Phnom Penh - Siem Reap
I was faced with 2 options to get to Siem Reap from Phnom Penh. The bus service was cheap but at 6 hours +, I felt it was a waste of a day to travel the short distance. I opted to try out little-known Angkor Air, the Cambodian flag carrier. With a flight time of only 45 minutes, I would arrive just after lunch and have time for a little sightseeing as well. The fare wasn't too bad at just over USD 100 all inclusive.
Angkor Air's website is easy to use and I had no problems purchasing my ticket online with my credit card. With an e-ticket number on hand, my next worry was my connecting flight. I would arrive Phnom Penh from Hong Kong that morning at 10:30am on a separate ticket, giving me 2 hours 20 minutes to connect to Angkor Air. Normally, this would be more than adequate for an international to domestic connection, but if a long delay were to take place, I could miss it entirely without refund.
Luckily, I arrived in Phnom Penh with time to spare for check-in. There were plenty of Western tourists at the check-in counter, and it took a while to get my boarding pass. Security was a breeze as there weren't many flights departing at lunch time. Soon, I went down the escalator to head outside for boarding.
I have never flown the ATR before, so I was not expecting such a tight squeeze in the cabin. My handcarry could not fit into the overhead compartment, so the flight attendant asked me to put it under the seat in front of me. It could barely fit there, still sticking out a little bit in the confined space. 2 flight attendants served today, first handing out a wet towel to cool off.
We took off on-time for the 45 minute flight. The skies were clear but the ascent was fairly turbulent. I wonder if these small aircraft were really that susceptible to even light winds. It didn't seem this bad when I flew in on Dragonair's A320 a few hours earlier. The windows were fairly dirty, so the scenery photos did not come out very well.
We were each served a snack box, which was a nice gesture given such a short flight.
This aircraft is configured in a 2-2 seating arrangement.
The lavatory was located at the rear of the aircraft. It was tidy, but a little cramped. The front end of the cabin is actually the luggage hold, so there was no Business Class or a premium section lavatory.
Soon, the flight deck came on the PA and we started our descent into Siem Reap.
We landed on-time and parked on the tarmac after a short taxi. Like in Phnom Penh, we descended through the rear stairs and walked to the terminal for a quick exit. With no checked baggage, I was out landside within minutes. Flying in Cambodia seems quite relaxing after all!
Thanks to the free hotel shuttle, I was at the hotel in under 20 minutes and fitted in Beng Mealea for the rest of the afternoon.
Siem Reap - Phnom Penh
I originally was not planning to fly Angkor Air back to Phnom Penh, but head direct to KL for a connecting flight on Cathay Pacific home. However, Malaysia Airlines overbooked their Siem Reap - KL flight and they stranded me for a day. They were not able to reroute me after spending 8 hours in their airport office, and since they didn't fly daily to KL from Siem Reap, the next best option they could find, which has to be a oneworld itinerary, was to reroute me via Phnom Penh.
After an eventful day wasted at the airline office, a Malaysia Airlines employee picked me up from the hotel and we headed back to the airport by tuk-tuk. My amended plane ticket was ready and the agent issued it and walked me over to the domestic terminal for the earliest flight back to Phnom Penh.
The domestic terminal is quite barren, as only my flight was departing at that hour. I thought about checking my hand-carry in, recalling the small cramped cabin on the way in. It was a calculated risk since any incidents or lost luggage could mean yet another misconnection. But I took the gamble anyway since I didn't want to try stuffing it under the seat once again.
They really need to revise the hand-carry box. The ATR is really small and the standard size won't fit in the cabin safely.
Security was quick and there was barely a line. The waiting lounge was a bit more crowded with other passengers waiting for my flight. There were 2 shops selling souvenirs and postcards but no stamps. I stood by the window for a bit observing the light action on the domestic side, then noticed the colourful AirAsia plane pass by.
After being stranded for a day, I had a lot of fears in my mind on this long 3-flight trip home. One big one was whether this flight would be cancelled or delayed. That fear was somewhat alleviated when the plane rolled in.
I breathed a sigh of relief when we took off on time for the short flight to Phnom Penh.
Dry season is a great time to visit Cambodia, with wonderful blue skies. Too bad the plane's windows were not clean.
Tonle Sap is a huge lake that lies between Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
As we approached Phnom Penh, I was surprised to find mountains. I thought Cambodia was a flat country.
We landed without incident back on the same tarmac parking spot where I started my journey 4 days earlier. By now, the sun was quite intense and it was hot!
The baggage carousel is inside the terminal after a short walk across the tarmac from the plane. The terminal itself is an open-air design with a small pool. It looks quite cozy and much like airports in other tropical paradises.
Knowing I was very angry with how Malaysia Airlines handled by stranding, the Siem Reap people informed Phnom Penh to send someone to wait for me at the baggage carousel and escort me to their check-in counter, where they processed my check-in immediately like a premium passenger. Not bad.
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