Wednesday, November 22, 2023

India Work Trip 2023 ✈ 6 Weeks in India

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.

1 June 2023 - 14 July 2023: Working and Living in India for 1.5 Months

After spending 10 days home with the hubby, it was time to say goodbye and hit the road again. Learning from my own experience last year, I decided to travel 'lighter' this time around and packed everything in only one 30kg, with 2 smaller luggages in the big bag. First leg of the flight was a 2-hour flight from Huntsville to Dallas on American Airlines.

My long journey to Kolkata...Huntsville - Dallas - Doha - KL - Bangkok - Kolkata

My flight landed in Dallas 30 min early so I went to check out the Capital One lounge. Didn't stay long as my transit was short and the lounge was full.

2nd & 3rd flights (Dallas - Doha - KL) on Qatar Airways

So glad to travel on Qatar Qsuites for this 14.5 hours flight! Anti-social mode on!

I didn't even wait till take off to change into the pyjamas...getting myself comfortable for this long flight.

I didn't even wait till take off to change into the pyjamas...getting myself comfortable for this long flight. Ordered the Tandoori prawns with kachumber salad, seared Atlantic salmon, and ice-cream for dinner, and corn flakes, strawberry smooth, and assorted cold cuts for breakfast.

Got a good 8 hours of sleep on this flight! Thankful for a good and well rested flight. =)

My cute neighbor was so good and did not cry (not made any noise) at all throughout the 15 hours flight! Kudos to this mom for being a pro. She was so calm and chill, and was prepared iwth milk bottles for both take off and landing. Alll while handling 2 kids. She even managed to multitask and enjoyed her chocolate while feeding the baby.Asked the flight attendant if they had any souvenirs for kids and got this lil' soft toy and pencil case.

Landed 30 min late in Doha at 6.25pm. I had only about 30 minutes before my next flight boards and was lucky my next gate was close to the lounge. It also helped that I was familiar with the location of the lounge so I was able to go there right away and even got a quick shower with just enough time for some drinks.

Time to board my next flight to KL. Boarding was a bit disorganized but it was all good.

Yayy for another Qsuite for this 7.5 hours flight from Doha to KL.

Got a nice leather pouch amenity kit...and ordered 2 champagnes to start off the flight.

I was tired so I requested the flight attendant to wake me up 2 hours before landing for my meal coz I wanted to sleep first.

After about 4 hours of sleep, it was time for food. Almost everything I ordered had prawn.

All good things must come to an end. Landed in KL at 8.10am on 3 June 2023. I asked for a cappuccino prior to landing and the flight attendant kindly put it in a paper cup and gave a cookie as we were landing soon.

Back in Malaysia for 5 hours before continuing my journey with Thai Airways in Economy. I had to check-in for this flight again so I kiasu and went to the check in counter before they were opened to make sure I get to check in as soon as they opened. I had Star Alliance Gold status so I was able to use the Thai Royal Silk counter for check-in.

4th & 5th flights on Thai Airways. 

Even though I was traveling in economy, I was able to access the Plaza Premium First lounge with my Capital One Venture X credit card. Apparently, Star Alliance Gold only gets access to Plaza Premium Lounge. I ordered Kai Si Hor Fun, herbal soup noodle, and cappucinno for breakfast via the app.

Full filght for this 2 hour flight from KL to Bangkok.

I had a 9-hour transit in Bangkok airport so it's time for Priority Pass lounging. There are so many lounges in Bangkok that I could access to with Priority Pass and Star Alliance Gold status. I wasn't planning to come to this lounge initially but saw someone getting a massage as I was walking by and quickly checked my Priority Passs app and indeed! Yes I went in just for the 15 minutes neck and shoulder massage.

I was too lazy to lounge-hop so I hung out at the Turkish Airlines lounge till my next flight. The lounge was pretty empty when I got there in the afternoon.

The reason I chose the Turkish Airlines lounge....this 15 minutes complimentary head and shoulder massage which was available between 3pm to 11pm. Glad I got my massage first coz people started coming and it was back to back reservations after I got mine.

Took a shower to freshen up.

Had tom yum with rice, some Thai beer and snacks. Was nice that this lounge didn't have a time limit so I was able to stay and chill for 8 hours while working on 'content creation'.

