It has been seven years that I left my native country of Burma. Due to time and budgetary constraint, I never got to go home. Finally I got a chance to travel back in early 2015. So I think it is a good idea to open up my first blog post with a trip to Home Sweet Home, Tachileik, which is located at Eastern Shan State of Burma (Myanmar).
This blog post is gonna be an introductory post of my coming posts which I will post more detailed information of each cities that I have visit along this trip. In this first post, I will mainly focus on the route of the trip to Tachileik and share my experience on airport as well as airlines.
We flew with Delta Airline for this trip and the only one connection was in Narita International Airport. I don’t remember exactly of how long the flight was but I do remember it was long enough. The flying experience was ok although the food on board was not that appetite to me especially during the first leg of flight which is from Seattle to Tokyo. About after 7 to 8 hours of flight time, we landed in Narita for connection. Narita is a big international airport and there are plenty of stuff to do while waiting for connecting flight. There are some interesting Origami Store as well. Since I was travelling with my 1.5 year old toddler, the nursery room at the airport was quite useful to get my girl a quick clean up and some snacks. The drawback of Narita Connection is I had to go through full security screen again. Security screening process was not really that pleasant especially with a toddler and her baby food. Second leg of flight which is from Tokyo to Bangkok equally took the same flight duration.
Finally after a long hours of flight we landed in Suvarnabhumi Airport of Bangkok around 11:00 pm. Since I have spent about 5 years of my life in Bangkok before, it was kind of a good feeling to land to the city again. Immigration at the airport was particularly helpful to travels with infants and toddlers. Since Bangkok was not our final destination, we had to rush to complementary airport commute shuttle which runs between Suvarnabhumi Airport and Dong Mueng Airport. Most of Thailand domestic flights fly from Dong Mueng Airport except Thaiway and their subsidiary airline which is Thai Smile Airway. Since we were flying with a budget airline called Nok Air, we had to ride 30-45 minutes airport shuttle to check in at Don Mueng. The first time I landed in Don Mueng was back in 2001. So it was 14 years ago. Being rural boy from Burma, Don Meung back then was such a fascinating airport to me. However, things have changed drastically with the airport since Suvarnabhumi has taken over as a new international airport since 2007. I am not sure how I should describe today Don Mueng Airport. There were broken seats and trash everywhere. Anyway, we spent the entire night hanging out at the airport since our next flight was not until 7:00am in the morning.
We started the process of check in around 5:00am. Then here is my short review on Nok Air. Since it is budget airline, the ticket was relatively cheap. However, they have some unwritten fine print on baggage policy. Since we traveled transatlantic, we had quite a big baggage. However, we did calculate the weights and planned accordingly so that we would not have to pay for excess baggage fees. As part of Nok Air Promotion, they have a program called Baby Nok. Below is registration confirmation from Baby Nok. It says we are allowed to carry total baggage of 20 kilograms. However, it does not state the requirement of purchasing ticket. Since we thought we would get that 20kg, we calculated that weights in our total weights. Then we got the check in counter and customer representative said we have to pay for excess baggage fees, which is even more than the price of ticket, since the unwritten rule says we cannot get 20kgs unless we buy a ticket. The good thing about Thailand is you can always negotiate. So we told them it would more work for him if we do decide to buy another ticket at the moment. So we negotiated to pay a certain amount as excess baggage fees which is somewhat less than the price of ticket. The whole situation took too much time and we then had to rush to our gate to catch our flights. .
The airport now was way different than the entire night we spent. The crowd at the airport was getting larger and larger. There was no systematic queue. As the saying “In Rome do as Romans do”, we had to fight off the queue to get to our gate. After about 15-20 mins wait at the gate, we were shuttle to the airplane. Yes, there was no tube. We took a bus that runs on the runway to get to airplane. After a long chaotic morning, we could finally rest on the airplane for about an hour a half flight. The flight experience was pretty relaxing with not many people on board and most importantly the flight attendances were pretty friendly. Then we got a surprise pick up by my parents at Chiang Rai Airport and it took about half an hour to get to the border. Then before we know, we got to my native town of Tachileik and it was definitely good to see the room and the house that I grew up. The house has changed a lot and started showing sign of aging especially due to a big earthquakes a couple years ago. After all, it is Home Sweet Home and great to be back to home and stay tune for more posts about this trip.
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