2019年12月12日木曜日

🇯🇵 A Story Of Two Cities For The Christmas Holidays: Festive Surprises & A Whole New World Around Western Japan And Shanghai, Mainland China, In December 2019 (令和元年12月のクリスマス休み: 十八日間西日本・上海市一周) ~ Section 1 🇨🇳

Ladies and Gentlemen, as the major Christmas winter vacation festive season approaches, it is with the greatest pleasure that I take this main opportunity to wish you all a 'Season's Greetings' well in due time! To help brighten your spirits for the coming festive season, I would like to warmly welcome you all to this year's holiday special trip report detailing my long end-of-year winter vacation to western Japan and Shanghai, Mainland China, for the Christmas holidays in December 2019. This new overseas holiday season trip report will consist of eight major sections, for which, this shall be the first major section of the entire report itself.

There will be a total of five major topics, excluding the prologue, that are to be covered in this first major section of this year's festive holiday season trip report. They are mainly the in-bound overnight flight to Shanghai (Pudong), the somewhat long early morning transit flight layover at Shanghai Pudong International Airport, the regional morning flight to Osaka (Kansai) and the mid-afternoon railway trip over to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka. Though I cannot allow any comments for my holiday videos published on YouTube for safety reasons, you may post your user comments and questions in the comment boxes at the end of each trip report section.

Part 1 ~ The Prologue

After returning from my very first year of tertiary university education by the University of Western Australia (UWA) back in November 2019, we spent the rest of the month catching up on some well-earned private time at home. As my younger brother was due to enlist for mandatory National Service (NS) in January 2020, we quickly knew that all forms of major overseas travel would have to take place over the coming Christmas break. We then spent the next couple of weeks deciding where to travel to for the festive holiday season.

It was not that long until the result was eventually released just before early December. Having been to eastern Japan several times for the winter season, we decided to try out for western Japan, as it had been a long time since we had travelled to several places like Kyoto, Osaka and Kobe. On the way back home to Singapore, my mum then decided that we should spend a few days over Christmas in Shanghai, Mainland China, since both my younger brother and I had never set foot into Mainland China before.

This main Christmas break would then mark my 19th overseas trip to Japan, and my very maiden trip to Mainland China. Over the course of the coming weeks, I was excited yet blown away since entering Mainland China for the first time would be like entering a totally different world. Having taken H1 China Studies in English during the course of my GCE 'A' Level examination days, my parents strongly believed that it would be really beneficial for my younger brother and I to visit Mainland China, beginning with Shanghai as they believe it to be a food paradise for them.

In the early hours of the morning on Monday (9 December), I was actively up and about preparing my necessary belongings for the coming trip. To ensure that I was well-rested for the coming overseas holiday trip, I managed to get some sleep the previous afternoon and a rather long nap in the cloudy early morning, eventually getting up slightly past one o' clock in the afternoon to run some final-minute errands. My parents had also arranged for a MaxiCab to take us all to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at around nine o' clock later that night over the weekend.

For the coming in-bound overnight journey to Osaka, we would first fly with China Eastern Airlines on flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong), which would depart from Singapore Changi Airport by 12.25 a.m., and arrive safely at Shanghai Pudong International Airport by around 5.50 a.m. the following morning. At Shanghai Pudong International Airport, we would have a really long morning transit layover duration of 4 hours 10 minutes before catching China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai), which would depart from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at ten o' clock and then arrive at Kansai International Airport at 1.10 p.m. later in the afternoon.

This coming trip would also mark our second time flying with China Eastern Airlines, having first travelled with them in January 2019. Having signed up for Eastern Miles around the same period, we instantly knew that we could also make ample use of our Korean Air SKYPASS rewards points with China Eastern Airlines due to both airlines being major members of SkyTeam. Not only that, this particular major trip over the Christmas holidays would mark our third time visiting two countries in the same vacation time period after December 2013 and March 2014.

As soon as I returned home later that afternoon, I had another shower and changed into a fresh set of clothes before laying out my baggage with the rest of our check-in baggage in the main living room. My housekeeper also prepared some light snacks and hot beverages for us to make sure that we were well-energised for the long winter vacation. Once everything was set out safely in the main living area, we promptly conducted a final thorough check to see that nothing essential for the trip had been left unprepared.

That night, our pre-arranged MaxiCab bound for Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 arrived outside the front main gate of our house by exactly 8.50 p.m.. The MaxiCab driver, who was Malay gentleman, immediately got out and assisted us in loading all of our belongings into the rear boot while we boarded for the coming late night journey to the airport complex. With all of us on board and everything loaded in, we soon departed the compound of our house by nine o' clock sharp for a routine late night road trip of just 20 minutes to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3.

Soon enough, we arrived at the departure and drop-off point at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 securely by around 9.20 p.m.. While my younger brother and I proceeded to get three baggage trolleys, the MaxiCab driver assisted my parents in unloading our bulky baggage from the rear boot of his cab. Once both my parents had paid our fare, we thanked the MaxiCab driver for his services and agreed to contact him before safely returning to Singapore, eventually heading into the departures and check-in lobby.

Walking through the departures and check-in lobby, we finally arrived at the China Eastern Airlines Business Class check-in counters safely at precisely 9.25 p.m.. Loading our bulkier baggage onto the baggage conveyor belts, we got out our relevant vacation documents to facilitate the pre-departure check-in procedure for both China Eastern Airlines flights MU 544 and MU 515 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai). The main pre-departure check-in procedure for both China Eastern Airlines flights MU 544 and MU 515 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai) lasted around five minutes.

China Eastern Airlines (Simplified Chinese: 中国东方航空; Traditional Chinese: 中國東方航空) is one of the three main airlines serving the People's Republic of China (Mainland China). It is the second-largest airline in Mainland China and maintains its two largest and primary hubs located at Shanghai Pudong International Airport and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, with its four main secondary hubs at Beijing Capital International Airport, Kunming Changshui International Airport, Qingdao Liuting International Airport and by Xi'an Xianyang International Airport. Headquartered in the major China Eastern Airlines Building situated in Changning District, Shanghai, the main airline serves a total of 217 destinations situated across Asia, North America and Europe using a large fleet of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing.

The company was estabished on 25 June 1988 shortly after the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) split CAAC Airlines into China's three major airlines, apart from both Air China and China Southern Airlines. Progressing through its development, it became a member of SkyTeam on 21 June 2011, becoming the second Mainland Chinese carrier company to join the alliance after China Southern Airlines, although the former withdrew from SkyTeam on 1 January 2019. Having a subsidiary, Shanghai Airlines (Chinese: 上海航空公司), the airline maintains several mutual codeshare agreements with most fellow SkyTeam carriers via its Eastern Miles frequent-flyer program.

The departures and drop-off point located outside the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Overlooking the older Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 from the departures and drop-off point located outside the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Finally entering the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The departure flight information screens in the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Bypassing the Asiana Airlines check-in counters located in the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Finally arriving at the China Eastern Airlines Business Class check-in counters located in the departures and check-in lobby at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

After completing the major check-in process for China Eastern Airlines flights MU 544 and MU 515 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai) at the China Eastern Airlines Business Class check-in counters situated in the central pre-departure and check-in level at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, we received both our main boarding passes and lounge invitation passes by 9.30 p.m.. The check-in agent informed us that for tonight, China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) would depart by precisely 12.25 a.m. from Gate No. A7, implying that we would be taken over to our aircraft at a remote stand by an airport tarmac shuttle bus.

In view of this nature, passenger boarding would commence by exactly 11.40 p.m., which was approximately 45 minutes before departure itself. With that moment, we thanked the check-in staff agent for her services and headed to the core pre-departure immigration checkpoints with our lighter belongings. To clear the major departure immigration procedures, we immediately made use of the automated thumbprint checkpoints for both Singaporean citizens and Permanent Residents (PRs), permitting us to pass through the procedure in less than approximately five minutes. Soon enough, we were finally in the main transit area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 at 9.35 p.m..

Given that we had plenty of time left before China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong), we immediately decided to proceed up to the SATS Premier Lounge for some late evening refreshments first. With that, we walked through the major transit area and changed to a set of escalators up to the airport lounge mezzanine lobby. The central walk connecting from the departure immigration checkpoints to the SATS Premier Lounge situated in the airline lounge mezzanine level took not more than approximately five minutes late that night.

My Business Class boarding pass for the first sector between Singapore and Shanghai (Pudong)

Walking through the departures and check-in lobby in the direction leading to the departure immigration checkpoints at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Finally entering the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Bypassing several duty-free retail stores in the main transit area on the way to the SATS Premier Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The departure flight information screens in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Approaching take the escalators and elevator connecting to the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Walking through the airline lounge mezzanine level to the SATS Premier Lounge in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Overlooking the main transit area from the airline lounge mezzanine level near the SATS Premier Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge in the airline lounge mezzanine level located in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

After walking through the major transit airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 for not more than approximately five minutes, we finally arrived at the central entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge at 9.40 p.m.. Heading to the main lounge reception counter, a lounge receptionist scanned all of our boarding passes and lounge invitation passes before finally permitting us to enter the lounge. Once we had been positively identified, we secured some seating areas before helping ourselves to some evening refreshments at the self-service refreshment corner.

Since I had some money to change to Japanese yen and Chinese Renminbi, I decided to help myself to some lounge refreshments first before settling my currency exchanges. With that, I went to the self-service refreshment corner and helped myself to a small glass of red wine and a serving bowl of potato soup with croutons. Finishing my major evening refreshments and updating some stuff on my laptop, I finally departed the SATS Premier Lounge briefly at around 10.15 p.m. before transferring to an escalator down to the major transit mall in search of a nearby currency exchange counter.

Soon enough, I arrived at a nearby currency exchange counter situated close to Concourse A safely by 10.20 p.m. Changing A$1,530 and S$110, I received a total of ¥116,000, resulting in my amount of Japanese yen increasing from ¥203,669 to ¥319,669 since I had changed most of my Singapore dollars into Japanese yen in town earlier that day. In preparation for our upcoming stay in Shanghai over Christmas, I also changed S$500 to Chinese Renminbi, thus receiving RMB¥2,500. With all my currency exchanges completed, I took the opportunity to do some night aircraft spotting on the way back to the SATS Premier Lounge.

Passing through the transit concourse, I changed to the escalator leading to the major lounge mezzanine transit area, eventually reaching the entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge by 10.30 p.m.. Securing an open seating area, I immediately headed over to the self-service refreshment corner and helped myself to a can of sugar-free Coca-cola with a glass of ice. I then sat back at the open-air seating area and did some private stuff on my portable laptop while waiting for the appropriate time to proceed to Gate No. A7.

