My Second Trip to India: Home sweet home
This time, I was invited by the FAO Regional Office to participate in the Second Advisory Team Meeting, from 12-13 June, 2012; in Gujarat, India. In 2009 the Government of Japan (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries) provided funding for a three-year Analysis of Sustainable Water Resource Use in Asia project to be implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific. Project activities have included technical case studies and dialogues in the four project basins, a regional online conference, the first meeting of the Regional Advisory Team and the development of a draft project publication.
I left home at 8:30am, on Monday, 11 June, 2012; to go to the airport. It was a long day for me, since I left Phnom Penh to Bangkok and has my first stop over there. At 15:20 (50 minutes delay), I left Bangkok for Mumbai. I arrived in there at 5:45pm, local time, which is 1:30h behind Cambodia. It was my second transit in Mumbai. My first one was in the 80thwhen I left Phnom Penh for East-Germany via Hanoi, Mumbai, Tashkent, and Moscow to go to Berlin. With the Russian type, IL-82 operated by Aeroflot, the aircraft needed then to land (in between) several times to fill the gasoline. From Mumbai, we headed at 20:20 for Ahmadabad, one of the Gujarat’s airports. The flight took exactly one hour. Arriving there, we did need to take an arranged taxi to the hotel, where we will stay for the next two days for our meeting. I thought, it was a short trip. But, the driver drove and drove, and we reached our hotel resort at 11pm. I was totally exhausted. The distance is about 90Km.
Everybody, including myself, asked the same question: why do we need to go that far from the airport to find a venue for our meeting? We did not get clear answer, but the intention was that during the trip, participants could have some views on the landscape in this part of India to enhance our understanding about this country. During this period, it is very hot and dry. The temperature is more than 40 degree Celsius. I was told by an Indian colleague, that in comparison to Cambodia, India is a very dry country. Rainfall is about 800mm in average/year. In Cambodia, it is about 1,600mm. Unfortunately, I could not see anything, since on both ways we were driving at night time.
After check-in, I got a shower and fall in bed at 00:30am. The next morning, the registration started at 8:00am. During the meeting, the temperature outside was very hot. It made all of us loving our air-conditioned rooms. At the afternoon of the second day, we got heavy monsoon rain, a blessing for us all. Still, with the rains, the temperature was still 33 degree Celsius at 6pm, in the shadow. In the second day, I had opportunity to swim in the swimming pool of the hotel. The water was warm. We could also observe, that even the fishes in the water nearby, they did need to find shadow during the day to escape the hottest sunlight.
The meeting went well as planned. During the last night, I could not sleep well, because I had to leave the hotel at 4am to catch my plane at 7:15am. I woke up at 2:30am and prepared myself accordingly. I left the hotel at 3:40am and we reached the airport at 5:05am, enough time to catch the plane. The temperature was 34 degree. One thing, that I found amazing was, that the previous plane in front of ours, hit the monkey and it caused some delay for us, where we were still on the taxi way. On the way back, we did not go via Mumbai, but New Delhi. I reached home at around 11pm local time and temperature was 27 degree. I was exhausted, but with many new experiences of India, which makes me loving Cambodia even more, despite all the difficulties we have: home sweet home.
Security check: due to the fear of terrorism, everywhere is subject to strict security checks: at the hotel’s gate, at the airports gate (air-ticket plus passport), at security check counter (stamps on the boarding pass, on the cabin luggage’s tag etc.) and the boarding gate. It is necessary and is designed for our safety, but some time it is really annoying. Flying is not fun anymore.