Thursday, June 20, 2013

And finally ... time to travel again!

View Oman/India/Thailand/Malaysia 2013 in a larger map

It has been a while, but this summer I will finally be out and about for a good trip again and I am really looking forward to it!

After a day in Oman (where I needed to change anyway) I am flying to Mumbai - the first destination I ever visited in India and, shame on me, I haven't been back since. I was able to locate the hotel where I stayed on my first visit (the Residency Hotel in Fort, in the south of Mumbai) and the restaurant where I had many delicious dishes before (the Gaylord, close to Churchgate Station) so I am looking forward to being a loyal customer and staying and eating at both places again. A few days of holidays will follow, plus a talk at the NMiMS SPP School of Pharmacy and Technology Management, meeting Prashant Kharkar at the institute. Late August should also be still proper monsoon season in Mumbai which I for some reason enjoy a lot - it's sometimes good to really feel nature. (Yes, I know about the problematic aspects of monsoon season as well of course - I hope that too much infrastructure will be destroyed and that there will be as little human suffering as possible. In my opinion this statement and the above are not contradictory, though - maybe the conclusion is that extremes are often not good, who knows.)

Afterwards it's time for an overnight train trip to Hyderabad - the Husainsagar Express, about 14 hours, and proper sleeper class as it should be. It's one of the cheapest classes on Indian trains, but my favourite one - you can open the windows (and doors) of the train and every half hour someone comes to sell you food and drink. There I will have two days in Hyderabad to spend with my friend Muni, and to meet his wife and newborn son.

Another overnight trip, and I will be in Bangalore for about 10 days - teaching at IBAB, and hopefully also visiting Nagasuma Chandra at IISc, Basappa at Mysore University, Balganesh from OSDD and others. IBAB was expanding, and is now able (together with Manipal University and IGNOU) to offer Master's level courses and have PhD students - I am looking forward to the changes, and meeting the students of new batch! I have no doubt that they will be of excellent caliber, as before.

Time to leave India... and to travel to Penang and Kuala Lumpur. However, I needed to change planes anyway also on this route, so I also put in a day in Bangkok - my first time in Thailand, but due to time constraints only for a day and to get a first impression of the place. At Penang I am visiting the Malysian Institute of Pharmaceuticals and Neutraceuticals (IPharm), where one of my PhD students, Siti, comes from, to give a presentation and see whether we can collaborate more closely in the future. I am actually quite looking forward to visiting Penang and Georgtown where this institute is located - it seems to be quite a beautiful part of the world, and even for Malaysian standard the food seems to be outstanding (which indeed means quite a lot!). No visit to a country is complete without a train ride, so I will go back by train to Kuala Lumpur itself for two days, before finally spending a week in Shah Alam. Here I was invited to speak at the The International Postgraduate Conference on Pharmaceutical Sciences (iPoPS) and to visit the Faculty of Pharmacy of Universiti Teknologi MARA where another PhD student in my group, Fazlin, comes from and where I will also become a Visiting Professor in the near future to form more long-standing research collaborations.

So I must say I am very much looking forward to the trip - and let's see which parts of this grandiose masterpiece of planning will work out in the end! I have been to India rather often by now so I should be able to deal with the vagaries along the way - that's at least what I would like to believe, but quite possibly this will be another lesson for the naive traveller (which I wouldn't mind to be taught either, after all)!

More to see here when (and if) I make it back - and I hope you will enjoy your travels this summer as well, it's good to travel after all!

Take care,