India Pre-Departure Briefing Luncheon

On Sunday, our tour group, consisting of 23 members, met with our tour guide for a pre-departure briefing luncheon at The Mandalay Chinese Restaurant in downtown Honolulu.  The information and the food were excellent.  I’ll show photos of the delicious food tomorrow.  Today, I’ll go over some of the things we needed to know prior to our trip to northern India in November.

This is the cover of the travel booklet that each of us received.  In it, we got information about our departure and arrival times, our itinerary, list of our hotels, tipping guideline, roster of people on the tour, immigration, customs, money matters, cities temperature chart, time zones, health requirements, what to pack, insurance, internet, baggage, electricity, code of conduct, travel safety, and general information regarding cities.

This is Michael, our tour guide.  He will speak to us on the tour via a wireless microphone, and we will listen to him via earphones and a receiver that we place around our neck.  He, therefore, won’t have to yell at us.  Isn’t that cool?  We will have to provide our own earphones and batteries.

This is Michael’s manager, who also spoke.

Both men know a lot about India, but only Michael will accompany us on our trip.  We will have to meet him at the airport at 7 am.  What an ungodly hour.  At that time, he will give us our passports and our tickets.  The reason why he kept our passports after having them stamped with Indian visas is that in the past, some passengers forgot their passports at home instead of bringing them to the airport.

Our luggage will be checked in all the way to Delhi.  We will stop in Japan for refueling and then stay overnight at a hotel in Taipei.  We will be allowed to take only our carry on bag to this hotel.  Next morning, we will fly to Delhi.

Restroom stops in India:  For those of us who cannot squat over a hole in the ground, we should bring a disposable cup to urinate in and then dump the contents into the toilet.  Someone suggested a funnel, but I prefer a large cup.  We should also bring our own toilet paper to these venues.  This does NOT apply to the 5 star hotels we will stay at, because our rooms will have western toilets and toilet paper.

David and I had to pay Michael $260 for the two of us as gratuity for local tour guides, drivers, hotel porter, and the tour manager.  This is to facilitate group movement and eliminate the inconvenience of individual tipping.

This is the Indian currency.  We are not allowed to take Rupees out of India, so we must exchange them for US dollars at the airport on our way home.

This is the tote bag the travel agency gave each passenger.  We are to put in extra shoes and black socks, and keep them on the bus, because sometimes when we leave our shoes at the entrance to a monument, people steal them.  Black socks are needed for walking inside the monuments.  Women also have to cover their head, arms and legs while inside Muslim monuments.  We can rent robes, if necessary, but I plan to bring a shawl and long sleeve sweater and wear a long muumuu.

Here’s a photo of David and me at the conclusion of the luncheon.  He is wearing an Aloha shirt, and I’m wearing a long muumuu.  I’ll post a better picture of us tomorrow, along with photos of the delicious Chinese cuisine.  By the way, that black strap across my chest holds my purse off the dirty floor and prevents a thief from stealing it.

22 Responses to “India Pre-Departure Briefing Luncheon”

  1. Denise Says:

    Your tour group sounds very well organized Gigi. I think this is going to be a wonderful adventure for you and David and I am looking forward to hearing all about it.

  2. Linda Starr Says:

    don’t the two of you look so cute together. I had one of those purses I took to the Baja mexico but never needed it, of course we didn’t go to big cities, but my girlfriend once had her wallet stolen from her purse at a very fancy restaurant in San Francisco as it was sitting on the floor. The toilet facilities in India would scare me off for sure.

  3. Christine Says:

    lots of great info Gigi, sounds like a great tour. Interesting details, like the toilet cup, maybe you should bring a pack of beer cups, disposable, I’m thinking. Wonder if it’s a good idea to display USA on those bags when you travel internationally, no offense but there are crazies out there.

  4. NRIGirl Says:

    Well planned out tour it looks like; but the portable potty needs intrigues me as most restaurants and homes and of course all hotels have western style toilets. I am positive you would never use it on the trip; can’t wait to hear from you after the trip.

    One more thing, the $260 gratuity seems too much; I am not sure if the entire amount goes for tipping.

  5. SchmidleysScribbling Says:

    You are so brave to make this trip. A former coworker lives in Madras and has invited me to visit her, but I could not make such a long trip these days.

  6. DJan Says:

    It sounds like it will be a great trip, Gigi. I look forward to hearing about it when you go, but you are already making it exciting!

  7. suzanne Says:

    A new adventure!!! Looking forward to learning about India.

  8. r.ramakrishnan Says:

    The last picture is stunning. You make a fabulous couple. David looks gorgeous in his flowery shirt as always !

  9. DrumMajor Says:

    Wow — Lots of info.
    With my hearing loss, I tell group tour guides, and stay close to them. I like the headphones and gear for the tour guide to talk to you. (The tour at Iolani Palace has a prerecorded description of everything inside.)
    I like the idea of pre-paying the tips, that way you don’t have to mess with it for every little time a helper should be tipped. Bummer about shoes being snitched. Of course, travel with your meds in your carry-on; anything you can’t live without if your main luggage is lost or delayed. DrumMajor

  10. L from W Says:

    Very nice picture of you and David. Lovely muumuu in such a beautiful shade of green. I do see a smile peeking through, your Bells Palsy seems completely gone!! which makes you look 10 years younger in this photo. Seems like a very well organized tour agency down to managing tips for you.

  11. Henry Hank Chapin Says:

    Well organized, to say the least. One thing is to consider an attitude towards beggars. Probably the tour people have an opinion. When I first got off the plane, I was Mr. “Here, take this, take that, take everything I have.” Then after awhile, I had to guard against becoming Mr. Hard Hearted. I was not alone in either attitude. Finally, I would get boxes of cookies and give out the cookies. It wasn’t the greatest idea, but that’s what I did. It worked for me.
    So much of Indian life takes place out in public on the streets and it’s absolutely riveting and fascinating. By far the most marvellous place I’ve ever been to. By “marvellous,” I mean full of marvels and amazing things. Just never giving any beggar anything whatsoever as a matter of policy was not possible, for me at least. They are not phonies, most of them. It’s a problem: what can I say? On balance, India is the most memorable place I’ve ever visited, and I had a great trip.

    • gigihawaii Says:

      We were told at the luncheon to IGNORE the beggars, say neither yes nor no to them when they beg. They will press against you and take your wallet if you are not careful.

  12. Arti Says:

    Everything looks perfect to me. $260 is like 14,000 Indian Rupees!! Dont think so much of money is required for tips!! In India we generally give 10-20 Rupees to the porter who lugs our baggage to our rooms. Though I have never stayed at 5 star hotels but still 14k Rs seems a bit too much to me.
    David will also have to cover his head in a Mosque, so he must also keep a handkerchief handy. Always remove your footwear outside places of worship.
    I am sure you will have a great trip. The last photo is very good 🙂
    PS – I am sorry I was a bit off blog so could not visit your blog, but now I am slowly getting back to regular 🙂

  13. Linda Reeder Says:

    Well, this will be an adventure. Squat toilets, peeing in a cup, stolen shoes – but I’m sure there will be good trade offs too. and you are with a tour group so you should be well taken care of.

  14. Grannymar Says:

    Very interesting post with lots of helpful information. Now relax and enjoy.

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