03 July 2011

Dubai to Seattle with Al Hepburn Part 7

We had another uneventful flight down from Laos to Ho Chi Minh City yesterday afternoon. There were a few potholes in the road as we descended into Vietnam, but nothing unusual. The handling bill in Laos was again fierce. No wonder, they flew the handler's representative up from Bangkok to look after us, kept her there two nights, then flew her back again! Nobody said anything about GA being competitive in this part of the world.

I shudder to think what the handling bill here is going to be like, since the airplane is occupying an airline stand for the best part of two days, and these stands normally rent by the hour. Ah well, that part of it is not my planning and not my bank account, thank God.

Today, we visited an orphanage, where Wei and his friend (who has been with us since Bangkok) made some donations. The theme of his flight is helping kids around the world. This afternoon we went out on the river for lunch at a small town, Mytho, on another arm of the Mekong Delta. These Chinese never stop eating! We stopped at three different locations and ate at each.

Tomorrow morning we're off bright and early to Hong Kong, where Carolyn should join us. I guess I screwed up on her flight, with the date, airline, etc., so she will arrive a few hours after us, rather than the day before. I had advised Wei before the start of the trip that he should get a qualified Chinese pilot to accompany him in to China, and he said he had one. However, this guy is a Cessna 172 instructor who has difficulty communicating with ATC, as he speaks Cantonese, so that is not very promising. I want to check the Chinese AIP when we get to Hong Kong, but I suspect that, on non-English ATC routes (which he will be on) there will be a requirement to have a crew member with a "Mandarin Competent" statement (similar to our English competent statement) aboard, and Wei does not have one, of course. While Mandarin is his mother tongue, he does not know Mandarin ATC speak, so I don't know whether this proposed trip into China is going to work. He does, however, have the permits from the Chinese government to go in. Maybe he can get a Chinese pilot to brief him in Hong Kong. Stay tuned for the next episode!


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