Saturday, August 4, 2012

Winter Holiday in Hokkaido in December 2010 - Section 1

Welcome to this holiday report about my first winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan. back in December 2010. This was also my third trip to Hokkaido, and my seventh trip to Japan since September 2001The topic that will be covered in this section will mainly be the in-bound journey towards Sapporo (Chitose) from Singapore, via a brief stopover in Seoul (Incheon).


Part 1 ~ The Opening

After finishing my third year in secondary school, my parents decided to bring my brother and I on a winter holiday to Hokkaido, Japan. We were very excited as this would be our first time going to Hokkaido in winter and seeing snow in Japan. This holiday would also mark our first flight with Korean Air.

The day, which was a Monday (13 December), finally arrived after a month of anticipation. For the rest of the afternoon, we spent it by packing our last remaining baggage for the vacation. According to my parents, a MaxiCab was arranged to come and take us to Singapore Changi Airport at half-past nine later that night.

After having dinner that night, the MaxiCab finally arrived at our house at 9.30 p.m.. The driver of the cab helped to load all our baggage into the trunk of his cab. We finally left our home at 9.40 p.m. for a 25-minute journey to Singapore Changi Airport.

We finally arrived at the drop-off area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 10.05 p.m., after a 25-minute MaxiCab journey from home. After getting a few baggage trolleys, we walked into the check-in and departure hall, towards the SATS Premier Lounge.

The departure and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The enormous departure information screen showing the check-in rows and departure times for the red-eye flights

The departure information screen showing the departure timings for the red-eye flights departing from Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

As soon as we arrived at the SATS Premier Lounge, a porter welcomed us and offered to help us with our bulky check-in baggage. We then told the check-in agent that we were flying with Korean Air. She then checked us in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose).

Korean Air is the flag carrier and the largest airline of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). It is globally headquartered in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is also one of the founding members of SkyTeam, an airline alliance formed in 2000, with is slogan being, "Excellence in Flight". It is rated as a 4-star (out of 5 stars) airline by Skytrax.

Between 1981 and 2009, Korean Air operated it flights from Terminal 1 of Singapore Changi Airport. However, since 29 March 2009, Korean Air has moved its operations to Terminal 2 to expand passenger and flight capacity.



The interior of the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in the departure area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Inside the check-in area of the Terminal 2 SATS Premier Check-in Lounge

The Christmas Tree in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After checking in for our flights, the SATS Premier Check-in lady handed us our boarding passes and invitation cards to the SATS Premier Lounge. According to the check-in lady at the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge, Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would depart from Gate No. E24 at 1.15 a.m., and that boarding would commence at 12.45 a.m., half an hour before the scheduled departure time.


With all our necessary travel documents, we then went through the passport control area, and changed some Singapore dollars to Japanese yen in the airside. Feeling rather peaky, we took the escalator up towards the upper level of the airside and went to a Burger King fast-food restaurant for supper. There, I just had a simple Hershey's Sundae Pie for myself.

The departure and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, just before we went into the airside

In the airside shortly after clearing the passport control area

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5 aircraft, about to be pushed back from Gate No. E4, in preparation for her flight back home to South Korea as Korean Air flight KE 642 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

The entrance to Burger King in the upper floor of the airside in Terminal 2

A simple Hershey's Sundae Pie for myself

The departure information screen in the airside showing the departure timings of the red-eye flights from Terminal 2

A duty-free chocolate shop in Terminal 2

After grabbing a few light bites at Burger King, the clock was finally showing 11.15 p.m.. Since it was still early before our overnight journey, we decided to head to the SATS Premier Lounge to charge our electronics before the flight to Seoul. This was our first time going to the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2. We spent about an hour in the SATS Premier Lounge before we proceeded to Gate No. E24 for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon).


The entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2

A Christmas Tree in the SATS Premier Lounge Terminal 2

The viewing mall in the airside of Terminal 2, as seen from the SATS Premier Lounge

The food and beverage corner of the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2

Several woks of food on the counter in the SATS Premier Lounge

The interior of the SATS Premier Lounge in Terminal 2

Part 2 ~ The Flight To Seoul (Incheon)

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 644
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
To: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
Registration No.: HL7586
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 7H
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 2010


After relaxing and charging our electronics in the SATS Premier Lounge for an hour, the clock was finally showing 12.15 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would commence in half an hour's time, we packed up our carry-on baggage and quickly left the SATS Premier Lounge at 12.20 a.m. for Gate No. E24. The walk to the boarding gate took approximately 10 minutes.

Soon enough, we arrived at Gate No. E24 at 12.30 a.m., just in time for a quick security check. When I took a closer look at our aircraft, I was quite amazed at its appearance. Tonight, Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) was to be operated by an Airbus A330-300, registered HL7586 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines.


HL7586 would be the very first Korean Air aircraft we would be riding on. The aircraft was also delivered new to Korean Air on 10 August 2000 as the 10th Airbus A330-300, and the 13th Airbus A330 for the airline. The delivery made the aircraft approximately 10.3 years old at that time
.


The arrival information screen in the airside of Terminal 2, showing the estimated arrival timings of the flights from various cities in foreign countries

The departure information screen at Gate No. E24, showing the details of Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

Our aircraft for tonight, HL7586, being serviced at Gate No. E24, in preparation for her overnight flight back home to South Korea as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting in the gate holding room, the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at 12.45 a.m.. The First and Prestige Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS Club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called to board the aircraft first. With the first boarding calls, we took all of our baggage and we were finally on board HL7586 by 12.50 a.m.. This was just in good time for a 1.15 a.m. departure. The flight between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon) would be expected to take 6 hours 10 minutes.


The Airbus A330-300 which we were on had new Prestige Sleeper seats, which can recline to a full 180-degree position. These seats were installed on most of Korean Air's wide-body aircraft,  following the delivery of the airline's new Boeing 777-300/ERs in May 2009.


As soon as we settled into our seats, we stowed our belongings in the respective storage areas. The First Class cabin would remain empty throughout the entire flight, making the flight to have a relatively light capacity that night. The stewardess then offered to take some pictures of us in the deserted First Class cabin.



Soon, the flight attendants did their usual pre-flight routines, distributing the menus, free newspapers and pre-departure beverages to the Prestige Class passengers. I had my usual glasses of water and orange juice. The flight attendants even had the courtesy to provide us with bottled water for the flight, which makes a very nice touch.


A pair of Korean Air Prestige Sleeper Seats on the Airbus A330-300 fleet

A pair of Korean Air's First Class Sleeper seats found on the Airbus A330s

My dad and I posing for a picture in the deserted First Class Sleeper cabin

My brother and I posing for a picture in the deserted First Class Sleeper cabin

Two bottles of water resting on my dad's armrest, as well as mine

A glass of water and orange juice for myself

A peak into the deserted First Class cabin while waiting for pushback from Gate No. E24

The food and beverage menu for tonight's flight between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

At exactly 1.15 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. E24. The safety information briefing video was shown on all of our video screens as we began to make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off. The entire taxi to our assigned runway took approximately half an hour.


After a 30-minute taxi to our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney PW 4168A engines spooled to life, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 1.45 a.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a long overnight flight time of 5 hours 40 minutes over the South China Sea towards the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).



The safety information video for Korean Air reminding passengers of the dangers and consequences of smoking

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312 aircraft parked beside us at Gate No. E26

Taxiing on the tarmac towards our assigned runway for take-off

Taxiing past several SilkAir Airbus A320s

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Take-off from Singapore Changi Airport

The seatbelt sign was turned off at two o' clock, just 15 minutes after take-off from Singapore. A flight attendant then came up to me and asked me what I wanted. Not feeling that hungry, I ordered myself a cup of green tea to settle in for the flight. I also grabbed a box of Godiva chocolates from the in-flight duty-free sales.