The interior of the SATS Premier Lounge in the airline lounge mezzanine level located in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour shortly after we had entered the lounge

The self-service refreshment corner at the SATS Premier Lounge in the airline lounge mezzanine level located in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour shortly after we had entered the lounge

A glass of red wine and a bowl of potato soup with croutons for myself at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The first view of the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour shortly after we had entered the lounge

Overlooking Gates No. A1 to A5 in Concourse A from the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Planning out the first section of the Christmas break overseas trip report on my blog at the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, using Frutiger LT Std as the main font

Reading "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in iBooks on my portable laptop at the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 while focusing on the chapter where the Weasley children inform Harry that Percy has broken up with the family over allegiance clashes following a tremendous and heated argument with his father

The interior of the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour shortly before I went down to the main transit area to exchange some currencies into Japanese yen and Chinese Renminbi

The main entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 as I begin to make my way down to the main transit area during the late night rush hour

Overlooking the main transit area from the airline lounge mezzanine level at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour on the way down to exchange some currencies into Japanese yen and Chinese Renminbi

Taking the escalator down to the main transit area from the airline lounge mezzanine level at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour on the way to exchange some currencies into Japanese yen and Chinese Renminbi

Walking through the main transit area near Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour on the way to exchange some currencies into Japanese yen and Chinese Renminbi

Finally arriving at a UOB currency exchange counter in the main transit area near Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Bypassing some restaurants and food outlets in the main transit area near Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Stopping at the open-air public relaxation area in the main transit area near Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Overlooking the main airport tarmac at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 late at night

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKL, being serviced at Gate No. A2 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight flight across the South China and East China Sea to eastern Japan as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 638 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKR, being serviced at Gate No. B2 located in Concourse B at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight flight Down Under across the Java Sea and Indian Ocean to the Commonwealth of Australia as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 231 bound for Sydney

Taking the escalators up to the airline lounge mezzanine transit level in the main transit area near Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Overlooking the main transit area near Concourse A from the airline lounge mezzanine level at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour on the way back to the SATS Premier Lounge

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge in the airline lounge mezzanine level located in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge in the airline lounge mezzanine level located in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

A can of sugar-free Coca-cola with a glass of ice for myself at the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

An additional view of the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Part 2 ~ The Flight To Shanghai (Pudong)

Airline: China Eastern Airlines
Flight No.: MU 544
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Changi, Singapore
To: Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG / ZSPD), Shanghai, China
Aircraft: Airbus A330-243
Registration No.: B-5920
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 9A
Date: Tuesday, 10 December 2019

After spending approximately 1 hour 20 minutes of having some late night refreshments and using my portable electronic gadgets in the SATS Premier Lounge situated in the mezzanine transit level at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, the clock was already showing eleven o' clock. Considering that that boarding for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) would be commencing in approximately 35 minutes, I packed my own belongings and departed the SATS Premier Lounge safely for Gate No. A7. My family then agreed to join me at Gate No. A7 a few minutes before boarding, with the entire passage lasting approximately five minutes.

Soon enough, I finally reached the main entrance to the passenger waiting lounges located at Gates No. A1 to A8 at precisely 11.05 p.m., which was in good time for boarding for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) to commence in half an hour. Passing through a simple and rapid security check, I walked down the staircases leading to Gates No. A6 and A7, eventually reaching there safely at 11.15 p.m. sharp. My family then met me in the passenger waiting lounge located at Gates No. A6 and A7 at 11.30 p.m., as promised earlier on. Observing the number of waiting passengers in the main waiting area at Gate No. A7, I could tell that China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) would have a relatively light passenger load tonight.

One final view of the open-air seating area at the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly before I began to make my way to Gate No. A7 located in Concourse A during the late night rush hour

The main entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 as I begin to make my way to Gate No. A7 located in Concourse A during the late night rush hour

Passing through the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the way to Gate No. A7 in Concourse A during the late night rush hour

Bypassing the escalators and elevator connecting to the Silver Kris Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine level in the main transit area at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 on the way to Gate No. A7 in Concourse A during the late night rush hour

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the passenger waiting lounges at Gates No. A1 to A8 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The passenger waiting lounges at Gates No. A1 to A8 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Walking down the staircase leading to the passenger waiting lounges at Gates No. A6 and A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

Finally arriving at the passenger waiting lounges at Gates No. A6 and A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 during the late night rush hour

The passenger waiting lounges at Gates No. A6 and A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 shortly before the first boarding announcements for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) were made

After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting inside the traveller waiting lounges situated at Gates No. A6 & A7 in Concourse A, all the first boarding announcements for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) were finally made by exactly 11.40 p.m.. The Business Class passengers, including people needing priority assistance and the Eastern Miles special club passengers, were called out to board first. At least two airport tarmac shuttle buses were also chartered to transport the passengers to our aircraft parked at a remote aircraft stand.

Given that we were among the first ones being summoned for boarding at Gate No. A7, we all had our passports and boarding passes checked before boarding the first central airport tarmac shuttle bus. Securing a few empty seats, more travellers began to board the two shuttle buses before the bus doors closed at exactly 11.45 p.m. sharp and began transporting us over to our aircraft at a remote aircraft stand. Bypassing several aircraft parked by Gates No. A9 to A21 situated in Concourse A, we soon reached our aircraft parked at Remote Stand No. 462 at 11.50 p.m..

Tonight, China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) would be operated by an Airbus A330-200, registered B-5920 and powered with two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines. B-5920 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines on 12 January 2013 as the 12th Airbus A330-200 and as the 27th Airbus A330 for the entire airline company. The overall major delivery would eventually make the main twin-engine aircraft have a total revenue passenger service age of approximately 6.9 years old today.

Once the remote tarmac shuttle bus doors were opened, we walked up the movable tarmac staircase up to the front aircraft entrance before boarding B-5920 at 11.55 p.m.. At the front aircraft door itself, two flight attendants welcomed us all on board and pointed out the direction to our seats in the rear Business Class cabin. Stowing our own belongings into their respective stowage spaces, we settled down into our allocated Seats No. 9A, 9C, 9D & 9H for the upcoming overnight journey duration of approximately 5 hours 25 minutes over the South China Sea to Shanghai (Pudong).

The flight attendants then went around the aircraft cabin distributing hot towels and pre-departure beverages to all the Business Class travellers. To commence the coming overnight flight to Shanghai (Pudong), I had a pre-departure glass each of water and orange juice. While boarding for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong) near Remote Stand No. 462 was still in progress, I had a look through the dining menus and did some more data editing on my blog to pass the time.

One of the airport tarmac shuttle buses that would soon take us to our aircraft parked at a remote aircraft stand waiting outside Gate No. A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The interior of one of the airport tarmac shuttle buses that would soon take us to our aircraft parked at a remote aircraft stand during the boarding process outside Gate No. A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally departing Gate No. A7 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

About to turn to the enclosed airport tarmac roads located below Gates No. A9 to A21 located in Concourse A Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKI, being serviced at Gate No. A5 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her ultra-long overnight flight across the Indian Ocean and Atlantic Ocean to the United States via the Federal Republic of Germany as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 026 bound for New York (John F. Kennedy) via Frankfurt. This aircraft was notable for being painted in the "SG50" special livery between May 2015 and June 2017 alongside 9V-SKJ in celebration of Singapore's 50th anniversary of independence in August 2015

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKW, being pushed back from Gate No. A10 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her long overnight flight across the Indian Ocean to the United Kingdom as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 322 bound for London (Heathrow)

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner, registered 9V-SCJ, resting at Gate No. A12 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 after arriving from her regional early evening flight across the South China Sea from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 185 from Ho Chi Minh City. She would later be scheduled to have a long overnight flight across the South China Sea and East China Sea to Kyushu, Japan, as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 656 bound for Fukuoka

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A350-941/ULR, registered 9V-SGC, being serviced at Gate No. A13 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for the world's longest non-stop commercial passenger flight across the China Seas and North Pacific Ocean to the United States as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 022 bound for Newark

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-SQN, resting at Gate No. A21 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 after arriving from her regional early evening flight across the South China Sea from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 187 from Hanoi

Travelling away from the main passenger terminal building at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in the direction leading to the airport tarmac roads to the remote aircraft stands

Travelling along the airport tarmac roads leading closer to the remote aircraft stands located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Finally approaching our assigned remote aircraft stand, Remote Stand No. 462, located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Our aircraft for tonight, B-5920, being serviced at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in preparation for her coming routine overnight return flight across the South China Sea back to the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 bound for Shanghai (Pudong)

A view of my seat, 9A, during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Overlooking the main airport tarmac during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The cover pages for the main dining menu and wine and beverage list for the sector between Singapore and Shanghai (Pudong) during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reviewing the main dining menu for the sector between Singapore and Shanghai (Pudong) during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reviewing the wine and beverage list for the sector between Singapore and Shanghai (Pudong) during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

The rear view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

A pre-departure glass each of orange juice and water for myself during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Planning out the first section of the Christmas break overseas trip report on my blog during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Reading "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix" in iBooks on my portable laptop during the boarding process at Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 while focusing on the chapter where Molly Weasley sends Percy a traditional Weasley family sweater over Christmas, only to tear up on Christmas Day itself when she gets a package from Percy sending his sweater back unopened and without a written note due to his ongoing estrangement from the family

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat while awaiting pushback from Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

Awaiting pushback from Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

After the clock struck around 12.20 a.m., all the twinjet doors were securely closed by the cabin crew, and the aircraft pushed away from Remote Stand No. 462 just aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3, approximately five minutes ahead of schedule. As the airline safety briefing information video was being shown across our personal in-flight entertainment video screens, the aircraft began to make its way to its allocated runway for its departure bound for Shanghai (Pudong), also crossing the central East Coast Parkway tarmac viaduct and passing Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 en route.

During the course of the taxi to our assigned major airport runway, a flight attendant came by to my seat to take down my main meal order for the in-flight supper service later on. For the main supper course, I would have the wonton noodles soup with steamed chicken breast and braised vegetables, including a glass of Penfolds Koonunga Hill Shiraz Cabernet red wine for a good accompaniment. To ensure that I would not be hungry before arrival into Shanghai (Pudong), I decided to have my supper after departure, with the flight attendant noting this before returning to her take-off position.

It was not that long before the aircraft finally reached its allocated runway situated near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4. Soon enough, the twin Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines spooled into life, and the aircraft finally took off from Singapore Changi Airport safely by 12.40 a.m. for its routine overnight voyage duration of approximately 4 hours 30 minutes across the South China Sea back to the really modern and lively seaside metropolitan city of Shanghai on the coast of the Yellow Sea. We then ascended further into the pitch black night sky for a routine overnight voyage duration of 4 hours 30 minutes over the South China Sea to the really modern and lively seaside metropolitan city of Shanghai on the coast of the Yellow Sea.

