This was going to be the easy day. Two short flights back to Hong Kong on large, comfortable planes where we could stretch out, use the laptop and where I could catch up on my blog ready to begin the next part.
We were ready to leave the hotel in good time. Sanda arrived promptly as my hero was paying our bill, but for some reason, Mastercard wasn’t working right now. Credit cards are only just becoming acceptable in Myanmar and we were warned to take cash just in case this scenario unfolded. However, here at this international hotel it was surprising they had difficulties. Thankfully, Visa was operatng as normal, so after a short delay, we were off.
Whilst waiting, I sat at the coffee table in reception where a thanaka set was laid out – Mary, here’s the bark and the little pot of water, ready to be ground on the base and applied to the cheeks and nose with fingers.
Yangon airport international departures was chaos. Whole families were there to wave goodbye and it was a squeeze through the throng to reach departures. Actually, there was a checkpoint to get into the check in hall itself – this was the hall before the first check.
Because actually, the check in area was even more crowded and the queue for our flight to Bangkok was extraordinarily long. What’s going on, we wondered?
The answer was soon sellotaped to the monitor above the desk. The system was down and there was a whole A330 load of passengers to check in. Oh dear.
Somehow, with the help of additional staff, the queues began to move and half an hour late, our flight left for Bangkok. No time to sit and relax and catch up on the blog yet then.
It was only a short, one hour hop to Bangkok, but we’d taken off late and had only an hour in which to transfer to our Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. Though we’d been able to check our luggage through, we hadn’t been able to get boarding passes for ourselves and needed to negotiate the long corridors of Suvarnabhumi Airport to find the right transfer counter.
One of these days, we will be able to get our bearings at this airport, to relax, take a break and maybe browse the shops. As it is, however, every time we are here we seem to be running. Today was no exception and that easy, relaxing day was fast becoming a total nightmare.
But find our way we did, just as the flight was announced.
We walked straight onto the fresh, new Cathay Pacific A330 and breathed a sigh of relief. Did I feel like starting to catch up on my blog for the next couple of hours? Not really, especially when I saw that Finding Vivien Maier was one of the video options.
Feeling somewhat more relaxed as we arrived half an hour early into Hong Kong and knowing we had a quick turnaround to shower and change before meeting Allan and Jane for supper at the China Club, we collected our luggage and waited for Benny, our guide in Hong Kong. No sign of him anywhere but a quick call brought Edwin his driver running up. Another unexpected delay, another hour stuck in traffic (Benny arrived eventually, having been caught up in a delay himself), it was with a huge sigh of relief that we finally arrived back at the Mandarin Oriental, where the cool, unflustered staff took over and peace was restored.
“Welcome back Mrs Thomas”, I heard as I walked past the reception desk. “How was Myanmar?”
How do they do it? Surely thousands of people have walked past that desk in almost a fortnight since we were last here. Yet, Vivien, who had checked us in when we arrived last time had not only remembered my name but had also remembered our travel plans.
We are fans. (or perhaps that’s been said before?)
Dinner at the China Club was fun. It was great to be with Jane and Allan again and to relax. We are here. We might have imagined that allowing ourselves a whole day for two short flights would be a breeze but hey, we made it.
Let the next chapter begin!