Final leg of my long journey to Kolkata. This was another full flight but a short 2-hour one.

Finally landed in Kolkata at 12.45am after traveling for 48! Glad to be back again after 6 months. Got through immigration pretty quickly and the airport was empty at midnight. Tapas, the hotel driver was already waiting for me at the arrival area.

I tred to lay low and didn't tell any of the JW Marriott staff I knew from the last trip that I would be back but I was immediately recogized by some familiar faces from the conceirge and reception as soon as I got off the car with 'Welcome Back'! Glad to be back at this 'home' in Kolkata. I was assigned room 2023....perfect...haha!

Home and view for the next 6 weeks.

Turned the hotel into my 'home office' when I wasn't in the office.

One of the main reasons I preferred this hotel is because of the weekly complimentary spa for an hour, which I definitely fully utilized. Didn't go to the gym as diligently even though all I had to do was to take the elevator to 2nd :P

Another perk for our corporate rate....complimentary laundry service of 4 pieces daily.

Thanks to the housekeepng staffs for all these towel animals, plants, and flowers throughout my stay. Yes I am spoilt. :P

Hotel-hopped over to the Westin on the weekend and my lay-low attempt failed again. Intentionally made my reservation only 30 minutes before arriving and tried to blend into the crowd in the lobby for check-in but got recognized by the sales guy and guest relations manager. I appreciate the fact that they still remember me after 6 months and gave me a suite upgrade again, but I guess there is no such thing as lay-low!

Thanks to the hotel drivers for the daily office drop-offs and pick-ups. I made it a point to remember the drivers' names this time around so that I could thank them later.

Our Kolkata office with my team members. The team booked a room for me but I don't mind sitting out in the open areas. I hardly get any work done in the office any way coz I end up socializing the whole day.

Our Kolkata office with my team members. The team booked a room for me but I don't mind sitting out in the open areas. I hardly get any work done in the office coz I end up socializing the whole day any way.

Received the news about my promotion from my Partner while I was in India, and was thankful that mom was there to celebrate together with me at that time. Incredibly thankful for all the people who have helped and supported me along the way to get to this milestone, especially my Partner in the COE since 2020.

As for food, I was very consistent for all 3 meals. For breakfast, I usually request for a to-go box at the JW Kitchen to pack some pastries and cappucino to take to the office. For days when I don't go to the office, I went up to the 23rd floor Executive Lounge for breakfast. There are usually not many people in the lounge so it's much more peaceful.

As for lunches, I'd usually order delivery to the office and eat in the pantry with my co-workers. There were few occassions where I ate out with other co-workers at restaurants that were within walking distance from the Fenicia and Slyfox. 

As for dinners, I usually go down to the Vintage Asia restaurant on the 1st floor... and the staff knows my usual orders...salmon nigiri, stir-fried veggies, kingfisher. :P 

I was pretty consistent with my orders and but switched things up few the dishes above when they had the Bombay pop-up event.  

Or when I ate with co-workers. :P Yes I prefer to eat here coz I was lazy to go elsewhere.

When the evening schedules got busy (my 'night' shift started at 7pm), I'd take my laptop up to the lounge and eat there...while enjoying some drinks. =)

When things got too hectic with back-to-back calls, I just ordered room service for dinner.

The one time I went out for dinner was to Peshwari at the ITC Royal Bengal next door for the farewell of another secondee.

Apart from work, I also visited a local orphanage with my team members, and we brought snacks, goodies, stationeries, and hygiene supplies for the kids. Thank you to the many staffs at JW Marriott Kolkata, especially the concierge guys for helping to move the many things I had and providing the nice paper bags for our gifts.

Farewell with the team on my last day at work. Thank you for the cake and book! :)

Also prepared some gifts for the hotel staff for the warm hospitality during my stay.

6 weeks flew by and it's a wrap for round 2 in Kolkata! Thankful for the opportunity to return to this city again and see so many familiar faces who made this place feel like home. I am incredibly grateful to my co-workers and all the JW Marriott Kolkata staff for the warm hospitality throughout my stay.

Kolkata can certainly be considered my 3rd home at this 'rate of return', to the extent that everyone was asking when I'm coming back. Honestly, I have no answer tot his question but I sure hope our paths will cross again (in person) someday.

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