We flew on the 24th April to Bangalore from a pleasant 2night stopover in Kuala Lumpur. We now stay at the Sama Sama hotel a super hotel at the airport with golf type buggies to get you from inside the terminal to the hotel in 2minutes.

The airport express from KLIA to KL Sentral train station is a great service taking 1/2 hour and costing $25 return. If you prepay at the airport and pay with Mastercard you get 20% off the ticket price. We went into the city for the day.
The metro goes right into the mall now next to the Petronas towers and the free pink bus outside takes you straight to Bukit Bintang the main shopping/restaurant area in 15minutes. The transport system has improved over the last couple of years and the city looks more like Singapore all the time with good infrastructure and innovative sky scrapers.

The ‘Simple Life’ vegetarian restaurant next door in the mall near the very upmarket Isetan complex serves delicious food and is only a short walk along a long line of modern restaurants to the ‘Pavillion Mall’ where there is now another undercover area full of food choices and the best Italian icecream.
The ‘Johnny Rocket’ staff as well as staff in some hotels have taken to doing a choreographed 5 minute dance routine every so often which is fun to watch and the staff seem to also enjoy the performances. We took the monorail back to KL Sentral and the train back on the KLIA express to the airport.

We luckily got to the airport early as the check in staff wouldn’t take our confirmation of an e-visa for India shown on Maurice’s phone (even though they accepted people checking in for the flight showing their e-ticket on their phones) so it was a performance of going to the newsagent and the nice man there let me use his computer to print out the confirmations so that we could show the check in staff the piece of paper!
We then had little time to get through the long immigration queue so a quick chat with a security guy got us into the diplomatic passport checking booth where no one was waiting. We just boarded the flight in time and landed in Bangalore four hours later.

Our second fright was when Maurice looked at the wrong bus ticket on his phone and told me that we had missed our bus. We went to the bus counter and the officer pointed out that the ticket was for our last trip. After a short panic he found us on the list and we boarded the 11am, 4 hour trip on the Volvo flybus to Mysore.
We had a good meal at the quirky ‘Gupha’ cave restaurant in the ‘Pai Vista’ hotel and then were picked up for our 3 hour trip to our new Ayurvedic centre in Wayanad down the road from the ‘Karapuzha Dam’. The centre built and run by Dr Tony had treated Maurice before and he had good results in the 2 weeks there.
The whole area had had no rain for months but we had about ten days of unusually early torrential rain with dramatic thunder and lightning.

The good work the healer had done in Bali on our backs was rather undone by the long journey to the Ayurvedic centre so at least we were in the right place and Dr Tony and the good therapists worked their wonders on our backs. We received good massages and food prepared by Jaicy, Dr Tony’s wife and Jay Kumar, a lovely yoga teacher we had met previously gave us personalized yoga sessions. We had daily walks around the dam and saw a few tribal people who live in the area and who could have easily been mistaken for Australian aborigines. The locals were very friendly and we saw first hand the latex sheets made from the rubber plantations in the area which were formed using big old wringer like machinery.

A nice tradition of Dr Tony’s at the end of a stay is to have a tree planted in your name. We went to where his father has some land and Maurice and I
planted a small Jackfruit tree.
We left Muttil South on the 9th May for trip back to Mysore, flybus to Bangalore airport and the flight to Mumbai to see our friends Nidhi, Ashraf and family there for a few days.

Mumbai international airport is a very user friendly one with conveniently placed prepaid taxi counters which made transport to the city very easy.
We just happened to be in Mumbai again for the six week ‘Alphonso’ mango season and Nidhi had bought some for us to have which we enjoyed immensely.
Nidhi’s driver Shankar took us to an amazing baggage repair basement shop where the craftsmen there replaced wheels on my hand luggage and they do amazing repairs. Shankar dropped us at at the large Infinity 2 mall so that we could replace my sneakers. I left the old ones with little tread in Kerala after slipping on a smooth rock the previous day and giving myself a nice big bruise on my leg.

Nidhi’s mother in law is a great cook and she prepared my favourite masala dosas for breakfast one day. We opted for a north Indian restaurant one night after having had the very different south India food for two weeks. Mumbai is a city with an amazing number of high rise apartments under construction all over the city. Andheri West where Nidhi and Ashraf live on the 11th floor of a large commplex is a surprisingly quiet area with a lot of birdlife.

The locals were suffering in the 36 degree humid weather and it promised to be hotter in Delhi when we flew there three days later with cut price airline Indigo which proved to be one of the best flights we had been on in our five years of travel. They have the best on time record and all the staff from check in to cabin and flight crew could not have been more pleasant or helpful. It was a short bus ride from the terminal but their ramps to the plane are so much better and easier to navigate with luggage rather than the staircases that most airlines use.