A rear view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after take-off from Singapore

A warning sign that warns passengers that smoking in the lavatories or tampering with, disabling, or destroying the smoke detectors is forbidden under South Korean law

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly before the midnight snack service commenced

The deserted Korean Air Airbus A330-300 First Class Sleeper cabin

A glass of orange juice for myself

My cup of hot green tea on my dining table

A view of the night sky somewhere over Malaysia

A box of Godiva chocolates purchased from the in-flight duty-free sales

The flight router showing that we are flying somewhere over Vietnam and the Philippines

After having my green tea to warm up, I was getting rather tired. I then reclined my seat to the full 180-degree position and went to sleep for a few hours. Everyone else went to sleep after the cabin lights were dimmed.


Part 3 ~ The Arrival into Seoul (Incheon)

After getting a few hours of sleep, I woke up at 5.35 a.m.. The seatbelt sign was illuminated as the plane was experiencing turbulence somewhere over the Taiwan Strait. I was then greeted by the first lights of sunrise at 5.50 a.m..

By six o' clock, most of the passengers were slowly beginning to wake up. The sun rose even more and before I knew it, the cabin lights were illuminated in preparation for the breakfast service.


The seatbelt sign illuminated as the plane was experiencing turbulence over the Taiwan Strait

The first lights of sunrise greeting me over the Taiwan Strait

One of the first sights of dawn over the Taiwan Strait

The cabin lights illuminated after the passengers have woken up

Another picture of the beautiful sunrise over the Taiwan Strait before breakfast

A few moments later, a flight attendant came to my seat to take my breakfast order. I then requested for an omelette with tomato and peppers served with grilled pork sausage, hash brown potato and grilled tomato. She then brought me a glass of orange juice to start my meal.


Surprisingly, my brother ordered three of the same main course I was about to have, whereas my dad ordered two. My breakfast was then delivered to my dining table a few moments later. I tucked in, and the omelette tasted surprisingly good and hot in the inside. It was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had on a plane.


Unfortunately, my brother was too full to eat his third plate, after eating the second one. He then gave it to me to finish it off. My dad too gave me his second plate to finish off as he too, was feeling full. I had such a huge but filling breakfast.


After the breakfast service was finished, I went to the lavatory and took my usual cabin pictures. The first sights of daylight greeted me as we neared the island of South Korea. For the remainder of the entire flight, I did my own personal stuff before the arrival into Seoul.


To commence: A glass of orange juice for myself

The sunrise over the Philippine Sea

My main course: Omelette with tomato and peppers served with grilled pork sausage, hash brown potato and grilled tomato

Another picture of my breakfast with a cup of strawberry yoghurt

The sun in the midst of rising over the Philippine Sea


The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin after the breakfast service

A view of my seat, 7H, during the flight to Seoul (Incheon). Notice that my dad was still asleep in his seat

Flying in the morning sky somewhere over Minami-Daito Island

A peek into the deserted First Class cabin from my seat

The deserted First Class Sleeper cabin during the morning daylight hours

The beautiful morning sky while getting nearer to South Korea

In accordance with the Japan & Korea Local Time, the seatbelt sign was illuminated at 8.15 a.m., 10 minutes before landing into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive in Seoul very soon, we then packed up and stowed all our carry-on baggage, and buckled up for the landing in Incheon International Airport.

On the way, I managed to catch a glimpse of the Incheon Bridge, linking downtown Seoul to Incheon directly. After an overnight flight time of 5 hours 40 minutes over the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down in Incheon International Airport at 8.25 a.m., right on schedule.

Incheon International Airport is the main airport serving the Seoul metropolitan area. It is the busiest and largest airport in South Korea. It opened for business on March 29, 2001, to relieve overcrowding at the older Gimpo International Airport, which now serves domestic and limited international flights. The airport has now taken over the role of many international flights to and from the country. It also serves as the main hub for South Korea's two largest airlines, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air.



