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Laos and Cambodia (part 2)

 
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stealthpilot
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Joined: 19 Dec 2006
Posts: 2325
Location: BLR, DXB

PostPosted: Sat Dec 05, 2020 8:19 pm    Post subject: Laos and Cambodia (part 2) Reply with quote

Day 6
to Siem Reap


Breakfast was almost the same as yesterday, sadly the noodles got replaced by pancakes. I love pancakes donít get me wrong but the noodles were a better combo. This was a great place to eat breakfast, all part of the hotel. Smallish selection but tasty and sitting outside by the river was great.


More great tag lines (Lao Beer this time)


After breakfast it was a quick 15 mins drive to the airport. Thereís no traffic in Luang Prabang 😃 no traffic lights either.
At check in we were handed a single boarding pass (it was a hopping fight) LPQ-REP, the chap said we get our luggage in REP however we get off the plane in Pakse (PKZ) .... so we needed to put Ďtransit passengerí stickers on our shirts.


Immigration .... the domestic counter where they check your passport was on the left. As I mentioned earlier they both go to the same (single) security check and common waiting area.



26 = Lao Airlines
QV-513
(1040-1400)
LPQ-PKZ-REP
PKZ ó Pakse International Airport
REP ó Siem Reap Intl
ATR-72-500
RDPL-34175



Almost a full flight, 01-C/D for us which was the emergency exit row.
We were all on board by 1020 and airborne by 1030, 10 mins before scheduled departure. Flight time 1:45.
Cambodia immigration and custom forms were handed out when we got to cruise.
Very nice snack, we saw a Joma bakery in town somewhere? Chicken sandwich with lettuce cheese tomatoes and cucumbers (I never understood cucumber in sandwiches 🤷🏼‍♂️) and a chocolate oatmeal cookie. Tea/coffee/sprite/coke/mirinda/water on offer.
Landed at 1210. They announced half an hour on the ground ďtransit passengers are invited to go to the terminal and take all belongingsĒ. Yup definitely time to stretch my legs. Wasn't really an invite tho everyone had to get off. Short walk to the terminal waiting area.


There were no checks or IDing anyones boarding passes when you got off, just an Ďarrivalsí and Ďtransití door being pointed out. We got a plastic/laminated card which said TRANSIT. We entered directly into the departure waiting area and the chaps flying PKZ-REP were already hanging around. There was a vending machine, a toilet and a tiny shop. No cafe or anything.
Exactly 20 minutes later it was time to board. They didnít check our BPs at the gate they just took our Ďtransití plastic cards 😂. The FAs didnít really look at them as well but to be fair they recognised us and said welcome back itís the same seat for you .....
Took off on the opposite runway to which we landed (15).


Trivia .... the worst air accident in Lao was an ATR-72, same airline Lao Airlines from VTE-PKZ. It crashed on approach into Pakse killing all 49 on board.

Anyway back to our flight. I didnít hear how long the flight was, but another drinks run and light snack.
Iím very impressed with this airline! And not only because they had beer on this sector.
The fish burger was surprisingly nice, a fat patty with lettuce and onion. It was a bit dry but the ketchup (mild type) made up for that. The fish patty wasnít super duper but it was good, not too fishy and a very nice + unexpected snack. I don't remember liking or having a fish burger on a flight before? The chocolate muffin was ok.


The guy sat to our left was veggie. The FA remembered he didnít eat the chicken sandwich from the previous sector and apologised multiple times coz he obviously didnít touch the fish burger. She eventually found him 2 dried fruit packets. It's the effort that counts.

Landed 20 mins early, scheduled was 1400. Cambodia is the same time zone as Laos. Biggish terminal, separate VoA desks and eVisa counters. We got our visas online .... was simple filled out the forms uploaded the docs and paid with my credit card online. I think they had the usual Ďonly accept jpgí and Ďwithin this file sizeí etc etc but it was fine. Visas were emailed within 2 days. If you're visiting Lao or Cambodia do the eVisa, no need for the VoA.
Iimmigration took 8-9 minutes and the bags were on the belt when we got there.


- Cambodia was Buddhist and Hindu. Always the 2 big ones but it went back and forth .... depending on the King
- Now itís 85% Buddhist. 10% Muslim and 5% Christian.
- The Cambodian currency is the Riel. They accept USD and Thai Baht as well.
- The capital is Phnom Penh, locals pronounce it Phnom Pin (mountain)
- Language derived from Sanskrit and something else. 23 vowels and 33 consonants. Itís a very difficult language to speak.
- Marriages in Cambodia Ö. the groom works in the brides house for 1 year ..... after that the brides family decides if they want the daughter to marry him Laughing
- The French stayed here for 90 odd years, 1864 to 1953 or something. Most people speak french.

