The welcome I received at Yangon Airport earlier this week forced my fingers with this post. There I was in this massive queue (2500 arrivals each day now). I finally arrive at the immigration desk and face the official. He adjusts the camera with a smile. I catch myself just in time. Breaking into Hindi with 'lumba adhmee' (tall man) won't further broaden the smile on this side of the border. And then no sooner has he apologised for the queue and he announces to me, 'Welcome, Mr Paul'.

That has got to win the award for friendliest welcome ever at an airport. So my mind drifted across to a few other awards up my sleeve...

for the most remarkable transformation
from mud-hut to maharaja palace

for the most grumpy pills taken by immigration officials
Los Angeles
whatever extra it costs to go via San Francisco, it is worth it

for the most technology-adverse
Mt Hagen (PNG)    
dig away - your baggage will be in that dumped mountain somewhere

for 'I'll be back - but only if God calls me to go back'
50hr journey, dim-lights, low-flying fans threatening to behead me, guns everywhere, custom officials playing TYO 'take-your-own' with my possessions ... all helped unnerve me a bit

for oxymoronic excellence
Abu Dhabi and Dubai, a dead heat
how do these Arab airports sell so much of the worst from the west which they supposedly hate?

for the longest immigration queue (in that land which invented queues)
London Heathrow  
once it extended two-thirds of the way back to the airplane

for most surprise on hearing three words, 'international transfer desk'?
Perth (with Melbourne as runner-up)
Australia IS lovely, but some people actually do pass through the country

for having a carpet diminish an otherwise exuberant experience
never mind - the whole airport is like an airline's business lounge anyway

for having a carpet enhance the exuberant experience
New Delhi
it is mogul-coloured - how cool is that?!

for the ease with which to arouse smuggling suspicion
Bandung (Indonesia)
goodness me?! they even went through the lining of my suitcase

for most likely to inspire car-usage
'NZ is such a beautiful country - I really do prefer to drive ... 8 hours!'

for most likely to stay competitive
Kuala Lumpur
their eyes never seem to leave Singapore - and it works

for being most paranoid about security
Hong Kong
'so we go through security in London - then 12 hrs to Hong Kong, with another 12 hours onto New Zealand beckoning - and you want us to do what while we have 2 hours in transit in HK?' 'Oh right - stand in a security line for 90 minutes?!'

for being the best airport to step my feet into and stretch those hammies in a hurry
it means I'm home

[With apologies to Latin America and Europe where I have traveled very little]

nice chatting



Jeny said…
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ben Carswell said…
I've always been with you on LAX, Paul...but, my last few trips through there, they've clearly been taking happy pills. I have to say, I think they've improved significantly in the past few years.

I'd add two more for you, but don't let them put you off visiting the places:

Most particular (read fussy) about security details:
Leeds/Bradford & Belfast City

Most interesting name for an airport:
George Best Belfast City airport - there's something particularly unusual about naming your airport after the local alcoholic

There's plenty more travel experiences to write about...some time, we can chat about them over a coffee!
Heather said…
In searching the internet for pictures of the two carpets you mention I was amused to note that your 'best' and 'worst' and by the same company: Brintons.

Changi is here:

New Dehli is here:

And that Changi one must be quite something as you emerge, dazed and confused, from a long-haul flight!
Paul Windsor said…
Maybe I'll give LAX one more try, Ben. I guess I could always try evangelising the grumpies?

And Heather, I am very impressed with your research skills. I suspect that New Delhi had its eye on Changi as the standard for which to strive - but then they jumped ahead with their carpet!

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