My First Ever Business Trip: Hello World!

Thursday, May 12, 2016

This business trip almost didn't happen because something came up early this year and I didn't think I'd be able to leave. Well, that "something" didn't materialize. So in April, my only office mate here in the Philippines and I started processing our visa requirements. Yes, that's one of the biggest reasons why I wasn't able to publish any posts at all last month, plus, of course, life happened - as usual.

Fast forward to the last week of April, and my office mate Ate Imee and I were on our way to Chennai, India. Our itinerary wasn't straightforward Manila to Chennai. It was Ate Imee's first time leaving the country and it was my first time leaving after around 2 decades, so we wanted to make the most of our trip. Aside from the regular layover that came with the flight to and from Chennai, we added a side trip to Hong Kong. Expenses in Hong Kong were out of our pockets, of course. Hehe!

This first post about our first ever business trip will be a quick summary of how it all went. Well, I'll try to make it quick anyway.

Traveling with so many stopovers is difficult, so surprise, surprise, most of the photos you'll see here were taken from my phone. That's if I was able to take any photos at all. Haha!

Day 1: Manila - HongKong

I've heard lots of negative things about plane food, but the meal on board Cathay Pacific wasn't so bad.
We left Manila at around 11 in the morning and arrived in HongKong just a bit after lunch. We had quite a few hours to burn as our flight to Kuala Lumpur wasn't until 9pm. So we took the Airport Express to HongKong Central and took a taxi to Times Square.

Pardon the double chin and the stupid grin. Not my best angle, obviously. Hahaha!
There was nothing we could buy in Times Square because, well, everything was expensive. As in designer expensive. So after gawking, we took a leisurely walk around the vicinity of Times Square. We didn't have anything to give our office mates in Chennai, so we were beyond thrilled when we found this little shop that sold quite a variety of chocolates and other sweets. The prices were wallet friendly, so we went a bit crazy and ended up being weighed down by chocolates. Hahaha!

Sometime around 5pm, we decided to head back to the airport - we were a bit worried about being late for our flight. It turned out we had nothing to worry about because we got there so quickly and ended up with too much time to pass while waiting for our flight out.

After roaming around more than twice, we still had enough time on our hands, so we decided to hang out at a restaurant and grab something to eat.

We ordered the meal above (not including the Muji snacks). It's a meal for two people. For 88hkd, it was A LOT. We couldn't finish everything, so we bought a plastic bag from Muji and took the food to go.

Day 2: Kuala Lumpur - Chennai

We arrived in Kuala Lumpur a little past midnight. Our flight wasn't until 9 in the morning, so we booked a room in Tune Hotel. The hotel's a stone's throw away from the other airport terminal. We could've taken the airport train to the other terminal and walked from there, but it was already midnight and it was closed, so we took a taxi instead.

Will blog separately about our room in Tune Hotel. :)

Anyway, we had a good few hours worth of sleep. I woke up at 6:30 in the morning to get ready, but I was surprised because it was still dark outside - like, 4:30am dark. I checked and double checked my watch and after confirming that it was indeed 6:30am, I got up and freshened up.

After grabbing something to eat at a Coffee Bean branch inside the airport, we were in the air again and on our way to Chennai.

Upon arriving in Chennai, we took our sweet time going through immigration, exchanging some money, looking for our luggage, and booking a cab. We weren't expecting anyone from the company to pick us up, so we weren't in any rush.

Imagine my surprise when I noticed 3 people outside waving little placards around. They weren't hard to notice because they were the only people waiting at the exit. Oh, did I mention that the airport was practically empty when we arrived? Haha!

So I took a few steps forward, squinting against the bright Indian sun, and saw that 3 of our office mates were there - grinning and waving at us. I don't remember smiling and waving back. In fact, I think my mouth fell open because I was so shocked. These people whom I've only talked to over Skype for a little over a year were just a few meters away from us, giving us one of the warmest welcomes ever. (Thank you again, Pallavi, Deepa, and Srini!)

After hellos and hugs were exchanged, we were whisked away to our hotel.

The Accord Metropolitan
The Accord Metropolitan
Soon as we got to our room, we took a quick shower, changed, and then we were downstairs again for a late lunch.

After lunch, we were whisked away to the Hilton hotel to attend a CleanCubator event where our boss, Gopi Mattel, had a part in the program. It was too bad that we didn't get to see him speak, but we were beyond ecstatic to finally talk to him in person!

Once the event was over, we headed to the hotel's roof top bar and had a few drinks. It was my first time having a mocktail - a non-alcoholic cocktail, haha! Do we have those here in the Philippines?

The bar had an awesome view of Chennai's evening skyline. It was a bit hot (like Manila), but it was windy so we had a happy conversation about random stuff and laughed a lot while our hair was blown around by the wind.

It was after drinks that we decided to head back to Accord Metropolitan to have dinner. (Yeah, the drinks should've been after dinner, but we're unpredictable like that. Haha!)

Day 3: Chennai (CellarStone, India and Phoenix Mall)

The next day, we had breakfast with Gopi at the hotel's restaurant. Then it was a blur as we "got ready for work in Chennai".

Okay, that was a bit weird since I'm now a "work-from-home" wife. Haha!

Okay. Can they be any sweeter? :)
Anyway, I was thrilled that day because I finally saw the faces behind the names of the people I regularly exchanged e-mails with.

Here are a few pics with some of the CellarStone folks in India:

After squeezing in a few hours of work and an actual face to face meeting with Gopi and the others, I sort of learned to do the Indian head shake. Haha! So cool.

So after work, we were off to the mall. I opted to sit in front to experience what it's like sitting on the left side without a steering wheel. Haha! It felt odd sitting there with all the cars driving on the left side of the road.

I've seen some videos showing what it's like to drive in India, but the traffic condition in Chennai wasn't that bad. There were no accidents (haha), and while we did encounter traffic, it's not that different from traffic in Manila.

Note: While we were on the road, I noticed a lot of crows. When dusk came, there were also bats flying around - big bats. Not used to seeing big crows and big bats. We only have small birds, 2 medium-sized crows, and small bats flying around the subdivision where I live. Hehe!

Phoenix Mall, Chennai
One of the highlights of our visit to Phoenix Mall (aside from the shopping) was the Starbucks branch that I found. I was ecstatic, because it felt like a piece of home away from home. Haha!

The look and feel was the same, but the stuff on the menu was slightly different.

Day 4: Chennai (Founder Institute Graduation)

The Founder Institute Graduation event was the reason Gopi flew us to Chennai.

We bathed and got dressed early, then we had breakfast again with Gopi & Pallavi. Afterwards, we put in a few hours of work again, and then we started prepping for the event.

Pallavi, Ate Imee, and myself while waiting for the event to begin.
The event was a huge success. I was taking pictures the whole time and sneaking in a few tweets when I could. The venue was packed to the point that we had to give up our seats for more guests!

It was just sad that we had to leave before the event was even over. The only flight that we could get was at 12:35am, so we had to leave for the airport at 9pm.

It was a short 3 days in Chennai, but we left with new-found friends and happy hearts.

To Gopi, I don't know if you'll see this blog post, but I'd like to thank you for the wonderful opportunity you gave us. It was great seeing everyone in person, and we're humbled at how warm everyone was. Ate Imee and I are blessed to have an employer like you. :)

Day 5: Kuala Lumpur - Hong Kong

The sun had started to come up by the time we arrived in Kuala Lumpur. We only had a 2-hour layover before our flight to Hong Kong, so we decided to hang out at the Starbucks branch inside the airport while we waited for our gate to open.

Yes, I was wearing a maxi dress. No, it was not a very good idea. LOL!

The next part of our trip is no longer about work, so I'll write a separate post about that. Wish me luck in finding time to squeeze in that blog post because my schedule's packed until the weekend, then we're off to the beach next week - where, I'm told, there's no internet connection. Haha!


  1. They have mocktails on almost all bars here in Manila. :) And yes, they are non alcoholic cocktails. Syempre natutunan ko yan kasi bf mum! Ang busy ng travel mo. I hate business travels pero kudos for making it fun. Usually, haggard ang business travels eh.

    1. Mocktails: Halatang clueless ako. LOL!

      About the haggardness, that's sooo true! Kapagod sya, actually. But it was fun meeting everyone, plus they were all so nice. :)

  2. Replies
    1. Hey Arul! You're in one of the photos! Hehe! Oh, and thanks again for the chocolate. :)


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