- Cambodia is a lot more developed than Laos.
- Agricultural (mainly rice) and tourism are the big things. Tourism picked up and overtook agriculture this past decade.
- The country was mainly forest in the 1980s. Now forest covers less than 10% due to farmers encroaching and private companies exporting timber.
- Dengue and malaria are the big killers.
- They have a King and Queen, no powers tho the King is mainly a figurehead.
- On paper democracy, you vote for the royal parliament every 4 years. There were 2 big parties (lots of small ones which donít really matter). But not much democratic power and rights. The same PM has ruled since 1980s.
- Corruption is a big problem as you can imagine. The military is the most corrupt.
- PMs family controls everything.

Big roads good condition. 170km from Siem Reap to PNH and the drive takes just 2 hours wows.

Siem Reap changed very quickly. From 40 hotels to over 400+ over the past 15 years. This year tourism got hammered by Covid, but so far only 1 confirmed case in Cambodia. Great time to visit in a way, less Chinese and Korean tourists = less people around.

Our first stop from the airport was the Angkor National Museum. No cameras allowed which included phones. Means ..... I didnít take notes and I canít remember much so sorry 😂. The museum was nice, it was laid out well but you just got bombarded with information. It dealt with the pre Angkor-Angkor and post Angkor Empire period. The sections on Angkor Wat (the Temples) and Angkor Thom (where the King and others lived) were great.
A lot of times and dates and architectural differences etc which are interesting, but wonít stick with me.

After a few hours we checked into hotel Hari Residences and had a little over an hour to relax before dinner and the Apsara dance show.



Dinner was so so. Cambodian food is similar to Thai food but not spicy. In fact practically no spice at all. The crepe was nice, but very mild flavour. Soup .... I'm not a big soup fan (except Thai soups) but this was meh. The fish main course was a mild version (surprise!) of green curry, more coconutty. Again, short on flavour and that kick.


The show itself was also so so. The hand movements signifies flower/this/that, we had a sheet which explained what the movements signified. I was expecting a story (of some sort) but it was 4-5 short performances.

Finished at 2045 and we went to the night market and pub street. This was the most fun night we had on the trip! A lot of bars, we found one with great music. $1 beers Razz Time to call it a night, tomorrow we will be on our feet all day in the hot sun!


The fishies want your dead ...




Day 7
The Angkor Complex


Breakfast was good, a big spread. We filled up since it was going to be a long long day.
It wasn't a long drive to the complex, our first stop was the ticket booth which wasnít crowded. Generally itís packed especially early mornings it can be chaotic. You get a ticket with your picture which is your ID/admit card everywhere.

We started with Angkor Wat (the Temples). Generally people enter Angkor from the west entrance. We started from the east, better for pictures and the crowd.



- Angkor Wat Temple is 7km from the city.
- Original name is Na Khara (Holy City) then Para Vishnuloka.
- It took 37 years to build, 1113-1150 by King Suryavarman. Some parts unfinished.
- 16-18 century completed some more.
- It was originally a Hindu temple dedicated to Vishnu.
- The temple is on their flag. So it must be important.

Most temples open to the east, Angkor faces west. Why? .... here are some theories.
- Maybe because itís for Vishnu who is to the west?
- The Capital at the time (constructed during the 10th century, 200 years earlier) was to the west, so if the King made this facing east he was turning his back on his ancestors?
- Maybe intended as a burial place for the King since they found a sarcophagus but it was empty. Anyway Buddhist/Hindus donít use them.


!!! I apologise if a few pictures are out of place


This complex is surrounded by a moat, 1.5km long x 1.3km across x 200m wide. The moat is man made and was built before the temple. Designed to be fed by the Siem Reap river, also helped transport the stone and sand.



During Pol Pots 3 and a half year of rule 1975-79 the Cambodian population went from 6 down to 3 million. He killed half of his people. He murdered the old + children because too many workers were a strain on the economy. Pol pots army didnít kill people with guns, they used bamboo sticks.
Vietnam helped out at the end (Ďrelivedí Pol Pot) but the Americans didnít help Cambodia because the Vietnamese were helping and Ö. they were the enemy.
Where was I going with this? O ya ...... Pol Pots army cut off the heads of some statues at Angkor and sold what they could.

