The usually-quiet airport was a buzz of activity. The restrictions for flying in and out of airports in Asia were changing not even by the day, but by the hour, creating a frantic atmosphere for tourists and travellers attempting to exit the country. We were amongst those travellers. We had been booked on flights that would promptly be cancelled as soon as we wrapped our minds and hearts around leaving Myanmar, and we kept hearing news of new regulations for flying through the airports we frequented on our trips to Asia. Finally, we found out that Bangkok had changed their policy for travellers flying through to other airports – instead of needing a negative COVID-19 test to even fly through the airport (not even enter the country), the Thai government only now required a doctor’s note to transit through. As soon as we found out about this change, we went about getting our doctor’s notes, and contacted our travel agent with the news: we should be able to fly through Thailand! We anxiously waited for hours until the time difference caught up with our travel agent in Canada; she booked us on a flight through Thailand right away. We flew to Yangon the day before this flight, hoping against hope the rules wouldn’t change yet again, and that the flight wouldn’t be cancelled.
As we waited in line to check in for our flight, doctor’s notes in hand, we heard travellers protesting their exclusion from our flight because they didn’t have the right documents to travel through Bangkok. We were fairly certain we had everything we needed, but this was nerve-wracking nonetheless. Personally, the idea of being “trapped” in this country that has come to feel like my second-home was not something that concerned me terribly, but the back and forth of not knowing where we would be from one day to the next was tiring.
In our rush to get to the airport early (in case of complications), we hadn’t realized we’d brought something extra with us to the airport – the room key of the inn we’d stayed at the night before.
With the key sheepishly in hand, we wondered what we would do. We didn’t have time to take a taxi ride back to the inn to return the key, but as we had stayed at this guest house multiple times and were on a first-name basis with the owner, we certainly didn’t want to leave the country without informing him of our error, and figuring out some way to make it right.
My husband called the guest house owner. His cheerful voice came on the phone, likely surprised we were calling, considering we had just checked out and he knew we were on our way home to Canada. My husband informed him of our blunder, hoping he would have a solution. Could we send the key back with someone in a taxi? Could he send someone to come and pick it up? Could we leave it at the airport to be retrieved later? In Canada, losing a hotel key usually means an extra charge on your credit card; we had paid for our night at the inn in cash, so we weren’t sure how to compensate for our mistake unless the key was somehow returned.
“No problem,” he laughed. “Just hang on to the key and give it to me the next time you’re here.”
In only a few days, it will be a year since we left Myanmar. The key to room 307 sat in a basket on our dresser for months, but now it hangs on a pushpin at my desk in the office at YWAM Turner Valley, ready for me to return it. When will that happen? At this point, COVID-19 is still making travel wretchedly complicated, and a military coup is taking place in Myanmar. I long to be able to travel back to this country I love in 2021. But the owner of that guesthouse (who knows me by name and welcomes me as a friend every time I check in to his inn as I transit through Yangon), may not get his key back for some time. He probably doesn’t give it a second thought. But every time I look at the key to room 307, hanging at my desk, I pray I will be able to return it (and return to this beautiful nation) sooner than I dare hope.