Our time in Myanmar had come to a close. The final portion of our trip would have Mike and I split from John and Ryan who would continue on to Mandalay, while we headed to Bangkok for 36 hours of luxury hotels and meals. We all were flying out of Heho (the airport that serves Inle Lake) at around the same time.
We were taking a new airline for us, Myanmar National Airlines. This state owned and flag carrier of Myanmar has 21 planes, with six more on order and serves 31 destinations in five countries (China, India, Singapore, Thailand and of course, Myanmar). Most of their fleet is made up of various versions of the top wing mounted ATR 72. They have a few Boeing 737s, two Embraer E-190s and even four Cessna 208 Caravans. Our flight to Yangon was on a new ATR 72-600
Like our other intra-Myanmar flights, we arrived at the airport and our guide wandered off with our passports and our luggage. We stood around like confused tourists, because, well we were confused tourists. Our guide returned with our boarding passes and we walked to the gate area. Several flights were leaving around our departure time and the various gates just led out to the tarmac. It didn’t matter which gate (really, just doors) you left from, you end up on a walkway plane side.
I love big walls of clocks for some reason. I love seeing what time it is in different parts of the world, wondering what people are doing in that given city at that exact moment. The big board of time in Heho was a little off…
We boarded our plane, from the rear door and took our assigned seats. Like with our trips on Air KBZ, the aircraft door closed and we were moving without us even noticing. Not sure how a small prop plane like that can be so smooth and relatively quiet, but it was.
The plane was pretty new and wasn’t dirty and gross like many of United’s planes, especially the small quick hop planes for flights about an hour long. The flight to Yangon was about 40 minutes and as we passed about 10,000 feet, the flight crew jumped into service.
We had a breakfast box with a pain au chocolat and a type of fruit cake. The chocolate croissant was typical airline fare and the cake had an odd, super sweet flavor – I had a single bite.
As we come in for a landing, the flight attendants brought around baskets of pizza candy, which I initially thought would be some funky tomato or pepperoni flavored candy (it is Asia…), alas, it was just a hard candy shaped like a slice of pizza and flavored like fruit (or even cola).
We landed in Yangon, right on schedule and left the plane as quickly as we boarded it. The passengers for the next flight were chomping at the bit to board and get in with their journey. Of course, they couldn’t do that until the ground crew in Rangoon replaced a shit ton of oil in the port engine. I am no airline mechanic, but this seems like a lot of oil (they weren’t changing the oil, they were adding oil).
In general, unwound have absolutely no hesitation in flying Myanmar National Airlines again. The service was quick and efficient (I would have been fine with no service, it was a 40 minute flight for God’s sake). The airplane seemed safe (except for maybe the oil issue, I found upon landing). These flights throughout Myanmar are the only real way to get around the country when you are on a short vacation – you can’t waste all that time driving or taking the train that often has inexplicable delays.