Cambodia / Vietnam 2019 – Trip Report 1

5 September – Melbourne

 

Well, the day is here.  After booking the flights way back in March; after knowing the trip was going to happen probably six months before that; the 5th of September had finally arrived.

And the fact that there is actually a Trip Report 1, means that yes, Lisa’s recovery went as hoped.

We’re going!  Such big a relief…..

Up, early-ish.  Although it was a bit of a struggle.  Combination of last day of work for several weeks, a fourth / first adventure to Vietnam and Cambodia, resulted in one or two too many drinks last night.

Oh well, should help me sleep on the plane tonight….

But first, while Lisa goes off to work, I have a list of stuff to do.  And that list now seems a little longer than it did last night.

A slight hangover, coupled with a lack of sleep, will do that.  But then there’s another feeling tucked away in there as well.

Nervousness.

Really?  Why?  I just don’t understand why…..

I remember I also felt nervous two years ago, and I didn’t understand it then.  Obviously I was in 2014, being the first one and all, but I would have thought I’d be over any of those butterflies by now.

Maybe because there’s a new country this time?  New language, new customs, new currency….???

Perhaps it has something to do with what we’ve had to deal with over the last few weeks?  A nagging thought that maybe we shouldn’t be going.  It’s too soon after the operation, something might crop up while we’re over there, sort of thing???

Is it because I watched too many Air Crash Investigation episodes over the last month?  I remember thinking at the time it probably wasn’t the greatest of ideas….

Anyway, I don’t know why I feel nervous.  All I know is it both surprises, and annoys me.

So, the list ticking off begins.  Lawns get mowed, plants watered, dishes washed, stuff that should have been put away weeks ago, gets tidied up, even a sticking door that only just started sticking, gets fixed.

It all seems to go on forever….

Running out of time, and still suffering from a lack of sleep, I try to have a quick nap.  Absolutely kidding myself; oh the desire for an off/on switch for my brain; I give up after 5 minutes.

Have a quick shower, and then wait for Lisa to come home, while mentally checking that we have everything.

Which I’m convinced we don’t, but for the life of me I can’t think what it is I’m missing.  Of course it’s nothing, but there’s that overthinking thing.

Really need that switch…..

Lisa finally gets home a bit after 3.00pm and we do the final pack.  And what a struggle that is.  One check in bag, and two small carry on backpacks.  But because we have a couple of buses to catch to get to the airport, I come up with what I think is a really smart plan of packing one of the backpacks into the carry on bag.  It will save me having to carry two bags, and because we are travelling light; well, light-ish; it should all work out fine.

Well, eventually it does all work out, but it is a real struggle.  Our new check in bag isn’t as big as I thought it was.  And I am now of the belief that we are not travelling as light as I thought we were.

I’m sure that’s Lisa’s fault….

And in the process of that struggle, as time ticks down, the first argument of the trip.  Great, and we haven’t even left the house yet.

But the argument was only minor compared to breaking the main zip on one of the backpacks.

Aaaargh, really!!??

Are the travel Gods telling us something???

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Just before the argument, the breaking of the zip, and the smart idea that wasn’t……

Quickly find a replacement backpack and we’re ready to walk out the door just after 4.00pm.

“Would you like me to drive you to the bus stop?”, asks the girl who only recently got her car license.

“No thank you, we’ll just walk.  It’ll only take us 10 minutes”, stubborn me says.  I have this thing in my head that wants us to get to Siem Reap without using a car for any part of the trip.  I also want to see how far into the trip we can get before we actually get into a car.

I just can’t give up before we’ve even started….

Lisa, on the other hand, doesn’t quite have the same desire.

Hugs and kisses to the lift offerer, along with final instructions to look after the house, and we begin our short walk.

Even though Lisa is only carrying a backpack, and I the 15kg big bag, I look far happier than she does.

And when a few spots of rain begin to fall, well, that discrepancy in looks becomes even greater.

“Geez, where’s your sense of adventure?”, I ask, in that rather annoying and teasing way that I’m quite good at.

I’ve now made it worse.

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I’m not very popular at the moment….

We get to the bus stop and sit and wait.  Lisa still not looking overly happy, and me now with the belief that my really smart plan of packing the backpack in the big bag, isn’t actually that smart after all.

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Happy-ish Lisa, waiting for the bus.
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Finally on it.  And out of the rain.

Bus finally arrives and we get on.  Next hiccup, Lisa’s touch on / touch off public transport card, called a Myki card, doesn’t work.

**Warning, rant about to begin**

Many years ago, our state, Victoria, decided to go down the path of a ticket-less public transport system.  Now even though there were countless other already proven ticket-less systems around the world, our then State Government decided it could re-invent the wheel.  Billions of dollars later, as well as delay after delay, and glitch after glitch, we ended up with the Myki system.

Anyone who knows me will know of my disdain and disgust at how it has all been put together.  So much so that I refuse to get one.  Instead, I just borrow my son’s if I absolutely need to use public transport.

Anyway, rant over.  Strange how that always happens with me when Myki comes up…..

So…..

Surprisingly, my card worked, and we were soon seated on what was a fairly empty bus.

Which was good, because it gave us plenty of room to sort out our not so good idea bag situation.

Bus trip into the city, on the whole, was rather painless.  Although the amount of traffic due to it being peak hour did slow us down a little.  As well as the fact that the bus kept stopping to pick people up, as well as let people off.  Be so much quicker if they didn’t do that….

Finally into the heart of the city and our stop is the last one.  The bus driver, a lovely and very talkative Chinese man, asks where we are going.  Lisa tells him Cambodia, which he absolutely loved.  We chat briefly, although he did most of the talking, before he drops us a little closer to where we needed to be to get our next bus.

