Monday, December 31, 2012

End-of-Year Winter Holiday in South Korea in December 2012 ~ Section 4

Welcome to the fourth section of my winter holiday in South Korea in December 2012. This will be the final section of the report. There will be a total of two focus topics that will be covered in this section of the report. Spending our final afternoon in Seoul and the early evening journey back home to Singapore will be explained in this section.

Part 1 ~ Spending Our Final Afternoon in Seoul & The Journey Back to Incheon International Airport


After spending nine days of shopping, sightseeing, dining and transportation in South Korea, it was finally time to head back home to Singapore. I was finally glad to be heading back home to Singapore after nine days of mostly-tedious disappointment in South Korea, with nothing much being attractive to my eyes other than the food
On the cold and chilly morning of Sunday (30 December), we woke up at ten o' clock after having a well-earned good night's sleep. 


Having a shower and changing into our attire for the return flight, we spent the rest of the entire morning packing up the remaining segments of our baggage in preparation for the return flight back home to Singapore. For the evening return trip back home to Singapore, we would be flying with Korean Air again on flight KE 641 bound for Singapore, which would be expected to depart from Incheon International Airport at 6.35 p.m., and then arrive at Singapore Changi Airport at midnight. 

Given that our flight was not to depart until 6.35 p.m. later that evening, we decided to check out of the hotel at around 11.30 a.m.. We would then have a barbecue lunch at the famous grilled beef large intestine barbecue restaurant, Hwaroyeohaeng, in the Myeongdong shopping district prior to arranging for a luxury cab to come and fetch us to Incheon International Airport at 2.30 p.m.. We then conducted a check on our suite to see that no part of our baggage had been left unpacked.

The view of my room shortly after we all woke up

One last view of downtown Seoul from my room during a bright winter's morning

One last look at our living room suite before we finished packing our baggage

A wall of plants covered in snow by a snow-covered pathway

The entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

The hotel lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong

After we had finished packing all our baggage, a hotel porter finally came up to our room with a baggage trolley at around 10.45 a.m.. He offered to assist us with our baggage, while we checked the suite to see if nothing was left behind. Knowing that nothing had been left in the suite, we took the elevator down to the main lobby. 
By the time we arrived in the main lobby, the clock was already showing 10.55 a.m.. My parents went to arrange a cab to the Sejong Hotel near the Myeongdong Shopping District.

At the same time, they had arranged for a cab to transport us back to Incheon International. Soon enough, a black cab finally arrived outside the entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 11.15 a.m.. As we boarded the cab, we informed the driver that our intended destination was the Sejong Hotel near Myeongdong. Once everyone was on board the cab, we finally left the Fraser Suites Insadong for a cab ride of 10 minutes to the Sejong Hotel near the Myeongdong shopping district in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul.

On the roads of Jongno-gu, Seoul on a clear sunny winter's afternoon

Bypassing a traffic junction somewhere over the Cheonggyecheon river

Crossing a bridge somewhere over the Cheonggyecheon river

Waiting at a traffic junction near Namsan Hill

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Sejong Hotel

Standing by the entrance to the Sejong Hotel

Walking along an alley towards the Myeongdong shopping district

After a very short taxi ride of just 10 minutes from the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Sejong Hotel at 11.25 a.m.. Ensuring that we had all of our belongings after paying our fare, we walked along the lively shopping streets of Myeongdong to search for a good restaurant for lunch. Soon enough, we arrived at the famous local barbecue restaurant, Hwaroyeohaeng, again at 11.30 a.m.. Entering the restaurant, we requested for a table for the four of us. 


The owner and waitresses, being very familiar with us, offered to hang our coats for us, and showed us to a table located by the entrance. They then provided the menus and set up several appetizers for us on our table, with the charcoal barbecue griller being installed at the same time. After looking through the food menus, we placed orders of the many beef and pork cuts, which included the famous beef intestines. We then had a huge feast of barbecue beef and pork, which included the famous intestines. This feast quite pacified me, especially on the day we were about to fly back home.

