the entrance to the airport would not let me into the airport. I went across the street to the Thai Air office to get a new print out, but when I finally found the office, it was locked up with a padlock (btw office = closet). I walked back across the street again to the airport entrance and asked the guard to please have someone from the counter come over and help me. This worked. The lady from the counter was able to find my name on her list and and shuffled me successfully into the airport. However, my advice is to be more prepared then I was and have the correct one with you to begin with. It will save you the anxiety of not being able to leave the country (not that fun) and about 30 minutes. 

Delhi T3 Terminal Update as of 2011: They have now opened up T3 which is an amazingly modern airport; much different from the original one that I first experienced in 2009 during my visit. However, although it’s easier to get your boarding pass printed out at the airport (at the customer service desk at the end of the terminal) it still takes you about 30 minutes and costs 50 Rps). Moral: Just print it out before hand!

Inspection Tags for your Carry-ons
Also, make sure you get a bag tag with an inspected stamp for all of your carry-ons. This tag actually has to be stamped by the guards at security in order to get your carry-on on the plane (they check this as you are getting on to the plane) and they won’t let your bag on the plane without this, even if you are about to miss your flight. Just check that the tags are stamped after you go through security because they don’t always stamp each tag.