Angkor was made using sandstone. The entire thing, the wood was for decoration.
It took 1 million workers and 4000 elephants. Half the workers died but they were slaves ..... doesnít matter such was life back then. Huh 🤷🏼‍♂️
12 towers, 9 in the main temple and 3 at the west gate.

Ok ... enough 'info'. Time for pictures.




Apsara (the women) are dancers, maybe concubines. There are 4000 around the temple complex. With 37 hair styles.
Some poor chap had to document that 😜



The snake/dragon/king cobra represented water elements


The corridor at the south gallery ..... 3 levels of sculptures representing heaven earth and hell. Originally had gold leaf.
They believed heaven and hell had 30 something levels 😳




The 'Judgement god' Yama (Yamraj) sitting on a buffalo. 20 hands and 1 head. When someone died they went to him Ö.. and his assistant (note maker) knew what the person had done in his/her life. Yama decided if he was bad or not.

7 Ďnamasteí
God = top
King = on head
Parents = eyes
Teacher = month
Old people = chin
Friends = normal
Young people = stomach

Churching of the ocean = Vishnu? On the turtle (one of his reincarnations)


- All the levels had 3 materials. Sand inside, lava stone in the middle and sandstone outside.
- Most window (balustrades) had 7 pillars.

Used to be a library?



Angkor Thom - the capital city.
When the capital moved in 1432 to Phnom Penh and they burned down a lot of Angkor Thom and the royal palace etc etc.

Bayon (holy father) Temple
at the center .... 1181-1220 built by Jayavarma 7.
- Late 12th century, nearly 100 years after Angkor Wat.
- 54 towers (represented 54 provinces at the time) and 5 gateways.
- Belonged to the Khmer empire.
- Each tower had buddhasís facing 4 cardinal directions and a lotus leaf on top.



The entrance had Lions. There are no lions in Cambodia, the King got the idea from India where the lion represented royalty and strength. So he wanted them.


Some more random history .....
- The Champa region (now Vietnam) was Muslim, Khmer and those guys were fighting.
- Khmer won and the Muslims were driven south to Indonesia/Malaysia etc.

The big wall here shows daily life (different from Angkor wat)


King Jayavarma 7 was Buddhist. King Jaya 8 was Hindu. And Jaya 8 did what they did .... converted a lot of Buddhist temples to Hindu. Many Buddha statues were destroyed.
His rule (Jaya 7) was towards the end of the Khmer empire.


Preah Khan temple (Holy sword)
also built by Jaya 7 just after he built Bayon temple.
The main temple here was dedicated to his father. Different decoration tho. This was a pyramid shape rising up the sky

The entrance bridge over the moat has Atsura on one side and Surak on the other. (god and demon) Ö.. Depicting the churning of the oceans.


2 male guardians. One hand on the chest is respect, the other with a club to protect.
The 2 chariots on top depict Ravan vs Ramaya battle





Drove past a big Shiva temple which wasnít finished. It was struck by lightning so whichever King thought it was a bad omen and stopped construction.
Drove past another huge temple complex which was closed for renovation.
The entire Angkor complex is huggeeee.

Finally. Lunch time! Spring rolls were meh, didnít know what was inside.
Cashew chicken was yum and the fish curry was also good. It was similar to a green curry without vegetables but with spinach. Again the food was bland, some flavour but no spice thatís Cambodian food it was still nice.



Ta prohm Temple.
- The jungle temple. Its restoration was funded by the Indian government.
- Made by Jaya 7 again (5 years after Bayon temple)
- This one was dedicated to his mother.
- We were told no less than 23 times Tomb Raider was filmed here.





Pre Rup Temple (Change the body)
- Built in 947 by King Rajendravarman the 2nd.
- Dedicated to 5 gods, 2 girls = Lakshmi + Parvathi and 3 males = Bhrama + Shiva + Vishnu.
- Hindu temple. But the upper central tower is solely dedicated to Shiva.

Where and why did it get its name Change body?? ..... because this tempke was was used for cremating the royal families and upper class. The brick towers are open to the east only.
After the cremation, to collect the ashes all levels were connected by drainage.



It was a long long long day in the hot sun, we didn't stick around for sunset.
That evening we roamed around the same streets as yesterday, night market + pub street. Had sweet crepes and later on butter chicken. Pub street for drinks but the music was quite crap today (shame .... yesterday was amazing) so we left after an hour. $1.5 for a red bull vokda, $1 for a beer. Plus there were happy hour deals 😁 Stopped for mango sticky rice at a cafe, a fancy one I guess. It was OK, whyíd they add passion fruit?


