Home » Posts tagged 'Trails of Indochina'

Tag Archives: Trails of Indochina

Hello, Goodbye

Southeast Asia Travel Day Six: Our last morning in Cambodia, breakfast then off to the airport. We were sad to say goodbye to our guide, Jun. He’s a great guy and a terrific guide. One of the best I’ve ever encountered. Jun didn’t just point things out and spout memorized facts. He was genuinely passionate about it. Jun and Peaches from Trails of Indochina really made everything about our three days in Siem Riep perfect.

There was a little drama when we got to the airport. First they were shifting our group from one counter to another and we had to deal with some awfully cranky ticket agents. I think I jinxed us by posting that we had no delays with our previous flights. Our flight from Siem Riep, Cambodia to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam ended up being delayed about two hours.

When it was finally time to board, Michael went through and I got pulled to the side. One of our friends, Mary, was laughing— “What did you do?” Then she and her husband George got pulled too. The laughing stopped. The gate agents moved us from the front of the plane to the back, a row in front of each other.

Once onboard, the woman next to me wanted to switch because her friend was in front of her. It worked out great because then I got to sit with Mary and George. Michael was still at the front of the plane and we were about 30 rows behind. The good news is that we were able to board and exit at the back of the plane and didn’t have to wait for the usual crowded aisles.

When it came time for the safety video, the screen above our heads decided to throw a fit. It kept lowering and raising, opening and closing, over and over. This got Mary and I laughing, though George, who isn’t crazy about flying—was not amused.

The bus ride from the airport was insane. Traffic, amplified by the ridiculous number of motorbikes, made traffic in New York City or Chicago look like driving in a small town. Michael compared it to the swarm that develops when you step on an anthill. It was pretty intense.

Instead of getting to the hotel after 4 PM, we didn’t get in until after 7 PM. We were pretty tired. After checking in, Michael and I just went up to the lounge on the 19th floor, checked out the view and had a snack. We had a full day tour the next day. I think I fell asleep as soon as I hit the sheets.

 

IMG_2653

Ho Chi Minh City at night.

Up, Up and Away

Southeast Asia Travel Day 1 & 2: 35 hours to travel halfway around the world. Even flying business class — it’s a challenge. I don’t know how people who travel internationally on business manage to keep their sanity.

The good news is that none of our flights were delayed. All the airports we used had free WiFi, making the stops go by pretty quickly. There were only small pockets of turbulence once we got out over the Pacific Ocean that came and went throughout the rest of our flights.

IMG_1493We flew Virgin America from Chicago to Los Angeles. (I have to note their use of contemporary music and pink and purple mood lighting for a refreshing take on air travel.) From LA we flew Singapore Airlines to Tokyo in about 12 hours. We had to disembark, go through security again; then get back on the same plane (same seats) about an hour later. The flight crew changed at this point and I was envious that they didn’t have to continue on. By this point, Michael and I were both ready to be done with the flying.

IMG_1502From Tokyo, we continued on Singapore Airlines– for another 7 hours to Singapore. We had a five hour layover at Singapore’s Changi Airport, which has a reputation as one of, if not the best in the world. We spent a chunk of time in the SilverKris Lounge and then did some exploring. Lots of interesting things to see and do at Changi including free movies, a pool, many stores and some beautiful gardens spaced throughout the massive complex.

IMG_1513Our last 2 hour flight was on Silk Airline to Siem Riep, Cambodia. (I barely had time to finish my movie on this one.)

I watched the movies Trainwreck, Magic Mike XXL, The Age of Adeline, Once and The Lucky Stiff. I was especially glad to see the last one since it was recently released but not available yet in our area. It’s based on a small cult musical and was a lot of fun.

Beautiful cloud formation on the last leg of our journey to Siem Riep.

Beautiful cloud formation on the last leg of our journey to Siem Riep.

By the time we reached Siem Riep, Michael and I were both tired, sore and in desperate need of showers. I slept as much as I could during the flights but still felt exhausted and disoriented. Honestly, by that point it didn’t matter if it was breakfast or dinner time or morning or night; I was just completely grateful to be on the ground.

When we left Chicago and it was 37 degrees and when we arrived in Siem Riep  in was humid and about 80 degrees– and climbing.

We were fast-tracked through customs in Siem Riep, where we met Jun, from Trails of Indochina. He escorted us to our vehicle that transported us to our hotel, Raffles Grand Hotel d’Angkor. It turned out that Jun would be our guide during our stay in Cambodia– but more about that later.

All in all, the length of the trip aside, it was a fairly painless process. Sleeping on planes, even in business class is challenging. We both managed to get some decent sleep time in though. The service personnel all along the way were very attentive and extremely nice. We moved through all the security checkpoints quickly and I loved not having to take off my shoes after leaving the United States.

Here are some images from Singapore’s beautiful Changi Airport:

Deserted at 3 AM. Changi Airport.

Deserted at 3 AM. Changi Airport.

 

On November 1st, even Changi Airport is already decorated for Christmas.

On November 1st, even Changi Airport is already decorated for Christmas.

 

A Koi pond in Changi.

A Koi pond in Changi.

 

One of the many gardens in Changi Airport.

One of the many gardens in Changi Airport.

 

Inside the SilverKris lounge at Changi.

Inside the SilverKris lounge at Changi.

 

The Sunflower Garden at Singapore Changi Airport.

The Sunflower Garden at Singapore Changi Airport.

 

Singapore Sunrise.

Singapore Sunrise.