The 80th Flight!

Flight number 80 would be the final flight of the original “Around the world in 80 flights” tour so this should be somewhat of a great achievement. However, due to the number of diversions and additional flights I have added to my own tour, despite reaching the 80th flight, I have not even reached my half way point.

Since leaving Edinburgh in the UK 3 years ago I have racked up over 54,000 Kilometres which works out at over 33,500 Miles! I have passed through 37 different countries whilst I have covered Europe and the length of Africa, all the way too Cape Town before continuing to The UAE and Middle East. I then covered the entire length of India or order to reach the Maldives Islands before returning North to the Himalayas and Mt. Everest. From the Himalayas I continued to Asia and across to Japan where I have now begun to double back on myself a little. This is simply so that I can loop further South as I make my way through the Pacific Islands and eventually reach Australia.

From my home in the UK, Australia will make my geographical half way point around the world. I feel that this should be celebrated more than the acknowledgement of my 80th flight. After all, I still have many more miles to go with many more countries to visit. Having significantly amended the original route I shall be completing a total of 203 flights before my wheels finally touch down in Edinburgh UK once more.

Whilst not mathematically nor geographically “half way,” I shall be considering my virtual arrival to the island of Hawaii to be the half way point of my Around The World Tour.
Hawaii to San Francisco is by far the longest flight I will have to negotiate during the tour and will need to heavily modify my tiny Beechcraft Baron 58 in order to make the huge distance but this is still some way off for flight number 120.

I have thoroughly enjoyed the entire time I have been completing this tour although I would love to hear from people who live in any of the places I have already, or am yet to visit. See below for the offical route map and for the full list of destinations I shall be visiting (virtually.)

OFFICIAL ROUTE MAP

Blue Pins = Offical 80 Flights Route
Red Pins = Addional Destinations Added By Me
Yellow Pins = Points Of Interest I Shall Not Land At.

Please continue to follow my virtual adventures around the world and leave comments to help me to make it that little bit more realistic.

Flight 80!) Nagasaki – Taipei

The 80th flight would be another long haul over a large expanse of sea so I was expecting the journey to be rather uneventful. This was not to be the exciting ending to the world tour that I could have had on the 80th flight had I stuck to the original route.

Beginning this leg of the tour at 09:00 I loaded up the flight simulator FSX and opened the flight plan I had prepared earlier. In order to make the distance over the sea I was eager to ensure that I have enough fuel so requested a fuel truck from Nagasaki airport. Being third in line meant that I didn’t have to wait too long before my tanks were full and I was ready to depart. I followed another jet all the way from my parking spot to the runway.

There were rather strong side winds coming down from the surrounding mountains and heading out to the sea which set my plane at a strange angle during take off. This didn’t cause any problems though. I left Japan behind me as I crossed over many smaller islands although each of them had their own substantial mountains or high hills which I had to contend with. It was a shame to be leaving behind this amazing country and very different culture to my own. I will certainly be making a real life visit to Japan to see its wonders first hand.

After flying South for roughly 25 minutes I took more of a Westerly heading to fly towards Taiwan. It seemed strange to be heading West as I have been travelling East all the way from the UK other than the occasional Northern or Southern detours. I climbed to 10,000 feet to get better fuel economy from my plane and saw a heard a few rumbles of thunder. The weather outside appeared to be pleasent so I was a little unsure as to where the sound of thunder was coming from. There must have been a mixture of cold and warm air though as I soon passed through a very bumpy patch of sky which dropped me down to 7,500 feet.

The stretch of sea seemed to last for ages although eventually the shores of Taiwan come into view maked by a large mountain. Lingering clouds blocked much of the view to the ground below so I decided to circle the city to get my bairings. The airport I had originally considered was Songshan airport which is located right in the heart of Taipei itself although the larger Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport was more appealing as a place to land. By 13:50 I had touched down on Runway 6 and safely taxied to my parking spot.

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I didn’t really have any prior knowledge of expectations of Taiwan. I can only say that I know of the large production output as in the UK we do have many electronic goods which are manufactured within this country. It would be interesting to find out more about this place.