Wherever you go (food wise) they give change in $USD and Riel. If you need 10,000 back youíll get $2 and 2000 riel.



Day 8
To PNH


Didnít have to rush breakfast this morning. I left soon after eating and R checked out later that afternoon.


Iím doing my KaB routing home (REP-PNH-SIN-KUL-DAC-ZYL-DAC-DXB) , sheís going REP-KUL-DXB.
I booked a Grab to the airport. The app had an option for car $10 or tuk tuk $4 (prices displayed in Riels). It was me and my backpack (suitcases going with R) so I took the TukTuk. Booked the tuk tuk and the guy must have been outside coz it instantly said he was waiting.



28 = Cambodia Airways
KR-802
(1035-1115)
REP-PNH
PNH ó Phnom Penh International Airport
A319
XU-797



So ..... hereís the background to this flight.
Initially my plan was to fly REP-KOS (Sikanhouville) on Cambodia Angkor Air then KOS-PNH on Lanmei. After booking the tickets the second sector (Lanmei) got cancelled 🙄
It didnít take much time to realise there was (suddenly) no other way to get from KOS-PNH (the sole flight that day left before I landed from REP) ..... so I cancelled the first sector and got a refund minus a $42 cancellation fee Shocked

I couldnít download the Ďrefund formí from the Cambodia Angor Air website so I sent them an email and they replied in a day saying we could do the cancellation by email if I agreed to the conditions and stuff. That was relatively hassle free at least. I replied immediately agreeing to the fee, no reply so I sent another email 2 days later and this time they said it was done. My refund would be auto credited back to the CC within 14 days. Goodie.

This whole drama meant I had to settle for a REP-PNH direct flight.

Booking the Cambodia Airways ticket, what an awful painful website 😖
The power of paid google advertising ... when you search Cambodia Air the first few results are Cambodia Angkor Air. Cambodia Airways comes somewhere in the middle.
Anyway their website is shite. You canít search for flights unless you create an account 🙄. Bleddy, and at each step you need to enter that stupid catch phrase thing or verification code.
So I created an account. It took 5 mins to enter all my details then managed to select the flight. Then it took another 5 mins to enter the exact same info under booking details (name passport number phone number email address verification code + how many traffic lights do you see ....) and paid using a credit card.
The flight time on the website at the time of booking said 0935 departure. When I got the email it said 1035 😥. I tried going to manage my booking (donít know why) but that didnít work. Ever. The day before (27th) Google flights was saying KR-802 leaves at 1700 🙈
I got the hotel to call the airline the day before and double check what time it left REP. Their website says their office (phone) is open 0800-1700. Nobody was picking up at 0830 so the hotel said theyíd keep trying. When I got back at 1615 the receptionist said she finally got thru to the airline after a dozen calls but they wouldnít tell her the bloody flight time unless they had my PNR. sheeshhh anyway 8 calls later they picked up and said yes my flight is at 1035. 🙄


Coming back to the trip, the tuk tuk took (yes yes) less than 25 minutes to the airport. Domestic terminal is a separate smaller one. Just a few check in counters (my supposed to be flight to KOS on the right 😶).


I asked for a window seat, got 51-A on this 319. They took away my half litre water bottle at security check o well.
Waiting area, had a handicraft shop + cafe + another shop. I was sitting and waiting by 0930. Maybe 10% of people wearing masks? No real scare about Covid19.


Boarding took over 20 minutes, single gate (short airside walk always there are no aerobridges at REP) it was a full flight. A SilkAir 737 and Cathay Dragon 321 and another something by the international apron. Quick :30 flight time to the capital.


There are many airlines and lots of 320s but only 3 operational commercial airports in (the more developed) Cambodia. Laos has 2 airlines (mainly props) but almost a dozen airports.

Airborne at 1040. At 1053 the PA for descent was made. Landed at 1106. No service at all on this short (146nm) sector cabin crew walked around twice to check seat belts and stuff.


Disembarkation they had 1 bus, which means the second half of us waited a little extra, no big deal I wasnít in a hurry. Got off the aircraft at 1127 out the airport 5 minutes later. Bigger terminal a few aero bridges not much of a view from the bus and a single baggage belt for the domestic arrivals. The food area outside had lots of ATMs and a mix of the usual Burger Kings and pizza places etc. There was free WiFi but very limited range tho, didnít reach 10m out the terminal doors.

