The Great Walkabout 2015 travel blog

Gavin and Morgan's friend Defne with Benoit and me in Istanbul


Friday and Saturday are a mix of a blur and a way too much boredom and sitting around.

Started out on Friday meeting Defne Gunturkun and her boyfriend Benoit (A new one, Gavin and Morgan). Defne was introduced to me by email by nephew Gavin McMillan. He and Morgan, his now bride and soon to be mother of their second, got engaged in Istanbul and actually got rescued by Defne who saw they were lost and walking toward a bad part of town.

I met them in their art studio which they share with a third artist and we wandered around a new (to me) part of Istanbul for a while. They seem to do well as artists, and it appears that there is a very active art community in Istanbul.As we all know, better to be with some locals who know where to go.

Then off to the airport for a post-midnight flight to Bangkok and on to Hanoi. This meant lots of hours in the airport, which was in itself a cultural experience. The Turkish Airline lounge, which is their flagship one is like Disneyland: a simulator golf screen where you can play different courses, a library with a pool table, a movie theater complete with popcorn, massage therapists, a TV room with 9 screens, about 10 food stations on two floors each with chefs cooking different hot dishes, about 10 different bars some staffed and some self serve, a concierge working on the private suite rooms and showers, a woman playing a grand piano, an area for Play Stations and a race car track! Why leave?

So, goodbye Istanbul, time to look at the inside of my eyelids for the 10 hour flight.

Arrived in Bangkok and had to wait for an hour before I could get a boarding pass for the Hanoi flight. So, I wait an hour take my stuff to the counter, only to find out that my Visa for Hanoi didn’t start today, it starts next week! Since it was Saturday there was no way to fix it. One of my papers had the start date of 26/09/2015 and the other one had start date of 01/10/2015 (as in Oct 1 not Jan 10). Screwed. And my luggage was getting loaded onto the Hanoi flight, maybe never to be seen again.

It gets better: I go through Passport control having no idea if I need a Visa for Thailand (I don’t), go to the lost luggage desk, and a young woman takes pity on me and locates my bag before it is loaded, calls it off of the loading ramp and tells me it will show up in the luggage area in one hour.

Yeah, right! The other part of this is that I am now between Passport/immigration which I have cleared, but before Customs. So I am stuck – can’t go forward can’t go backward - hoping that my bag really does turn up then I can go into Bangkok for the weekend. Felt like that movie, I think with Tom Hanks, where he lives in an airport.

Well, it worked. The same young woman walked me to a baggage area and said that it would show up very soon – like 15 minutes not one hour. She waited with me until it came. Asian sense of helpfulness and hospitality, a wonderous thing.

So, from the little I have seen I think the detour to Bangkok appears to be worth it. And hopefully I can get my Visa straightened out at the Vietnamese embassy on Monday. An important event on the 29th in Hanoi!

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