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Silk Air To Cambodia:MI 622 SIN-SiemReap (+Photos)  
User currently offlineGamps From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 469 posts, RR: 1
Posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 18763 times:

Trip to Cambodia - To the ancient Kingdom of Khmer on Silk Air



Hello all,

Just returned from a trip to Cambodia, so thought I would share my experience with Silk Air to this ancient Kingdom.

Flight MI 622 is probably one of the few scheduled flights in the world which carries a same flight number on the continuing and return leg as well (Singapore – Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Singapore).

SINGAPORE – SIEM REAP, Cambodia (REP) / September 16 2004

Silk Air MI 622
Airbus A320
Plane registration: 9V-SLB
Scheduled Departure: 8:45AM
Actual Departure: 8:50AM
Scheduled Arrival: 9:55AM local
Actual Arrival: 10:00AM local
Seat: 25A


Introduction:

It has been my long time dream to visit Angkor Wat ruins in Cambodia (been my dream even before “Lara Croft Tomb Raider” showed them to the world), so I took this opportunity on my trip to Singapore to go on a quick trip to Cambodia. As some of you know I am a Vietnam era guerilla tactics nut, and Cambodia’s role in the NAM always fascinated me as well. Got a very good offer of airfare + five star hotel stay + English speaking guide for 4 days, so took it. The agent in Singapore did mention that REP along with Yangon are Silk Air’s expensive flights (if you consider the short duration of the flight)

Check-in process at Changi

Arrived at Changi Terminal 2 around 7:30AM from Bishan. Went straight to Silk Air’s check-in row 8. Security officers checked the ticket and sealed the check-in bag. Since it is a common check-in row for all the morning Silk Air flights, there were may be 15 folks in front of me. Check-in was open for Solo, Medan, Phuket along with Siem Reap/Phnom Penh. As mentioned above this was a flight to Siem Reap continuing to capital of Cambodia – Phnom Penh and then returning to Singapore directly. Around 5 counters were open and when my turn came I presented my passport as well as ticket and requested for a window seat. Checked in a small bag. The smiling agent presented me the boarding pass with seat 25A. I was bit surprised to see boarding time of 7:45AM for a 8:45AM flight! 1 hour boarding time for a A320?

Zooming through Changi immigration

Since there was not much time for boarding I headed straight to immigration where I saw steady queue. But with the usual Singaporean efficiency which never ceases to amaze me, the queue just melted in seconds and I was in front of the immigration officer in not less than one minute. The lady officer took the departure record and stamped the passport with the obligatory comment in Singlish “Old passport photo lah”.

Boarding

Our boarding gate today was E2. Headed straight to the gate and security. There was no queue in the gate. My bag which contained laptop and some cables attracted some attention and was passed to and fro through the machine. Meanwhile I passed through the metal detector which beeped and was promptly hand searched by a cold expressionless Malay security officer. For some reason Malays in Singapore always seem to be in bad mood or unhappy with something or both. Finally reached the counter where after checking the boarding pass I was given Immigration form for visa-on-arrival and Customs form for Cambodia. Boarding area was almost full and boarding announcement commenced soon after I sat. Usual announcement about Elites etc and then started for rows 20+, so I headed straight to plane.

Our plane today was 9V-SLB delivered to Silk Air in 1998. Looked good and clean. Smiling FAs welcomed and showed the seat saying “third row from last”. Not much to spot today morning around the plane – only saw 9V-SBC (A320), 9V-SMO (B747) probably to Bangkok at E3, 9V-SMS (747)

Passengers slowly started boarding, some obviously sleepy passengers - connecting passengers having endured overnight flight from faraway lands. From the appearance of it, 60% of passengers were western tourists or NGO/UN officials with remaining being native Cambodians heading back to Cambodia.

Note on Silk Air FAs: They may not be wearing the much hyped attire of their elder kin at SQ, but are as efficient and as helpful as SQ FAs. Very young, polite, smiling and energetic helping the passengers store their bag etc. Their English was better than I expected.