Finally pushing back from Remote Stand No. 462 located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3

About to taxi away from the remote aircraft tarmac stands located aft of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 via the East Coast Parkway tarmac viaduct

The safety briefing information video reminding passengers that on-board smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes and tampering with, disabling or destroying lavatory smoke detectors, is forbidden under the regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)

Making a U-turn near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 via the East Coast Parkway tarmac viaduct

Taxiing past Gates No. A16 to A21 located in Concourse A at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 3 in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 via the East Coast Parkway tarmac viaduct

Crossing the East Coast Parkway tarmac viaduct in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4

Bypassing some remote aircraft tarmac stands located near Concourse F at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4

Taxiing across the stretches of the airport tarmac in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4

A Lufthansa Airbus A350-941, registered D-AIXE, taxiing onto its assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4 in preparation for its long overnight return flight across the Indian Ocean back to the Federal Republic of Germany as Lufthansa flight LH 791 bound for Munich

Turning to our assigned airport runway located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 4

China Eastern Airlines Flight 544 ~ Late Night Departure From Singapore Changi Airport

The lights of Johor, Malaysia, shining brightly below shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

Ascending further into the pitch black night sky across the South China Sea near the Malaysian Peninsula shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

Shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport, an announcement to passengers was made by 12.55 a.m. that though the seatbelt lights were still on, passengers were free to move around the cabin at their leisure. However, as a normal safety precaution, everyone had to have their seatbelts fastened whenever seated. While the flight cabin attendants got up to commence the in-flight service, I got out my portable laptop to do some personal stuff, also requesting a flight attendant for a mug of hot cocoa to help settle in for the night.

With my beverage order accurately recorded, I sat back to do some personal blogging and online private gaming on my laptop. Judging by the relatively dimmed aircraft cabin, I could quickly make out that most of the passengers chose to sleep for most of the flight and have their meals just before arrival into Shanghai Pudong International Airport. Once my cup of hot cocoa had been brought to my seat, I had a good sip of it while surfing my laptop and waiting for the flight attendants to deliver my main supper course.

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat during cruising altitude over the South China Sea near the Malaysian Peninsula between Tioman Island and Kuala Terengganu

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment video screen indicating cruising altitude over the South China Sea near the Malaysian Peninsula between Tioman Island and Kuala Terengganu

A mug of hot cocoa with a packet of mixed nuts for myself to commence the in-flight supper service during cruising altitude over the South China Sea near the Malaysian Peninsula between Tioman Island and Kuala Terengganu

Playing "LEGO Racers" on my portable laptop during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Eastern Malaysia and Vietnam, with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord and stalking the boss of the fifth circuit, Baron von Barron, with three firing rockets in Amazon Adventure Alley (Mirrored Version)

Cruising through the pitch black night sky over the South China Sea between Eastern Malaysia and Vietnam

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment video screen indicating cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Eastern Malaysia and Vietnam

After spending the first part of the flight having some hot cocoa and surfing my own portable laptop, a flight attendant finally reappeared by my seat at precisely 1.50 a.m.. This time, she had my supper tray containing my wonton noodles soup and glass of red wine. With my main course safely delivered to my seat, I immediately tucked into my own night meal. The wonton noodles tasted perfectly moist, with the chicken and mixed vegetables tasted decent for my preferences. Both the soup broth and glass of red wine helped me to keep warm during the course of the flight.

To help balance calories, the croissant, seasonal fruits and blueberry yogurt also helped with the digestion of my supper. After I had finished my major meal, a flight attendant came to clear my meal tray and asked me whether there was anything else I wanted for the rest of the overnight trip. Prior to turning in for the night, I requested for an additional mug of hot cocoa to end off the supper service. With that, the flight attendant soon took down my order and cleared my meal tray before heading back to the galley.

Upon paying a visit to the lavatory, I went back to my seat and found a mug of hot cocoa already waiting for me at the centre seating armrest, courtesy of an in-flight cabin attendant. Settling back into my seat, I quickly got out my laptop to do some personal surfing while enjoying my mug of hot cocoa at the same time. After I had finished my hot cocoa, the in-flight attendant came to collect my used mug, leaving me to recline my seat into a complete lie-flat position and finally getting some sleep at around 2.15 a.m..

My main in-flight supper course: Wonton noodles soup served with steamed chicken breast and braised mixed vegetables

My meal tray shortly after I had finished my main in-flight supper course

A view of my seat, 9A, during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

The rear view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

A warning placard in the lavatory reminding passengers that on-board smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes and tampering with, disabling or destroying lavatory smoke detectors, is forbidden under the regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)

An additional mug of hot cocoa for myself during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

Cruising through the pitch black night sky over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment screen indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Vietnam shortly before I turned in for the night

After getting approximately 2 hours 05 minutes of undisturbed sleep across the South China Sea, I finally woke up at around 4.20 a.m.. By this time, the aircraft was cruising into central Mainland Chinese airspace between Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces. Given that there was plenty of time left before our pre-dawn morning descent cum arrival into Shanghai (Pudong), I went to a nearby vacant lavatory to freshen up and got out my portable laptop to do some personal surfing while having a glass of water to hydrate myself.

While the flight crew attendants got up to commence the pre-arrival meal service, some of the passengers were gradually beginning to wake up. Hot towels were then provided to help the passengers freshen up for the main pre-arrival meal service and before the upcoming pre-dawn early morning descent and arrival into Shanghai (Pudong). Having eaten my meal shortly after departing from Singapore Changi Airport, I simply settled down and surfed through my portable laptop for the remainder of the flight.

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat during cruising altitude between Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces shortly after I had woken up

Cruising through the moon-lit but dark pre-dawn early morning sky between Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces

A view of my seat, 9A, during cruising altitude between Fujian and Zhejiang Provinces

Cruising through the moon-lit but dark pre-dawn early morning sky between the cities of Hangzhou and Jiaxing in Zhejiang Province

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before the aircraft cabin had to be prepared for the descent cum arrival into Shanghai (Pudong)

The city lights of Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, shining below as shortly before the aircraft began to commence its final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

In accordance with the Mainland Chinese Standard Time, an announcement was made by 4.55 a.m. to remind the passengers that the flight would soon be arriving into Shanghai (Pudong). Given that we had less than 20 minutes left prior to our arrival into our connecting airport, we promptly placed our carry-on belongings back into their respective stowage spaces and fastened our seatbelts before the aircraft could commence its one last approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport. The in-flight attendants then went around the aircraft cabin conducting their pre-arrival checks and gathering the used in-flight entertainment headsets at the same time.

The local lights of the suburban districts of Shanghai were shining below us as the aircraft began to make its very final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport. After a routine overnight voyage duration of 4 hours 30 minutes over the South China Sea from the really modern tropical island city-state of the Republic of Singapore located near the main waters of the Johor Straits, we finally touched down into Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 5.10 a.m., approximately 40 minutes ahead of schedule. We then taxied across the large airport tarmac to our assigned remote aircraft stand located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1.

Shanghai Pudong International Airport (Simplified Chinese: 上海浦东国际机场) is a major Chinese international airport complex situated in the Pudong New Area of Shanghai, China. It is the major international entry airport for travellers coming into Shanghai via air travel, one of the core international airports in the Shanghai metropolitan region, the second-busiest airport in Mainland China, the fifth-busiest international airport complex in Asia and the eighth-busiest major airport worldwide, with approximately 74 million passengers passing through the airport in fiscal 2018. The airport currently serves as a primary hub airport for China Eastern Airlines, Juneyao Airlines, Shanghai Airlines and Spring Airlines, and as a large secondary hub for Air China, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

The airport was opened from 1 October 1999, in combination with the 50th National Day of the People's Republic of China (Mainland China), to relieve overcrowding at the older Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, which currently handles domestic flights and limited international flights to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. An additional main airport terminal, Terminal 2, was opened from 26 March 2008 just prior to the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing after a second runway was opened from 17 March 2005. An additional major satellite terminal was also opened from 16 September 2019, and is connected to both Terminals 1 and 2 via an underground intra-airport terminal Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) system.

The airport is directly accessible with the Shanghai Maglev Train (Shanghai Transrapid), which provides high-speed maglev railway access to Longyang Road in an average time of eight minutes and is capable of reaching up to 431 km/h (268 mph). Revenue services function from 6.45 a.m. to 9.40 p.m. daily, with one train service every 15 minutes during main rush peak hours and every 20 minutes during revenue off-peak hours. The Shanghai Metro Line 2 also provides major access to Longyang Road, Lujiazui, East Nanjing Road and Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, thereby making main intra-airport railway travel possible between both airports.

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the pre-arrival announcement into Shanghai Pudong International Airport was made

Cruising over the Baoshan District, Shanghai, as the aircraft begins to make its final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

The lights of the Baoshan District, Shanghai, shining below us as the aircraft begins to make its final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat as the aircraft begins to make its final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Cruising over the Pudong New Area, Shanghai, as the aircraft begins to make its final approach into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

China Eastern Airlines Flight 544 ~ Arrival Into Shanghai Pudong International Airport

About to turn onto the main airport tarmac past the Satellite Terminal building leading to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 shortly after landing

Taxiing past the Satellite Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport on the way to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Taxiing past the assigned remote aircraft stands located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Approaching our assigned remote aircraft stand, Remote Stand No. 208, located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

A Shanghai Airlines Boeing 737-86D, registered B-5315, resting at Remote Stand No. 209 located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Finally docking onto our assigned remote aircraft stand, Remote Stand No. 208, located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after docking onto our assigned remote aircraft stand, Remote Stand No. 208, located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

After taxiing over the central airport tarmac for approximately 10 minutes to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1, we soon docked onto our assigned remote aircraft stand, Remote Stand No. 208, at 5.20 a.m.. Once the 'fasten seatbelt' lights had been switched off, we unbuckled all our seatbelts and retrieved all our belongings from their stowage spaces before the major disembarkation process at Remote Stand No. 208 could commence smoothly. We also conducted a final check around our seats to make sure that nothing had been left behind on board.

In view of our early morning arrival at a remote tarmac stand, at least three major airport shuttle buses would be chartered to transport the passengers securely to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1. The in-flight cabin crew then opened the two front aircraft doors carefully to permit the passengers to disembark from the aircraft. As we disembarked from B-5920 via the second aircraft exit, the flight cabin attendants sincerely thanked us for travelling with China Eastern Airlines and wished us a safe and pleasant onward connecting journey to Osaka (Kansai).

After flying with an airline company on any flight, the airline shall receive an overall holistic score report. If the same flight has a brief stopover at another airport before continuing on to its final destination, the score report shall be issued at the end of the second sector (e.g. if travelling on Singapore Airlines flight SQ 012 from Singapore to Los Angeles via Tokyo (Narita), the company will receive the final report after the second flight sector from Tokyo (Narita) to Los Angeles). This grading system is updated every three to four years due to rising competition levels between major airlines. The entire airline scoring report has five main components, consisting of the seating, in-flight catering, in-flight service, aircraft cleanliness and legroom space.

Each main component weighs 20 points, thereby tallying up to a total of 100 points. To attain an overall pass, an airline must obtain an aggregate overall score of at least 45% or above, implying at least a 'D' grade or higher. Grade 'A+' is a good quality pass whereas Grades 'A' and 'B' are seen as acceptable passes. The lower pass grades, Grades 'C' and 'D', are classified as borderline passes. The lower grades 'E' and 'S' are below major passing grades, with 'U' classified as ungraded, implying that the airline company has failed to meet the pre-requisite for the minimum grade. The purpose of such a system is to determine whether that airline is worth flying on for a particular route.

As of 1 December 2019, the airline grading system for my trips is as follows:

A+: 80% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 70% ~ 79% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 69% (Airline has an acceptable rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has a satisfactory rating and performance)
D: 45% ~ 49% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
E: 35% ~ 44% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
S: 20% ~ 34% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has failed to meet the pre-requisite for the minimum grade)

China Eastern Airlines Flight 544 Score Report

Seating: 16 / 20
In-flight Catering: 14 / 20
In-flight Service: 15 / 20
Aircraft Cleanliness: 16 / 20
Legroom Space: 17 / 20
Total: 78 / 100
Grade: A (Acceptable)

On weighing the score sections, China Eastern Airlines has obtained a final overall score of 78% for the flight route between Singapore and Shanghai (Pudong), which implies that they have obtained an 'A' grade. This voyage was comfortable enough for my own standards as I managed to sleep well for approximately 2 hours 05 minutes. However, the in-flight catering may do with some refinements, since I personally feel that they can have wider varieties of main courses and beverages to choose from, with menus to be updated periodically (i.e. weekly) so as to make way for other main dishes. Apart from that, this was a good effort. Well done, China Eastern Airlines.

Part 3 ~ The Morning Layover At Shanghai Pudong International Airport

After securely disembarking from China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 from Singapore by Remote Stand No. 208, we quickly walked down the boarding staircase onto the airport tarmac. Reaching the base of the movable tarmac staircase, there were some airport tarmac ground staff waiting to direct the passengers to the shuttle buses that would whisk them directly to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1. As part of avoiding airport vehicle capacity constraints, all the Business Class passengers would have their own dedicated shuttle bus.

Walking through the airport tarmac with our belongings, we headed to the golden brown main airport tarmac shuttle bus for Business Class passengers and secured some good seats for the coming trip over to the Main Terminal building situated at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1. Our belongings were also placed in the baggage rack at the front of the shuttle bus. With all the Business Class travellers safely on board the bus, the major bus door was closed, and we finally departed Remote Stand No. 208 at 5.30 a.m. for a really simple and routine morning airport tarmac shuttle bus trip to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1.

Upon safely reaching the main airport tarmac entrance to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 at around 5.35 a.m., we promptly retrieved all our baggage and alighted from the main shuttle bus before transferring to the escalators up to passageway leading to the connecting flight security checkpoints. Soon enough, we finally reached the main international flight connection gates at 5.40 a.m.. As the first transit procedure, we had to scan our boarding passes for the connecting sector and have our facial identities taken before taking an escalator up to the transit security checkpoints.

Clearing the facial identity transit process by around 5.50 a.m., we promptly took the escalator up to the major transit flight security checkpoints, where we quickly got out all our necessary belongings to be checked by the transit security staff. Due to the somewhat high number of transit travellers at this time of the early morning, the major connecting flight security process took approximately 20 minutes. Soon enough, we were finally in the transit area at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 by six o' clock.

I then proceeded to see which gate number China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would depart from later on. According to the major departure flight information screens located in the major airside area, China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would safely depart at ten o' clock from Gate No. 18. Boarding time would commence by exactly 9.15 a.m., which was approximately 45 minutes before the expected time of departure itself.

Given that we had plenty of time left before our connecting flight to Osaka (Kansai), we promptly decided to head upstairs to the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge to have some light refreshments first and a well-earned refreshing transit shower. With that moment, we promptly walked through the main transit area and changed to an escalator up to the airport lounge mezzanine airside lobby situated at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1. The entire walk to the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge took not more than approximately five minutes.

The golden brown China Eastern Airlines Business Class airport tarmac shuttle bus waiting to transport the Business Class passengers to the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 at Remote Stand No. 208

B-5920 resting at Remote Stand No. 208 located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 after arriving from her routine overnight flight across the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 544 from Singapore

Finally departing Remote Stand No. 208 located aft of Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Bypassing Remote Stand No. 210 en route to the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Travelling across the main airport tarmac en route to the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7530, resting at Gate No. 17 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 after arriving from her regional early evening flight across the East China Sea from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 895 from Seoul (Incheon) the previous evening

Finally arriving at the main airport tarmac entrance to the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Finally entering the main transit area of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The departure flight information screens in the main transit area of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Walking through the main transit area in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 during the pre-dawn hours of the early morning

Heading to the escalators connecting to the airline lounge mezzanine transit level in the main transit area of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

After walking across the central transit area to the airport lounge mezzanine level at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge by 6.05 a.m.. Heading to the main reception counter, a lounge staff receptionist had a look through all our boarding passes and local passports before permitting us to enter the lounge. Once we were positively identified, we went into the lower level dining area where we sorted out our belongings.

While my parents and younger brother chose to go upstairs to the lounge's upper level to have a shower first, I decided to stay on the lower main level and have some light refreshments before heading upstairs myself. Once my family had left me to enjoy my time privately, I set up my electronic devices for my own use before heading to the dim sum and noodle bar. At the dim sum and noodle bar, I ordered a bowl of fresh noodle soup with dried tofu, which was quickly placed on a single tray for me, thereby permitting me to have a filling breakfast while surfing through my laptop at the same time.

Upon finishing my bowl of soup noodles for breakfast, I decided to proceed up to the upper level to meet my family at 7.05 a.m., thus finding them at a seating area close to the self-service refreshment counters. While my family went to have a hot shower and run some transit errands, I sat down to look after their belongings. Mid-way through the time, I decided to have a well-earned refreshing shower. Heading to the reception counter with my dad, I informed the receptionist that I was planning to have a shower.

The receptionist then provided me with a pager, which would automatically vibrate when a shower room was available for me. Once the pager vibrated, I returned the pager to the reception counter and was escorted by a lounge attendant to a vacant shower room. Towels were then provided, along with toothpaste and toothbrushes, as part of the transit shower procedure. With the required amenities at my disposal, I quickly went to have a warm transit shower in preparation for the second sector to Osaka (Kansai).

As soon as I had finished having a well-earned shower, I changed back into my attire and proceeded to the four-seater lounge area where my parents were looking after our carry-on belongings. Given that I was feeling really thirsty, I went to one of the major self-service refreshment corners and got myself a single can of Sugar-free Coca-cola with a glass of ice. I then spent the rest of the transit time utilising my portable laptop in the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge until it was time to proceed to Gate No. 18.

The lower level dining area of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning shortly after we had entered the lounge

One of the self-service refreshment corners in the lower level dining area of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 early morning

The dim sum and noodle bar in the lower level dining area of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in early morning

The longitudinal seating tables in the lower level dining area of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

My Business Class boarding pass for the second sector between Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai)

Playing "LEGO Racers" on my portable laptop in the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1, with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord and attacking the boss of the fifth circuit, Baron von Barron, with three firing rockets in Amazon Adventure Alley (Mirrored Version)

A bowl of local Chinese soup noodles with dried tofu for myself in the lower level dining area of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Walking through the lower level dining area in the direction leading to the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

Approaching the escalators leading to the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

Finally arriving at the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

One of the shower rooms in the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

The view of the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 from our seating area in the early morning

The self-service refreshment corner in the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the early morning

A can and glass of sugar-free Coca-cola for myself in the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The view of the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 from our seating area shortly before I departed the lounge for Gate No. 18

Part 4 ~ The Flight To Osaka (Kansai)

Airline: China Eastern Airlines
Flight No.: MU 515
From: Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG / ZSPD), Shanghai, China
To: Osaka, Kansai International Airport (KIX / RJBB), Tajiri, Osaka, Japan
Aircraft: Airbus A330-243
Registration No.: B-5938
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 9A
Date: Tuesday, 10 December 2019

After spending approximately 2 hours 40 minutes of having some morning refreshments and having a well-earned transit shower in the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge situated in the major mezzanine transit airside lobby at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1, the clock was soon showing 8.45 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would be expected to commence securely in half an hour, I packed away my belongings and departed from the airline lounge for Gate No. 18. My family also promised to meet me at Gate No. 18 a few minutes before boarding commenced.

Soon enough, I finally reached the passenger waiting area located at Gate No. 18 by 8.50 a.m., which was in excellent time for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) to commence in 25 minutes. Since there was still some time left before the first boarding announcements by Gate No. 18, I did some morning plane spotting to pass the major waiting time. Both my parents and younger brother then joined me safely at Gate No. 18 at 9.10 a.m. sharp, as agreed. Observing the number of passengers waiting at Gate No. 18, I could make out that China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would have a rather light load today.

Today, China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would be operated by an Airbus A330-200 aircraft, registered B-5938 and powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 jet engines. B-5938 was delivered to China Eastern Airlines from 10 December 2013 as the 17th Airbus A330-200 and as the 32nd Airbus A330 for the entire main airline. The overall delivery would make the main aircraft approximately six years old today, thereby making it one of the middle-aged Airbus A330s in the China Eastern Airlines fleet.

One final view of the upper level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Taking the escalators down to the lower level of the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge located in the airline lounge mezzanine transit level of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Changing to an additional set of escalators from the airline lounge mezzanine transit level to the main transit area in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

About to turn to the main transit passageway leading to Gates No. 17 to 32 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Walking through the main transit area of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in the direction leading to Gates No. 17 to 32

Finally arriving at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Our aircraft for today, B-5938, being serviced at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her upcoming regional morning flight across the East China Sea to western Japan as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

An additional view of B-5938 being serviced at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her upcoming regional morning flight across the East China Sea to western Japan as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7530, taxiing away from Gate No. 17 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her regional early morning return flight across the East China Sea back to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 896 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

An Air France Boeing 777-228/ER, registered F-GSPJ, being serviced at Gate No. 16 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her long morning trans-Siberian return flight back to France as Air France flight AF 117 bound for Paris (Charles de Gaulle)

A Shanghai Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registered B-1112, taxiing to her assigned airport runway located near Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her regional early morning domestic flight down to Guangdong Province as Shanghai Airlines flight FM 9303 bound for Guangzhou

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 shortly before the first boarding announcements for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) were made

After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting at the main traveller holding area by Gate No. 18, the first boarding announcements for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) were made at around 9.15 a.m.. The Business Class passengers, including the Eastern Miles club members and travellers requiring priority assistance, were called out to board first. Given that we were some of the first travellers being summoned for boarding at the main gate, we got out all of our passports and boarding passes to be checked by the boarding gate staff.