Tried to book a Grab and wow what a headache. The pickup point said one thing but no cars showed up. 2 guys cancelled on me (I didnít have to pay any penalty) and to make things worse the WiFi didnít reach the pickup spot so I had to stand 40m away and watch every vehicle which past by.
The app has these nice instructions but whatís the use if the chaps donít come there 🤷🏼‍♂️


After 10 minutes I literally just flagged down a Grab driver and said please take me hehehhee. He said OK pay me the app price, he opened his app it was 14,800 Reil to Hotel Angor International and I hopped in. Only downside was I had to pay cash.

Got to the hotel, it took a while this is a city with traffic! Immediately looked for day tour options. The ones I wanted were all booked or started earlier (most did). There was one at 1330 but it was an outdoor cycling one, nahhh it was toooo hot so I ditched that idea and had a lazy day 😂. Chilled/napped in the afternoon and just walked around the evening. Hotel Angkor International is walking distance from the pub/bar streets and there was lots of food around.
Bubble tea bae?

Playful fellow


Dinner was ok, I just picked a restaurant close by. Really slow service. Pork spring roles (not much filling) and steamed ginger fish with mushrooms in oyster sauce.




Day 9
PNH-SIN then KUL


I booked the ticket from the Singapore airlines website (duh thereís no SilkAir website) and got the confirmation email as SQ-5003. After I checked in online it said MI-601. A small silly thing, they write 2:05 mins flight time as 2:5. Whyyyyy??? Got my window seat and a generous 30kg baggage 🤷🏼‍♂️

No problem with a Grab car pickup from the hotel. Not much traffic as well. Nice airport, spacious and new. Lots of food options post security. Got some spicy prawn dumplings for breakfast.




Silk Air
MI-601
(0935-1240)
PNH-SIN
A320
9V-SLQ



Very nice interiors, legroom seems great. Airy and a very clean brown colour scheme. FAs were friendly, the kiddies across from me got a toy pack thingy. The plane was maybe just over half full .... I paid $160 for this ticket I figured it would be fullish 😜.
They handed out wet towels (packet ones), newspaper (Singapore strait times) and the immigration cards before pushback.
PA from the captain with a flight time of 1:45. The safety video from the drop down screens said welcome aboard this 319 ....
I learnt a lot from the magazine hehehe it says they have an app (SilkairStudio) to stream movies/music etc. I would have downloaded it at the airport if I was organised (means if I knew). Apparently you get soft drinks or a glass of wine complimentary with the meal + ice cream. Yummers 😋😋. No in seat power supply on this aircraft.
Their fleet is only 26 aircraft ... thought it was more. And they hit 37 destinations.
FA gave the options while serving- chicken with fried rice or fish with egg noodles. The tray came with fruit (watermelon and 2 slices of canned peach), sugar/creamer, water, metal cutlery and the meal.
The main was good, not excellent (fish with an ugly pre made looking sweet/sour sauce) but definitely good.
I had some tea (didnít ask for wine but none in sight) ... and .... there ... was no ice cream ☹️
Left 15 early landed 35 mins early, at the gate at 1205.



The next flight (Air Asia X) was from terminal 4, I had to go thru immigration and take the shuttle bus. Very organised and well done a la Singapore.


Air Asia X
D7-679
(1440-1545)
SIN-KUL
A333
9M-XXS



Terminal 4 was completely empty as you can guess but really really nice. My first time there, it was a long walk to G-18 right at the end.
During the boarding announcements they mentioned if you did the auto immigration (which I did) then you can use the auto boarding lane. It was super quick and efficient. I'm surprised that's not the norm. Sooner or later I guess.
Xtra long AirAsia ? But Xtra small registration. She is good looking in a way tho. Must be the aircraft Twisted Evil


3-3-3 seating on a 333 😱😱😱. I knew Ö. but I forgot 😂. Baaahhhh and I was stuck bang in the middle. My first flight after 8 without a window seat. The seat width is narrow but actually not terrible on a short flight, your shoulders and arms are much closer to your neighbour thatís basically the squeeze. Early arrival again, on gate at 1524.


I donít particularly like this terminal KLIA-2. A super long walk, but they have that bridge and you get to see aircrafts below you (thatís the nice part, only seen that in Gatwick?) but the terminal is quite spartan. Low cost ya so spartan is understandable but, for example long corridors and bright at the ends but darker in the middle. Floor and tile with 3 benches every 50m and a pot with a plant. Not a great job with the natural light- that sort of thing.
The plus side = lots and lots of and lots food options 😁😁 on multiple floors. I had my usual bubble tea + beef teppanyaki (19 Ringgit) then went on the hunt for desert. Later on had 2 ĎJapanese croissantsí one custard the other red bean.