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Taipei Vacation Travel Guide | Expedia – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8XeDkwAfako
Why Taipei Is the Best City (Exploring Taiwan)  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDM3oj83zMY
The Taipei Budget Travel Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=on3NyVwxgoM
Best Things to do in Taipei – Overnight City Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_nCj1X_Hhw
What to Eat and Do in Taipei, Taiwan (NOC Travel Guide!) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9XzlkgI-j50
3 Days in Taipei | Jenny Zhou  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jEd_5pwZrgY
Taipei 101 Travel Guide  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rt83a5azuY4
14 BEST THINGS TO DO IN TAIPEI TAIWAN | Top Taipei Attractions  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iXCN4UVAfI#t=343.519119

Taiwan Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mkx5sqexl84

Flight 76) Beijing – Seoul

It was 12:30 by the time I had finished setting up the flight simulator software, loaded my plane and requested a fuel truck so I could fill my tanks again. It’s a good job virtual fuel is free! I’d dread to think how much it would cost in fuel to travel around the world with this many stops. Looking to my right I could only be thankful that I was not having to pay to fill the tanks of a Boeing 747.

With another clear sky without a cloud in sight, I was looking forward to this afternoon flight and was soon taking off from runway 36 by 12:50. I took another small detour to fly over Beijing and to get a last look at the Forbidden city before turning to a heading of 120 degrees to take me on a direct path to South Korea as I wanted to make this flight as short as possible. 2016-6-26_12-57-46-204By 13:45 I found myself flying over the coastline of China and the green shade of sea water below which continued far off to the horizon. I paused only the once to take a lap around a very small but pretty island. I meant to check what this island was called but was too busy to do so during the flight. 2016-6-26_16-0-2-185Once I had reached land once again I released that this would have been North Korea. With all the negative information provided by the news about North Korea I was pretty relieved to be in a simulator. Even so I decided to fly as low as possible, buzzing the tops of trees, hills, mountains and even the water of a lake. Eventually the rough terrain gave way to a very wide river which I followed for long enough that I was only 13 miles away from my destination airport of Seoul.

Seoul was a huge city. Much bigger than I had expected. Wanting to land quickly I saw what I could of the city from the air but did not fly any laps. By the time I landed it was 17:17 although this included the extra hour I had lost by crossing the time zone.

Another day I took a gentle flight over the city and found Incheon Airport just off the coast. This was a much larger airport which the simulator had re-produced in detail. I figured it would be nice to land here and refuel before the next leg of the world tour.

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25 Best Things To Do in Seoul, South Korea – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N-zrjBpKGiI
Overnight in Seoul, 36 hours in the city  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CSKGDNzb4pc
Travel Vlog: Seoul, South Korea | HAUSOFCOLOR  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Zd8UjpJmK4
Seoul Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uzD5Lk5buVY

Whilst digitally exploring Seoul I learnt that Gangnam was a district within the city, now made known world wide through the PSY song Gangnam Style – Couldn’t leave out the music video now could I?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?gl=GB&hl=en-GB&v=9bZkp7q19f0

Flight 75) Shanghai – Beijing

It had been a long time since my previous flight and I had enjoyed the time spent learning about Shanghai. I really hadn’t known what a huge city this place had become, although now it was time to leave the futuristic lights and skyline of Shanghai for Beijing. I included Beijing on the tour mainly so that I could see the Great Wall of China.

I started by checking the weight and fuel load of my small Beech Baron 58 and made sure I plotted a suitable route north. This didn’t take long and before long I was requesting taxi to runway clearence by 10:00. The rain and fog wasn’t very inviting but made for a rather reflective concrete surface around Shanghai Airport. Unfortunately my take off clearence was denied as the airport was operating IFR only due to the thick fog still in the air, so I created an alternative IFR route and was soon give the clearence I was looking for.

I had to “hold my position” many times during the taxi route to the runway as this really was a very busy airport with other aircraft landing and taking off regularly and many other planes maneuvering to and from their own gates. All of this movement made the radio buzz constantly.

Having almost lapped the main terminal building entirely I finally took to the skies at 10:25 and soon cleared the low clouds. I didn’t want to fly too high as I wanted to get a look at the infamous Shanghai skyline. As the flight sim FSX is a fair few years old now, it is clear to see the rapid expansion of this city as many of the key buildings now standing were not featured in the original software. Still the city looked wonderful with the cresent moon keeping watch.2016-5-29_10-36-15-758.jpg

Flying North-West from the city I passed over the Hung-Tse Lake and then straightend to due North for the majority of the flight. My next waypoint was 1 hour, 45 minutes away.
I flew lower and the speed of the land below gave the illusion I was travelling faster than at higher altitudes.

An hour later and I was approaching the coastline and could see hills and mountains in the distance both infront and from my left hand window. I flew lower once again to have some fun with the hilly terrain below but soon found myself surrounded by mountain fog. Passing over a few unknown cities and lakes with anouther hour and a half still to go until reaching Beijing, the weather finally cleared up.

I suffered with radio confusion between Beijing Center directing me to contact Tianjin Tower and visa versa. This bounced to and from for far too long until I was able call my landing intentions and touch down at 14:38 slightly off center. The few previous runaways I have landed on have belonged to very large international airports. I will look forward to visiting smaller landing strips in the future. I find these can be a little more challenging.
The Beech Baron was parked up by 14:45 and I was looking forward to seeing the sights of Beijing.

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Whilst here I really wanted to see the Great Wall of China which can be seen to the North of Beijing. Whilst I took a short flight around the area, I was unable to see the wall at all. Many maps show there to be many sections of the Great Wall. Maybe this just simply isn’t included in the standard FSX simulator software. This was rather disappointing. Nevermind.

Beijing Travel Guide – Beijing official city guide HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EHCab5_BArI
Visit Beijing – 5 Things You WIll Love & Hate about Beijing, China – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZVSii6rB5g
This Is My City – Beijing  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hx35kanMWh0
BEIJING Modern City – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RH3PvfI7ELQ
Discover Beijing III: A Modern City in Motion (Full Episode) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1PrcMFLQ5IQ

[Documentary] The Forbidden City of Ming &Qing Dynasties (1368 – 1912 AD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QvsCr_xK3c
Beijing Travel Guide – Forbidden City Documentary (Palace Museum) Part 1 “Secrets” HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHypO2ISPas

National Geographic – The Great Wall of China – Documentary  – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VjlydnRqcmw

Beijing 2008 Opening Ceremony – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ii-n_QSS0og

Flight 73) Hanoi – Hong Kong

I had been looking forward to my next destination of Hong Kong for a long time. When I was a child, my uncle visited Hong Kong and brought me back a hand made, paper kite in an ornate bird of prey design. This gift instantly cemented Hong Kong in my mind as a far away exotic land, very different from that of home in the UK.
Earlier on my around the world tour I stopped off at Dubai. This dynamic and exciting city was made so much more impressive when flying over the incredible detail included within FlyTampa’s “Dubai rebooted” add on scenery for the FSX Simulator. I was lucky enough to be provided with a copy of FlyTampa’s Hong Kong add on scenery by the fantastic FlyTampa support team. Massive thanks to the team at Fly Tampa!

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FlyTampa Hong Kong – Kai Tak
The add on scenery covers the city as well as the infamous older airport Kai Tak. Whilst this airport was actually closed in 1998, I wanted to tackle the challenging approach of flying extremely low over many buildings before making a right hand turn to touch down on the runway myself.
Before I left Hanoi International, I made sure to plan the flight first. Covering 522 miles I could expect to have a flight time of roughly 2 hours, 40 minutes and that was without any detours for sight seeing. I had expected to start my journey at 09:30 and would be able to make it to Hong Kong in time for lunch. Unfortunately this departure time was not to be met as the niggling issue I had previously noticed with my rudder controls were back with a vengeance. I could not taxi in a straight line at all which made it impossible to reach the runway. It would have been silly to try to fly this leg of the tour on full left rudder the entire way.
I suppose the technical troubles I had would have been the equivalent of finding some physical maintenance required on my aircraft. Luckily, I had saved my previous joystick and new that it was hiding in a dark box somewhere in my garage. By the time I had dug it out, given it a clean and configured it with my PC and FSX a good few hours had passed.
I glanced at the clock and at 11:10 I took off from Hanoi to complete a short circle of the airport in order to test the new control system. Everything appeared to be working perfectly once again and with one more successful landing I parked up and requested a visit by the fuel truck to fill my tanks.
At 14:00 I finally radioed in my IFR request and began to taxi behind another larger twin propeller plane. I passed other aircraft looking for their gates and could see how active this airport was. When I had first opened the flight simulator, the weather was rather misty and cloudy although now, in the afternoon, this had mostly burnt off as I headed rather steeply into the skies.
It didn’t take long before I had climbed to 5,000 feet and was just about touching the base of a thick layer of cloud hanging above me. I requested a flight level of 10,000 which was granted and I trimmed the aircraft and adjusted the fuel mixture so that I could fly steady at this new altitude. For much of the flight, I was simply fighting the wind forever trying to blow me off course whist enjoying the view above the clouds. Some clouds were lighter but the large majority of the sky was grey and heavy which were impressive to look at even if I could not see the ground below at all.
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It wasn’t until 16:00 when I dropped below the clouds and finally saw the terrain once more. A river caught my eye snaking its way across the landscape, so I decided to follow this a little lower. Seeing boats on the river below I could hear rain hitting my windscreen and thought about whoever would be on those boats in real life, currently getting rained upon.
I declared my approach at 16:43 whilst still surround by clouds and had pretty poor visibility. I spotted a small airport out of my right hand window with a bright turquoise bay framing the tarmac but this runway was dwarfed in comparison when I passed by the newer Hong Kong International Airport. That place was huge! I would certainly return in order to say I had landed at HKIA but for now I was to take on the infamous Kai Tak approach and landing.
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As the sun began to set I glided over parts of the city in my small twin propeller Beech Baron. I was able to take the approach very slowly but could gain a real sense of appreciation for those huge passenger jets having to skim the tops of buildings whilst pointing directly for a hill before turning sharp right to actually line up with the runway. Even in my plane I was nervous at how low I needed to be over the buildings.
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I must say that FlyTampa had certainly done a fantastic job at modelling the scenery and including the recognizable details. A large checkerboard on a hill is all that guided me in to my approach but I knew to expect this. Being an aviation fan, the Kai Tak checkerboard has a reputation of its own. This had to be one of the most exciting landings of my tour! Whilst Lukla landing strip near Mount Everest certainly had the fear factor, this notorious landing had certainly been built up in my own mind. It is a shame that this amazing airport is no longer active and that I will never get to experience the same landing for real.
I touched down with my wheels either side of the white center line and spent a long while taxiing to my parking spot, surrounded by many huge jets in appropriate liveries. Watching the sun set I was really looking forward to flying over Hong Kong in better weather as well as embracing the food by ordering our own local Chinese take away.
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Kai Tak Airport