It was 8:40 by the time everyone found space for their bags and settled down. It was a full flight with not a single seat available in economy. Captain Rao with a distinct Indian accent came on the PA at this time to say we are set for pushback at 8:50AM and our flight time would be 2 hours. He also mentioned the flight path we will be taking – after take off we will be heading directly over South China sea, then heading north to Thailand before turning right to descent into Siem Reap. He also said there may be some turbulence for 30 minutes after take off.

At this time two FAs came around with newspapers – one holding Chinese and other Straits Times.

Take-off and in-flight

Pushback was at 8:50AM and we passed 9V-SBD (A320) and after a long taxi and waiting for a SQ777 to land. Took off at 9:05AM. Seat belt sign was off by 9:30AM and most of the passengers were filling up their immigration and customs form. My neighbors in 25B and 25C were a nice elderly Canadian couple who were on a one year trip across Asia and had travelled Iran – India – Nepal – Sri Lanka – Malaysia – Singapore now heading to Cambodia and then on to Laos, Vietnam, Thailand. After confirming that I am Indian (“You know I don’t want to insult a Pakistani by asking him if he is Indian”) both shared their memories of Indian part of their trip.

By now FAs were walking around and came to me and confirmed that I had ordered Asian Vegetarian. Within minutes I received my AVML, probably one of 3-4 special requests. My usual dilemma of “should I eat it hot now or eat it cold later along with neighbors when they receive their food” was solved when the lady insisted that I start eating it when it is hot. Was a wise decision anyway as their food came probably 30 minutes later! My breakfast consisted of bread, mushroom noodles, orange juice. I was not really hungry so just ate a little and covered the food. I believe others had an option of seafood or chicken.

Entertainment was 3 short segments of Mr.Bean. Had seen it all before, so I went through the in-flight magazine but continued reading “Angkor and Khmer Civilization”. FAs came with the duty free stuff, though I was tempted to buy Silk Air A320 model for my collection I did not. I don’t think anyone bought anything from the in-flight Duty Free shop which made me think again that how outdated this concept has become.

Rest of the flight was uneventful and after touching Thailand, pilot announced that we will be starting our descent to Siem Reap. As the view became clear, we were flying over what appeared to be flooded area. September is rainy season and prediction was naturally for rains when I had checked couple of days back. As we descended more, it was an interesting landscape to see. Lot of water everywhere with tall trees in straight lines. Houses built above the ground, so as to protect from flooding were also visible now. Bit of forest as well. By now seat belt sign was on and FAs prepared for arrival by checking seat belts and collecting any remaining cups.

Photo:First peak at Mekong delta/floods



Final approach commenced and with a smooth touchdown we arrived at Siem Reap – Angkor International Airport. It is a small nice airport, with one runway. So after landing taxied back to terminal. Saw two President Air AN-24s (XU-385, could not catch the other reg) parked at remote bay as we taxied back to terminal after passing the fire station. There was also a helicopter – used by Angkor Helicopter Tours (Aerial tour of Angkor complex and other nearyby attractions costs USD 60 onwards, in case you are curious)

Here is a badly taken photo of President Airlines AN24s.Also note the helicopter of Angkor Helicopter tours :



Arrival at Siem Reap – Angkor International Airport

At this time Silk Air was the only plane at the terminal. After taxing to the apron we could see ground staff driving the ladder and connecting it to the door. There were also some workers removing a huge hoarding (later learnt that it was put up as a welcome hoarding for some ASEAN conference). Siem Reap – Angkor International Airport building looked good and well maintained from the outside.

Siem Reap Tower and terminal photo



Finally got down the plane, it was quite humid. At this point passengers who disembarked earlier were taking their photographs with plane as the background. It is not everyday you can be so close to an A320 without someone yelling at you I guess. Airport ground staff were polite to the core and did not interfere with all this “touristy” behavior. Walked towards the terminal building and folks who were continuing to Phnom Penh were asked to go left and others to the right for arrival lounge. I saw may be around 20+ passengers heading left. As you can see Angkor monuments are part of every board or setting in Cambodia. Airport had some nice replicas from the Bayon Temple. Airport logo is that of Angkor Wat of course. And it is said that Cambodia is probably only country whose national flag contains building/monument/temple.

