Another early start – 5:30 am wakeup call – so we could be ready to leave the hotel at 7 am and be at the airport by 7:30 for our 9:30 flight. We would be leaving from the domestic terminal and wouldn’t have to deal with immigration on the way out. Our flight was scheduled to land in Phnom Penn where we would take a city tour for a couple of hours and then drive 4 hours south to the ship.
There were already two lines at the check in counters when we arrived, each one with about 20 people. At 7:30 am they opened a third line and started to check people in. As before our guide dropped us off at the curb and we went thru the airport on our own. We noticed that when the HAL group arrived they had some tour company people with them the entire way thru the airport, along with the HAL escort from the Shore Excursion staff. When we saw the ship group arrive for our same flight, we felt a little relief as we realized that if our flight was cancelled or delayed the HAL group would be in the same situation, and we would be able to benefit from the ship not leaving as soon as they might otherwise.
- NOTE: Keep in mind, that the ship will have to leave at some point, regardless of who you booked your excursion with as they have to be able to arrive at their next port on time. If you are on a HAL excursion they will bear the expense of getting you to the next port and assist in making those arrangements. Another benefit of HAL tours that helps explain their higher cost is the fact that all HAL tours come with liability insurance. If you are injured you will likely have more options for financial recovery with a HAL tour than otherwise. Even though the fine print on the back of your tour ticket says that “HAL does not assume liability” HAL, understandably, wants to limit their financial exposure using insurance and insuring any passenger, regardless of age and mobility, against all types of risks that may occur on a tour. With a private tour you assume all the risks and can avoid this expense – but assume more personal risk. There are always tradeoffs to consider.
For the first time ever during any airport check in, they asked to weigh my carry-on bag, which was 2.5 KG over the 7.5 KG limit. The agent proceeded to squeeze my bag and apparently made some determination and nothing more was said. They didn’t weigh everyone’s bag in our group, but they did weigh another one that was also over weight and they printed out a tag as if they would require it to be checked, but after a mild protest, the tag was put away and we were all able to proceed to security with our carry-on bags.
The waiting area had a small snack bar, free Wi-Fi and plenty of seats. Our plane was already here so that was one less thing to worry about for now. With only 20 minutes till take off, there wasn’t any move to start boarding and we heard that our flight was delayed for 40 minutes for reasons never explained in English. They did make an announcement in Cambodian, but we couldn’t understand what was said.
We started to board at 9:30 and walking out to the plane parked on the ramp a couple hundred yards away. This flight was on Cambodian Airlines A321. We boarded the plane using two air stairs, forward and aft.
At 10 am we were airborne, 50 minutes late, we were able to makeup sometime in the air and only landed 15 minutes late. After landing and in consultation with our guide, we decided to skip the Phnom Penn tour and go directly to the ship. Phnom Penn was north east of the and we would be going out of our way for a bit and then doubling back. We would probably arrive exactly on time had we continued to Phnom Penn but we decided to give ourselves a little more buffer, plus we were all exhausted and ready to get back on the ship.
Once we were on the main road heading south, we stopped and a VERY local shop selling pastries and other snacks. We may have been the first tourists here in a while and they were quite surprised to see us. They were very friendly but spoke no English. Our guide asked them if they were ready to speak English and they said they didn’t know any. With our guide translating, we quickly got back on the road.
Along the way we noticed a large storefront selling “Spirit Houses”. Spirit Houses are very ornate, decorative enclosures, that run from the size of a large mailbox to a small garden shed. They are placed in front of people’s homes to encourage friendly spirits to take up residence. They cost anywhere from $30 to $400 US with the size of the Spirit House corresponding to the size of the house.
The 120 mile drive to Sihanoukville on the two lane paved road would take 4 ½ hours including time for a 15 minute rest stop. We were only able to drive about 30 miles an hour due to slow traffic. It wasn’t that busy, but that there were a lot of slow moving farm vehicles and others not going very fast for a variety of reasons.
We arrived in Sihanoukville around 3:30 and were able to get a pass thru port security so that our driver could take us directly to the ship and park right by the gangway. There were shuttle busses on the pier for those that wanted to do a bit of last minute shopping in town. A large tent was set up on pier where they were selling local beer, t shirts and other trinkets. A few ladies were giving chair massages for $12 an hour.
After we dropped off our bags in our cabin, we went back to the pier to look at what they were selling and Judy wanted to get a massage. I sat by and read a book on my kindle and enjoyed people watching as the tour busses started to return with tired passengers. We learned later that the HAL overnight tour pressed on to Phnom Penn, saw some sights, and arrived about 6:30 pm, the all aboard time.
Hotel Director Henk Mensink joined our table for dinner tonight. We had a wonderful time as we learned more about his interesting career and background. We discussed the differences between a world cruise and shorter cruises and some of the many challenges he faces day in and day out. Of course we had to pose for the traditional Table 52 “Jazz Hands” photo, Henk provided a humorous twist.
Accordion player Annie Gong provided the entertainment tonight. She was quite good and surprisingly funny with a terrific sense of humor. At one point she played a country song prompting a gentleman in the front row to leap to his feet, dancing along with an impromptu line dance. Annie was born in China and currently lives in New Zealand. The late shows have about 50 to 75 “regulars” and we all try to make a lot of noise to compensate for our smaller numbers.
Tomorrow will be a sea day as we head south once again for Singapore. We had to advance clocks one hour tonight to match Singapore, but with no reason to get up too early, we really didn’t mind.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized