Our journey to Hyderabad, India began Wednesday night on the 3rd with the usual beautiful Samoan evening - but of course the weather is always great in Samoa...the less said about the Auckland weather during our stopover the better!
After over 18 hours in the air, two stopovers, and numerous airplane meals we arrived blurry eyed at our destination just as the clock struck 5th October here - for comparative purposes this part of India is five and half hours behind Samoa.
The reception in India was fantastic especially for us travel weary people.We were met the moment we stepped off the plane by people dedicated to assisting COP11 delegates and were helped all the way from immigration to our pre-organised and prepaid transport to our hotel - in fact I'd say there were more people assisting the delegates than actual delegates...or maybe that was just a reflection of the hour of our flight.
One thing that struck me about the trip to the hotel was the lack of lights on in buildings we past. For a city with about 10 million people I was expecting a glowing metropolis that you could see for miles about, but that just wasn’t the case on the evening of our arrival.
After a few hours sleep our first day in Hyderabad our first job of the day was to head down to the convention centre and register. This trip gave us our first real impression of what India actually looked like – the simplest way to describe the sights is a mix of modern looking buildings, buildings under construction and make shift tents with people everywhere - a real mix and feel of developed and developing. The common form of transport appears to be motorbikes and its amazing how many vehicles can fit side by side in a couple of lanes of traffic - its equally amazing that everyone still seems to have their side mirrors!
We arrived safe and sound at the sprawling COP11 complex in good order and few traffic problems. We faced a short walk and only one security check point before pausing to pose for photo IDs - then it was off for our first exploration of the venue and numerous other security check points.
Just like at the airport there were plenty of support staff to assist with any needs - at one point I had four friendly locals trying to help me find our SPREP booth, they even gave me a decade of biodiversity badge – can’t complain with that service!
We also collected our welcome packs, which were full of all sorts of goodies, and checked out the facilities for side meetings - seems like it might be a bit of a tight squeeze to fit everyone but we shall see what they have organised over the coming days!