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Entries about flight

Late arrival in Kuala Lumpur

After nearly a month in Myanmar, we'd reached our final hours. Our flight and shuttle were late enough that we could have a nice breakfast at the hostel and relax for a bit. On the menu this morning were eggs, toast, pancakes and an interesting mix of sticky rice, chickpea and sesame. Some people ran off to get souvenirs that morning but we didn't want to risk missing the shuttle. That and we had our funds had dwindled down to roughly $3 or 3000 kyat after the airport shuttle and didn't want to pull out more. We said goodbye to the manager of the hostel who made an effort to chat with lots of the guests.

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The Mandalay airport is a fair distance outside the city but our drive was quite comfortable in the van. Today was also the full moon festival at the temples, which was too bad considering we'd be spending it on an airplane, but the trip had to move onto fresh ground sometime. While our final destination was the Malaysian capital, Kuala Lumpur, most of the others in the van were heading off to Chiang Mai in Thailand.

The Mandalay airport wasn't huge, a couple stories with a few food shops and restaurants around. We went straight to check in but to our surprise we couldn't even go through the gates to the check-in counter since our flight wasn't ready to check us in. We found it a bit bizarre. When we were finally let through, the pile of tickets for each passenger was sitting in a basket for them to look through and find each one. No staff computers or terminals to print them as we arrived like a typical airport. It was a bit funny, like half of the airport was only for show. Why have all the desks with no equipment to do the jobs?

Past security, we went looking for a shot glass souvenir for a friend but had no luck finding one, just some tea lacquer ware. We spent our final bit of money on a veggie sandwich. It would have been nice to spend it elsewhere and support more of the everyday local economy, but you never wanted to be caught empty-handed in the airport in case of unexpected fees.

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The airport security was much like the absent computers and it really irked Ryan. We'd assumed there'd be a point where we were searched for liquids but by the time we crossed into the final boarding area we realized it never came. Aside from that, our connecting flight to Bangkok went by smoothly. We had a chance to browse the in flight magazines and add a few more destinations to future hypothetical trips. There was also a Hindu festival today at the Batu Caves not far from Kuala Lumpur that we'd be missing.

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Bangkok airport was full of familiar chains like Subway, McDonalds and Dairy Queen, all of which we stopped at. Ryan had been looking forward to the latter since our flight into Myanmar. It didn't disappoint, except for when the containers were done and Ryan contemplated a take-out bucket. The flight into Malaysia was fairly uneventful and immigration was a smooth and easy process. I used to dread flying to KL because their old airport was disorganized, hot and not very modern. Their new airport was quite well done and much more functional.

The only hiccup came when we went to claim our bags. Our flight and one from Singapore both had bags come and go around the carousel but ours were nowhere to be found. We went over to the baggage claim help area where another man from the Mandalay flight was waiting for his bag. He was connecting to a flight to Langkawi, an island further north, and had more time constraints than us given that this was our final destination for the next couple of days. Still it would be nice to have clothes. Ryan was convinced that if any airport would lose our bags it would be one from Myanmar. The other man was sure he saw his bag get on the flight to Bangkok.

A few people helped us out and as soon as I left to exchange some money, the bags were back. The luggage tags had been printed in a way that confused the staff, go figure.

We discovered upon exiting that the airport was connected to a huge fancy mall with tons of Western food chains, along with eastern food and tons of outlet stores. We tracked down a money changer to get rid of some yen, then I found a working ATM.

One thing really practical and handy thing about Kuala Lumpur is their transportation network. They have buses that run from the main light rail station straight to both airports that leave frequently. The buses also make the return trip so you're not stuck out in the middle of nowhere bartering with cab drivers. We arrived at the shuttle bus to Central and they loaded our bags. Soon we saw that most people around us had tickets. We hadn't realized that we needed them as we'd read that we'd pay on the bus. We didn't want to lose our spot as it was getting late and there was a line, so I just had my wallet ready to hopefully be able pay when he asked for the tickets. But somehow he managed to count us in a group of 6 Chinese people who had pre-booked with their flight. It's possible he saw we didn't have tickets and just overlooked us, but all the same it was nice we'd be getting a ride into the city after all. We'd make sure to buy a ticket next time.

The ride took about an hour. Upon arriving, a taxi driver informed us the monorail was closed early as it was a holiday. While that was entirely possible, I wanted to confirm for myself, so we walked over to the station. We mistakenly ended up following the overhead fast train track to Petaling Market. Luckily some of the buildings were lit up to make the walk a little less boring.

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The Chinese lanterns were pretty and the streets were quite dead. When we made it to the train, sure enough it closed at 11p.m. We walked to the end of the market before catching a cab to Sunshine Bedz, our hostel. Luckily, Kuala Lumpur hardly slept so there was usually someone around to pick you up and check you in up arrival. Most of the people working at this hostel were backpackers or immigrants. I hadn't thought of a working holiday visa here, but it could be a nice place to live.

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They showed us our room which was alright minus the neon signs shining through the curtains. We'd certainly landed in a commercial area.

Posted by Sarah.M 13:22 Archived in Malaysia Tagged flight malaysia bangkok mandalay transport shuttle monorail petaling klia2 Comments (0)

Arriving in Yangon

In the morning, we took full advantage of the noon check out. I even got to Skype with my mom before we packed up really quick. We went out for a street breakfast: rice cakes, eggs and a banana cake.

The walk to the BTS was quite hot. On the second train a woman gave her seat to Ryan, seeing our giant bags. From the BTS, we got right on a bus to the airport for only 30 baht. Quite the unexpected deal after taxi fares around the city yesterday.

The lines to check in were pretty good and fast so we could ditch our now 16 (Ryan's) and 18 (mine) kilogram bags. The clay pot was really weighing me down, but it did fit in the bag. We checked out the food options and settled on a place with a menu page for vegetarians. Ryan enjoyed a crispy fried pork dish before mine was even out of the kitchen. Later, I had fried vermicelli noodles and veggies. On the other side of security, there turned out the be plenty of other options. Go figure. We gave into Dairy Queen and got brownie and Oreo blizzards. Not enough dairy in them to make me sick thankfully.

Our plane boarded half an hour late but the flight was pretty smooth. Myanmar had far less urban development from above than Thailand and China. Our e-visas got through without issue and the stamp even took up less room than it had two years ago. Ryan grabbed our bags and we found the guy with the Motherland 2 sign. He had a few more pick-ups to wait for before our van would be leaving.

I went to the ATMs and each one would go through the prompts with me but then tell me transaction failed. All three machines did this. I was beginning to get worried. At least, I found a city map during the attempts. Ryan went to try his card while I chatted with a couple from Spain and France who'd also been travelling since November. They'd seen India and Nepal. They'd loved Nepal which made me even more excited to go there in a few months. Ryan managed to withdraw from his account just fine, meaning it was my card and not the machines or TD Bank that had issues. At least we'd have some cash now and would figure out the rest later.

After a drive through the congested city on the unchanged bumpy roads, we arrived at Motherland 2, a guesthouse a bit removed from city centre. Yangon was a dusty city with a mix of new and old architecture. It was slowly under repair. Traffic ranged from bicycle rickshaws to trolleys, buses and cars.

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At the guesthouse, we received free lime juice with sugar before handing over large amounts of kyat to pay for our room. Their bills came in pretty small denominations and they typically accepted US cash, though we weren't parting with ours yet. I fought with the wifi all night to try and look into my bank issues. No answers, but a lead to use skype to place collect calls. The internet cafe was closed till morning. I ate my vegetable sandwich and sulked while Ryan enjoyed his sweet and sour pork. I did get to do laundry through.

Posted by Sarah.M 18:56 Archived in Myanmar Tagged flight bangkok yangon atm_issues Comments (0)

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