The main entrance to Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district on a bright winter's afternoon

The overall interior of Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant during lunchtime hours

The charcoal barbecue griller being placed under the smoke exhumer with lots of appetizers surrounding it

The first plate of beef short ribs ready to be cooked on the charcoal barbecue griller

The first platter of the famous beef large intestines ready to be bubbled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The beef short ribs being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our first platter of the sliced beef tongue on the table opposite us ready to be grilled

The pork ribs being grilled on the barbecue griller

The pork cutlets being ready to be cut and consumed

The first platter of beef tongue being held by the waitress

Some of the beef intestines and beef tongue being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The juicy and gooey fats bubbling in the grilling beef intestines

Our second platter of the beef short ribs

Some of the pieces of the beef large intestines being grilled under the smoke exhumer

Our second platter of the sliced beef tongue on the table opposite us ready to be grilled

More pieces of the beef tongue being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Pieces of meat from the bones of the beef short ribs being grilled

Our third platter of the beef short ribs

More beef short ribs being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller


The overall interior of Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant shortly before we departed back to the Fraser Suites Insadong

After a sumptuous barbecue feast at Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant, we were finally stuffed to the brim. We thanked the waitresses for their services and paid the bill before we arranged our belongings. With that, we walked back to the entrance of Sejong Hotel to get a cab back to the Fraser Suites Insadong. After arriving back at the entrance of Sejong Hotel, we went to get a cab back to the Fraser Suites Insadong.

Once a cab stopped by at the entrance to the hotel, we hopped on and showed the driver our intended destination. With that, we were on our way for a short 10-minute taxi hop back to the Fraser Suites Insadong. Soon enough, we finally arrived back at the rear entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong at 1.05 p.m.. Paying our cab fare, we decided to go and have some hot drinks and dessert at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaves cafeteria. At the same time, my mum and I went to a nearby shopping street to purchase some souvenirs for my old secondary school teachers.
The main entrance to Hwaroyeohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district shortly before we went back to the Fraser Suites Insadong

Some of the many shops in the Myeongdong shopping district

The icy shopping district of Myeongdong near Hwaruyohaeng

The cow logo of Hwaruyohaeng at the entrance door to the restaurant

The main logo of Hwaruyohaeng

Outside the entrance to the Sejong Hotel again

Outside the entrance to the Sejong Hotel to catch a cab back to our hotel

The busy roadways near the Myeongdong shopping district on a bright winter's afternoon

About to bypass the Hotel Prince Seoul

Driving along one of the busy roads of downtown Seoul

Driving along the roads of Jongno-gu, Seoul

The Fraser Suites Insadong just ahead of us

A road junction near Jongno-gu near our hotel

The rear entrance to the Fraser Suites Insadong

The interior of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaves at the Fraser Suites Insadong towards the hotel lobby

A nice, warm mug of hot chocolate for myself

A small plate of sliced chocolate mousse cake for myself

The interior of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaves at the Fraser Suites Insadong with a self-service counter on the left

The interior of The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaves at the Fraser Suites Insadong with the main order counter on the right

After having our afternoon tea break at The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaves, the clock was already showing 2.25 p.m.. We quickly arranged our belongings, and went into the main hotel lobby in preparation for the journey back towards Incheon International Airport. At exactly 2.30 p.m., the cab arrived at the main entrance of the hotel. The driver then got out, and he, along with a hotel porter, offered to load our baggage into the boot of the cab.


As soon as all our baggage was loaded into the boot of the cab, my mum then went to check us out of the hotel. The hotel staff thanked us for being some of their guests, and wished us a pleasant journey back home to Singapore. With that, we boarded the black luxury cab, and by 2.40 p.m., we were on our way for a road journey of one hour to Incheon International Airport
located in the western suburban port city of Incheon.