Flying over several small villages while getting closer to Incheon International Airport

Flying over some industrial plants during our final approach into Incheon International Airport

The view of the Incheon Bridge as we make our final descent into Incheon International Airport

Flying over the sea towards as we make our final descent into Incheon International Airport

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Landing in Incheon International Airport

Taxiing on the tarmac with a Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-341 aircraft being serviced at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Republic of Indonesia as Garuda Indonesia flight GA 879 bound for Jakarta

Taxiing past a Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-322 being serviced at Terminal A for her late morning flight back home to Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur

A Thai Airways Boeing 777-2D7 aircraft being serviced at Terminal A in preparation for her morning flight back home to the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 659 bound for Bangkok

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X being serviced at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 603 bound for Singapore

Parking beside a Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL8212, at the Main Terminal

One more look at HL7586, shortly after disembarking from the aircraft


After the aircraft docked onto the arrival gate, we took out all our carry-on baggage from the stowage areas and checked our seats to ensure that we did not leave anything behind on board.

As we exited the aircraft, the flight attendants bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant trip to Hokkaido, Japan. After each flight sector, I will grade the airline. The grading system for each airline and sector are as follows:


A+: 85% or above (Airline has an excellent rating and performance)
A: 75% ~ 84% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
B: 60% ~ 74% (Airline has a good rating and performance)
C: 50% ~ 59% (Airline has an adequate rating and performance)
D: 40% ~ 49% (Airline has a fair rating and performance)
E: 20% ~ 39% (Airline has a poor rating and performance)
U: Below 20% (Airline has not met the requirement for the minimum grade)

Korean Air Flight 644 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 19 / 20
Service: 16 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 92 / 100

In total, Korean Air scored 92% on this sector, which means they receive an 'A+' grade. It was a very pleasant flight with them between SIN and ICN and it was difficult to fault them on this sector. The flight attendants bade farewell to us as we exited the aircraft. We then headed to the transit security checkpoint.

Part 4 ~ The Flight to Sapporo (Chitose) and Arrival into Hokkaido

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore, we then went to a nearby bathroom to brush our teeth. According to my mum, we had a layover time of 1 hour 30 minutes at Incheon International Airport before our flight to Sapporo (Chitose). We then headed to the transit security checkpoint and were in the airside by nine o' clock.


The moving passageways and walkways leading to the transit security checkpoint and the arrivals area

The departure flight sign board in the airside of Incheon International Airport

The red Christmas banners in the airside of Incheon International Airport

A lineup of shops in Incheon International Airport


Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 765
From: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
To: Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS / RJCC), Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan
Aircraft: Airbus A330-323X
Registration No.: HL7584
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8A
Date: Tuesday, 14 December 2010

After walking through the airside of the Main Terminal in Incheon International Airport, the clock was finally showing 9.05 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 765 to Sapporo (Chitose) would commence in 35 minutes' time, we proceeded to Gate No. 21 in preparation for Korean Air Flight 765 to Sapporo (Chitose), which would be scheduled to depart at 10.05 a.m..

Soon enough, we finally arrived at Gate No. 21 by 9.15 a.m.. By the gate, there were some duty-free shops, where we purchased some duty-free items. The aircraft operating the flight for that morning was an Airbus A330-300, registered HL7584. Here are some pictures I took while waiting for boarding to commence.


The departure information screen at Gate No. 21 showing the details of Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) in Korean

The entrance at Gate No. 21 for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

Our aircraft for today, HL7584, being serviced at Gate No. 21 for her morning regional flight to Hokkaido, Japan as Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

The waiting areas by the boarding gates in Incheon International Airport

The crowded waiting areas by the boarding gates

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X being pushed back onto the tarmac from Terminal A for her morning flight back home to the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 603 bound for Singapore

HL7586, the aircraft that ferried us between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon) earlier

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7752, wearing the special "New Horizons of Korea" livery

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER aircraft taxiing on the tarmac


After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting at the gate waiting area, the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) were finally made at 9.40 a.m.. The First and Prestige Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS Club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called out to board the aircraft first. Grabbing all our belongings with us, we walked along the jet bridge and were finally on board HL7584 by 9.45 a.m..

