Saturday, October 19, 2013

Entering Myanmar (previous Burma)

Friday, 18.10.2013,

Wake up at 05h30, the Breakfast buffet was excellent, it is very early to eat, therefore I pack a couple of items to eat later in the plane. We eat something small, like a delicious asian spiced noodle soup and a Dim Sum. And I take pictures of the Buffet

08h50 local time, outside Temperature 28DegreeCelcius,
SA/D 20131018, 02h50 middle of night

Our handling agent had organised everything to perfection, Immigration, Customs, in a small office apart from the commercial liner departure, Papers all in order, everyone is very happy with their services. We are taken to the apron, we pack and prepare ourselfes and are ready to go...

We are waiting for our departure clearance to Rangoon, Myanmar, previous Burma, 3 aircraft behind us

Okay, now we may leave. 

Leaving Singapore

The clearances for the flight only arrived during last night. Permissions, clearances etc look very unsure and unclear for the following days.  A few people are working on it but just do not achieve what one would expect. The countries we overfly or fly into are countries not used to private aircraft or general aviation and it is virtually unheard of for small aircraft to arrive in those countries. We keep talking about it and how special and privileged it is to have done what we have done! And doing what we are doing! Even flying into Singapore is something else! 

Overhead Malaysia

We were refused parking in Rangoon with 9 aircraft. They would only permit two. Today we are the only crew who has departed for Rangoon, everyone else, even the Mooney will fly into Mandalay, Myanmar, which is further north. We have now split from the group until we join them in Mandalay on Sunday night. On Monday we all fly into Bhutan, the most challenging flight of all times.

But right now: Myanmar here we come! We have another 04h09 to go. Our hotel is booked and paid for as they never refunded the money for the group in full.

Below us forests, mountains, hills, beaches, no harbour, no boats, no houses, no people for a long time.
Now after 30 min flight over Myanmar we see very small villages, virtually a few houses at the time. We also see tracks in the valleys and going up over hills.

We adjust our watches, we gain 1,5 hours. Now we see bigger villages and we notice the rivers contain brown water. We are flying through a cloud, experiencing moderate turbulence, I did not have time to really tighten my belt and I bump up, rain is hammering down. Just for a few seconds, regardless, it still turns my stomach around. 

Today the smell of JetA1 is very strong, more than usual. I think I never mentioned it but our plane is smelling very strong. The suitcases, bags, clothes and everything else is smelling. If we return to our hotel room after having been outside for a while we can smell JetA1. Some of the other crews too. I think all the ones having a Turtle Tank installed have that problem. Today it bothers me big time.

We have 44min to go, the controller is difficult to understand. Most of the other crews are nearly in Mandalay, 300 nm further north, we are nearly in Rangun/Yangon. In this region different cultures or languages have different names for one and the same place. The controller gives us approach instructions, we have to fly a hold. Eventually we land shortly before 14h00, local time.

We received instructions to follow the marshaller, we see a lot of people looking at us and also waving at us but no one in particular to park us in. We ask again, standing in the middle of a taxi way waiting for instructions... and we wait, people are looking at us , pointing at us, we still don't know where to go.
Eventually, after what felt ages...  we saw two people approaching us indicating they would park us.
We follow them, one says STOP, the other one says, CARRY ON... what now, compromise, we taxi a bit forward, than stop.

Now lots of people, all staff of the airport, gather and look at us, waiting for us to get out, what we eventually do. Friendly welcome, waving. I think we are a Worldwonder....

We are asked by many people, where do you come from? Singapore. Where will you go next? Mandalay. And from there? Bhutan. We say we need fuel. And we need parking for 2 nights. No problem, what fuel?  But it was not communicated that fast and clear, most could only speak a word or two english and they are very difficult to understand. And everyone talks to us at the same time, we first thought the guys in slip-slops are the handlangers, and the ones with the leather shoes are the people from back office who have the say. And of course, everyone said something different. I said to Dietmar: They must sort themselves first, they do not know what to do with us... wait. He could not wait, he had to use a restroom. Eventually one guy took him to the main building, in a 50 seater bus. All good.

At one point my luggage was loaded into a huge bus, the next moment it was gone... no worries, after just looking around, lifting my arms, sort of indicating with body language what I was looking for... one Schlappen Mensch informed me, also with one or two words, and lots of body language, Bus is coming back. All good. And everyone wants a photo, with us in the picture. That's the last thing we want, but we wait anyway. No problem, we pose.

One Schlappen Mensch approached us, he now is the Head of the Airport Security, gave me a piece of paper with his name and phone number, and he will look for a parking place. And he did. After one hour we were told where to park. They park us between 2 unused aircraft.

We know now why we were not allowed to come into Ragoon as a group. They really do have no parking. After another hour we had fuel, for a reasonable price, too, and had the aircraft locked up.
They took us into the airport building and we were shown thru Immigration and customs. All good. A taxi took us to our hotel. While we were waiting to be checked in we gulped down 10 glasses of Orange Juice. Eventually, after a shower we sat down at 19h00 for a Japanese Supper and Green Tea. 
Good day and a vey nice ending.

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