Arriving into the main hotel lobby

The main lobby of the Fraser Suites Insadong

The black luxury cab which would soon take us to Incheon International Airport

Bypassing the parking area under the arcade centre near the Fraser Suites Insadong

On the Jongno-gu district roads near our hotel

Approaching the road junction near Namsan Hill and the Myeongdong Shopping District

Beginning to climb up the Namsan Hill

Our black luxury cab about to enter the Namsan Tunnel

Climbing down the Namsan Hill

Crossing the Banpo Bridge over the Han River towards the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Crossing over the Han River on a sunny winter's day

Bypassing a swimming complex covered in snow by the Han River

Driving along a road corniche by the Han River

A railroad and roadway bridge that crosses over the Han River

Bypassing some residential housing estates by the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

A block of housing apartments located across the Han River in Seoul

About to cross underneath another road bridge on the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

A green railroad bridge that stretches over the Han River

Some tall buildings on the other side of the Han River

Two blocks of housing flats located beside the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Driving along another part of the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Bypassing another railroad bridge that stretches across the Han River

About to bypass more blocks of housing apartments located across the Han River in Seoul

The Han River while we are halfway through our journey to the airport

Driving along the Seoul-Incheon Expressway beside more housing areas

An Incheon International Airport Railroad commuter train about to cross the Han River

The Incheon International Airport Railroad bridge that stretches across the Han River

The Han River as we are about to approach the expressway towards Incheon International Airport

A dome-shaped road bridge that stretches across the Han River

Approaching a tunnel along the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Bypassing another in-bound junction along the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Crossing another river on the Seoul-Incheon Expressway

Passing by another road bridge and a snow-covered plateau

Travelling along the Seoul-Incheon Expressway with Gyeyang Station ahead of us

Gyeyang Station as seen from the Seoul-Incheon Expressway towards Incheon International Airport

An Incheon International Airport Railroad commuter train heading towards Incheon International Airport shortly after departing from Gyeyang Station

Driving along the Seoul-Incheon Expressway with the Incheon International Airport Railroad commuter train heading towards Incheon International Airport ahead of us

Bypassing Geomam Station on the Incheon International Airport Railroad

Bypassing another snow-covered land while heading towards Incheon International Airport

Approaching the Incheon Bridge towards Incheon International Airport

Crossing the sea between Mainland Seoul and Incheon International Airport on the Incheon Bridge towards Incheon International Airport

Crossing the Incheon Bridge towards Incheon International Airport

An offshore island as seen along the Incheon Bridge towards Incheon International Airport

Climbing down from the Incheon Bridge towards Incheon International Airport

The Incheon International Airport Railroad parallel to the Seoul-Incheon Expressway towards Incheon International Airport

The Seoul-Incheon Expressway as we begin our approach wards Incheon International Airport

The Seoul-Incheon Expressway towards Incheon International Airport in the city of Incheon

An overall view of the Seoul-Incheon Expressway as we approach Incheon International Airport

Going around the Incheon International Airport Boulevard

Approaching the Main Terminal building of Incheon International Airport

Finally approaching the drop-off curbside of Incheon International Airport

A
fter a quick one-hour journey from the Fraser Suites Insadong in downtown Jongno-gu, Seoul,, we finally arrived at the drop-off curbside located outside the Main Terminal of Incheon International Airport at 3.40 p.m.. While the driver helped us to unload our baggage from the boot of his cab, I went to get three baggage trolleys to help put our baggage for the check-in process later. Before the taxi driver left to head back for downtown Seoul, we paid him and thanked him for his services before heading into the departures and check-in area.


After all our belongings were unloaded from the black luxury cab, we went into the Main Terminal Building before proceeding to the nearest Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter. Upon reaching the counter, we promptly checked in all of our bulky baggage for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore. Even after Christmas Day, the terminal building was still decorated with the Christmas decorations, with the expectation of remaining up there until the Christmas and New Year season is officially finished.

The drop-off curbside area at Incheon International Airport for Korean Air passengers

The black luxury cab that transported us from the Fraser Suites Insadong to Incheon International Airport earlier

The drop-off curbside area at Incheon International Airport

The departure and check-in area of the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport with lots of travellers

The list of active SkyTeam members by the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counters

The Korean Air Economy Class check-in counter in the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport

Checking in for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore at the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter

Some travellers about to check in at the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter in the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport

An information counter in the departures and check-in area of the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport

Sorting out some last-minute stuff before heading into the airside

The overall view of the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counters in the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport

The massive departure information board in the departures and check-in area of the Main Terminal Building at Incheon International Airport

After checking in all our bulky baggage for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore, we finally received our boarding passes for the segment back home. According to the check-in agent, it was stated that tonight, Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore would depart from Gate No. 32 at 6.35 p.m.. Boarding would also be scheduled to commence at 6.05 p.m.,
approximately ½ an hour before the scheduled departure time.