Photo: our plane in the background with replica of Avalokiteswara Bodhisatva in the foreground. As you can see REP airport is very tastefully decorated with these articrafts both inside and outside.



So we entered the arrival lounge. Was quite a zoo with people holding the forms/two copies of photographs and 20 USD for “visa on arrival”. These folks had to stand in a queue and get visa on their passport. Since I already had the visa I turned right and walked to the immigration officers. It was quite a simple setting actually. Four desks with four officers and four helpers. Big fans were blowing cold air. Since most of the arriving pax opted for “visa-on-arrival” I was literally the second passenger from the plane to go to immigration officers.

Photo of Cambodian visa.



Immigration officers dressed nicely but were bureaucratic looking as any other country. I was surprised though when the officer looking at my name, then bowed and said “Namaste”. This was to become a constant theme during my stay in Cambodia where the people warmed up instantly when they came to know that I am an Indian. Angkor Wat is heavily influenced by Hinduism from India and then later by Buddhism, so current day Cambodians (90% Buddhists) have high regards of India since India is birth place of both these. Indian movies also seem to be very popular though they seem to be stuck in 70s as most of the VCDs I saw for sale feautured heroes like Dharmendra, Amitabh Bachan etc.

Officer stamped the passport (Angkor again in the stamp) and I walked to baggage carousel. We could see that bags were still being offloaded from the plane. Siem Reap just has one small baggage carousel. After 5 minutes bags started arriving and my bag was one of the first, so I picked it up and walked to customs, gave my card. Without looking at it the customs officer greeted by giving a Siem Reap city map. There were tons of guides waiting outside holding papers with names of passengers. I walked out to be greeted by my guide and drove straight to the hotel.


You can skip next few paras if geography and history does not interest you

****
Notes on Cambodia

My guide’s first sentence after we exchanged our greetings was “Cambodia is a very poor country and we are still recovering from the war and civil war”. Which is true but I was charmed by Cambodians, though my stay was restricted to the touristy city. Obviously people have gone through a lot so I was very happy to see that tourism is booming big time with tons of five star hotels coming up and infrastructure (road construction - assisted by
funds from Japan) is being improved. Angkor ruins are also going massive cleanup with governments of from France, US, Japan, Germany, India pitching in.

If the relative peace prevails I am willing to bet that Angkor Wat can be as popular as other big tourist attractions in the world. I want to re-iterate that Cambodia is absolutely safe to travel now and dozens of buses ferrying omnipresent Japanese and Korean tourists (complete with guide walking with the “flag” and tourists in identical bright orange cap) is a clear evidence that all is well. I just hope that it does not become a Angkor Disneyland.

Entry to some remote ruins is still banned due to heavy land mines, but the monuments in the main circuit are absolutely safe as Tourist Police are everywhere. (who check if your $20 per day pass or $40 for 3 day or $60 for a week pass are valid). Cambodian government, to prevent corruption has outsourced the fee collection – the private contractor pays fixed yearly amount to government. We saw tourist police everywhere, even at remote ruins – since smuggling of rare carvings is still on.

There are good English/French/Spanish/Russian speaking guides available locally and they have strict guidelines and exams to become a certified guide. September is kinda low season but there were tourists and town was abuzz with a chartered plane from Japan landing on first week of October. Though most of the restaurants are aimed at the backpackers, there are some classy restaurants with good food. You can find all kind of food – French, Italian, Thai, Indian (I found 3, visited one which is run by Pakistani from Rawalpindi – who was very friendly and we chatted about usual cricket, Hindi movies. Food was excellent)

French colonial rule influence is still visible, but it appeared normal people despise them as well as Thais whom they consider as attackers who attacked Khmer culture. And of course Bangkok influence is visible everywhere (read “Massage parlours”).

