Thursday, December 30, 2004

two days to go

Of course, the list below is overly optimistic, as I'm travelling with Qantas. I forgot when I bought my ticket that Qantas insists on your bike being packed in a cardboard box, unlike Garuda and many other south-east asian airlines who are happy enough for you to let out a little air from the tyres & then have the bike wheeled on board (I returned from cycling the circumference of Bali just a few weeks ago, and Garuda remains quite happy with this arangement. They're also pretty flexible with their weigh-in procedures).
The Qantas box weighs about 3 kg, which represents 15% of my checked in baggage. It's also much more of a hassle at the other end. In Bali, it was a delight to be able to collect my bike from the man who wheeled it into the terminal, pump up the tyres, attach my panniers and cycle past the waiting hordes and on to where I'd planned to stay.

I've managed to arrange my accommodation in advance in Mumbai (I had one reply from the 6 hotels I did email ... perhaps business is so good they don't need to bother replying) - Bentley's - which Lonely Planet categorises as budget-range. Hotels in Mumbai seem outrageously expensive in comparison to much of the rest of India. A comparable hotel in Chennai, where I stayed in 2000, is at least a quarter of the price of what I'll be paying at Bentley's. Still, I've happily been able to arrange an airport pick-up of me and my bike-in-a-box, so I won't have to struggle with reassembling it in the terminal and then cycling 24 km into the centre of the city, or of struggling to fit the box on top of an airport taxi.

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