A happy marriage is about compromise. Mine is a particularly happy marriage because wife Claire makes more compromises than I do. This time when she picked out a cruise and land tour she fancied taking I readily agreed that is what we would do.
The itinerary presented sounded really exciting to be fair, flying to Cambodia, on to China, pick up a cruise ship in Hong Kong sailing to Singapore via Vietnam and Thailand. From Singapore onwards to India for a few days and a trip around the Golden Triangle. It would take the best part of a month and the trip was the most expensive we have ever committed to, The cheapest option of economy flights and an inside cabin on the Sapphire Princess came in at £10,200. It doesn't end there either, you still have spending money to consider, extra trips to the included ones and VISAs.
VISAs, there's a thing!
Multi country tours can end up being rather expensive just in VISAs along. The cost when you include all the extra bits such as registered postage of passports, photographs etc came to over £700 for the two of us. The Chines ones alone cost just short of £400. Then there is the hassle involved in applying. Extra care is needed filling in the forms because the relative issuing authorities can be extremely pedantic when it comes to tiny details.
Attention to detail though was something we had failed to do when we booked the trip, and it was certainly something the tour agency hadn't paid attention to either.
We'd been hooked on the first reading of the itinerary. We decided to arrive a day earlier than the planned package to give us recovery time from a long journey and when the price of this was agreed along with flights from a regional airport, Manchester, instead of London's Heathrow,we were happy to handover a non returnable deposit of £2000.
We were committed.
Then I re-read the online brochure and realised there were some mistakes in it. Included tours mentioned the same one at two different destinations, then I got an email confirming my deposit paid and a brief outline of the package we had booked and some timings of flights.
I wasn't happy seeing what I was reading. There were just too many contradictions.
Collected from our ship in Singapore to be taken to the airport for the onward flight to Delhi at 19.40, arrival at 23.30.
The brochure had just said fly from Singapore to Delhi with the rest of the day at leisure.
Rest of the day at leisure? We had 30 minutes of the day and that would be spent at baggage claim.
I also knew we'd be kicked off the ship as soon as they could get rid of us and that left a whole day in Singapore with our luggage to take care of.
This was just one example of the poor planning that had been made by the tour company.
My requests for more information were getting me nowhere, it was just a long catalogue of poor communication.
I eventually put in an official complaint stating it was the first time I had ever complained about a holiday before I'd even been on it.
Eventually some of the issues were resolved, well to a certain extent, so we set off on the trip with a positive frame of mind.
We had had to make some hard decisions on luggage too. We were doing an awful lot of one or two night stop touring. The range of clothing covered possibilities of freezing to very hot weather. Claire was looking forward to the prospect of dressing up for dinner when on our cruise. There were three formal nights. I had to take my dinner suit. Fair enough, many a time I have had her staying in rather strange accommodations with basic facilities.
My biggest compromise though was in camera gear. I was hopeful to see one or two , I tell a lie, lots of bird life but there was no way I could take my big lenses or even a tripod. Instead I just took a smallish 100-400 zoom lens to use with my full frame camera. It would have to do!
Seven months after booking the holiday, and with much hassle in the meantime, we were eventually ready to go.