Monday, September 18, 2023

India Work Trip 2023 ✈ Kolkata with Mom

Following my 2-month work trip to India at the end of 2022, I was given the opportunity to travel to India again this year for round 2 of secondment. This trip was slightly shorter (1.5 months) but I was excited to return and see all the familiar faces again. I was glad mom was able to come visit me for a staycation despite the last minute planning.

Trip Planning
When I was in India  for 2 months last year, I thought about asking mom to come visit me since it's only a 4-hour flight from KL to Kolkata. However, due to visa requirements, family events, and caregiving for dad, she wasn't able to make it work last year. This year, my travel dates were confirmed much earlier in February so we had more time to plan for mom's visit. However, as we had to make sure that the helper/caregiver was around to help take care of dad while mom was away, it wasn't until the end of May when we were 100% certain that mom could make the trip. 

I'm impressed we managed to book 2 trips for her (India and Bhutan) within 10 days from departure, especially with both India and Bhutan requiring visa for Malaysians.

Kudos to mom for figuring out the India visa application quickly. Somehow it was significantly more expensive to apply for e-visa online (USD 114) as compared to applying it in-person at the India Visa Center in Penang (MYR 150 / USD 32). The staff at the IVC was also very helpful and sent my mom a copy of her passport via Whatsapp when we needed her passport copy for the Bhutan visa application (she didn't take a photo of it before submitting it for the visa application).

8-14 June 2023 (Thurs-Wed): Mom's staycation in JW Marriott Kolkata

8 June 2023: Mom's flight was scheduled to arrive Kolkata at 12.10am, but her flight was delayed 1.5 hours so I left the hotel at 1am to go to the airport with the hotel driver, Zia.

There was no traffic and we arrived the airport at 1.30am. Everytime I arrived Kolkata airport, the hotel staff had always been there waiting for me. This was the first time I saw where the drivers parked while they waited for me. I asked Zia to wait for me in the parking deck while I went to the arrival area to wait for mom. I found out that mom's flight landed at 1.16am but I figured it'd still take awhile to get through immigration.

Only passengers are allowed in all airports in India so I had to stand and wait outside of the airport. After waiting for 30 minutes, Mom finally came out of the airport at 2am!  Now I feel bad for the hotel drivers who had to stand outside for a long time waiting for us, especially when our flights were delayed. We made it back to the hotel at 2.30am.

Welcome mommy to JW Marriott Kolkata! As mentioned, this was a staycation so the 'itinerary' was for mom to chill and enjoy the hotel. =P 

Our housekeeper, Baban, was also super nice and made towel animals everyday, which I specifically requested to leave them in the room for my 'animal kingdom'!

Started the day with buffet breakfast at JW Kitchen before I went to the office.

Room service for lunch (while I was at work).

While I was at work, mom enjoyed browsing the internet in the room. She also went to the spa twice during the stay. Then after I got back from the office, we went to the gym.

At 6pm, we went up to the Executive Lounge for the Happy Hour before dinner.

Then we had dinner at the hotel's restaurant, Vintage Asia. 

We went out to Decathlon on Saturday to buy some stuffs for our Bhutan trip. Will share more about our Bhutan trip in a separate post.

14 June 2023: Time to say goodbye to mom after spending a week together. I'm pretty sure we were laughing about mom's 'combat' outfit with her pants and! 

We left the hotel at 9.30pm and when we arrived the airport at 10pm, we saw fire trucks, police cars, ambulance, police outside of the airport. Everyone was also evacuated out of the airport. The hotel driver, Naba, told us that there was a fire in the airport 30 minutes ago. The fire was put out but there was still smoke in the airport so everyone was just waiting outside the airport. Nobody knew how long we'd have to wait so I'm thankful Naba found a good spot to park and waited with us while I tried to figure out the situation and next steps. I wasn't sure how long we'd have to wait, and didn't want to leave mom alone at the airport in case we needed to go back to the hotel. Fortunately, they started letting passengers enter the airport at 10.30pm and mom was able to get into the airport quickly (kiasu for the win). Thankfully, she got on her flight on time and made it back home safely. Pheww... what a way to end her trip!

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