So if all this description of Cambodia does make you think about traveling to Cambodia, wait – don’t rush to buy Lonely Planet or other guides yet. These books which cost upwards of $20USD at Amazon, Borders etc cost only $2-$3 in Cambodia. Needless to say they are pirated versions, (guide told they call come from Thailand – the forgery capital of the world) but except for some color pictures there is not much difference between the original and the copy!

****

CAMBODIAN AVIATION

There seem to be many players in Cambodian aviation scene. Every retired guerilla or military general starts an airline which lasts for one year and then reinvents itself in some other avatar. Presidents Airlines, Siem Reap Airways, Royal Phnom Penh Airlines are some of the airlines now with regular operations, though their schedule is said to be erratic.

****
RETURN JOURNEY

SIEM REAP to SINGAPORE (via Phnom Penh) / September 21 2004

MI 622
Airbus A320
Plane registration: 9V-SLC
Scheduled Departure: 10:40AM
Actual Departure: 10:50AM
Scheduled Arrival at Phnom Penh: 11:35AM local
Actual Arrival at Phnom Penh: 11:40AM

Scheduled Departure from Phnom Penh: 12:25PM
Actual Departure from Phnom Penh: 12:35PM
Scheduled arrival at Singapore: 3:25 PM
Actual Arrival at Singapore: 3:30PM
Seat: 19A



So after 4 days it was time to return. As mentioned before, the flight to Singapore is via Phnom Penh and the flight number is same for return journey as well.

Left my hotel around 8:45AM after breakfast and after thanking the guide and driver, I took some photos of Siem Reap – Angkor International airport from outside and then walked into the terminal.

Photo - Siem Reap Angkor International Airport



Boarding pass was checked and our check-in bags were X-Rayed right there. There was a TV monitor overhead beaming depature info. Bangkok Airways, Laos Airlines – delayed for 2 hours and Silk Air to Phnom Penh on to Singapore. There was also a branch of a bank and a prominent message with “Departure tax of USD 25 will be accepted only in USD or Cambodian Reals. If you don’t have the cash please take it from the bank”.

Photo - Departure Information. This was right above the X-ray machine



Check-in at Siem Reap

Check-in counters are quite simple numbered 1 to 12. Counters 7 and 8 were Silk Air economy class and 9-10 for Business class. Three agents were helping MI customers. 1-2 was occupied by Bangkok Airways, though there were no passengers but only agents as many of them have already checked in.

Photo - as you can see the check-in counter setup is very simple



No computers at check-in counter and everything was manual/paper based. I presented my passport and ticket to the agent who went through a stack of pre-printed boarding passes and picked up my boarding pass and wrote seat number 18A. I checked in my bag as well and a pre-printed luggage tag with SIN written was tied to the bag.

Departure tax rip-off?

After check-in came the departure tax fiasco. I thought I had already paid it as my ticket showed $43SGD which is $25USD. But the agent said I have to pay at the counter. Even today I am not sure whether I was ripped off or if this is a standard practice. All guides do mention that Cambodia has high departure tax payable only in cash. Anyway I was too lazy to follow-up with Silk Air – afterall it is just $25 bucks. So went to the counter and paid $25, lady at the counter stapled the receipt to my boarding pass. The receipt asks to retain it and “present for inspection any time”) Walked to the security and passed with no problem. Then came immigration and officer stamped it and took the departure card.

Departure lounge is big hall but quite spacious. There is a café with Internet access, duty free shop.

Only other scheduled flights this time was Bangkok Airways – Siem Reap Airways to BKK and Laos Airlines QU522 to Vientianne. QU522 was delayed by 2 hours for “non arrival of the incoming flight”. While Bangkok Airways was XS-PGE. We saw passengers boarding it. There are airline lounges upstairs but I did not see anyone coming or going to it.

Photo: Bangkor Airways - Siem Reap Airways. Poor chap had to wait 15 minutes after pushback at the apron for Silk Air to arrive.



MI622 from Singapore arrived at sharp 10AM. Meanwhile XS-PGE was impatiently waiting for Silk Air to arrive and once the plane arrived he just drove to the runway, turned left and started the take off roll in one single sweep! I won’t blame the pilot as he was held up for more than 15 minutes so that Silk Air can land!

