Patna, India to Chiang Mai, Thailand

Around the World 2007
Norm & Lec
Wed 26 Sep 2007 14:48
We have arrived in Chiang Mai.   Our flight from Patna, India to Chiang Mai was, by far, the most difficult of our journey to date (maybe the most difficult of my aviation career).  We arrived and departed Patna in rain with low ceilings (800') - the result of a severe depression which has flooded North Eastern India for the past 3 or 4 days.  
Our route over Bangladesh and into northern Myanmar was fine; then the trouble started.   Severe CB build ups and thunderstorms covered our entire route for nealy 300 miles.   In addition, communication with Myanmar (Burma) ATC is difficult.   Their radio equipment seems inadequate, you have no contact for long periods of time, and their skills and/or training is not very good.  The controller we did manage to speak to periodically seemed only to know "next reporting point and ETA please"  She was pleasant but not much help under the difficult conditions that every airplane (including the commerical flights above us) were encountering.   We had no choice but to deviate as much as 50 miles right of course and even then flew through more rain and cloud than we liked.  Thankful for the stormscope which really helped us pick tracks that minimized our already difficult flight.
On the good side of Myanmar ATC, we eventually contacted a controller near Bago (BGO), as we were turning toward Thailand, who approved routing that saved nearly 150 miles.   It really shocked me when he approved our request but we were extremely grateful, thanked him and said no more on the radio until we got into Thailand!!!!  
If anyone is planning a flight across India and into Thailand please feel free to contact me.  I would be very pleased to advise on many issues that we learned over the past few days.  This section can be extremely expensive and difficult but if you know how and were to go it can be very easy.  (weather excluded)
Tomorrow we will fly to our Thailand home base of Bangphra for 2 weeks rest at home.