Friday, 18 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Construction and destruction March 2016

Sihanoukville, Cambodia, March 2016 - Destruction and construction.

Everywhere one looks there's construction on the horizon. Big casinos with smart hotels.
So far these iconic statues of Sihanoukville's past have survived, but for how long! A reminder of the towns heyday's mid 60's to mid 70's - until the murderous Khmer Rouge turned up.
Bulldozing the old road to make a 4 lane highway.
These iconic statues, evidence of the past as evidence of the future moves in!
Destruction, will there be another casino?

Oh, another hotel popping up.
Land preparation.
Now its empty, but just a few months ago this ground was home to several beach-side snack and coconut vendors.
All gone, those vendors with character and enthusiasm tending to the needs of tourisst's and locals.
Little reminders of the past

A good spot for another casino!
Faded and chipped, this iconic 1960's statue at Independence beach.

Not my thing.
Odd place to park a plane!
New highway soon.

And another casino.

Monday, 14 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016, This Life in Cambodia

Getting to Sihanoukville, March 2016.

The Tuk Tuk mafia are waiting, hovering, ready to pounce. Its a game I know well and I'm ready!

From Phnom Penh airport to Sihanoukville is a relatively easy process - there's a shop selling bus tickets near then end of the runway. After trying hard to convince me the only way to get the Sihanoukville bus is to ride into downtown first, and with me refusing to believe it, they give up. Yes, I didn't fall for the lies, well, actually I've done this before so I had some Knowledge. Too Knackered to argue anymore I paid the $5 tuk tuk ride to the Southern end of the runway, to a shop by the big busy roundabout. I guess a hike might have taken about half an hour, but not just after an overnight flight! A desk with a handful of ticket books and the chap there promptly handed me a ticket and demanded $12 all before I had time to ask for the cheapest ticket - a 4$ rise on last time and nobody seems to know when the next bus is, just wait - oh well, this life in Cambodia!

The Chinese are spreading...

The Chinese influence around here in Sihanoukville is plain to see. The proliferation of casinos, land clearance, construction and destruction all part of the Chinese effect, especially between the port and Independence beach. They seem to be grabbing land like there's no tomorrow. The giant Emario complex, practically empty 2 years ago now houses a casino, a shop selling only Chinese food, a gambling shop - even a vets! The once sleepy little beach road from Independence towards the town is now a newly constructed 4 lane highway and as the bulldozers move in so the unofficial beach-side vendors move out! its a shame but was always inevitable as Sihanoukville grows in popularity as a holiday hot spot. Yes, since my last visit almost 2 years ago development has stepped up a gear. Despite all this the actual beach fronts remain largely untouched for now, with plenty of rustic and not so rustic spots to choose from - changes afoot to this life in Cambodia.

More destruction and construction here.

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Expense Account Latest 1st March

Now that I have arrived in Phnom Penh, Cambodia in One piece lets make a quick update to the expense account.

As of the last update the account opens at £975.29

So, as of 1st March 2016:

 Fresh coffee Kathmandu Airport. Actually that's the only item reasonably priced! NPR 280 = £1.87

Air Asia X one way ticket to Kuala Lumpur 4 hours 10 minutes NPR 10150.00 = £66.77

Air Asia X in-flight tea MYR 7 = £1.20

MacDonalds egg roll and fresh coffee but no fresh milk, at Kuala Lumpur airport MYR10 = £1.72

Air Asia one way flight to Phnom Penh 1 hour 30 minutes MYR 53.92 = £9.29

Kathmandu to Phnom Penh, Cambodia totals at £80.85  and as of 1st March 2016 grand trip total stands at £1056.14

Friday, 11 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Kuala Lumpur to Phnom Penh

On the way to Phnom Penh at last....

7 05 am to Phnom Penh is good to go, and just as the sun is about to creep above the horizon. so, for anyone who likes the spectacle of a sunrise from altitude, take the 7.05 Air Asia to Phnom Penh early March. make sure you have a seat on the right side of the plane and just sit back, enjoy the awesome views while sipping a nice cup of tea. And don't forget to grab a few photos!