Meanwhile airport workers were just lazing around even after the flight arrived. Very relaxed atmosphere! After the passengers deplaned (looked like a full flight), cleaning crew went in with garbage bags. The transit passengers to Phnom Penh as usual came to the departure gate – may be around 20 of them. Captain – a very tall Chinese did a brisk walk around the plane and walked to the fire station – probably to the rest room.

Photo: Silk Air MI 622 arrives from Singapore. Note the traditional colorful dress of gate agents





Boarding started around 10:30AM. Transit passengers to Phnom Penh were asked to board first. After safety announcement, FO came on PA and announced that we will be flying at 17000 feet and flight would last 40 minutes. Almost 70% of the passengers were Western tourists. Push back was around 10:45AM and flight took off at 10:50AM covering almost whole runway. I could see the Angkor Balloon at the back and I thought I glimpsed Angkor Wat main structure as well.

Ascent was bit bumpy due to the clouds and landscape below was the usual muddy flood water as long as I could see. After seat belt sign came off, FAs sprang to their feet and an announcement was made that due to the short duration of the flight only Orange juice will be served. It was interesting to see that FAs came with second round of Orange juice.

Descent to Phnom Penh started around 11:20AM and it was quite a long descent which enabled us to see many historic looking as well as drab looking buildings one can see in communist ruled capitals. Landed smoothly at 11:40AM. Phnom Penh being the capital has a bigger airport along with air bridges. I saw a Vietnam Airlines 737 (VN-A502), Eva Air (B-17917).

Photo: Phnom Penh International Airport



EVA Air B-17917



Transit at Phnom Penh:

All transit passengers are required to get down here so through an airbridge which smelled funny we entered the terminal. And soon we had to undergo security check again before entering the departure lounge. We were given a transit card and asked to be at the gate 6 at 12:10PM boarding for 12:25PM Departure.

Shady transaction at the Phnom Penh coffee bar:

I walked around different gates and also saw the departure area of the airport from above. There were passengers coming in through security checkpoints and saw a stunning lady walking through the security. She appeared to be one of the French + Cambodian or French + Vietnamese mix. Later I would see the same lady at the coffee shop meeting and handing over an envelope under the table to two shady looking loudly talking Khmers. I distinctly remember her because she was really a beautiful lady and smelled very good when she walked past me while I was photographing the curbside. I saw them later walking separately to a gate where passengers were waiting for China Southern service to Guangzhou. Something was very fishy there. Cambodia is now considered one of important illegal druk trafficking countries, so I am guessing she was a courier.

Photo: Phnom Penh Airport curbside view from departure lounge past security



Duty free shop contained the usual stuff you see everywhere in the world, but the newspaper and book shop had an good collection of books on Cambodia/Angkor. I bought a book here as well as Bangkok Post newspaper. (for the record Cambodia does have an English daily called Cambodia Today, but its weekend edition is published on Saturday – also it appears it is run by Westerners settled in Cambodia who are against the government, so may be that’s why did not see it at the airport). I also saw that our plane being catered by Cambodia Caterers.

Boarding at Phnom Penh: Boarding was announced at 12:10PM and now the transit passengers were given preference, so we walked straight to the bridge after returning the transit card. There were may be bunch of 40 passengers boarding at Phnom Penh. As Cambodia has hundreds of NGOs as well as assortment of UN Agencies and other foreign donor agencies serving all kind of causes, saw some folks dressed in suit complete with tie. It was again a full flight. One person who boarded at Phnom Penh in an ill fitting suit was talking in cell phone and a FA ran to him and asked him to switch it off. Later in Singapore I saw him asking gate information for Paris. During the civil unrest big number of Cambodians have migrated to France and US and I was told those non-resident Cambodians are sending lot of money back now. BTW few years ago there was one Western Union post in whole Cambodia, but now there are hundreds to cater non-resident Cambodians.

We had the same seat, and I saw a China Southern (B-2544) plane landing and arriving next to our gate.