Walking across the jet bridge to the front aircraft entrance, we were finally on board B-5938 at 9.20 a.m., which was in excellent time for a ten o' clock departure bound for Osaka (Kansai). At the front airframe door, two flight cabin stewardesses welcomed us on board and pointed out the way to our seats situated in the rear Business Class cabin. Stowing our belongings into their respective storage spaces, we secured into our allocated Seats No. 9A, 9C, 9D & 9H for the regional morning flight of 2 hours 10 minutes over the East China Sea to Osaka (Kansai).

The flight attendants then went through the aircraft cabin distributing hot towels and pre-departure beverages to all the Business Class passengers. To commence this coming regional morning voyage to Osaka (Kansai), I had a pre-departure glass each of orange juice and water. As soon as an in-flight attendant came to ask whether I wanted to have a meal later in the course of the voyage, I decided to have a simple cup of hot milk tea, having eaten breakfast during the connecting flight layover by the No. 36 China Eastern Airlines VIP Lounge. With my drink order recorded, I settled down into my seat while the regular boarding procedure for China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 bound for Osaka (Kansai) at Gate No. 18 was still underway.

A view of my seat, 9A, during the boarding passes at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat during the boarding process at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The cover page for the wine and beverage list for the sector between Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai) during the boarding process at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Reviewing the wine and beverage list for the sector between Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai) during the boarding process at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

A pre-departure glass each of orange juice and water for myself during the boarding process at Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

Awaiting pushback from Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

After the clock struck around 9.45 a.m., both the aircraft doors were securely closed, and the aircraft finally pushed away from Gate No. 18 situated in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1, approximately 15 minutes ahead of schedule. With the major safety briefing demonstration video being shown on all our front video screens, the aircraft began to make its way to its allocated runway in preparation for its morning departure to Osaka (Kansai), taxiing past several aircraft parked by the large Satellite Terminal and Terminal 2 en route. The main passageway connecting to our assigned runway took not more than approximately 20 minutes.

It was not that long until the aircraft reached its assigned runway located close to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2. Soon enough, both the two main Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines spooled into action, and the aircraft lifted off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport at exactly 10.05 a.m. sharp for its routine morning flight of approximately 1 hour 40 minutes over the East China Sea to the main hustle and bustle of Osaka situated in the heart of the Keihanshin metropolitan region in the western part of the State of Japan. We eventually ascended into the very clear winter morning sky for a routine morning flight of approximately 1 hour 40 minutes over the East China Sea to the large hustle and bustle of Osaka located in the centre of the Keihanshin metropolitan region in the western part of Japan.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. 18 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1

The safety briefing information video reminding passengers that on-board smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes and tampering with, disabling or destroying lavatory smoke detectors, is forbidden under the regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)

A China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-243, registered B-5941, resting at Gate No. 19 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 after arriving from her long overnight trans-Siberian flight from the United Kingdom as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 202 from London (Gatwick)

A China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-243, registered B-5930, being serviced at Gate No. 20 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her long non-stop early afternoon transpacific flight across the North Pacific Ocean to Canada as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 581 bound for Vancouver

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 777-39P/ER, registered B-2022, being serviced at Gate No. 23 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her long early afternoon non-stop transpacific flight across the North Pacific Ocean to the United States as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 581 bound for San Francisco

A China Eastern Airlines Boeing 777-39P/ER, registered B-2025, being serviced at Gate No. 24 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 1 in preparation for her long non-stop early afternoon transpacific flight across the North Pacific Ocean to Canada as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 581 bound for Toronto

Taxiing across the wide airport tarmac viaduct at a remote aircraft tarmac over the S1 Yingbin Expressway at Shanghai Pudong International Airport

An Air China Airbus A350-941, registered B-307C, resting at a remote aircraft tarmac stand located aft of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2

Taxiing past Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in the direction leading to our assigned airport runway

A Juneyao Airlines Airbus A320-214, registered B-6736, taxiing to her assigned airport runway from Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her delayed regional domestic flight to Shandong Province as Juneyao Airlines flight HO 1173 bound for Dongying

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-8 Dreamliner, registered JA838A, being serviced at a remote aircraft tarmac stand located aft of the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her regional morning return flight across the East China Sea back to eastern Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 922 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

A United Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registered N26960, about to be towed to Gate No. D85 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her long non-stop early afternoon transpacific return flight across the North Pacific Ocean back to the United States as United Airlines flight UA 858 bound for San Francisco

A British Airways Boeing 777-236/ER, registered G-YMMP, being serviced at Gate No. D75 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her long early afternoon trans-Siberian return flight back to the United Kingdom as British Airways flight BA 168 bound for London (Heathrow)

An Austrian Airlines Boeing 777-2Q8/ER, registered OE-LPE, being serviced at Gate No. D67 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her long early afternoon trans-Siberian return flight back to the Republic of Austria as Austrian Airlines flight OS 076 bound for Vienna

An Air New Zealand Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner, registered ZK-NZI, about to be serviced at Gate No. D63 located in the Main Terminal building at Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her long mid-afternoon return flight Down Under back to New Zealand as Air New Zealand flight NZ 288 bound for Auckland

Making a turn our assigned airport runway located close to Shanghai Pudong International Airport Terminal 2

China Eastern Airlines Flight 515 ~ Departing From Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Climbing into the clear winter morning sky shortly after taking off Shanghai Pudong International Airport

Cruising over the Yellow Sea near the Pudong New Area, Shanghai, shortly after taking off Shanghai Pudong International Airport

The 'fasten seatbelt' signs were switched off at 10.25 a.m., approximately 20 minutes after taking off from Shanghai Pudong International Airport. While the flight attendants got up to commence the in-flight service, I went to the lavatories and got out my portable laptop for my personal gaming purposes for the flight. Though the passengers were free to move around the aircraft cabin at their leisure, everyone had to have their seatbelts securely fastened whenever seated as a standard safety precaution.

Soon enough, a flight attendant appeared at my seat by exactly 10.35 a.m. and gave out a packet of mixed nuts to me as a light snack. My cup of hot tea with milk and sugar also arrived only five minutes later. With my order delivered to my seat, I quickly settled down into my seat to enjoy my light morning tea. Upon finishing my cup of milk tea, the cabin attendant then came by to my seat to clear my used cup and asked me whether there was anything else I wanted for the remaining parts of the flight.

Feeling the need to hydrate myself, I ordered another cup of tea with milk and sugar. Once the attendant had recorded my drink order, she promptly went to the galley and came with my tea, which I greatly enjoyed to keep myself hydrated for the rest of the regional flight. As soon as the in-flight cabin stewardess came to clear away my used tea cup, I simply settled into my allocated seat and did some main surfing and gaming on my laptop to pass the remainder of the flight time.

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were switched off

A warning placard in the lavatory reminding passengers that on-board smoking, including the use of electronic cigarettes and tampering with, disabling or destroying lavatory smoke detectors, is forbidden under the regulations of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)

A packet of mixed nuts for myself to commence the in-flight refreshment service during cruising altitude over the East China Sea between Mainland China and the Ryukyu Islands

A cup of hot tea with milk and sugar for myself during cruising altitude over the East China Sea between Mainland China and the Ryukyu Islands

Playing "LEGO Racers" on my portable laptop during cruising altitude over the East China Sea near the Ryukyu Islands, with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord and stalking Achu with three firing rockets in Amazon Adventure Alley (Mirrored Version)

Playing "LEGO Racers" on my portable laptop during cruising altitude over the East China Sea near the Ryukyu Islands, with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord and attacking Achu with three firing rockets in Amazon Adventure Alley (Mirrored Version)

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat during cruising altitude over the East China Sea near the Ryukyu Islands

An additional cup of hot tea with milk and sugar for myself during cruising altitude over the East China Sea close to Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu

Cruising over the East China Sea close to Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment screen indicating our cruising altitude over the East China Sea close to Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu

The rear view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over the East China Sea close to Nagasaki Prefecture in Kyushu

Cruising over the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean close to Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures in Kyushu

In accordance with the Japanese Standard Time, all the seatbelt signs were illuminated again by 12.15 p.m., which was approximately half an hour in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Osaka (Kansai). Given that we had less than one hour prior to our afternoon arrival into our destination, we quickly placed our belongings back into their respective stowage areas and buckled our seatbelts securely before the aircraft could make its final approach into Kansai International Airport. The flight crew members then went across the main cabin conducting all their final checks and collecting the used in-flight entertainment headsets as well.

The afternoon winter sun was shining very brightly over the Seto Inland Sea and Osaka Bay as the aircraft began to commence its one last approach into Kansai International Airport. After a short and regional morning flight time of 1 hour 40 minutes over the East China Sea from the seaside metropolitan port city of Shanghai located near the central coast of the Yellow Sea in the People's Republic of China (Mainland China), we touched down into Kansai International Airport safely at exactly 12.45 p.m., approximately 25 minutes ahead of schedule. We then made our way through the main tarmac to our assigned arrival gate in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building.

Kansai International Airport (Japanese: 関西国際空港; Traditional Chinese: 關西國際機場; Simplified Chinese: 关西国际机场) is a major international airport located on a reclaimed man-made offshore island in the surrounding waters of Osaka Bay near Osaka, Japan. It is the principal international gateway for passengers coming into Osaka and the Keihanshin metropolitan area, and is located on an artificial man-made island in the surrounding waters of Osaka Bay. Classified as a first-class airport by local Japanese law, the airport serves as a hub for All Nippon Airways, FedEx Express, Japan Airlines, Jetstar Japan, Nippon Cargo Airlines and Peach.

The airport complex was opened for service on 4 September 1994 to relieve overcrowding matters at Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), which currently caters to domestic flights. Since then, Kansai International Airport has taken over the role of handling the international flights coming to and from Osaka and most other parts of the Keihanshin metropolitan area. The airport is also directly connected to the mainland via the Sky Gate Bridge R, which carries railway traffic on the lower area and more conventional road traffic on the upper area, also serving as the world's longest truss bridge.

The airport is easily accessible from the downtown areas of Osaka and Kyoto via the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka service by West Japan Railway Company (JR West), which provides connections to Kyoto in an average time of 1 hour 20 minutes. Rapid services linking to several suburbs and the large core downtown districts of Osaka are also readily available, with connecting train service to Wakayama available at Hineno Station. Both the services are free of charge for all foreigners travelling with a nationwide Japan Rail Pass. Nankai Electric Railway runs the Rapi:t limited express service, which links to and from the Namba district in downtown Osaka in under 40 minutes.

