The trips with the A380 were fun. The A380 always is. No matter how often I fly her, I still find her fascinating every time. But this next flight I am looking forward to even more I think, because I shall be travelling on little known carrier Cambodia Angkor Air, the airline of the Kingdom of Cambodia. It just all sounds so exotic!
GETTING TO THE AIRPORT
Transport: Metro line 3.
Departs from: Zhoujiang Street station.
Frequency: Every two minutes.
Journey time: Fifty minutes.
Fare: RMB8.- per person for a single journey. Only notes of RMB5 and RMB10 or coins of RMB1 are accepted by the machine.
The Four Seasons Hotel is connected to the metro at Zhoujiang Street station via the IFF building. As you exit the hotel lift on the ground floor, turn right into the IFF, then right again and take the escalators one floor down. Walk through the friendship store until you reach the exit for the metro on the other side of the shop.
Location: Departures are two floors up from the exit from the metro station, row H.
Facilities: Only airport check-in is available.
Counters: There are two counters available for check-in for today’s flight – H22 and H24. There is no separate counter for Business Class passengers.
Guangzhou sees a lot of interesting traffic by the way, two rows further down from where my flight is checking in, I see signs for an Air Madagascar flight to Bangkok and Antananarivo. Ethiopian and Egypt Air also fly here.
From check-in I follow the signs for the A gates, which are the gates for international departures. After customs and security I turn right for immigration. The airport is fairly busy, although I suspect this is what it is always like here. A new terminal is already under construction on the other side of the apron. The immigration officer stamps my passport to leave the People’s Republic and sends me on my way with a friendly wave.
Location: Near gate A112.
Type of Lounge: Premium Lounge contractor lounge that is used by just a few airlines, including Cambodia Angkor Air.
Facilities: There are no toilets or showers in the lounge. Other than that, the lounge does have a few computer work stations and a small selection of hot and cold dishes. Apparently this is just a temporary lounge, though.
Internet: Free airport wifi is available, but you will need a Chinese mobile to receive the password.
Premium Lounges operates two facilities at Guangzhou. The larger one is just a few steps behind immigration. Even though it says so on the lounge invitation, this is not the lounge Cambodia Angkor Air uses. Instead, they use the smaller lounge near gate A112. The place is empty and surprisingly pleasant. The views of the apron are excellent.
Priority Boarding: No.
Boarding for the flight starts on time. There are only two of us in Business Class and judging by how quickly boarding is completed, I think Economy Class is probably not sold out either.
About ten minutes after our scheduled departure time at 13h25, the captain comes on the mike to welcome us aboard. He also informs us that we have an ATC delay and therefore will not be departing from Guangzhou until 15h35, with a delay of more than two hours. We are going to have to wait on board the aircraft.
Quite honestly, I am not really surprised about the delay, given that so far not a single one of my flights to or in China was on time. Eventually though, we depart with a delay of only sixty minutes. By the time we reach Siem Reap, we are only running thirty minutes behind schedule.
Configuration: 2 + 2
Seat: I am sitting on 3A, which is a window seat on the port side of the aircraft. The cabin is in the configuration and branding of Vietnam Airlines, who lease the plane to Cambodia Angkor Air. Only the head covers are Cambodia branded. There are four rows in Business Class, which means a total of sixteen seats. The seat is wide and very comfortable for a flight of only two hours. There is even a foot rest which can be raised quite far up and the recline is decent. But there is something very old school about the seat too: the controls are mechanical rather than electric.
Pitch: No information available.
Width: No information available.
Facilities: Reading lamp, air vent.
Audio and Video: The safety on board instructions are given via the overhead video screens. In Business Class every seat has individual video screens. However, apparently Cambodia Angkor Air does not have an inflight entertainment system.
The service in Business Class is conducted by a charming and very pretty female flight attendant. As soon as I am seated, she welcomes me aboard and asks me what I will be drinking. A short while later she returns with a glass of orange juice and a cold towel. During the delay on the ground she comes to ask me if there is anything else I would like to drink. And I order a sparkling water.
Welcome drink on the ground: Orange juice, then sparkling water.
Towel before the meal: Cold towel served on the ground.
Choice: There are two choices for the main course.
Delivery: Tray service.
Type of meal: Late lunch.
- Mixed salad with Thousand Islands dressing.
- Chicken with rice and vegetables.
- Something that tastes very artificially of mango.
- Bread and butter.
- Tea or coffee.
The meal is interesting, to say the least. The salad tastes of plastic. There is a taste of je ne said quoi that is only amplified by the salad dressing, which is about just as bad as that god awful stuff Lufthansa serve from a jar in First Class. The main course though, is tasty enough, although I am not really a fan of chicken on a plane. The fruit you cannot really go wrong with anyway, but that orange mango thingy…? The meal concludes with a cup of coffee. And then I lean back, read and enjoy the view outside. It is only now that it occurs to me that this is first blue sky I am seeing since I arrived in China. In the cities the pollution is so bad that you rarely see the sun, let along a blue sky.
Eventually we start our descent into Siem Reap. From above the place looks very rural. The nice thing about this small airport is that there are no airbridges, Jay! So I am going to have to trundle along the tarmac and take a few pictures along the way. Oh happy day…!
The terminal is undergoing renovation and the arrivals hall looks very new. In addition to the e-visa I had to apply for ahead of my trip to Cambodia, every visitor must also complete an immigration form before queuing to enter the country. As I enter the terminal building, I am picked up by a gentleman representing my hotel, the Amansara. He escorts me past immigration and asks me to wait while he goes to have my passport stamped. As easy as cutting Swiss cheese…
GETTING INTO TOWN
Transport: This really old vintage Mercedes Benz.
Journey time: The journey to the Amansara takes from the airport takes me right past the temple at Angkor Wat and takes roughly 25 minutes. I think I am going to like it here…