He really was a great guy, and I think his bubbly personality helped to take Lisa’s mind off how much I had pissed her off.

Off the bus, walk down one block, and there it is.  Spencer Street station, now known as Southern Cross station, and signs directing us to SkyBus; the bus that will take us to Avalon airport.

Yep, Tullamarine obviously became too small for Air Asia, so they now fly out of Avalon.

Into the area that is kind of under the railway station and it doesn’t take long to work out where we need to go.

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Not difficult to see the signs on Spencer street.
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Our SkyBus to Avalon.

Onto the bus and we’re on our way at 5.40pm.  But not too far.  Bloody peak hour traffic….

It seems to take ages to get out of the city, mainly because it did, and then we’re finally on the ridiculously busy freeway.  The traffic, while not moving terribly quickly, is at least doing some moving.  Onto the highway that takes you to Geelong, before a detour to Werribee to drop no one off and pick no one up….

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Trying, unsuccessfully, to be arty with the camera while stuck in traffic…

We finally arrive at Avalon International Airport at 6.50pm, which makes it sound rather large and busy.  It’s neither of those things.

Walking into the international terminal, which is also the domestic terminal, and we head up to check in at the Air Asia counter.  Which is next to the Jetstar domestic counter.

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Avalon Airport. The SkyBus couldn’t drop you much closer.

It’s all rather compact and quaint, and reminds me of Changi Airport in Singapore…..

Check in is quick, and for once we actually choose the faster moving queue.

Out of the ‘International Check in’ terminal, and a short walk across to the actual ‘International terminal’ that has security, immigration, and the gates to access the planes.

It’s all pretty quiet and we give the security guys something to do when we walk in.  Bags x-rayed, and then it’s a full body scan where you stand trying to imitate a scarecrow.  All rather easy, and Lisa’s knee didn’t even set the beeper off.  Although her forearm support bandage seemed to be of some concern.

Everyone happy, we then walked a few metres to have our passports electronically scanned and a nice little pre-holiday snap taken.

Through the Duty Free shop, trying not to knock any cheap expensive duty free spirits over with our backpacks, and then out into the departure lounge.  Or shed…..

All very neat and tidy, with plenty of food, drink and shopping options available.

Well, so long as the one duty free shop, and the one café / bar, suits your needs.

Fortunately, it then gets better, as I discover the café / bar sells Coopers Pale Ale.  Nothing else matters now, and it’s almost enough to allow me to forget the price.

But not quite….

A Pale Ale, a glass of wine, and a packet of chips.  $20.

I physically can’t spend that much at Beer Corner in Hanoi in one night.

Seriously.

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Getting close…..

 

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Smiles, despite the price.

I realise I haven’t spoken to the boy since the weekend, so give him a call to practice a little parenting.

Partly to say goodbye, but mainly to ask him to look after the house while we’re away, as well as be nice to his sister.

I think the goodbye got through, but I’m not sure the rest was retained.  Or even heard, for that matter.

Oh well, what I don’t know about isn’t actually happening….

Parenting out of the way, and for the first time today a contented and relaxed feeling washes over me.  I hadn’t actually thought about it until then, but I had spent the whole day getting ready to get to the airport, and then actually getting to the airport, that I hadn’t been able to relax and just enjoy it.

It was the realisation that everything had now been done and it was all now well and truly happening.

I suspect the beers may have played a small part as well, but never the less, it was a nice feeling.

Not sure the mother who was holding her young daughter as she proceeded to empty the entire contents of her stomach all over the departure lounge carpet, was feeling the same contentment as me.

Nor the poor person who had to clean it up.

I just hoped they were going to be at the other end of the plane to us…..

A bit after 9.00pm every person, apart from airport employees, waiting at the gate, were called to begin boarding.

And when I say every person, I mean every person.  There were no other flights after ours for the night.

Out onto the tarmac and we make our way to the thing that will hopefully get us to Kuala Lumpur.  Up some new fan dangled ramp, rather than the usual stairs, which was far more exciting for me than it should have been, and then onto the plane.

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Our plane.  It wasn’t hard to find.
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Yep, that ramp….

We finally find our seats, which are almost as far away from the pointy end as you can be; that’s okay, just means we’ll die last.

When we’d checked in the day before I was allocated seat B, and Lisa seat D, so we knew that we weren’t sitting next to each other.  We were still in the same row, however.

Our Airbus A330 seats were configured 3x3x3, and sure enough, when we got to where we needed to be, I was in the middle of the window seats, while Lisa was in the aisle seat of the middle section.

There was a young guy between us, which neither of us had a problem with, but Lisa wasn’t overly pleased with a young child in the seat next to her on the other side.  Even though the young girl was, at that point, on her best behaviour.

We spent the next few minutes waiting for the plane to fill, as well as mentally shooing people away from the vacant window seat next to me.

Eventually all passengers had boarded; my vacant window seat still vacant; and after a little musical chairs, I ended up in the window seat, the middle seat was now empty, and Lisa ended up in the aisle seat where the young guy had been sitting.  He, very generously, had offered to swap with Lisa.

He seemed happy, Lisa was very happy, and I wondered whether I might have got along better with him over the next eight hours rather than with my wife.

I guess we’ll never know….

Finally got pushed back at 10.00pm, which was 15 minutes after the scheduled flight time; not sure why, we certainly weren’t waiting for any other planes to do their thing; and we were soon in the air.

We were now on our way, and all going well our next stop will be Kuala Lumpur, around 4.30am (Malaysian time) tomorrow morning.

Not really looking forward to seeing how we feel then, after what I suspect will be a fairly sleepless night…..

Cheers,

Scott

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