Having all our belongings with us, we headed to the airport security checkpoint, where we had a hassle-free security check before entering the airside of the Main Terminal at 4.35 p.m.. Knowing that it was still early before Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore, we decided to go up to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge to have some drinks and charge our electronic devices before our return flight to Singapore later that evening.


Reaching one of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounges by 4.45 p.m., we set up our electronics to charge prior to our return flight to Singapore. As we were in the lounge, I heard an announcement regarding our flight. Due to a change of aircraft and a late passenger arrival, Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore would be delayed for approximately 40 minutes, with the new expected departure time shifted to 7.15 p.m.
.

My boarding pass for the return journey between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore

The airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The main reception counter in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A large Korean Air Airbus A380 stand model on display in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

Four Korean Air Boeing 777s parked at the Main Terminal as seen from the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL8208, being serviced at Gate No. 30 for her regional flight to Japan as Korean Air flight KE 705 bound for Tokyo (Narita). If only we had gone to Japan traditionally this year, I would have been much happier, but I will get a chance to ride her when I go to Hokkaido, Japan, again in December 2013!

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343E, registered 9V-STG, taxiing to her assigned runway for take-off towards her homeland as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 609 bound for Singapore

A Korean Air Airbus A380-861, registered HL7613, parked at Gate No. 28 after arriving from her long transpacific flight from the United States as Korean Air flight KE 082 from New York (JFK)

A self-service cutlery and plate area in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The departure information screen showing the many departures in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7574, being towed to the Main Terminal after a delayed arrival from Israel as Korean Air flight KE 958 from Tel Aviv. She will be flying to Vietnam later that evening as Korean Air flight KE 679 bound for Hanoi

The interior of one of the seating areas in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7575, taxiing to her assigned runway for her supposedly delayed long transpacific journey to the United States as Korean Air flight KE 023 bound for San Francisco

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5, registered HL7573, just after being pushed back from Gate No. 32 for her flight to the Kingdom of Thailand as Korean Air flight KE 651 bound for Bangkok

A Korean Air Airbus A330-322, registered HL7524, making its way to the Main Terminal in preparation for her late night departure to the Kingdom of Thailand at 9.10 p.m. as Korean Air flight KE 659 bound for Bangkok. This aircraft transported us between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose) when we went on our traditional winter holiday to Hokkaido, Japan in December 2011

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL7782, resting at Gate No. 31 after arriving from the United Kingdom as Korean Air flight KE 908 from London (Heathrow) earlier. She will then have another transpacific journey to the American state island of Hawaii as Korean Air flight KE 051 bound for Honolulu later that evening

HL7613 being towed away from the Main Terminal

A Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL7538, being towed towards the Main Terminal after arriving from the Swiss Confederation as Korean Air flight KE 934 from Zurich

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge in the evening

Part 2 ~ The Flight Back Home Towards Singapore


Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 641
From: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
To: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
Aircraft: Boeing 777-3B5
Registration No.: HL7532
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 10A
Date: Sunday, 30 December 2012

After relaxing and charging up our electronic gadgets in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge for approximately 1 hour 45 minutes, the clock was finally showing 6.30 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore would commence in 
¼ hours' time, we packed up our hand-carry baggage and quickly proceeded to Gate No. 32 for our flight. The walk between the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge and Gate No. 32 took approximately 10 minutes.


Soon enough, we finally arrived at Gate No. 32 at 6.40 p.m., which was just in time for boarding to commence in five minutes' time. Looking at the number of passengers near Gate No. 32, I could see that Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore would be close to being filled to the brim. For tonight, Korean Air flight KE 641 bound Singapore would be operated by a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, registered HL7532 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines.


HL7532 was delivered new to Korean Air on 12 August 1999 as the first Boeing 777-300 and the fourth Boeing 777 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 13.3 years old today. I clearly remember riding on HL7532 back home to Singapore as the same flight number during our return segment from our traditional end-of-year winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan, in December 2011.

