As I said previously we start booking this trip in the middle and will work to either end. We decided to arrive a few days before the Bhutan tour starts. We are going to trip about north India first. This will allow us to get over the jet lag and acclimatize to the altitude. After the Bhutan stint we are going to visit some remote Indian islands, Andaman and Nicobar.
We sit back to back, Debbie is madly searching the internet for information on what we can do in India when we arrive. Darjeeling has some potential and we will probably spend a couple of days there. Searching a few tour company sites Debbie decided to look at two more spots. Gangtok was the farthest north. It didn’t show much promise with its biggest asset being that it has embraced the 21st century and has built super roads and malls. The city is also a good spot to go if night life is what you seek. Since our city has plenty of those qualities we decide to give Gangtok a miss. The next place the tours go to is Kalimpong. It seems to have a little more to offer. There are more places of “historical significance” to visit. The folks do not seem to have a need to reach the future by ripping down their past. Hopefully there are a few sites that should be unusual to a couple of Canadians.
A couple of days in each place, a couple of days for travel and slush (the word on the internet is always leave a couple of days for slush in India) and we have an approximate arrival date.
I am busy researching the end or our trip, an excursion to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. They are pretty remote and you cannot get to them easily. We have decided on two things for sure, this part of the trip will be down time, chill and regen, and we are going to scuba dive. The island that should provide both those opportunities is Havelock. It is the island that most tourists end up on, but from what I can make it will not be ‘crowded.’ We will spend 6 days on Havelock. Now do we spend the time and travel on the Andaman Trunk Road? The road travels north on Andaman Island into remote terrain and is suppose to be quite beautiful but very rough and it is an all day ride to Diglipur. We have not decided to do that journey yet but we will come up with a decision soon.
Debbie studied Kolkata and even though it is a big city it seemed worth a couple of days. So on our way from Bhutan to the Andaman’s we will stopover and take in the sights and smells. Most big cities are similar but every country has its own signature and I’m sure Indian cities have some unique qualities.
Next step, see what is available for flights from Edmonton to Kolkata. Now we have decided to stopover going to and from India it does not matter much if we go east or west. So we picked the route with two legs of approximately equal length. Edmonton-Frankfurt and Frankfurt-Kolkata on the way there and reverse on the way home. We found dates that work and it is time to book.
We have been saving RBC Avion points for quite some time and it is time to cash in. Using points to pay for air tickets cuts down on the cost of the trip and should make back more than the yearly $120 fee I have paid over the last many years.
Debbie and I spent last evening putting together the flight numbers and time for the flights that will take us from Edmonton to Kolkata and then picking dates so that we arrived in Frankfurt, lay over for a day, then connect with the adjoining flight through to Kolkata and mirror that tactic to come home.
I phoned the Avion redemption centre and connected with an agent. She is able to string together flights that I cannot on the internet. Although I do like doing as much as I can by myself it is not always possible, so if I can figure out flight codes and times for the flights I want to take, a travel agent can actually put them together. Check the cost of this configuration of flights, the flights are often cheaper on the internet because they fly you all over the globe to get you to the destination you want. You want to make sure the ideal combination of flights is not prohibitively expensive.
The flights we planned out were not available on the exact dates we wanted and it required I make some executive decisions without Debbie’s input. You have to remember in this game there are no wrong decisions only consequences for the decisions made. I had to shorten the trip by a day on the front end thus one of our all important slush days may not exist. Oh well. The reservations were made and we’ll arrive is Kolkata, India on the appointed date.