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Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport (1925 – 1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PCOcyt7BPI
The Last Hurrah for Plane Spotters at Kai Tak Hong Kong Airport Airplanes – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qBYVc8083PM
Planes Over Hong Kong (1998) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UyU9OLqQ8XA
Whilst researching Hong Kong I have found a new fondness for this place. I can safely say that Hong Kong is well and truly on my bucket list.

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Hong Kong , Best of Hong Kong HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=htuj-fmfKcU
Hong Kong – City Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gaTcRZK0PRM
Jackie Chan’s Hong Kong – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eIF7-opXYo
Megacities – Hong Kong Full Documentary – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TcbyQ_1GhYk
Hong Kong (China) Vacation Travel Video Guide – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L1vQnNnsT48
Top 10 Things to do in Hong Kong – HD – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPNxBSAw0Yw
Hong Kong Central District Skyline at Night *HD* – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FrJG3yc0WDk

Flight 71) Mandalay – Nansang

The distance between Mandalay and Nansang is a lot shorter than the majority of my flights recently and as such this was due to be a short flight so I figured I could squeeze it in one morning before I started my day job.
The weather was cloudy but the temperature gauge indicated a warm 22 degrees. I’d love to feel a 22 degree day at the moment because Edinburgh, UK has been struggling to get above 5 degrees recently.
As I taxied from my parking space I saw a couple of dramatic lightening flashes which made me a little nervous about flying into such weather. By 9:40 I had received my take off clearence and was leaving the safety of the Mandalay tarmac.
Reaching 2,400 feet I was above the worst of the fog and entered some very heavy turbulence. I suppose this was to be expected having just watched the approaching storm.
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Between the clouds I could see pockets of blue sky above. The turbulence and heavy winds were blowing me off course quite a bit and I noticed my eye darting to the fuel levels pretty often as I was sitting at 1/4 of a tank. This would be more than enough to get me to Namsang.
As the clouds eventually dissapated I saw the hills below and dropped altitude enough to see them up close. The rolling thunder in the distance seemed to echo through the valley. My landing instructions were given to me over the radio as I was still over the hills and it wasn’t until I had cleared them completely that the heavy turbulence subsided. It was much easier to control the small aircraft in the cleaner air.
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Once again I found myself back in the fog and clouds and had to rely on some instrument flying. I found it pretty fun balancing the gauges whilst following the varous instructions coming through the radio. Finally lining up with runway 17, I admit that it took a little longer that I would have liked to spot the runway and saw that there were no buildings to help mark it’s location. I’m sure this is likely to be the simulator restrictions as I would dread to think that the real location is without ANY buildings at all.
The runway was lovely and long and without any pressure to get my wheels down quickly, I did bounce my landing slightly. I clearly need some more practice to get back into this virtual flying game. Parking up on the grass at the end of the runway I could still hear thunder rumbling in the distance but I was glad to be back on terra firma.
I couldn’t find too much information about the township of Nansang (or Namsang). At only 20,000 inhabitants I suppose this was one of the smaller destinations on my tour.
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Undiscovered Myanmar: Seven Cities and Three Weeks in Burma – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dLYOGITcn34
One Week in Myanmar – Bagan, Inle Lake, Yangon – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-isgplZXqxU

Flight 70) Dhaka – Mandalay

I had been looking forward to my first flight with my new PC just to see what the new shiny hardware could do with the aging microsoft flight sim. I was very pleased to see that the whole experience seems much smoother and has longer draw distances meaning I can now see further than ever before.