The massive stand model of a Korean Air Airbus A380-861 aircraft model on display near the reception counter

The beautiful Christmas Tree in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The Main Terminal concourse in ICN towards Gates No. 12 to 25

The Main Terminal concourse in Incheon International Airport

Bypassing some more duty-free shops while proceeding to Gate No. 32

The Main Terminal concourse in ICN towards Gates No. 29 to 41

Walking along the passageway towards Gates No. 29 to 41

Arriving at Gate No. 32 for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore just in time

Several passengers waiting in the holding area for the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore at Gate No. 32

Our aircraft for tonight, HL7532, being serviced at Gate No. 32 before her night flight as Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore

Two Korean Air Airbus A330s parked at Gates No. 26 and 27 at the Main Terminal

A Korean Air Airbus A330-322, registered HL7525, being serviced at Gate No. 31 for her regional flight to Hokkaido as Korean Air flight KE 795 bound for Sapporo (Chitose). If only we had traditionally gone to Hokkaido instead of this miserable wasteland, I would have been happier!


A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7553, being serviced at Gate No. 27 for her long flight to Australia as Korean Air flight KE 123 bound for Brisbane

After spending just five minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger holding area, the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 641 bound for Singapore were finally made at 6.45 p.m.. The First & Prestige Class passengers, as well as the passengers needing special assistance, and SKYPASS Membership partners were called out to board the aircraft first. With the first boarding calls made, we carried all our belongings with us and rolled up for the boarding process.

Walking along the jetway, we were finally on board HL7532 by 6.50 p.m. for a good 7.15 p.m. departure. At the front door, two flight attendants welcomed us on board, and showed us to our seats in the Prestige Class cabin Again, the Prestige Class seats we would be using were the new lie-flat Prestige Sleeper Seats, which can recline to a fully flat 180º. The new sets of seats were fitted on most of Korean Air's long-haul fleet following the delivery of the airline's Boeing 777-300/ERs in May 2009.

We then settled down into our assigned Seats No. 10A, 10D, 10E and 10F for the journey back home to Singapore after we stowed our belongings. The flight attendants did their usual routines of offering pre-departure beverages to the First and Prestige Class passengers. I selected my usual pre-departure glasses of orange juice and water, and settled down in preparation for the journey back home to the Republic of Singapore
to commence.

Walking down the escalator towards our aircraft

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during boarding at Incheon International Airport

A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7587, about to be pushed back for her evening flight to the Kingdom of Thailand as Korean Air flight KE 667 bound for Chiang Mai

A view of my seat, 10A, during boarding at Incheon International Airport

HL7525 about to be pushed back from Gate No. 31 for her regional flight to Hokkaido as Korean Air flight KE 795 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

The seat pocket contents found in the bulkhead pocket in front

My usual pre-departure glasses of orange juice and water

HL7525 finally being pushed back from Gate No. 31 for her regional flight to Hokkaido as Korean Air flight KE 795 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after all the passengers were on board

The flight indication router indicating that we are still in midst of the boarding process in Seoul

A Korean Air Airbus A330-322, registered HL7525, being pushed back onto the tarmac from Gate No. 31 for her regional flight to Hokkaido as Korean Air flight KE 795 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

At exactly 7.15 p.m. sharp, the aircraft was scheduled to depart from Gate No. 32, only to find that there was another problem among the ground staff, thus resulting in a longer delay of about 20 minutes. The flight captain then made an apology for whatever inconvenience caused, but I was beginning to get more and more impatient to get home to Singapore. The aircraft was still at Gate No. 32 when the safety briefing information video was shown on the video screens. 

It was not until 7.35 p.m. when we finally pushed back for Gate No. 32 and made our way to our assigned runway past the Main Terminal for departure. After making a 20-minute taxiway to our assigned runway, the two powerful Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines spooled into life, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 7.55 p.m.. The aircraft then climbed into the pitch black night sky, heading for a journey time of six hours over the South China Sea towards the Republic of Singapore.