As soon as we found our seats, we stowed all our carry-on baggage in the respective storage areas. The flight attendants did their usual ritual of distributing pre-departure beverages and menus to the passengers. As with the Singapore to Seoul (Incheon) sector, the First Class cabin would stay empty throughout the flight. A flight attendant came up to me to ask me for my desired pre-departure beverage. I ordered my usual glass of orange juice and water, which was promptly brought to my table. She then gave me the menu for the light meal between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose).


A pair of bulkhead Prestige Sleeper seats on board Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

A pair of First Class Sleeper seats on board Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

A photograph of the deserted First Class cabin on Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

A view of my seat, 8A, during the boarding process in Seoul (Incheon)

The Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the boarding process in Seoul (Incheon)


My usual glasses of orange juice and water


The instructions on how to make Bibimbap

A closer look into the menu for the sector between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

At exactly 10.05 a.m., the aircraft doors were closed and the safety briefing information video was played on our video screens. We then made a 25-minute taxi to the assigned runway, taxiing past several aircraft at the Main Terminal and Terminal A along the way.


After a 25-minute taxi towards our assigned runway, the two powerful Pratt & Whitney PW4168A engines spooled to life, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 10.30 a.m.. We then climbed into the bright winter morning sky for a regional flight time of two hours over the Sea of Japan towards the city of Sapporo in Hokkaido, Japan
.


A view of the cabin from my seat shortly after the aircraft doors were closed

The safety briefing demonstration video

The Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-322 being serviced at her departure gate in preparation for her late morning flight back home to Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur at 11 o' clock

Taxiing to the runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 765 ~ Take-off from Incheon International Airport

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 10.40 a.m., just approximately 10 minutes after take-off from Incheon International Airport. I then went up to do my usual cabin shots before the light meal service commenced
.


A few moments later, a flight attendant came up to my seat to take my meal order. I decided not to eat anything, due to the huge breakfast I had on the previous sector between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon). With that, I simply requested for a cup of hot green tea. After I finished my Green Tea, I went up to the lavatory and did more cabin shots before the seatbelt sign was on. Everything was uneventful for the remainder of the regional flight from Seoul (Incheon) to Sapporo (Chitose).



Flying over the mountains of South Korea

Climbing over a blanket of clouds

A pair of middle row Prestige Sleeper seats

The rear view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the flight between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

The front view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the flight between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

Flying over the Sea of Japan over a thick blanket of clouds


My cup of hot green tea on my dining table

Flying somewhere over the Sea of Japan near Niigata Prefecture

A view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat

Flying over a blanket of clouds over the Sea of Japan


The blanket of clouds somewhere over the Sea of Japan

A rear view of the deserted First Class Sleeper cabin

A front view of the deserted First Class Sleeper cabin

Flying over a blanket of clouds covering the Sea of Japan

Flying somewhere between Niigata and Yamagata Prefectures

Flying somewhere over Yamagata and Akita Prefectures

The beautiful afternoon sky as the plane flies somewhere over the Tsugaru Strait

The seatbelt sign was illuminated at 12.20 p.m., approximately 10 minutes before landing in New Chitose Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive in Sapporo very soon, we stowed all of our carry-on baggage and buckled up in preparation for the landing.

After a regional flight time of two hours over the Sea of Japan from the capital city of the Republic of Korea, we finally landed in New Chitose Airport at 12.30 p.m., five minutes ahead of schedule. There was not a single snowfall when we landed in New Chitose Airport. Usually, the best time to visit Hokkaido would be between late November to mid-April, since this place is very famous for snow in Japan during the winter season.



Korean Air Flight 765 ~ Landing in New Chitose Airport

Taxiing past the main domestic terminal on the way to the international terminal

The newly-opened international flight terminal at New Chitose Airport

After the aircraft docked on to the Gate No. 65, the seatbelt sign was turned off. We then took all of our carry-on bags and exited the aircraft. The flight attendant then bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan
.