William Hung fatigue

FAs came around with today’s Straits Times as well as Chinese newspapers. One of the main article on Straits Times was “Do cabbies in Singapore talk too much?” while as usual there was an article about William Hung’s performance in Singapore. (he was on a tour of Asia). I never understood why William Hung is such a hero in Singapore where I have seen his “She bangs” playing all the time with aunties doing their “line dance”. At Hong Kong it is as if that song is a national anthem! (when I was there in August at least). If you are irritated with all the publicity he got at US, just go to Singapore to see this craziness! “Life” section of Straits Times carried a write up on him everyday I was there. Some weeks back a satire site in US carried a humorous article about William Hung’s suicide in Vegas and apparently SMS networks were jammed in Singapore by people sharing the message



After safety announcement, Captain came on PA and announced that we will be pushing back soon and that our flight to Singapore will take 1:40 minutes and he expected the ride to be bumpy and cloudy with chances of rain as we near Singapore and we will be landing over Malaysia.

Pushback and takeoff

After pushback we taxied and passed the control tower.



I saw some Bangkok Air/Siem Reap AN32s as well as Royal Phnom Penh Yak-7-100C.

Presidents Air Anotov AN-24

Royal Phnom Penh Airlines - Xian Y-7-100C-1 (XU-071)


Take off was quick and on the other side of passenger terminal were tons of Airforce planes, could not recognize them. Not did I see any activity nor any people near the planes. Sorry for the low quality picture as it was taken during the take off roll.

Photo - Cambodian Airforce - any idea which planes are these?



Soon we were on our way to Singapore, though ascent was bumpy for many minutes. Once the seat belts were turned off, one of the FAs came to me and confirmed my name and verified if I had asked for Asian Vegetarian Meal.

Soon got my AVML before all others – was really tasty and my apprehension that Cambodians can’t cook Vegetarian food was laid to rest for good.

Photo - my Asian Vegetarian Meal - was very tasty!



My friendly Khmer neighbor

Entertainment for our short journey was three short features – Charlie Chaplin, Just for laughs and Discovery channel. The Khmer chap next to me was laughing very loudly watching Charlie Chaplin. We both tried to talk to each other but language barrier was huge, though I think he said “Are you Chinese” to me (this is not the first time someone confused me for Chinese, some Singapore cabbies also thought I am Chinese and were surprised to hear I am Indian – weird as it may sound, living in US for years has made my face wide and eyes small. I am not implying Chinese faces are fat!) and from what I gathered he was heading to Paris to meet his Uncle. By the way he was getting excited about every small plane detail including the folding tray, TV drop down it appeared it was his first flight as well. May be one day we may see him on airliners.net! He got his lunch of fish after 30 minutes or so.

Singaporeans complain too much about SQ

Nothing uneventful and I finished reading Straits Times – and if I remember there was the obligatory complaint against Singapore Airlines by a Singaporean who was writing to say how SQ check-in staff did not allow free-checkin of some 300KGs of humanitarian food and medicine to some country. And how a good samaritan paid the extra luggage fee right at the counter after hearing the story. Sometimes I really do think that Singaporeans criticize SQ too much! By the way, my neighbor knew who is William Hung is, as he laughed uncontrollably at his picture in Straits Times, so he is famous in Cambodia as well I guess.

Straits Times also had this funny cartoon about the recent LCC price wars in Singapore



FAs distributed Singapore immigration forms to all those whose final destination was Singapore. May be only 50% of us took the form. There was a all ladies group of noisy Brit ladies (expats) who made fun of the “Death for drug trafficking” warning on the immigration form.

When we were 300 KMs from Singapore, pilot came on PA to say that we will be starting our descent. It was raining a lot, but that did not shadow the beautiful Malaysian islands below us. The beaches looked really nice with shining golden color sand.

ARRIVAL AT SINGAPORE

Descent was bumpy and after passing through acres of acres of palm trees we landed smoothly at Singapore. It was raining heavily so I think pilot did a good job landing nicely. Some Cambodians unbuckled the seat belt as soon as landing prompting FA to remind everyone that seatbelts should be on till we come to complete stop at the gate. FA also welcomed us to Singapore and asked us to note the warning about drug trafficking on the immigration form. We taxied to E2 and there was not much to see on the way to the gate except one SQ 747. It was 3PM when we were at the gate.