My 6 hour stay at the Capsule Container Hotel was from 1730-2330 so I had 1.5 hours to kill. The terminal 2 WiFi (itís free) tries to get you to create an account and some crap so I didnít bother.

I had booked the Ďcapsule stayí online. Options for 3/6/12 hours. At checkin I got a locker key (didnít need it- no luggage) + an access key + badge with check out times + WiFi password + toiletry bag with a towel, water bottle, eye shades, ear plugs and toothbrush/toothpaste. A lot of good useful stuff.
The sleeping area was very comfortable, comfy mattress and 2 pillows + a multi plug charger. There was a little shelf and a tiny fan which was loud but I didnít need it the ac was the right temp.


The sleeping 'capsule' from the outside.


Hereís the toilet/shower. Hot water and they had shampoo/soap dispensers. Technically they covered all the bases the only thing you needed of your own was deodorant.


On checkout I even got a little snack bag. The 6 hour stay cost 108 ringgit or $26. I thought it was great, they should have this setup at ALL airports.

Checked out at 2330 and took the free shuttle to terminal 1. The KL airport website goes on about Ďonly bonafide passengersí and Ďregister for the shuttle busí and what not. All rubbish you just show up and get on you donít need to show the driver a ticket or anything. It wasnít a short drive tho, first the long term car park then change of bus to terminal 1. It took almost 15 minutes.



Day 10
Getting home Ö. last bit KUL-DAC-ZYL-DAC-DXB


US Bangla
BS-314
(0300-0500)
KUL-DAC
DAC ó Dhaka, Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport
737-800
S2-AJD



Super long lines for checkin, snaked around the terminal. US Bangla doesnít offer web checkin. I saw maybe 3 women in line (no solo travellers all part of a family) it was all men with trolleys full of luggage and oversized baggage. Ordinarily I wouldnít bother standing in a long line and would hang around check in towards the end- but I figured better brave it to secure a nice seat. Took almost half an hour but in the end thankfully got a window 😁

Most shops/food joints at the airport are closed at this time, I wasnít surprised half my flights thru KUL have been at odd hours. I had the chocolate milk and snack bars from the capsule and some other snacks in my backpack.


Boarding announcements were only in Bengali. The cabin was pure chaos and overhead bins were full. They started off the safety announcement with a religious prayer. After TO they played a Ďhow to use the lavatoryí video which is not a bad idea IMO. All videos in Bangla then English.
One passenger was taking sneaky pics of an FA (I assume) because the other one yelled at him and all I could make out was ďdelete deleteĒ and they took his phone away 😂
The flight departed more or less on time, flight time 3:40 and no PAs from the pilots.

Lights came on full bright before we reached cruise, food came out shortly after. Only 1 meal choice (technically not a choice ehhhh take it or leave it) I was simply handed a tray with a bottle of water + rice and chicken + a rosogulla. It didnít look like much but tasted nice, then again I was happy to eat desi type food so the rating may be lenient. Different from home carriers where youíll always have a vegetarian option. The drinks cart had sprite and coke bottles but again no options you were just handed a drink. I got sprite 🤷🏼‍♂️ I slept most of the flight, and we were on chocks exactly on time.



Bangladesh Visa on Arrival
Ok so ..... the steps arenít complicated. No online registration, no forms to print out, no photographs to bring. Just exact cash and proof of your outbound ticket + hotel. The email or bookings.com confirmation on your phone is good enough. Itís a confusing process tho, you just go with it.

Thereís a very prominent Visa On Arrival counter as soon as you enter with placards on the tables. Step 1 to 6 all over the place. Step 1 is the middle counter. 2 on the right. 3 on the left. 4-5-6 at another counter. I went to counter 1. The guy said first go to the 'health counter'.
Ok so thatís forgivable this is a new thing, first thing you do is take your health form to a desk and get a pamphlet about CoVid. They just look at the form and hand you this pamphlet and stamp it. However thereís no queue and people cut in and out- itís a complete mess. Itís worse than India, from the airline boarding to the bus to the queues 😶 itís terrible.
Back to counter 1, he gave me a Visa On Arrival form to fill out then counter 2. Donít know what 2 did but he sent me to 4. Counter 4 asked a bunch of questions then asked for my payment slip. Ehhhh? Ok I missed something, what Ďpayment slipí? Stood in another line to pay the visa fee. Itís $50 or £50 or Ä50 😂. Only cash. Iíll pay in USD thank you. But itís 50+ .15% VAT so Ö. $50.075 (Iím not kidding) ahem thatís $51 and no change given. Hmmmmmm.
Back to counter 4. He asks the usual questions how long are you staying whatís your purpose etc etc. Showed him my bookings.com hotel confirmation. He didnít ask for my outbound flight. And that was it, picture + thumb prints and you get a VoA stamp in your passport and exit straight to baggage claim.
The whole process took a little over :30 mins.