However, the airport saw major disaster on 4 September 2018 when Typhoon Jebi struck, flooding most of the airport complex. The situation took a worse turn when an empty tanker ship impacted the Sky Gate Bridge R close to the airport island itself, cutting off the airport's only access to the mainland area and stranding several people. Flights were partially resumed on 8 September, with vehicles travelling through undamaged sections of the bridge and train services to and from the airport resuming 10 days later after major repairs to the railway lines on the Sky Gate Bridge R were completed. The airport then resumed all regular flight operations from 21 September, with the damaged portion of the Sky Gate Bridge R completely repaired by 8 April 2019.

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were illuminated in preparation for the descent cum arrival into Osaka (Kansai)

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment screen indicating our cruising altitude over the Kanmon Straits near Yamaguchi and Hiroshima Prefectures

Cruising over the Kanmon Straits near Yamaguchi and Hiroshima Prefectures

The flight router in the in-flight entertainment screen indicating our cruising altitude over the Seto Inland Sea near Shikoku between Ehime and Kagawa Prefectures

Cruising over the Seto Inland Sea near Shikoku between Ehime and Kagawa Prefectures

Overlooking the Great Seto Bridge connecting Honshu with Shikoku as the aircraft begins to make its one final approach into Kansai International Airport

Cruising over the waters of Osaka Bay as the aircraft begins to make its one final approach into Kansai International Airport

China Eastern Airlines Flight 515 ~ Afternoon Arrival Into Kansai International Airport

Taxiing through the main airport tarmac in the direction to our assigned arrival gate located in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport shortly after we had landed

Overlooking several airport infrastructure en route to our assigned arrival gate located in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

Overlooking the Central Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport en route to our assigned arrival gate in the South Wing

Finally arriving at our assigned arrival gate, Gate No. 41, located in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

The view of the China Eastern Airlines Airbus A330-200 Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after docking onto Gate No. 41 located in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

After taxiing through the main airport tarmac for approximately 10 minutes to the South Wing of the Main Terminal building, we soon docked onto our allocated arrival contact gate, Gate No. 41, by precisely 12.55 p.m.. Once the 'fasten seatbelt' lights were turned off, we quickly unfastened our seatbelts and retrieved our belongings from their respective storage areas before the major disembarkation procedures at Gate No. 41 could commence. We then conducted a final major spot check around our seats to ensure that nothing had been left behind on board the aircraft.

The in-flight crew members then opened the two major front doors carefully to permit the passengers to disembark from the aircraft. As we disembarked from B-5938 with our belongings, the in-flight cabin crew members thanked us for travelling with China Eastern Airlines and bade us a pleasant and fun-filled major two-week Christmas vacation in western Japan. We then walked through the main jet bridge of Gate No. 41 into the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport.

China Eastern Airlines Flight 515 Score Report

Seating: 16 / 20
In-flight Catering: 11 / 20
In-flight Service: 15 / 20
Aircraft Cleanliness: 15 / 20
Legroom Space: 17 / 20
Total: 72 / 100
Grade: A (Acceptable)

On measuring the score components, China Eastern Airlines has obtained a final aggregate score of 72% for the segment between Shanghai (Pudong) and Osaka (Kansai). This flight was uneventful for almost all parts, but one area for improvement for this main section would be the in-flight catering. Even on regional flight trips taking at least two hours, refreshments would not be sufficient for some passengers. China Eastern Airlines should devise menus for regional journeys with proper main courses and could serve the course on just one tray like some other airlines. Other than that, this was a pleasant flight and good effort. Keep it up, China Eastern Airlines!

Part 5 ~ The Trip To The Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka

After disembarking from China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 from Shanghai (Pudong) by Gate No. 41, we walked across the main passageway connecting to the central arrival immigration checkpoints located in the Central Wing of the Main Terminal building. Considering the long distance between Gate No. 41 situated in the South Wing and the Central Wing, we promptly knew that we had to take the nearest Wing Shuttle automated people mover system to access the arrival immigration checkpoints in the Central Wing.

Without wasting anymore time, we quickly caught the nearest escalators to the Wing Shuttle automated people mover station serving the South Wing, where we boarded the closest train bound for the Central Wing. As soon as the travellers were on board, all the train doors were closed, and we finally departed the South Wing securely at exactly 1.05 p.m. for the Central Wing of the Main Terminal building. Upon reaching the terminal's major Central Wing station, we took the escalators down to the main arrival immigration checkpoints, where we proceeded to the foreign visitors section to have all our passports and travel documents checked.

Once we had cleared the arrival immigration checkpoints safely at 1.10 p.m. sharp, I promptly went to check which baggage belt number all our bulkier check-in baggage would arrive at. According to the main baggage claiming information panels, all larger check-in baggage from China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 from Shanghai (Pudong) would arrive at Belt No. 5. Since we would have other errands to run later on, we immediately headed down to the baggage claiming hall to get three baggage trolleys before proceeding to Belt No. 5 to collect our remaining check-in baggage from China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 from Shanghai (Pudong).

Taking the escalators from Gate No. 41 to the South Wing station of the Wing Shuttle automated people mover system in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

Arriving at the South Wing station of the Wing Shuttle automated people mover system in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

The interior of the 3-car Wing Shuttle automated people mover at the South Wing station of the Wing Shuttle automated people mover system in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

Finally departing the South Wing station of the Wing Shuttle automated people mover system in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

B-5938 being serviced at Gate No. 41 located in the South Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport in preparation for her regional mid-afternoon return flight across the East China Sea back to the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as China Eastern Airlines flight MU 516 bound for Shanghai (Pudong)

Finally arriving at the Central Wing station of the Wing Shuttle automated people mover system in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

Taking the escalators down to the post-arrival immigration checkpoints located in the Central Wing of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

After collecting all our bulkier check-in baggage from China Eastern Airlines flight MU 515 from Shanghai (Pudong) at Belt No. 5 and loading them onto the baggage trolleys, we were finally in the major international arrivals and meeting area on the ground floor at 1.20 p.m.. Given that we had arranged with Global Wi-Fi to have two portable Wi-Fi Internet routers for our major Internet use for the duration of our trip in western Japan, we all knew that we had to collect our routers first before settling the rest of our post-arrival errands.

With that instant, we proceeded over to the Global Wi-Fi rental counter and showed the staff receptionist our passports and necessary travel documents. Upon scanning our passports and travel documents, the receptionist gave us two black pouches containing our portable Wi-Fi Internet routers with their instruction sheets and chargers. Knowing that I would be out on my railway trips for the entire vacation, my parents provided me with one router while they would use the other portable router. However, I would also be utilising my own chargers to charge up the router for safety reasons.

Once we had collected all our private Wi-Fi Internet routers from the Global Wi-Fi rental counter, my mum went to the tourist information desk to claim some pamphlets. Given that there was a possibility that they might travel to Shikoku, we knew that it was important to claim some pamphlets to look at before deciding on any day trips there. My dad even went to a convenience store in the major international arrivals and meeting area to purchase some refreshments to ensure that we were sufficiently hydrated.

Finally entering the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

Overlooking the upper floors from the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

Stopping at the Global Wi-Fi rental counter in the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

Walking through the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

After collecting all of our portable Wi-Fi Internet routers and obtaining some pamphlets in the international arrivals and meeting area on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport, the airport clocks were soon showing 1.45 p.m.. Given that we had a private car to rent for the coming two-week stay in western Japan, we grabbed all our belongings and caught the nearest elevator up to the second floor before walking across the open-air pedestrian footbridge to Aeroplaza via Kansai Airport Station.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the second floor entrance to Aeroplaza at precisely two o' clock. Given that the rental car counters were located on the first floor and the amount of baggage we had, we quickly knew that we had to make at least three elevator trips up and down between both floors. Also, space limitations in the area we were in made it nigh impossible to construct at least one additional elevator. Nevertheless, the main procedure lasted not more than approximately five minutes that bright winter afternoon.

Once all our belongings had been securely transported to the first floor, we immediately got off the elevator and headed over to the Nissan Rent-A-Car (Kansai Airport Branch) (日産レンタカー 関西空港店), eventually reaching by 2.05 p.m.. At the Nissan Rent-A-Car (Kansai Airport Branch) (日産レンタカー 関西空港店) counter on the first floor, my parents got out all their passports and International Driver Permits to be inspected by the car rental staff. The entire family vacation car rental process took not more than approximately 15 minutes that afternoon.

Walking underneath the second floor footbridge in the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

Approaching an elevator bank in the international arrivals and meeting area located on the first floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport while heading up to the second floor during the early afternoon rush hour

Overlooking the upper floors from the second floor of the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

The exterior view of Kansai Airport Station en route to Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's early afternoon

Passing through the main ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station en route to Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport during the early afternoon rush hour

Approaching the second floor entrance to Aeroplaza via the public pedestrian passageway at Kansai International Airport

Finally arriving at the Nissan Rent-A-Car (Kansai Airport Branch) (日産レンタカー 関西空港店) counter located on the first floor of Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport

After completing the family vacation car rental procedure at the Nissan Rent-A-Car (Kansai Airport Branch) (日産レンタカー 関西空港店) counter located in the first floor of Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport, we soon received our rental car key at 2.20 p.m.. The car rental staff member informed us that we would be given a white Nissan Serena car for the duration of our coming two-week stay in western Japan. With the white car being able to seat up to six people, the rear seats could be pulled aside for baggage storage.

Noticing the amount of bulky baggage we had, the car rental staff member offered to assist us with our baggage while he escorted us to our rental car. With that moment, we promptly pushed all our baggage trolleys out to the rented car parking spaces, where we found our rented white Nissan Serena family vacation car. Loading our belongings into the rear boot securely, the rental staff member showed us how to operate the private car and what to do in the event of a traffic accident or a vehicular breakdown.

With everything securely loaded into the car boot, my family informed me that they would make several stops prior to eventually meeting me at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka. No sooner my family left me to begin my mid-afternoon railway trip to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka, I immediately headed back to Aeroplaza, where I transferred to the closest escalator up to the overhead pedestrian passageway on the second floor in the direction leading to Kansai Airport Station.

Soon enough, I eventually arrived at the entrance to the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station by around 2.35 p.m.. Entering the JR Ticket Office, I quickly got out my passport and Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher prior to heading over to the nearest open counter. The major JR Ticket Office staff receptionist then examined my passport while I filled the white Japan Rail Pass Exchange Form to help facilitate the Japan Rail Pass exchange process easily. The central Japan Rail Pass exchange procedure took not more than approximately five minutes that afternoon.

Kansai Airport Station (Japanese: 関西空港駅; Traditional Chinese: 關西機場站; Simplified Chinese: 关西机场站) is a major ground level airport railway station situated in Kansai International Airport in 1 Senshu-kuko-naka, Tajiri, Sennan District, Osaka, Japan. Operated jointly by the private Nankai Electric Railway and West Japan Railway Company (JR West), it is the central railway terminal serving the core complex of Kansai International Airport, and is linked to the main passenger terminal building via an open-air pedestrian footbridge. The station serves as the terminus for the Kansai Airport Line and Nankai Airport Line, with a cul-de-sac located to the west of the platforms.

The station was opened on 15 June 1994, three months before the opening of Kansai International Airport on 4 September 1994, though areas beyond the core ticketing concourse were accessible only by airport employees and staff during that time period. From 4 September 1994, with the opening of Kansai International Airport, the station complex began to cater to regular limited express train services by JR West and Nankai Electric Railway to and from Namba and Kyoto. A JR Ticket Office is available in the central station concourse, operating from 5.30 a.m. to 11.00 p.m. daily.

On 4 September 2018, the station was closed due to flooding effects caused by Typhoon Jebi and an empty tanker impacting part of the major Sky Gate Bridge R nearer to the airport complex. Railway services to the airport were restored from 18 September 2018 after major repairs for the Kansai Airport Line and Nankai Airport Line were conducted. The damaged portion of the Sky Gate Bridge R was completely repaired and reopened to all road traffic by 8 April 2019. As of 16 March 2019, the complex has two island platforms with two tracks each for the Nankai Airport Line and Kansai Airport Line.

The van pick-up and drop-off area located outside the first floor of Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

Walking outside the first floor of Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

The exterior view of Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

The open-air rental car parking lots located near Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

Our rented white Nissan Serena family car at the open-air rental car parking lots located near Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

The roadways located near Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

Overlooking the open-air rental car parking lots located near Aeroplaza at Kansai International Airport en route to Kansai Airport Station on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

Taking the escalator up to the public pedestrian passageway at Kansai International Airport in the direction to Kansai Airport Station

The exterior view of Kansai Airport Station at Kansai International Airport on a bright and clear winter's mid-afternoon

Walking through public pedestrian passageway at Kansai International Airport from Aeroplaza in the direction to Kansai Airport Station

Entering the main ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Finally arriving at the JR Ticket Office in the main ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

After completing the Japan Rail Pass exchange process at the JR Ticket Office in the public ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station, I finally obtained my own two-week Green-type Japan Rail Pass at exactly 2.40 p.m. sharp. The dates of unlimited railway use would even last from today until Monday (23 December). With my Japan Rail Pass safely secured, I immediately proceeded to make my Green Car (first class) seat reservation to Shin-osaka Station and for a coming major regional afternoon aviation and confectionery shopping trip to Kansai International Airport the next day.

For the major one-way trip to Shin-osaka, I would catch the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 bound for Kyoto, which would depart from Kansai Airport Station at 3.14 p.m., and finally arrive at Shin-osaka Station safely at 4.05 p.m.. Once my seat reservations were made, I thanked the JR Ticket Office staff for her services and went to the central JR Line ticketing gates with all my belongings, eventually showing my two-week Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed JR Line ticketing gates.

Upon passing through the JR Line ticketing gates, I headed to check which platform number the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 bound for Kyoto would depart from. According to the pre-departure information screen in the central concourse, the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 bound for Kyoto would depart safely at 3.14 p.m. sharp from Track No. 4. Given that I had less than half an hour left before my direct train to Shin-osaka, I quickly took the nearest elevator down to Tracks No. 3 & 4 in preparation for the journey, eventually reaching there by 2.45 p.m..

The Haruka (はるか) is a limited express passenger train service operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) between both Kansai International Airport and Kyoto located in western Japan. Dubbed as the Kansai Airport Limited Express (関空特急) by JR West, it is currently the fastest train service connecting Osaka and Kyoto with Kansai International Airport in the main waters of Osaka Bay, with a regular railway trip between Kyoto and Kansai International Airport taking approximately 1 hour 20 minutes per way. The service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced mainline operations on 4 September 1994, following the opening of Kansai International Airport, using a fleet of 281 series trains manufactured by Kawasaki Heavy Industries and Kinki Sharyo. Many services usually run as six cars, with a further add-on of three-car sets to form as nine cars for some services. Services generally stop only at Tennoji and Shin-osaka Stations en route, with certain train services also serving Izumi-fuchu Station and Hineno Station in the early morning and early evening rush periods and / or continuing on to Kusatsu and Maibara. The train service travels over the Umeda Freight Line between Shin-osaka Station and the Osaka Loop Line in downtown Osaka, resulting in no train services going to Osaka Station.

From the start of the new railroad timetable on 26 March 2016, the number of daily return workings was increased from 24 to 30, thus permitting more train connections between Kansai International Airport and the Keihanshin metropolitan region. Some services also began to serve Takatsuki Station in both the early morning and evening rush periods from the exact same date, facilitating better connections between the northern suburbs of Osaka and Kansai International Airport.

However, on 4 September 2018, all Haruka services were suspended due to the effects of Typhoon Jebi resulting in Kansai International Airport being flooded and an empty tanker damaging part of Sky Gate Bridge R close to the airport island complex. Train services resumed from 8 September 2018, but could only go as far as Hineno Station owing to the section leading to Kansai International Airport being cordoned off for repair works. Services connecting the airport with the mainland area were finally restored on 18 September 2018 after the critical main repair works for the Kansai Airport Line were completed.

From the start of the updated timetable on 14 March 2020, 271 series EMUs are scheduled to be introduced on these train services at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph), operating combined with the existing 281 series EMU trains. From the same date, all train services will be formed as nine cars to increase traveller capacity between the Keihanshin metropolitan districts and Kansai International Airport. No extra train surcharges are required for the Haruka limited express service for passengers travelling with a Japan Rail Pass, with Green Car (first class) accommodation provided in Car No. 1 (at the Kyoto & Maibara end).

The JR Ticket Office in the main ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Approaching the JR Line ticketing gates in the main ticketing concourse at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Proceeding to the elevators connecting to the JR Line station platforms in the JR Line transit concourse at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Finally arriving at the JR Line station platforms at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

A 4-car 225 series EMU, operating as the 2.47 p.m. "Kansai Airport Rapid Service" bound for downtown Osaka, on Track No. 3 at Kansai Airport Station

A 4-car 225 series EMU, operating as the 3.02 p.m. "Kansai Airport Rapid Service" bound for downtown Osaka, on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

An out-of-service 6-car 281 series EMU, which previously operated as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 31 bound for Kansai International Airport, on Track No. 3 at the Kansai Airport terminal station

Overlooking the Nankai Line station platforms from the JR Line station platforms at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

A 6-car Nankai 50000 series EMU, operating as the Nankai Airport Limited Express "Rapi:t β" No. 54 bound for Namba, on Track No. 2 at Kansai Airport Station

A 4-car 223 series EMU, operating as the 3.17 p.m. "Kansai Airport Rapid Service" bound for downtown Osaka, on Track No. 3 at Kansai Airport Station

The departure information screens on the JR Line station platforms at Kansai Airport Station during the mid-afternoon rush hour

Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station shortly before the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto arrived at the station

After spending almost 20 minutes of anticipated waiting on Tracks No. 3 and 4, a 6-car 281 series EMU, which would operate as the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 bound for Kyoto, soon entered Kansai Airport Station at 3.07 p.m. on Track No. 4. Once the train doors were automatically opened, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 1, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and stowed my baggage in the baggage racks before settling into my allocated Seat No. 6C for the regional mid-afternoon trip time of 51 minutes to Shin-osaka Station in the centre of downtown Yodogawa-ku, Osaka.

Once the clock struck exactly 3.14 p.m. sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 34 eventually pulled out of Kansai Airport Station safely for its coming regional mid-afternoon travel duration of approximately 1 hour 20 minutes to the busy and colossal hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto. I was then on my way for a really short and regional afternoon trip duration of approximately 51 minutes to Shin-osaka Station located in the centre of downtown Yodogawa-ku, Osaka.

281系 関空特急はるか34号 京都行き 関西空港駅に入線シーン

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

The LED destination panel of the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

Getting ready to board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

The logo of the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

An additional front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

An additional rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

A view of my seat, 6C, during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

My Green Car (first class) limited express ticket for the one-way trip from Kansai International Airport to Shin-osaka

Awaiting departure from Kansai Airport Station

281系 関空特急はるか34号 京都行き 関西空港 (発車) ~ 久米田 (通過)

Bypassing some housing apartments in the suburban neighbourhood of Fuchu-cho, Izumi, closer to Izumi-fuchu Station

Passing through Izumi-fuchu Station

Bypassing some housing areas in Ikegami-cho, Izumi, between Izumi-fuchu and Shinodayama Stations

Passing through Shinodayama Station

Bypassing some small warehouses by some housing areas in Tai-cho, Izumi, between Shinodayama and Kita-shinoda Stations

Passing through Kita-shinoda Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban neighbourhood of Toriishi, Takaishi, near Tonoki Station

Passing through Tonoki Station

Bypassing a Hanwa Line commuter train yard in Otori-higashimachi, Nishi-ku, Sakai, near Otori Station

Passing through Otori Station

Bypassing some clustered housing areas in Tsukuno-cho, Nishi-ku, Sakai, between Otori and Tsukuno Stations

281系 関空特急はるか34号 京都行き 津久野 (通過) ~ 天王寺 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Tennoji Station

281系 関空特急はるか34号 京都行き 天王寺駅から新大阪駅間

After a short and routine mid-afternoon trip duration of approximately 51 minutes from Kansai International Airport located on the reclaimed island across the seawaters of Osaka Bay, I finally arrived at Shin-osaka Station at around 4.05 p.m. on Track No. 1. Checking to make sure that I had not left anything behind in the main cabin, I promptly alighted from the train and changed to the closest escalator upwards to the major JR Line interchange transit concourse, eventually reaching there safely by 4.10 p.m..

Given that I had some seat reservations to make, I presented my Green-type Japan Rail Pass at the staffed main JR Line ticketing gate and made my way over to the JR Ticket Office situated in the main JR Line ticketing concourse. At the JR Ticket Office, I made a Green Car (first class) seat reservation for a really long eastbound afternoon trip to Kamogawa Sea World on Thursday (12 December), with the journey to commence during the wee hours of the early morning. The entire Green Car (first class) seat reservation procedures took not more than approximately five minutes that afternoon.