Collected my bags as well as the magazine. At the end of the gate the gate staff were holding connection information for flights to Paris, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chennai.

Went down to immigration which was a breeze – no queue, stamped within a minute and I was on my way to carousel. Singapore must be the only country which I have visited where I have never seen a huge queue at immigration counter. Send them tens of heavies at the same time and still no queue! The most I had to wait had probably 3 persons in front of me. (just a note – on arrival at San Francisco from SQ 002, it took solid 70 minutes before I cleared the immigration – and there were only two heavies at that time. But I recognize the difference that while in Singapore many transit passengers never reach immigration counter, but in US all have to go through it contributing to the delay)

Saw a group of around 40 being rounded up by Singapore Airlines staff near the telephones after the immigration; everyone had some kind of sticker on their shirt – overbooking affect of some flight? Later saw them being lead to hotel transportation section.

Went to baggage claim area – bags appeared after 10 minutes of wait during which an elderly Chinese lady kept staring at me. I smiled but it was not returned. Found the bags to be completely wet unfortunately. Since it was a regular roll-on, despite all the claims of Samsonite being water-proof I did find later that some clothes were wet. And I had only clothes as my luggage and some souveneirs from Cambodia. So walked straight to customs green channel though I was apprehensive that there will be check of baggage for drugs.

Hailed a cab to Bishan. Cabbie was polite – probably read about the Straits Times article, but when I talked (about the heavy rains of course) to him he opened up. And the topic was about the costly eggs. Since Singapore banned import of Malaysian poultry products due to bird flu, egg prices have shot up at Singapore (65 cents). In fact there was a cartoon in Straits Times which showed that air ticket to Phuket is cheaper than egg.

CONCLUSION

Cambodia was definitely a once in a life time trip and I was awed at the Angkor and surrounding areas. Walking through the causeway and seeing the ruins in all its majesty is definitely a moving experience. The faces in Bayon are also something. Silk Air deserves a pat for flying this route and I am happy to note that from winter schedule there is a new turnaround service of Singapore – Siem Reap being introduced. (in addition to the Singapore – Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – Singapore MI622). Silk Air lived up to its promise of good flight experience and as mentioned FAs were polite and enthusiastic. Earlier only options were to fly to Bangkok and then take one of the numerous flights to Cambodia.

From the flight loads, it appeared Silk Air is doing good on this route and one of the FAs later said it is her third time flying to Cambodia and flights are always full. With tourist season at Cambodia opening in October they must be heavily booked already. I asked the same FA about Silk Air’s India routes and she did admit they can be tough – especially the longer Kerala (Tiruvananthapuram TVR , Kochin COK) and Hyderabad HYD – which last 4 hours plus on A320.

****
QUICK NOTES ON SQ 015 (SFO-ICN-SIN) and SQ 002 (SIN-HKG-SFO)

I am too lazy to write a complete report on which is probably my 49th or 50th Pacific crossing on SQ. But SQ as usual lived up to its image with great service. Flights were kinda empty and in economy, passengers had all 3 seats (in case of SQ15 – 9V SVL - 777) and in case of SQ 002 (B747 – 9VSPJ) many 4 middle seaters were available in economy after Hong Kong. Nothing uneventful. On the way back at HKG I was surprised to see 3 British Airways 747 (on Sept 21 evening) together.

On arrival at US, after seeing that I had been to Cambodia I was sent to detailed customs check where the officer checked the bags in and out completely, even tapping the hardcover of my big bag to see if there is any false cover to hide drugs. But all the way he was very funny and polite though he thought Cambodia is somewhere in Africa. I fully expected interrogation as I believe there are memos which asks officers to search all those who have been to Laos – Cambodia – Burma. They have emerged as the new popular route to smuggle drugs. Anyway after checking the bag and seeing only clothes and books like “Know your enemy – Learning about network security threats – The Honeynet project”, “Encrpytion algorithms” and some typical geek magazines I had accumulated in Singapore, he promptly bode me good bye.