The signage around the airport is fine, the airport itself is crap. Typical government run old and badly maintained types. It was a short walk to the domestic terminal, mostly indoors until the last bit. That last bit took 5 minutes and I havenít seen that many mosquitos. In my life Laughing Laughing . I'm laughing now but it was actually appalling, we were surrounded by them. And not 8-9 ..... im talking 60 damn mosquitos. Something stupid like that. The entire entrance to the terminal was swarming with them. It was slightly better once you got inside but still yikes.

A few days ago I searched for the Biman ticket on the website, then I noticed there was a 10% discount if I booked thru the app. Quick download repeat search and booked. The only downside with the app is it doesnít auto fill the details but it was fairly easy. Payment was instant and after everything was done I used the app to select my window seat - not a bad experience.
Few odd things, when you search for a ticket BG sends you an email with the details and even the PNR (but it states clearly Ďnot for travelí) and says you have a few hours to pay. Anyway after you pay you basically get the same email saying reservation confirmed. I know itís for chaps who donít have CCs etc but Ö. there must be a better way.
Great deal at only $34. There was another flight to Sylhet 10 minutes later (BG-607) on a 737. So I chose the Ďearlierí Q-400.

The domestic departure terminal had the 4 airlines (Biman, Novoair, US Bangla, Regent) with 2/3 counters each. You just went to the airline and stood in line. What line?? Over the past 2 hours I already told 5 people to get behind me 😂. Checked in, the guy didnít look at any ID just my phone and asked my name. Then I got my boarding pass. Seat 7-B ..... but I had booked a window seat on the app? The check in guy just shrugged and well that was that. Ok so maybe the app isn't thaaaattt great Smile Turned out ok everyone got 2 seats to themselves in the end.



No real lines at security.
The waiting area is small with only a mithai counter with sweets/coffee/chaat. No mosquitos tho. Miracle.
The departure board didnít show which flight was boarding nor gate numbers. The gate agents just called out the flight and you went. Every now and then one agent would walk up and down the hall calling (shouting) out the flight number (Bengali sometimes in English) and destination. It got really confusing, at one point 3 flights were boarding simultaneously and you had to really keep a ear out.


Bangladesh Biman
BG-403
(0810-0900)
DAC-ZYL
ZYL ó Sylhet, Osmani International
Q400
S2-AJW



2 flights were bus boarding from the same gate.
I hate the line (in)discipline here, but thereís one plus over India ..... you can take tarmac photos 😬


Another PA prayer before departure. No PA from the pilots. Flight time :30 mins and cruising at 15,000 (says my notes .... now how did I know that? Still trying to figure out where I got the cruise altitude). I was right beside the props maybe thatís why it seemed extra loud. And extra vibrationy 😶 the whole seat and armrest was vibrating till cruise.
The pursers saree uniform had 2 stripes on the right shoulder. The mix looked a bit funny.
Went thru their inflight magazine, their fleet size is only 18 aircrafts (??? !!!! ???) and their future destinations (wishlist) are Sydney and Toronto and New York. Also read a very propaganda-ish writeup on the Bangladeshi PM.
Snack was rubbish not worth eating. The puff was mainly bread with a little tasteless chicken filling and a cake which .... well Iím guessing was chocolate coz it was brown.
A small bottle of water came soon after.


Iím convinced turboprops are like the 380, hard to get a smooth touchdown 😊
2 Air Force planes An-32s (??) and the BG 737 that left a few minutes before us from Dhaka.


A short walk to arrivals.


I didnít even leave the terminal, just sat myself down at the departures area (before checkin), charged my phone and did some reading. Couldnít connect to any WiFi (a few networks asked for cell numbers to connect but nothing worked)


Novo Air
VQ-984
(1305-1355)
ZYL-DAC
ATR-72-500
S2-AJL



Using the NOVOAIR website was a different experience, similar to Bimans it offered 10% discount with a code. I couldnít find where to enter the silly promo code on the website so downloaded the app and it was there. After searching for the flight and entering all details my payment wouldnít go thru. 🤷🏼‍♂️ I figured out why after a few minutes 😂, the promo code was only for a certain banks card (I didnít look at the small print)
Restarted the booking without the code and paid with my CC. The trip back to DAC was more expensive at $84. The app was slow but it had the same features/options as Bangladesh Bimans (except Novo didn't have seat selection). Got the same multiple emails pre payment etc etc, downside was the app was slow and I couldnít pick my seat.


