While I just returned from Thailand in October '18, it was now time for me to head back to Thailand once again to start one of my bigger journeys of 2018 (a period of four weeks originally, but decided to add another week to it and travel to Singapore). I decided to book plenty of flights to different cities to explore in both Thailand and Myanmar together with my girlfriend.
A small tip regarding to airlines in Myanmar for domestic flights. In case you want to book a flight with them long in advance, expect your itinerary to be changed from what you originally booked it for. Two or three weeks in advance is sufficient as prices will be the exact same as you would have paid for like six months ago and be sure to verify your flight on their site 24 hours for any change.
So the routing below will give you an idea what my upcoming reports are going to be. Enjoy your read!
While it was about time to say our bye's to Myanmar and Mandalay itself too for a flight to Chiang Mai with Bangkok Air , I still memorize the absurd amount of money I had to pay for this ticket per person. It costed me a good solid 169 $ per person (338 $ total for 2 person), which in my opinion is a very hefty price for a flight that would not be longer than 90 minutes. Though I decided to book it a few months in advance as I was not in the mood to fly back to Bangkok to transfer there or head to Chiang Mai by an overnight bus.
The flight was planned for 18:00, so we decided to head to the airport around 14:30. The ride itself from downtown Mandalay to the airport would take you about 50 minutes or so. The driver was unlike other experiences a rather silent guy and drove safe!
About 45 minutes in the ride, the first signs of the airport were in sight.
About 15:30, we finally reached the airport and were dropped off by the driver at the front of departures.
Upon entering the terminal, I was surprised how spacious, yet very quiet it was. The terminal offers two cafes and a few shops.
Another view from the other side of the terminal.
While check-in was not opened yet, we positioned ourselves to the Apron Cafe and drank a coffee just to spend some time. A nicely decorated cafe in modern style with tons of plants and some other passengers with the exact same plan to kill their time prior to check in.
About two hours prior to our flight, check-in opened and we moved ourselves once again to the kiosks, however in Mandalay there is a security check where bags are scanned and you have to show an itinerary of your flight prior to reach your check-in desks. No big deal and the girl was very friendly to us. Bags dropped and picked it up on the other end of the belt, we proceeded with our luggage to one of the desks.
It took us about ten minutes to clear as some of the passengers in front of us had quite a lot of baggage to check in. While it finally was our turn, we were kindly greeted by groundstaff and received our boarding cards plus a personal invite of them to use their lounge. Bangkok Airways offers lounges at several airports including Mandalay and some domestic airports to their economy passengers too to have a free snack/drink to kill your time again.
We then proceeded once again to security and customs. Two stations were open, which basically was yet again an overkill as there were literally just a very very few passengers passing through them, but staff was absurdly friendly and very helpful, but yet again our electronic devices could remain in our bag, but pockets were to be emptied.
While security did not take more than a minute or two, we were now off to customs. Only one desks was manned by a border agent with a line of about eight people. This does not look like it is going to take a while, but the agent needed about five minutes per passenger…. Ten minutes later and number six in line, a few more border agents appeared from their staff room to open more desks (I guess they were having dinner or so) and cleared it literally five minutes later.
While border control was cleared, we were now left in the secured zone of the terminal and I must admit once again that I have barely seen any airport around the world that is so quiet… and it offers quite a number of shops to be honest.
Before I decided to head to that free lounge of Bangkok Airways, I went on a tour to explore the terminal and to spend my last remaining kyats by buying some tea from Myanmar. Also the only two aircraft on the apron at this time were a Myanmar National Boeing 737-800 bound for Yangon with a delay of 45 minutes and a Yangon Airways ATR 72-212.
And here is the free lounge, which is basically a cafe/pub with some snacks and drinks available for free if you are a Bangkok Airways passenger.
The Seating area
Three different drinks were available for free. Water, Orange Juice or a Myanmar teamix.
Among the free snacks, you could have some popcorn, cheese sandwiches, water melon and some bananas.
And in case you were hungrier, you could always order some paid food too.
I ended up with this and bought a big bottle of Myanmar Beer as it would be my last prior to leaving.
About thirty minutes prior to boarding, I decided to leave the lounge and head up to the gate to sit around over there with a good view over the apron.
ten minutes later, an ATR 72-600 of Myanmar National Airlines passed by to dock.
And ground crew was hanging around the parking stand, which could mean that our plane was nearly there. I think the Marshaller stood in this position for literally two minutes to guide our aircraft in. He definitely must have had sore arms by the time he was finished.
And here was our ride. HS-PGA, a 15.5 year old ATR 72-212 (ATR 72-500) who has solely been in service to Bangkok Airways, but was being used by Bangkok too for Siem Reap Airways International. I once took a flight with Siem Reap Airways International, but it was kind of a strange construction back then as everything was done by Bangkok Airways, but sold as Siem Reap Airways International.
Boarding started slightly late as both pilots went shopping for some snacks prior to departure. Boarding was through the jet bridges and they literally positioned some stairs at the end of the jetbridge to get to ground level.
A few more shots of our aircraft for today.
And two more prior to entering our plane.
A very friendly flight attendant greeted us and I positioned myself to my seat.
Seat 10D for today.
The cabin was rather old, legroom was ok for a hour and 30 min flight.
The literature in the seat pocket in front of me contained of a safety card.
And two magazines, which both were up to date.
Another shot of the cabin now everyone was seated.
While the safety instructions were just finished, the aircraft was already holding short for departure. An aircraft was about to land and we were lining up immediately after for a departure only two minutes later than our original time.
A short roll and airborne we were.
About fifteen minutes in flight, the seat belt sign was turned off and flight attendants started to prep our meal service. While I definitely felt the cause of drinking alcohol down there, I quickly headed to the toilet prior to interrupt them when they are serving.
The toilet was rather clean for the last flight of the day, only the flushing liquid did not completely disappear after flushing. The toilet though was rather small for a guy like me.
Finished by now, I quickly took another cabin shot from the back to display the entire cabin. The load of today's flight was about 75% for an all-economy lay-out.
When I settled down in my seat once again, both flight attendants came forward to perform drink and meal service.
Meal for today's flight was Noodles with Chicken. I opted for a red wine and some water. The meal itself is served cold as the ATR does not have any heating device available to heat up products and did not really impress me overall, but it was finally nice to have some proper meat that really tasted like chicken (The chicken in Myanmar did just not taste like chicken….). The fruit however was very fresh and juicy! and the meal came with real cutlery.
A round of coffee or tea was served afterwards and I opted for a coffee.
Clean up was initiated like ten minutes later by the flight attendants.
About twenty minutes prior to landing, the flight crew checked in and gave us the latest weather information of Chiang Mai, the expected time of arrival and informed us that upon parking, the engines would not be immediately shut down, but would increase power for a period of time as a common practice by this airline for the last flight of the day.
Another ten minutes passed and we were lined up for the final of the runway to land.
Landing was smooth and we quickly headed to our remote stand next to a Thai AirAsia Airbus A320.
A few minutes later and the run-up completed, boarding was initiated by bus.
And the last look of our plane as the bus was kicking it to the terminal.
Remember Kan Air? Well since it went out of business, Wisdom Airways showed up using the same exact routes with the same pilots of Kan Air yet denies any link to them.
Bus eventually dropped us off at the gate just in time before a large number of Chinese appeared. Border control took only a few minutes to clear and luggage was waiting already to be picked up.
And as a bonus for you, some of my photos from my journey in Chiang Mai.
Bonus : Click here display hide
What could be better than having a cup of coffee next to a waterfall in a forrest?
Having lunch at a tree bar with a very nice view was well worth it too, though the food was expensive and disappointing.
Remember Phuket Air? Do you remember them using a few NAMC YS-11 for their operations back then? Well unfortunately two of them are rotting away somewhere in Chiang Mai. A very sad sight.
Did enjoy some good seafood too at one of the street cafes. Some tasty Thai oysters, squid and an Alaskan King Crab.
And to finish my two day journey to Chiang Mai, we went for a beautiful walk through Doi Innthanon.
a 3.2 km hike.
Mandalay - MDL
Chiang Mai - CNX
Bangkok Airways has currently a monopoly on the route between Mandalay-Chiang Mai and asks absurdly high prices for them too, though Bangkok Airways is always a pleasure to fly despite of this very old plane.
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