Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Gate 20

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try to get a transit visa so you don't have to sleep in Guangzhou airport overnight. (BTW there are at least 4 steps left out of this diagram, including getting your boarding pass for the connecting flight, filling out a transit visa request, promising you've never been arrested in China, and retrieving your luggage long after it came off the carousel.)

But first, a few more monks. (Sorry, Declan.)

I was assigned a seat next to a barefooted monk on my flight to Yangon. Monks aren't allowed to touch women, even accidentally. So he had to be moved. I wound up with a bare-footed baby next to me instead.
My Grab driver had golden owls! I took this as a good omen. The Airport Hotel was wonderful, if you don't mind an occasional plane flying overhead! I even spied a bottle of our favorite Myanmar wine and persuaded the cute server to open it for a glass. He made a big show of chilling it, letting me sniff the cork, and pouring a taste with great flair.

Quick pool retrospective: Myeik, Yangon, Guangzhou (no photos allowed but huge and indoor)

No, you were watching 10 to Million Myanmar in your room, wondering what the question was. (Heartbreakingly, the answer was Donald Duck.)

But back to airport hell. The first issue with Guangzhou is you don't want to inhale. Gasp.

The second is figuring out the lines and paperwork to get the mythical 72 hour visa free transit. I had prebooked a hotel (for free) with my airline ticket.

I knew from Pam's terrible experience that I might get stuck in the airport, at the hourly hotel, trying not to inhale.
So I was determined to figure this out. Down to the basement. Upstairs by 7-11. Through the long hallway toward Parking 2.
It was all made worse by not being able to connect to any of the free wifi zones. And having way too much luggage, now heavier with all the tea and goodies I'd been buying, trying to spend my last remaining kyat. (Done!)
And then, like a rat in a maze, I found it! Gate 20! 

I had to stand in another two lines, showing off my voucher, for which I got another sticker: the magic valet will find you and transport you to the Holiday Inn.

If you've never traveled in Asia, you may not realize that Holiday Inns are 5-star hotels here. I won the prize! Too bad I have to leave in 12 hours for the airport.
 In case you need to breathe....There's a big picture window but you can't see anything.
They do have cool labeled mood lights all over.

And matador art outside my room. And fake orchids in the revolving door. It's a little like Vegas in China, complete with buffets filled with seafood and a chocolate fountain.

Guanghzhou is the home of Cantonese food! I meant to take a day trip to Shenzen when I was in Hong Kong, but I'd already left PRC and didn't want to pay for a second visa. 
Ironically, China Southern won't let you use your iPhone even in airplane mode. Even though you're flying over Foxconn, where they're made. But that's a story for another day. Time for a swim. See you on the other side.

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