1 counter available for check in. International to the right domestic to the left. They opened domestic security check 1:10 mins before and we came thru, no fuss about water bottles and such.
There were only flights to Dhaka. Itís practically the same for all Bangladesh airports, I was looking for some triangular routing or something but everything is hub and spoke from DAC. I didnít find anything connecting the secondary airports directly, if there were they were few and far between.
A Biman 787 just left ...... should have picked that over the Q400.


Boarding was called by row number. Hahahahaha good joke. That was mean 😈. 1 line became 3 and somehow I was the last to board. Seat 1-A emergency exit row, no briefing or anything from the CC. Flight time :35 mins and cruising at 12,000. It seems a tad quieter than the q400 although Im no good at judging that. Besides I was a few rows ahead of the props this time.


Guess they have a flight school here.


Snack box was ..... well have a look. It was literally a butter + single slice of cheese sandwich. At least the crust was cut off ehhh. The cake slice was better than the wannabe chocolate of Biman but still meh.
Their inflight magazine Is called Novoneel, itís 90% in Bengali so couldnít read any of the articles. They have 7 aircraft all ATRs. Their website has pictures or CRJs?? guess those didnít work out.
The route map, pretty much all domestic airlines in Bangladesh have the same system.



Landed back in DAC and I had almost 5 hours to kill. Step 1 was change and brush my teeth. Filthy bathrooms, I had to do a balancing act between my backpack and trying to change. With a wet floor. Sorry if I sound like one of those complaining 'everything is dirty' type foreigners.... but this was worse than my low benchmark which is India. And it's their capital city, not some village train station.
During my gymnastics session Ö.
1. A policeman washed his feet in the sink and left his wet chappal marks everywhere.
2. An airport employee (in his formals) peed and left without washing his hands.
3. Another airport employee came in with his lunch plate and washed it in the sink. At least he used soap 🤷🏼‍♂️
Which chap would you prefer? The agony of choice. The washroom went from filthy to filthier. And wetter.


Emirates
EK-587
(1840-2210)
DAC-DXB
77W
A6-END



Not much to say about DAC airport. It was like the old Indian government run ones.
No centralised security checks they are done at the gates. A few mosquitos snuck inside the aircraft. Blooddyyyyy. I got to 'jump' the line to the gate waiting area coz I was flying J, got a seat with a nice view.


It was a long long day of travelling and I was happy to be going home.


Fitting registration for the flight home tho.
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sabya99
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 28, 2020 8:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both part 1 & 2 are nice photojournalism. Keep on writing!
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PAL@YWG
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PostPosted: Tue Dec 29, 2020 4:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey stealthpilot good to hear from you during these wired times!

When 99% flyers are forcibly tied to their comfy couches at least you showed the courage to chalk out an itinerary that is wholesome to say the least!
Here in North America we are bombarded daily on different platforms not to venture out of our houses. We know flying is your profession but tourist in you never fails to surprise us with sumptuous trips like these.

* For Pol pot anyone who wore a pair of glass was considered an intellectual and hence destined to be killed. There is a nice film called Killing Fields that captured the horrific time.

* You mentioned about lesser Chinese and Korean Tourists were a blessing...just yesterday I was watching a DW documentary about how Cambodia is slowly gobbled up by China!

* Things got spicier once you took us to your KUL- DAC- ZYL- DAC sector.
Prayers before departure, spicy food and filthy DAC...it seems nothing changed from the time I used to use DAC frequently during 1998- 2000.
But I commend that they use Bengali more than we do in West Bengal. Rabindranath Tagore is happily shared by both sides of Bengal.

Keep exploring new vistas and treat us with TRs like this.
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Posts: 2325
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 26, 2021 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks sabya99

PAL@YWG wrote:
When 99% flyers are forcibly tied to their comfy couches at least you showed the courage to chalk out an itinerary that is wholesome to say the least!

This was February and the lockdowns/travel bans hadn't started .... but they were imminent so I had to squeeze this in Wink Razz

We didn't do the Phnom Penh/Pol Pot circuit, next time. But I'll definitely give the movie a watch.
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iah87
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 9:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very interesting read on Ankhor Wat. Would like to visit some time in the future after all this Covid thing dies down.

Also on your brief trip to Bangladesh - I did not know DAC airport was so bad, compared to that Indian airports DEL, BOM, BLR, HYD appear to be far better.
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