The safety briefing information video reminding passengers that all Korean Air flights are non-smoking

A Korean Air Boeing 747-4B5 being serviced at Gate No. 28

HL7553 being serviced at Gate No. 27 for her long flight to Australia as Korean Air flight KE 123 bound for Brisbane

A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X and Boeing 747-4B5 being serviced at Gates No. 27 and 28 at the Main Terminal

An Asiana Airlines Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7754, taxiing to Gate No. 31 after resting. She will then have a night flight to the Kingdom of Thailand as Asiana Airlines flight OZ 759 bound for Bangkok

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-48E, registered HL7413, resting at Gate No. 34

Taxiing past several Asiana Airlines aircraft parked at the Main Terminal

A Korean Air Airbus A330 taxiing to her assigned runway for take-off

Lining up on our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 641 ~ A Dark Take-off From Incheon International Airport

Climbing into the pitch black night sky for our journey back home to Singapore

The lights of Seoul shining below us as we fly into the pitch black night sky back home to Singapore

The seatbelt sign was turned off at 8.05 p.m., approximately 10 minutes after take-off from Incheon International Airport. I went to the lavatory and took out my personal electronic devices to entertain myself for the journey. At the same time, the flight attendants sprung into action to distribute the menus to the passengers before commencing the in-flight dinner service. 
A few moments later, a flight attendant came up to my seat to take my main meal order for the in-flight dinner service.


I then placed my order for the grilled beef tenderloin steak with shallot sauce served with black ink pasta and vegetables for the main meal, having it to be cooked to medium. The flight stewardess took down my order and disappeared into the galley to fetch our meal trays. She then reappeared at my table with my glasses of orange juice and water, which I had ordered earlier, followed by our first course appetizers before the main course. I then settled back into my seat and enjoyed my appetizers before the main meal arrived
.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the seatbelt sign was turned off

The cover page for the in-flight dinner menu for the sector between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore

Looking closer into the in-flight dinner menu for the sector between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore

The instructions of Korean Air's signature dish Bibimbap

My glasses of water and orange juice on my dining table

The first course: Roasted eggplant with chicken

The second course: Seared scallop with black mushroom and eggplant

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the in-flight meal service

The third course: Pumpkin cream soup

After spending about five minutes of having my first in-flight dinner courses, the flight attendant appeared at my seat again at 8.30 p.m.. This time, she had my grilled beef tenderloin steak with shallot sauce served with black ink pasta and vegetables. With my main course on my meal tray, I took a cut from the steak, only to notice that it was a slightly too medium rare for my liking. Informing the flight attendant about it, she had it sent back to the galley to be cooked more. 

Soon enough, the flight attendant re-appeared with my main course, this time being done medium, as expected. Taking a bite out of my steak, it tasted quite tender and tasty, and the shallot sauce, black ink pasta and vegetables were perfect accompaniments to a fine in-flight dinner. I do have to admit that I had made the right choice and it was one of the best beef dishes I have ever eaten on a plane.

Finishing off my delicious grilled beef tenderloin steak, the flight attendant came to clear away my dinner tray. I then requested for a small tub of Häagen-Dazs Strawberry ice cream and a cup of hot milk tea. While waiting for my milk tea and dessert, I paid a visit to the lavatory and did my own personal stuff on my laptop. By the time I arrived back at my seat, my dessert and tea were already at my table.

I then tucked into my tea and dessert and enjoyed some time on my laptop, unable to wait for the familiar surroundings of home. At around midnight, the captain came to the cabin, and informed us that we would be arriving back in Singapore in about 50 minutes. He then thanked us for flying with Korean Air and hoped that we had a pleasant flight, which made me quite content with the flights.