I had the expected teething issue during installation and configuration when trying to get the plug-ins and add-ons working correctly but after a few evenings of frustration I was able to get 99% of everything working. Enough at least to continue the tour.

Dhaka had been hugely interesting and admittedly unexpectedly so. I never knew the problems this city faced as it grew by such huge numbers daily. It seems sad that there as so many people left to fend for themselves in a new city as the move from the villages, unable to find work or a place to live. I suppose the desperation is what drives them to find a better life in a city. It’s ironic though how many people I know who live in cities long for a life away from the hustle and bustle of a busy city. There should be some kind of swap or trade in lives somehow.

When it was time to leave Dhaka, I decided I could do the flight early one morning and plotted a simple route over the Manipur mountains which run down the Western boarder of Myanmar (Burma.) Sitting at Gate 3 of Dhaka International Airport next to a Pacific Airlines passenger jet, I watched many ground vehicals busying themselves like insects. My joystick does not seem to like Windows 10 and as such I am having issues with my rudder and steering when on the ground. I spent a few minutes trying to improve this with no real resolution. It is bearable but I would not class my plane as “safe” if this was real world. I decided to change controls for steering which will take getting used to but solves my problem. Whilst ensure my Beech Baron was once again “airworthy” I could hear that there was another plane requesting clearance to Mandalay. I was going to be following this plane although my smaller plane would certainly not be able to keep up.

I pushed back from my gate at 8:42 and taxied to Runway 14. This would be a rougly South-Easterly direction with 180 degrees representing due South.

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Once in the air the terrain opened out ahead of me and the clear open skies welcomed me back. With many rivers around Dhaka there was a lot of sun being reflected from the water below. I was able to hold the aircraft steady, crusing at 3,500 feet until the fields below eventually gave way to forests with a line of hill tops on the horizon. These hill tops quickly rose into steper mountains and I knew I had reached the Manipur mountains as planned.

 

I dropped height to have some fun within the ridges and saw valley floors strectching out for miles on either side of me. Being this low to the forest I could see many flocks of birds leaving their branches and flying through the over of the trees. I enjoyed the fact that simulator had that additional level of detail. The long winding roads cutting through the forest looked very remote and I saw no traffic on the roads at all. Even upon reaching the first waypoint of my trip, a lonely airstrip, I saw no traffic. I turned for a heading of 150 and would stay on this direction for another 40 mintues as the vegitation became much greener and I began to see the odd small hut hidden within the trees.

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I reached waypoint 2 at 10:00 with only 35 minutes left until I was due to arrive at Mandalay and climbed to 8,000 feet so that I could see the city as I came in. From this height I could see the land flatten out where the city would be and the forests turned back into fields, then town outskirts and then finally the city itself.

It wasn’t long before I was within the fog again touching down at Mandalay International on Runway 17, parking up and watching the airport traffic get to work.

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Mandalay Royal Palace

ubein-bridge-mandalay-myanmar03-22-2013mandalaywooden-statuette-shwenandaw-kyaung-myanmar-26225457วัดชเวนันดอว์-2วัดชเวนันดอว์-4

Mandalay International Airport – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lJylcgwTizg

Taxi from mandalay airport to city – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1jbkW-TUevo

Central Myanmar: Mandalay a wonderful city – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cLX2N_tTCuE

A guided tour of Mandalay in Myanmar (burma) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zwzz1lqFOng

48 hours in Mandalay – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGY-X_QvpgU

Top 10 Things to Do in Myanmar / Burma – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nF3Qg6MS9bk

Mandalay, Myanmar in 4K (Ultra HD) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ow1ysPtzQG0

Royal Palace – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vVw8KgLnH4w&index=3&list=PL6yQCcoM0ZPy6xPY550UWTn9M8zfU9xDR

Visiting Mandalay Palace – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7AS9paAvdc&list=PL6yQCcoM0ZPy6xPY550UWTn9M8zfU9xDR

My Golden Years Travel – Mandalay Palace 11 March 2013 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tG-kCiHXXg4

My Golden Years Travel – Mandalay Royal Palace 11 March 2013 Part 2 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmNzuHpqhjE