Saturday 13th July 2024

Thursday, 3rd January

Pix to be appended.

Dragging my super heavy, but super matching luggage (another suitcase? Moi?) after a full-on day packing, tidying and organising I caught the new-to-me train from Ely-Cambridge, Cambridge-Gatwick. What a boon! Every hour with stops at London Bridge (saving me a trek across London by tube when I go to Tonbridge each week) and Gatwick Airport! Who knew? Do I prefer going away in the evening rather than the morning? Probably not. I seemed to spend the whole day anticipating when I would be leaving. Hmmm. Will think about this when I finally arrive.

Martin was waiting with Tina, his wife, Janice his cousin whom I met at John’s and Nightingale, another cousin – an entourage! They saw us through check-in and to the security gate. We both had money bits and pieces to do and then headed to Jamie Oliver where I had the most gorgeous artisan veggie burger and a glass of wine. Not cheap but really delicious.

We were flying Emirates again and they had kindly given us an additional 10kg baggage for teaching aids, toys, Days for Girls bags, Grifaid Filters and gifts. We were on an A380, whose capacity is 615 passengers, so boarded around 90 minutes before take-off and left exactly on time.

Dubai was around six hours away and there we caught up with our Edinburgh Napier students Matus (Matt), Andrea G, Andrea S back again for a second visit to Pathein with us and Kate their lecturer back for her third visit. They had left Edinburgh around an hour or so before we had left London and were excited and raring to go – Andrea G (whom we will call Andy) was literally bouncing like Tigger! Not having slept much on the previous leg at all, I dozed from the outset, the cabin staff having to wake me with a start for my meal. Once I finally woke I sought out Andrea seated with the others right at the back of the aircraft for a catch-up and then had to strap in as the flight over the Bay of Bengal was probably as bumpy as I’ve experienced in my flights to SE Asia. Was beyond excited as the online flight plan took us directly over Pathein but in the event I think the turbulence took us a little north before we landed in Yangon.

We had a nice quick and easy entry into the airport through customs and headed for the Currency Exchange and the Phone Booths to get currency and a local sim card, when a voice called my name and there was Joan who had arrived on a Qatar flight twelve hours earlier and had had her own adventure with no exchange booths open when she arrived before she decided to pull her suitcase to the hotel. It was fortunately local but staff had did not turned up to collect her as planned, so she got there under her own steam, checked in and caught up on some rest and recovery.

I had booked two rooms which were ready for us but we had a right palaver with Kate’s booking for herself and the Napier students. They didn’t have the booking, even though she had the pre-paid voucher but we could have a suite for $50!!! We stood our ground and eventually we were accommodated in our two rooms, the excuse for the confusion being that her travel agent had booked through Expedia and not Agoda! No, don’t understand either.

Our last team member, Lucy, was already in Yangon with family so arrived by taxi when we had gathered to have dinner together. Myanmar Beer – it’s been six whole months and I have missed you so much! We chatted over dinner and then headed to our rooms where Kate and I got ourselves sorted out and I wrote an email and faffed about a bit.

So happy to be here! And actually early evening is a good time to arrive here just in time for dinner, a catch-up and bed. Hmmmm. Will have to weigh up that late leaving, which did allow me time to do stuff but seemed a bit annoying with arriving at this time which does suit.