Jyoti’s driver Ravinder picked us up from Delhi airport for the trip to her apartment in Gurgaon, an large area of innovative company buildings and gated communities.

We stayed for 2nights with Jyoti our friend and owner of the Gratitude and Mantra properties in Pondicherry who lives in Delhi. She took us to her organic farm in Rajasthan which is a beautiful property developed from a barren area years ago into a lush and green oasis. It is also run as an airbnb property where guests can learn about bio and organic farming as well as relax by the pool and lotus pond. There are chickens and geese, squirrels, many bird types and colourful lizards on the property which is run by six staff. The cook prepared us a tasty organic vegetarian meal and the dry 40 plus temperature did not bother us. Maurice and I took the metro the following day into the city about an hour away and we wandered about, bought a couple of items and had a north Indian lunch at ‘Zafran’ restaurant. I also had a coffee at ‘Cafe Coffee Day’ which we know from Pondicherry and who train and employ young deaf people as baristas. It was decidedly hotter in the city with all the concrete buildings and bitumen roads but the metro was very well ventilated and cooler.
Our return to Gurgaon was not as we expected as our train broke down at ‘Green Park’ station and we had to find a way to get back to Jyoti’s apartment an hour away.
We were a bit concerned as the train was packed and everyone was trying to get taxis and auto rickshaws. We were lucky enough to find two lovely guys who called us an ‘Ola’ taxi and who waited with us until it arrived. We got to the airport in plenty of time for our 3 1/2 hour flight to Doha on Jet Airways.

We had only transited Doha previously so decided to spend a couple of nights in the city. We chose the ‘Arumaila hotel’ part of the’Souk Waqif’ group of nine hotels all located in the old quarter of ‘Souk Waqif’. On check in they kindly upgraded us to a room with a balcony which overlooked the souk. The hotel cat slept by the front door most of the time and took the guest movement in his stride. Golf type buggies moved guests to some of the other properties to have breakfast or to have the use of a pool. The staff were the most polite, friendly and efficient we had encountered anywhere and there was Arabic coffee and dates on hand in the foyer. Their new property Najd had an African flavour and a lovely fragrance greeted you as you walked through the hotel. The Souk area, Dhow harbour and Museum of Islamic art was opposite the modern city centre with it’s skyscrapers. Within a short walking distance was the ‘Falcon Souk’ where Falcons costing thousands of Riyals sat on posts in a sandy pit in the shops selling the birds and everything associated with Falconry. In the same area was the Falcon hospital which was specifically for treatment of the raptors. Around the corner was the Camel Paddock where camels were kept for tourists to admire.
A little further along were the horse stables and paddock, an elaborate set up for the horses some of which were used for racing. Rajasthani men took care of the animals. The hotel, restaurant and souk workers were a mixture of Arabs from various countries such as Tunisia and Egypt and there were also many other nationalities in the service industry there.
The Qataris in the main did not work and those that do usually own large businesses. I went looking for a Qatari souvenir but all the products on sale came in the main from either Turkey, Iran or Syria. I asked one Arab shop assistant if anything was made in Qatar. He said ‘Oil and Gas’. I ended up buying some carved glass Arabic coffee cups made in Turkey but used by the Qataris.
Like mad dogs and Englishmen we went out in the midday sun in the 40 odd degrees to walk around the Dhow harbour and then to the Museum of Islamic art which had a wonderful temporary
exhibition of ‘Imperial Threads’ displaying beautiful carpets and carvings from Iran, Turkey and India. The only other people outside were the poor foreign workers who were doing mass plantings along the Corniche. We made our way back to the hotel and later when it was cooler one of the staff gave us a free walking tour of the souk and surrounding area. The souk was quite extensive with pets, clothing, souvenirs, food and an area for elaborate gold jewellery.
The transportation of goods in the souk was done by older men with wheelbarrows rather than using donkeys or mules. The souk at night was very atmospheric with fairy lights and it was pleasant sitting outside with no mosquitoes. The souk stayed open until 10pm even though there were few tourists. The shop keepers were very pleasant and it was nice browsing without any pressure to buy.

The airport was only a 15minute ride from the old part of town where again staff were very pleasant. We flew the hour to Dubai with Emirates and then had a long trek (about 1/2 hour) to reach our gate for the flight to Rome on the 16th May. At the arrivals hall in Rome we had another chance encounter with friends who had flown from Sydney to Rome. We had been looking at the baggage belt for our bags for a long time when I decided to go and find an Emirates representative. As I turned and made my way through the masses of people our friends appeared walking towards the exit. Karma!

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