Korean Air Flight 765 Score Report


Seat: 20 / 20
Food: Not applicable as I did not eat
Service: 17 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 19 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 76 / 80


In total, Korean Air scored 95% on this sector, which means they deserve another 'A+' grade. It was another very pleasant flight with them between ICN and CTS and it was again difficult to fault them on this sector.

Part 5 ~ The Driving Journey to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru


As soon as we disembarked from Korean Air flight KE 765 from Seoul (Incheon), we walked along the passageway that led to the immigrations area. When we reached the immigration area, it was packed with vacationers, whom had mostly come to Hokkaido for their winter holidays.


After we cleared immigration, we proceeded to the baggage claiming concourse to collect our check-in baggage. We then knew that we had to go to the car rental counter to board a shuttle bus to a Toyota Rent-a-Car Station near New Chitose Airport.



The passageway leading to the immigrations area in Chitose's international terminal


The check-in baggage carousel at the international terminal at New Chitose Airport

The international terminal arrival hall in New Chitose Airport

A lineup of cafeterias and convenience shops in the international terminal arrival area in New Chitose Airport

The roads under the international terminal leading to the other cities of Hokkaido

The flight information screens in the first floor of the international terminal

After sorting all of our baggage, a bus arrived to take us to the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station near New Chitose Airport. The journey between New Chitose Airport and the car rental station took about 10 minutes. We arrived at the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station at 1.55 p.m.. When we were directed to our car, the car looked something just like the MaxiCabs back in Singapore.



On the bus after leaving the international terminal


Crossing under a road bridge on the way to the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station


The interior of the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station near New Chitose Airport


Our rented car at the Toyota Rent-a-Car Station

After storing all of our baggage in the back of the car, we knew that we needed to do some shopping before heading to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. So we decided to go to the Chitose Rera Outlet Mall, which is located near New Chitose Airport and Minami-chitose Station on the JR Chitose Line. On the way, we decided to stop at a roadside cafeteria for lunch. 
After having lunch at the roadside cafeteria near New Chitose Airport, we drove on to Chitose Rera Outlet Mall. While we were at the Chitose Rera Outlet Mall, we shopped for several items such as clothes.



The interior of the cafeteria near New Chitose Airport

The menu for the cafeteria near New Chitose Airport

A small sashimi platter

A soba set for me

The car parking area outside Chitose Rera Outlet Mall

Inside the Chitose Rera Outlet Mall

A lineup of retail shops in Chitose Rera Outlet Mall

An open area in Chitose Rera Outlet Mall

A lineup of shops with a Christmas Tree during sunset

Chitose Rera Outlet Mall at night

After spending about 1 hour 30 minutes of shopping in Chitose Rera Outlet Mall, it was time to head to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. We would be spending the night there, as we were to head to Niseko the next day. The drive from Chitose Rera Outlet Mall to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru. My brother fell asleep along the way.


By the time we reached Otaru, it was already snowing. Immediately, my brother woke up and we all saw the snowfall. It was indeed a magical sight. We finally arrived at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru at six o' clock in the evening.


A hotel porter then came to help us with our baggage, while my dad went to park the car. My mum then went to the reception to check us in for the night. After we received our room keys, we went straight up to our rooms. Our bulky baggage was also delivered to us a few moments later. Snow was falling everywhere, especially in the port by the Sea of Japan.



The hotel lobby of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The reception counters at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The grand entrance hall of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru


The port of Otaru in the snowfall

A view of the room where my brother and I slept

A view of the room where my parents slept

The Sea of Japan at night, as seen from my room

After unpacking all our baggage, we all had dinner in the hotel room and had a relaxing hot shower. Feeling very tired from the long journey from Singapore, I went to bed early at around 10 o' clock. I wanted to have a good night's sleep to prepare for the journey to Niseko the next day.


This officially brings the first section of my winter holiday in Hokkaido in December 2010 to a close. Should you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask or comment. Be sure to stay tuned for the remaining sections of this holiday report.

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