Sunday, December 17, 2006

Day 01 - Pics

Pics from Day 01

We survey our packed flight to Siem Reap from Bangkok.

Sheena has dinner enjoying the Christmas decorations.

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Day 01 - Getting there

Well, we got to the airport fine... despite there being 3 (THREE!!!) inches of snow on the ground to stop us. I was in shorts and it was before 7am and snowing as we waited for the airport bus. It arrived just as I was losing the feeling in my right big toe.

Checking in was no problem but take-off was delayed an hour due to snow making the air traffic slower than usual. We had a couple of hours to kill in Bangkok anyway so we didn't worry about it. Oh... and by the way... we landed in Hong Kong for 30 mins too. Had no idea we were going to do that.

So, we hit Bangkok's new airport late and, waiting for us, was a member of Thai's staff with one of those little buggies. In thirty years of flying I've never been on one and I confess that I've always kind of hankered after it. There's something a little bit rebellious about driving indoors and we were glad of it too because the new airport is modelled on Chesil Beach in Dorset, England. For those of you who don't know Chesil beach it goes on for miles and, being shingle, it's very difficult to get from one end to the other. Thus seems to be the inspiration for this airport.

Interestingly too, the architects took some shortcuts to make this edifice: there are no nice finished ceilings. The guts of the building lie bare for all to see although some parts are covered in grey silk. But with the concrete, metal pipework and grey silk, it does seem a bit like something out of 1984... albeit with more shopping than Big Brother would ever tolerate.

The shopping goes on for miles. I kid you not but it took us 15 mins to walk from the Bangkok Airways check in desk to our gate (and we were legging it) and that was AFTER a ten minute ride on this little golfcart thing... and 20 of those 25 mins were walking past shops and the last five was actual gates for aircraft.

Well we arrived at Gate E2a to find it said "Pnomh Penh" - not Siem Reap as we wanted - and that there was absolutely no one there except us. We were, unbelievably, 50% of the passenger list. The other 50% turned up just as amazed as us and we headed out to the small propellor-driven aircraft.

On the way, we discovered that it wasn't just passengers who have trouble getting from one gate to another at the new airport. "Sorry but I have bad news." said the flight attendant on the bus across the tarmac, "Thai could not bring your bags to us. They will send them tomorrow." We were less than happy with this. We had no clothes!

The fight was short, uneventful and, as we said, almost devoid of passengers. We landed at the small but very nice Siem Reap International Airport shortly after 8pm and were met by Chuot who was to be our driver for the next day.

At the hotel we explained the plight of our bags. They were very sympathetic and gave us two free hotel t-shirts! Couldn't splash in the pool wearing just them though. We splashed in the shower instead and hit the hay.

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