Monday, February 13, 2012

Final Day and Flight Home

Walk along Marine Drive

Swing in our Suite at the Taj

Eggplant with Tomatoes

Crab and Veg Rice Pulao

Chocolate Covered Kulfi

Bon Voyage Cake

The final day in Mumbai was hot. We decided to a walk along Marine Drive. Cathy has a bad back, but can walk on level ground with little problem. We took a VERY long walk on this hot day. We love looking at the sea, the buildings and the couples strolling along the seashore. Many Bollywood movies have been shot along this path.

We found one last store, new to us, to shop at! The Taj gave us a very late checkout (6pm) and we decided to eat dinner at the hotel before heading for our flight home. Once again we ate at Masala Kraft the hotels premier Indian Restaurant. We ordered a wonderful meal including dessert and then they surprised us with a Bon Voyage Cake. Nice Touch!

A word about the Taj Palace Heritage rooms. We had stayed there before the terrorists took over the hotel and destroyed much of the Heritage Wing. The service and quality in every respect at this hotel (and the Hyderabad Falaknuma Palace) are exceptional. Cathy summed it up when she said “I don’t want to leave, lets just move in and stay till our money runs out!”.

We checked in at the Mumbai Airport about 9:30 for our 11:20 flight. We checked all of our bags through to LA and boarded our Thai Airway flight to Bangkok. The food and the plane were not great, however the flight was short and we slept through a lot of it arriving early in the morning in Bangkok. We then transferred to another Thai Airway flight to Shanghi. This plane was new and very nice. Thai Airlines redeemed itself.

Arriving in Shanghi China we were at an enormous airport. We looked for the transfer desk to make sure we had proper tickets for the final flight to LA on United Airlines. We found the transfer desk and it was closed. The police told us we would have to leave the secure area and pass through customs and then re-enter the airport. We were sure we were given wrong information, but didn’t want to argue with Chinese Police. We headed for customs and while standing in line started talking to another person. He said we had to claim our luggage and start anew like we had just arrived at the airport. We said that was impossible, and showed him the receipts for our luggage showing the bags tagged to LAX.

We checked with some other officials and they said yes, we need to pick up our luggage. We waited for our luggage at the carousel but never saw it. We then gave up, left the secure area and went to the ticket counter. It was not manned. We finally found a person who brusquely told we had to claim our luggage, we explained it was checked through to LA and showed the receipts saying LAX. She said, no matter, go get your luggage. We were outside security and had no tickets to allow us back into look for our luggage. They said just say you forgot your luggage. We decided to try again, and we schlepped back through the big airport, and surprisingly they did let us back in. Just as we arrived at the lost luggage desk, an employee arrived pushing a cart with our 3 pieces of luggage on it. We were happy to see our luggage, but can’t understand why we never saw it on the carousel. We felt it was a close call, if the passenger hadn’t mentioned to us about claiming our luggage we never would have checked, just assuming it was on its way to LA with us. We have never experienced this problem at any other airport.

With our luggage we trouped back to the ticket counter, which was still vacant. We decided to hold a sit in and wait for someone to show up. Eventually they did, and we were issued proper tickets so we could enter the secure area. We then checked out the stores and restaurants. All were of very poor quality. We went to the lounge where they had bad wine and worse food. We were tired and sticky. We then wondered if they had showers. We asked and they did have very nice clean showers and we freshened up and we felt good again.

We boarded our new 777 for the flight back to LA. It was a new plane, and we had seats that faced the tail, so we flew backward to LA. The food and drink was good, we had dinner took strong sleeping pills and reclined back in our lie flat beds. We immediately fell asleep and slept for almost the entire flight waking up about 45 minutes before we arrived. A very nice flight and fitting in end to our trip.

A note on Shanghi airport: drab, lousy shops and restaurants, disorganized. Most of the people police and airport spoke excellent English and were helpful as we tried to navigate the confusion. They could take some lessons, however, from the Hong Kong Airport.

The trip was wonderful!

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