My main course: Grilled beef tenderloin steak with shallot sauce served with black ink pasta and vegetables

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the main meal service

A warning sign in the lavatory that indicates that smoking in the aircraft and tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories is strictly prohibited by law

My small tub of Strawberry Häagen-Dazs ice cream on my centre armrest

My first cup of hot milk tea on my centre armrest

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (507158)

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the flight over the South China Sea. Note that on the airline's fleet of Boeing 777-300s, there are a total of 35 Prestige Sleeper seats (21 at the front; Rows 7 to 9, and 14 at the rear; Rows 10 and 11)

A view of my seat, 10A, during the cruising altitude over the South China Sea

Cruising through the dark night sky over the South China Sea, with the moon shining brightly in the background

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over Taiwan

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin dimmed to allow the passengers to rest

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude between The Philippines and the island of Hainan in Mainland China

My second cup of hot milk tea on my centre armrest

A glass of orange juice to revive myself for the remainder of the flight

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude between East Malaysia and Vietnam

Watching one my Airport Express MTR videos on my laptop, which was filmed during my post-GCE 'O' Level examination vacation in Hong Kong in November 2012

The rear Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during turbulence

The dimmed Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin at the front view. Apologies for the quality of the picture due to the turbulence

The dimmed Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin at the back view. Sorry for the quality of the picture due to the turbulence

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude on close approach to our homeland

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin just prior to the illumination of the seatbelt sign in preparation for descent into Singapore

In accordance with the Singapore Local Timing, the seatbelt sign was switched on again at 12.45 a.m., which was approximately 10 minutes in preparation for descent into Singapore Changi Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive back in Singapore shortly, we promptly stowed away our personal belongings in their storage spaces and buckled up in preparation for the descent to Singapore Changi Airport to commence smoothly.

Feelings of relief were rushing through my veins as I really could not wait to be back in the familiar surroundings of my home after spending nine chilly and somewhat unspecial days. After a long overnight flight time of six hours over the South China from the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), we finally touched down in Singapore Changi Airport at 12.55 a.m. on New Year's Eve before 2013
.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin just after the illumination of the seatbelt sign in preparation for descent into Singapore

The lights shining over a Malaysian city as the aircraft makes a final approach to Singapore

The lights of Singapore shining for us as the plane makes its final descent into Singapore Changi Airport

Korean Air Flight 641 ~ Late Night Arrival in Singapore Changi Airport

Taxiing on the tarmac shortly after landing

Taxiing past a Singapore Airlines Airbus A340-541 resting on the tarmac. Sadly, due to rising fuel costs, Singapore Airlines will be retiring their fleet of five Airbus A340-500s at the end of 2013, and replacing them with five new orders of Airbus A380s. The retirement of the Airbus A340-500s will also result in the termination of the airline's longest non-stop flights to Los Angeles and Newark

Finally docking on to Gate No. E24

After a short 10-minute taxi along the dark airport tarmac towards Terminal 2, we finally docked on to our arrival gate, Gate No. E24, at 1.05 a.m.. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, we unbuckled and took all of our belongings, ensuring that nothing was left behind on board. As we disembarked the aircraft, the flight attendants bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant journey home.


Also, the airline grading systems 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 641 Score Report


Seat: 19 / 20

Food: 18 / 20
Service: 18 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 92 / 100

In summary for this flight, Korean Air scored 92% between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon), meaning they earned themselves an 'A+' grade, which is the highest airline grade I can ever award, for the early evening return flight between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore. This was indeed another good flight with them again, and hopefully, I would have more opportunities to undertake another flight with Korean Air in future.


Part 3 ~ The Closing Sequences

Shortly after disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 641 from Seoul (Incheon) at Gate No. E24, we walked along Concourse E and took the escalators down to the immigrations area. Happy to be back on our own home soil, nothing but the thoughts of getting home filled me
. Arriving at the immigrations area located downstairs, we went over to the thumb fingerprint checkpoint, which is reserved exclusively for Singaporean citizens and permanent residents of Singapore.


Clearing the checkpoint, I went to check the baggage claim information screens to see which baggage belt our checked baggage would be arriving at. According to the baggage information screens, all check-in baggage from Korean Air flight KE 641 from Seoul (Incheon) would soon be arriving at Belt No. 33. While my brother and I went to grab a few baggage trolleys, my mum went to purchase some duty-free items such as liquor and wine from a duty-free shop located in the baggage claiming hall
.

The Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the aircraft docked on to Gate No. E24

Walking along Concourse E towards the immigrations area

The immigrations area in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The baggage reclaim hall in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The baggage reclaim information screen indicating that our check-on baggage would be arriving at Belt No. 33

Belt No. 33 in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, where our check-in baggage would be arriving

The baggage carousel hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 just before we went into the arrival hall

The arrival hall in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Some food and beverage outlets in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The hotel resort buses and cab counters in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The arrival hall view of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 right beside an exit

The arrival hall exit to the MaxiCab stand in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After we had claimed all of our check-in baggage, we went into the arrival hall towards a MaxiCab counter to arrange for a MaxiCab to transport us back home. On the way, my dad went to get some drinks for us at a refreshment counter. Checking whether I was alright, I knew that I would feel much better once we reached home. As soon as my mum had made the MaxiCab arrangements to transport us home, a Chinese gentlemen came into the arrival hall to escort us to the MaxiCab.


With our baggage being loaded into the boot of the MaxiCab, we finally departed Singapore Changi Airport by 1.35 a.m. for a late night 25-minute trip for home; by this time, I was really yearning for the familiar surroundings of home. By two o' clock, we arrived at the familiar compound of our home and had a sumptuous late night supper of ourr own local dishes. Despite being cold and disappointed, I was officially glad to be back home. A package was waiting for me when we were back in the house. I then took the package up to my room and opened it.

As a 2012 Christmas gift, I was rather grateful when it was a Lufthansa Airbus A340-300 Herpa Wings Scale 1:500 aircraft model. For my Christmas presents for 2012, they were as follows:

1) Etihad Airways Boeing 777-3FX/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (510615)
*

Etihad Airways Boeing 777-3FX/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (510615)

*The Etihad Airways model has been ordered over the Christmas period, but it will not be expected to arrive until a week after New Year's Day 2013.


2) Lufthansa Airbus A340-311 Herpa Scale 1:500 (516549
)

Lufthansa Airbus A340-311 Herpa Scale 1:500 (516549)

3) Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (507158
)


Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (507158)

In conclusion, it is with deep regrets that I did not enjoy South Korea that much as I used to. The fact that some taxi drivers can be rather gruff and rude, the quality of the goods is not as good as in Japan and Hong Kong and that there is limited snowfall quantity prove this statement to be very true. However, on the brighter side, the Korea Train Express (KTX) high-speed train trip to Busan, and the food were the somewhat redeeming factors on this trip.


Since my first winter trip to Hokkaido, Japan, in December 2010 and that from my last South Korea journey in December 2009, I could see that South Korea had lost much of its touch in many aspects. I then learnt from this holiday that wintertime would be much better if it was spent in Hokkaido or any other parts of Japan with high snow levels. It is thus mandatory for me to travel to Japan for at least once annually.

Given a choice between the two of them, I would rather continue to stick with Japan, as it allows me to have my own vacation identity and to speak my third dominant language. With this most recent trip, I think that the possibility of me undertaking another trip to South Korea again in future is quite low, unless if it is a stopover of not more than four days. I am quite confident that there would be much better winter vacations for me to come in the near future.

Nevertheless, I sincerely hope you have enjoyed reading and viewing this 2012 year-end Christmas report. Please feel free to ask questions and / or post your comments at any time if you need anything. May I take this opportunity now to wish all of you a Merry Christmas 2012 and Happy New Year 2013. As always, may you also have a safe and very pleasant blogging experience, and I wish you all the very best in whatever endeavours you may have.

2 comments:

  1. Took me like 30 mins to read everything lol!

    Anw its a nice post. Hope ot chance can visit skorea 1 day. But definetely to the more nature or less city-like area.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I'm glad you like it. But, regrettably, I didn't enjoy South Korea since it ain't what it used to be. Why not take a look at these blog links:

      a) barrych.blogspot.com/2012/01/

      b) barrych.blogspot.com/2012/05/

      c) barrych.blogspot.com/2012/08/

      d) barrych.blogspot.com/2013/06/

      These reports feature my Japan trips. I particularly enjoyed the winter in Hokkaido when I went there in December 2010 and December 2011. The snow quality in Hokkaido is way better than in Korea. I can tell you that. Also in the January 2012 post, you will see the report I have posted about Japan in May 2010.

      You can take a look at all the trains I have rode on, particularly the Shinkansen. The trains in Japan are way better than the ones in Korea.

      Delete