****

Hope you have made it till here. If you did, thank you for reading the report and if you have any questions or comments please post it here and I will be glad to answer!



.END














8 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineBritish767 From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2005, 284 posts, RR: 21
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 8 hours ago) and read 18470 times:

Fantastic read!! This actually really encourages me to visit Cambodia!! Was the language a problem in Cambodia?

User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4757 posts, RR: 25
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 18225 times:

Their English was better than I expected.

It is a major surprise for people who aren't familiar with Singapore. I have had people stare at me when I go to US or Australia. Some even gathered courage to ask me "Why do you speak English?"...

But all the way he was very funny and polite though he thought Cambodia is somewhere in Africa.

It's not unusual... When I was in New York, some people I met thought that Singapore was a province in China.

Phew, I have read every single word of your trip report and I was transfixed to every single bit. The pictures helped and enhanced the writing tremendously! No cabin shots?

Just so you know, I start my training as a Silk Air pilot at the end of October so I read this with much interest! In fact, I think this is the first trip report of Silk Air I have ever read on a.net!

Excellent report!

Cheers
Ryan



Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlineBa319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8596 posts, RR: 54
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 4 days 2 hours ago) and read 18214 times:
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What a super report,really enjoyed reading it,love the opening picture!

I think it may be a place for me to visit in the next couple of years,having discovered China earlier this year, a few more visits are required first Smile

Rgds

Mark



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User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 3 days 5 hours ago) and read 17933 times:

"Soon got my AVML before all others – was really tasty and my apprehension that Cambodians can’t cook Vegetarian food was laid to rest for good."

Unfortunately, you can't quite confirm whether Cambodians can cook a mean great tasting VGML yet because the meals you had on this few sectors were actually catered out of SIN. MI doesn't cater any meals out of Cambodia, or Laos for that matter.

But it does prove that SATS catering can produce great VGML  Big grin



There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlineGamps From United States of America, joined Jul 2003, 469 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 19 hours ago) and read 17842 times:

Folks, thanks for the gracious comments.

British767: Language is not a huge issue if you stick to tourist circuits. If you know French that would help - as French is still taught in schools.

Ryanair: Read single word eh. Good luck with your career in Silk Air. Lucky you will get to at least "see" if not experience all those exotic locations Silk Air flies. Too bad they are turn around flights for crew. No cabin shots because I guess I don't feel comfortable taking other passengers photo. My next trip on Silk Air most probably will be to Yangon (tracing the roots - my grandmother fled from Burma in 1940s)

SQ772: Thanks for correcting me. I saw caterers loading stuff at Phnom Penh, so I assumed they loaded lunch there as well. May be they loaded only juice, sugar and other basics etc as they all had Thai/Khmer letters.

For those who emailed about the camera I used - it is a puny Sony Cybershot.



User currently offlineKl808 From United States of America, joined May 1999, 1585 posts, RR: 2
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 17803 times:

Great report. Man I cant wait to go myself to Cambodia.

Ive been to Thailand 8 times, and I always seem to forget about Angkor.

Anyways on my next trip back to SE Asia Ill definetly visit Angkor Wat.

Again, a nice enjoyable trip report.

drew



AMS-LAX-MNL
User currently offlineSQ772 From Singapore, joined Nov 2001, 1792 posts, RR: 5
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 9 hours ago) and read 17739 times:

Gamps, sorry my bad. I couldn't load the pic of your AVML when I posted it last night. I can now, and saw the pic... So it does look like the meals were catered in Cambodia.


There's always a better way to fly...
User currently offlinePe@rson From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 19259 posts, RR: 52
Reply 8, posted (10 years 2 months 3 weeks 2 days 8 hours ago) and read 17752 times:

Great report - enjoyed reading it.

I especially liked those Antonovs... mmm... Big grin

SIN is great for watching the planes - looking forward to returning sometime.



"Everyone writing for the Telegraph knows that the way to grab eyeballs is with Ryanair and/or sex."
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