Shin-osaka Station (Japanese: 新大阪駅; Malay: Stesen Shin-osaka; Traditional Chinese: 新大阪車站; Simplified Chinese: 新大阪车站) is an interchange station complex situated between 15-5 and 16-1 Nishinakajima 5-chome, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, Japan. It is currently the western terminus station for the Tokaido Shinkansen line and the eastern terminus for the Sanyo Shinkansen line, also jointly managed by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central), West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Osaka Metro. As one of the largest terminal stations in the Keihanshin metropolitan area, Shin-osaka Station serves as an important interchange station for the Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line & JR Kobe Line), Osaka Higashi Line and the Osaka Metro Midosuji Line.

The station was opened on 1 October 1964, in conjunction with the opening of the Tokaido Shinkansen line, but was built away from the city centre due to construction issues for high-speed trains. From 15 March 1972, the station became an interchange terminal for the Sanyo Shinkansen line to Okayama, with the line eventually extended to Hakata (Fukuoka) from 10 March 1975. Several trains from the Tokaido Shinkansen line offer through service to the Sanyo Shinkansen line to Okayama, Hiroshima and Hakata (Fukuoka), along with shorter 8-car MIZUHO and SAKURA services for the Kyushu Shinkansen line beginning and ending at the station.

From 16 March 2013, an additional eastbound Tokaido Shinkansen platform (Track No. 27) was opened to relieve overcrowding at the existing platforms. The station serves as a mandatory stopping point for all the commuter train services on the JR Kyoto Line and JR Kobe Line, including the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka services bound for Kansai International Airport, and limited express train services bound for both the Chubu and Hokuriku areas. Several limited express services bound for the Kii Peninsula and San'in areas also begin and end here, with the main railway terminal complex becoming an interchange station with the Osaka Higashi Line from 16 March 2019.

Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Osaka Higashi Line trains and limited express trains bound Kyoto at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The 6-car 281 series EMU, operating as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 34 bound for Kyoto, on Track No. 1 at Shin-osaka Station

A 6-car 201 series EMU, operating as the 4.09 p.m. Osaka Higashi Line local service bound for Kyuhoji, on Track No. 2 at Shin-osaka Station

Walking through the JR Line interchange transit concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour in the direction leading to the JR Line ticketing gates

The JR Line ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour shortly after I had exited through the JR Line ticketing gates

Finally arriving at the JR Ticket Office in the JR Line ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

After making my necessary Green Car (first class) seat reservations at the JR Ticket Office in the major JR Line ticketing concourse at Shin-osaka Station, the main office clock was showing 4.15 p.m.. Given that the closest railway station to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka located within Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, would be Higashi-yodogawa Station, I knew that it would be a matter of time before my family reached our final destination. With that moment, I quickly grabbed my own belongings and headed over to the main JR Line ticketing gates, where I showed my Japan Rail Pass at the staffed JR Line ticketing gate.

Upon passing through the central JR Line ticketing gates, I quickly headed to check the departure timing for the closest Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local train bound for Kyoto. According to the departure information screens, th next Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local train bound for Kyoto would depart safely by 4.30 p.m. sharp from Track No. 6. Without wasting anymore time, I promptly caught the nearest escalator down to Tracks No. 5 and 6 for the regional one-stop trip to Higashi-yodogawa Station, eventually reaching the platforms safely by 4.20 p.m..

Proceeding to the JR Line ticketing gates at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Walking through the JR Line interchange transit concourse at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The departure information screen in the JR Line interchange transit concourse for eastbound Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) commuter trains bound for Takatsuki and Kyoto departing from Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Finally arriving at Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The departure information screen for eastbound Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) commuter trains bound for Takatsuki and Kyoto departing from Tracks No. 5 and 6 at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Tracks No. 5 and 6 serving the eastbound Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) commuter trains bound for Takatsuki and Kyoto at Shin-osaka Station during the late afternoon rush hour

A 7-car 207 series EMU, operating as the 4.23 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) & Fukuchiyama Line (Takarazuka Line) local service bound for Shin-sanda via Takarazuka, arriving at Shin-osaka Station on Track No. 7

A 7-car 321 series EMU, operating as the 4.29 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line & JR Kobe Line) local service bound for Nishi-akashi, arriving at Shin-osaka Station on Track No. 7

Track No. 6 at Shin-osaka Station shortly before the 4.30 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local service bound for Kyoto arrived at the station

After spending almost 10 minutes of anticipated waiting across Tracks No. 5 and 6, a 7-car 207 series EMU, operating as the 4.30 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local service bound for Kyoto, entered Shin-osaka Station at 4.29 p.m. sharp on Track No. 6. Once the train doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 5 and settled in for the simple late afternoon commuter rush trip timing of just one minute to Higashi-yodogawa Station in the suburban neighbourhood of Miyahara, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka.

Once the clock struck exactly 4.30 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local train finally pulled out of Shin-osaka Station for the rest of its regional late afternoon commuter rush trip time of approximately 1 hour 50 minutes from Suma to Kyoto via Osaka. I was then en route for a very rapid late afternoon one-stop commuter rush trip of just one minute to Higashi-yodogawa Station located in the nearby suburban neighbourhood of Miyahara, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka.

A 7-car 207 series EMU, operating as the 4.30 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local service bound for Kyoto, arriving at Shin-osaka Station on Track No. 6

The interior of Car No. 5 on board the 7-car 207 series EMU, operating as the 4.30 p.m. Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local service bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 6 at Shin-osaka Station

Finally departing Shin-osaka Station

Bypassing some housing apartments near Shin-osaka Station in Nishinakajima, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka

Bypassing some housing apartments near Higashi-yodogawa Station in Miyahara, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka

Finally arriving at Higashi-yodogawa Station

After a rapid one-stop late afternoon commuter rush trip of just one minute from Shin-osaka Station in the heart of Nishinakajima, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, I finally arrived at Higashi-yodogawa Station safely by 4.31 p.m. on Track No. 3. Checking to ensure that there was nothing left behind on board, I quickly alighted from the train and took the nearest elevator up to the main transit concourse before securely presenting my major two-week Green-type Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate.

Passing through the ticketing gates, I promptly changed to another elevator situated close to the East Entrance of the station complex before eventually departing Higashi-yodogawa Station at 4.40 p.m.. I then passed through the local neighbourhood streets of both Miyahara and Nishiawaji in Yodogawa-ku and Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, in the road direction connecting to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka. The entire major walk from Higashi-yodogawa Station to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka took not more than approximately 20 minutes.

Higashi-yodogawa Station (Japanese: 東淀川駅; Traditional Chinese: 東淀川站; Simplified Chinese: 东淀川站) is a small ground-level railroad station complex located by 3-17 Miyahara 2-chome, Yodogawa-ku, Osaka, Japan. Owned and operated exclusively by West Japan Railway Company (JR West), it is situated just 700 metres from Shin-osaka Station, thus making it the shortest distance between any station on the Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line), with only all-stations major local services stopping at the station. Opened on 1 April 1940, the station building has two island platforms serving four tracks, with Tracks No. 1 & 4 fenced off as all train services on the outer tracks pass through the station without stopping.

Track No. 3 serving the eastbound Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line) local trains bound for Takatsuki and Kyoto at Higashi-yodogawa Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The transit concourse leading to the platforms at Higashi-yodogawa Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The main ticketing concourse at Higashi-yodogawa Station during the late afternoon rush hour

The East Entrance at Higashi-yodogawa Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Bypassing the bicycle parking lot located near the East Entrance at Higashi-yodogawa Station during the late afternoon rush hour

Bypassing a housing apartment by a neighbourhood road in Nishiawaji 1-chome, Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, en route to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka as dusk begins to break over Osaka

About to cross the main road by some housing apartments in Nishiawaji 1-chome, Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, en route to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka as dusk begins to break over Osaka

Crossing a pedestrian crossing in Nishiawaji 3-chome, Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, en route to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka as dusk begins to break over Osaka

Walking through a narrow alley road in Nishiawaji 3-chome, Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, en route to the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka as dusk begins to break over Osaka

Finally arriving at the car parking area located just outside the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka

After walking across the neighbourhood streets of Miyahara and Nishiawaji in Yodogawa-ku and Higashiyodogawa-ku, Osaka, from Higashi-yodogawa Station for approximately 20 minutes, I soon arrived at the car parking area located outside the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka at precisely five o' clock. My family also arrived at the final destination via our rented white private Nissan Serena car barely a few seconds later. Once my family had parked the car into the car parking slot, we quickly unloaded all our baggage and carried them to the main entrance of the machiya.

Entering the lock code on the machiya's front entrance doorway, we carried our baggage into the entryway before taking off our footwear and storing them below the steps. The machiya had an open-air garden outside, a bunk bedroom which we would use to store the rest of our main belongings and clothes, a major traditional tatami living room, a kitchen, a laundry room, a restroom, a bathroom, a kitchen and a dining area in the ground floor. The second floor had another restroom and bathroom, a small master bedroom, an additional bunk bedroom and a large unused tatami room.

Given that I would be out on my main railway trips for the coming vacation in western Japan, I knew that it would be prudent if I were to sleep on the ground floor. Once everything had been securely brought into the machiya and the main entrance door was locked, we sorted out our clothes that we we would wear for the coming days and set up our electronic devices to be charged. I then made my traditional tatami mattress bed in the living room area since I would be sleeping there for the duration of the vacation.

The tatami living room area in the ground floor at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka, where I would sleep on a local traditional style tatami mattress

The bunk bedroom in the ground floor at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka, which would be used as a baggage storage and clothing room

The kitchen area in the ground floor of the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka

The small master bedroom on the second floor at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka, where my parents would sleep

The bathroom area in the ground floor at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka

After spending the rest of the late afternoon arranging our belongings and setting all our stuff up at the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka, the clock was eventually showing 5.45 p.m.. Seeing that my younger brother and I were exhausted after the rather long overnight journey from Singapore via Shanghai (Pudong) earlier, both my parents informed us that they would be going out to purchase some refreshments to ensure that we would not go hungry for the early evening. They then permitted us to stay inside the machiya to do our own activities.

Once my parents headed out, my younger brother and I had the time of our lives in the Nishiawaji 3-chome Kodate Minpaku Machiya Osaka. I also went to have a shower and changed into my pyjamas before resuming my surfing activities on my mobile laptop. Soon enough, my parents finally returned to the main machiya by around 7.30 p.m.. Having a very light dinner, we knew that everything for the day had been completed. Given that I had a routine regional afternoon aviation day journey to Kansai International Airport the next day, I soon turned in at ten o' clock for a well-earned good night's rest.

This officially brings the first section of my mass end-of-year winter vacation to western Japan and Shanghai, Mainland China, for the Christmas break in December 2019 to a formal conclusion. Like all other existing main overseas journey trip reports, all questions and comments are more than welcome in the commenting box below. The remaining seven sections of this trip report will be published as soon as I have chosen to the highest quality photos and videos for each of them. Please do be patient as this requires extensive time and effort to publish them securely.