So now just enjoy these photos..

Early morning at KLIA2
Nice view of the airport

Here comes the sun

Morning has broken

A Cambodian village near Phnom Penh

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Kathmandu to Kuala Lumpur

This could be a problem...

The plane is going to be late by an hour and that makes the connection to Phnom Penh tight. If I have to go through immigration to re-check in and then back through immigration again, well this might be the first time ever of missing a flight! 10 PM as the Air Asia X airbus accelerates along the runway lifting gently off a few seconds later. A sharp right turn to avoid hitting that  hill ahead as the lights of a small village slip by at eye level, or maybe thats an optical illusion! 4 hours and 10 minutes down to Kuala Lumpur with fine weather all the way according to the captain. So, after a cup of Air Asia,s finest plastic tea, time to grab a nap and hope for the best.

4.45 am on the ground at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) and for once the Nepalis are not pushing and shoving their way off the plane - I guess like me they are way to knackered! Thankfully there's some help on the horizon in the shape of a help desk and having walked for what seems like miles this weary passenger hopes its not a mirage! Its real enough and hopefully the friendly looking staff will save the day. The first thing I have to do is check-in on my phone. Next get the 2D barcode sent to my phone and then I can use that to get my boarding pass - what an infallible plan! except it all go's wrong at the second hurdle. The Wifi is so weak at 5.30 am I can't access the barcode, Oh bugger (excuse my French). Back to the  help desk, make a big fuss that their system isn't working and get a boarding pass anyway, and technically they can charge me extra, they don't thankfully - not my fault their Wifi is too slow! So in hindsight I should have checked in and printed a boarding pass in Kathmandu. Now with plenty of time to spare, food is my only thought. Sadly options here at 5.45 am in KLIA2 are somewhat lacking -toast-noodle soup-MacDonald. So, I've ended up with a plastic egg covered in plastic cheese between plastic bread - thats the first and last time this trip I shall be downing gunk like this, but I'm too hungry to worry about it now!

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Destination Sihanoukville, Cambodia

Nice Boarding Pass!
It started with a precarious motorbike ride...

Todays (Monday) plan - fly from Pokhara to Kathmandu to pick up the flight to Kuala Lumpur and if that all works then I should be getting the 7.05 am (Tuesday) to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. If I make it to Phnom Penh in one piece, I should be able to hop on a bus direct to Sihanoukville arriving in town around 2 pm.

The hotel Manager is offering me a lift - on the back of a rather big motorbike.He promises to go slowly and deliver me to to the airport. From past experience its a good idea to empty ones shirt pockets of paper and especially passport! True to his word here I am, intact, at the nice and sweet little airport of Pokhara.

 And the sweet little plane rolls up 30 minutes late - another 20 minutes of deliberation on the tarmac before there are any signs that we might actually get going - not that I'm in any hurry since the KL flight isn't until 9 pm. The plane is old, the windows are dirty, scratched and heavily tinted so any good photos from here are going to be non-existent, how disappointing.  
Mist and cloud obscures the mountains as rhe plane sets course for Kathmandu and a 25 minute journey over the Himalayan foothills. In-flight service consists of a toffee, cotton wool and a  thimble of water - at least its service with a smile!

Simrik Air Beech 1900
 As always getting off the plane and collecting baggage a mere 5 minute bus ride to the dusty little baggage table outside the main terminal. Actually, the baggage cart is towed behind the bus so even before the staff have disconnected the trailer Nepalis are pushing and shoving to be the first - actually I'm the first for a change, being right there on the scene as it were, and with my bag in one piece, nothing missing, no tampering.
No cockpit security

Dirty, scratched and tinted windows
 So, with 6 hours to kill, a stomp to the end of the runway so as to observe the comings and goings of aviation life at Tribhuvan International Airport.
The inflight map

Something of a view!

Saturday, 5 March 2016

Random Jottings Asia 2016 - Cute Monkeys for Dominic

The page is especially created for my little Nephew, Dominic and other little kids around the world who might like to see some monkeys in their natural environment February 2016.

So from Sihanoukville, Cambodia - the monkeys.