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Life in Quarantine in Mongolia Part 3: The Long Way There

You can read part 1 and part 2 here.

We normally fly to Detroit, then Seoul, and go on to Ulaanbaatar. It usually takes around 24 to 36 hours depending on layover time with a flight time of 18 or 19 hours. This time we had no choice on our route.

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MCO to MSP. 3 hour flight.

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Orlando used to have no off season.
Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast
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We left the house at 8 am on Tuesday (9/15). The airport was empty, just as before. We had Starbucks and let the kids run around and burn off some energy. The flight was mostly empty. The plane was warm, which was kind of annoying because we were dressed for a cold flight. We were in second class so at least we got to drink. A friend of mine was the flight leader and he kept the drinks coming. The baby (23 months old) did not want to keep her mask on. We found a loophole, since you don’t have to wear a mask when eating or drinking just make sure she is always eating or drinking. When we got to Minneapolis the airport was empty and most restaurants were closed. 3 hour layover.

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This whole wing was closed.
Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast
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MSP to LAX. 3 hour 15 minute flight.

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Minneapolis was just as empty.
Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast
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The baby slept a little, then kept us busy the whole flight. She was moving, going back and forth, up and down. She just couldn’t sit still. It was a long flight. When we got to LAX we picked up our bags and walked over to the Tom Brady terminal. We still had 6 hours till departure! We found a place to sit and thought we would get some sleep but the baby wasn’t having it. Walked around until check in time.

LAX to HKG. 13 hour flight.

Can’t check in. Agent says my visa is not enough. They need some confirmation from the embassy that I am on a list of foreigners approved to enter the country. I wasn’t the only one. We waited around for about an hour before the embassy finally sent a list to the airline. While we were waiting I found out something I had never known before: some airlines (in this case Cathay Pacific) check the weight of your carry on. Our carry on bags were packed full because once we got to Mongolia we wouldn’t have access to our checked bags. The limit was 7 kg and we frantically repacked and moved things to our checked bags while we were waiting.

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By the time we sat down in the plane it was 3 am East coast time (9/16). We were quick to fall asleep but they did a meal service shortly after take off. No selections, everyone got the same chicken and potatoes, but it was delicious. Back to sleep. We were on a new Airbus 350 and it had some nice touches. My favorites (besides the hundreds of new movies) were the 2 outside cameras (one on the top of the tail and one on the bottom, both facing forward), coach class leg room was the same as the second class we had just been in, and the progressive lighting. In the morning before breakfast the lights slowly brightened over a 15 minute time period.

When we arrived in Hong Kong at 6 am Thursday (9/17) the airport was empty and all the stores were closed. We had another 6 hour layover. We found a place to clean ourselves up and had Starbucks. We found an indoor playground and it seemed like all the other Mongolian kids were there as well.

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Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast
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Another empty airport.
Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast
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HKG to ULN. 4 hour flight.

The MIAT crew were in full hazmat gear. Seriously. The plane was hot, then cold. It had old ceiling mounted TVs that didn’t work. There was no service, just a water bottle in our seat pocket. Everyone slept except me because I was holding the baby.

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Old school and non operational.
Old school and non operational.
Image: Jay, the practical enthusiast

After landing we remote parked (the airport is closed) and waited for our names to be called. An hour and 15 minutes later we grabbed our bags and walked down the stairs to the tarmac. Our bags got sterilized, we had our temperature checked and we loaded onto a bus. The driver was completely sealed off. We got a police escort all the way downtown to the hotel. There was already a bus in front of us and only a hand full of people could check in at a time so we waited another hour in the parking lot. We finally got in to our hotel room at 8 pm Thursday (9/17).

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Total flight time: 23 hours 15 minutes

Total door to door travel time: 48 hours

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