Saturday, December 14, 2013

Combined Christmas Winter Vacation to Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013 ~ Section 1

Season's greetings to all bloggers! A very warm welcome to this special blog report about my combined Christmas Winter Vacation in Hokkaido, Japan, and South Korea in December 2013! This is the official surprise report that you have been waiting for since my Deepavali weekend break in Bintan, Indonesia in November 2013This special Christmas blog report will be divided into a total of six sections, with a total of three main focus topics that will be covered in this very special first section.

They will mainly be the overnight in-bound journey to Sapporo (Chitose) via Seoul (Incheon) and the afternoon road journey to the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel. All vacation videos can also be found on my YouTube channel. However, please be aware that for security reasons, the publishing of comments for all uploaded YouTube videos is strictly prohibited, as is the display of advertisements, at all times. Violation will result in the deletion of comments and / or the blockage of the comment makers.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After spending weeks of planning on where to go to for the December winter holidays at the end of the year, my parents decided upon bringing my younger brother and I on a combined Christmas winter vacation to both Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea. I was excited since this would be our first combined vacation in two countries. My excitements went out mostly for Hokkaido, Japan, since I enjoyed the last trip there in December 2011. However, to tell the truth, I was slightly skeptical about South Korea since I didn't enjoy the last trip there in December 2012 that much. Nevertheless, my excitements still stood since it would be our fifth trip and our third winter trip to Hokkaido, Japan.

On the very morning of Thursday (12 December), I was still awake as I couldn't sleep the previous night, since I was getting more and more excited about the trip. Having a shower and changing up into my attire, we simply spent the remainder of the afternoon packing up the remainder of our baggage in preparation for the trip. According to my parents, they had arranged for a MaxiCab a few days in advance to come and fetch us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at six o' clock later that evening.

For the in-bound journey to Sapporo (Chitose) would be to fly with Korean Air on flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon), which would be scheduled to depart Singapore Changi Airport at 10.30 p.m., and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 5.40 a.m. early the next morning. Arriving at Incheon International Airport, we would have a somewhat long layover of 4 hours 25 minutes before connecting to Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose), which would be scheduled to depart Incheon International Airport at 10.05 a.m., and arrive at New Chitose Airport at 12.45 p.m., marking our fourth flight with Korean Air.

Once we had laid out all of our baggage in the living room, our pre-arranged MaxiCab finally showed up at our doorstep at six o' clock, which was just as scheduled. The driver, who was a Chinese gentleman, got out of his cab and offered to assist us in loading our baggage into the boot, while we waited for our housekeeper to return home with several Milo packs. Once everything was completed, we finally departed the compound of our home at 6.15 p.m. for a short road journey time of just 25 minutes to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the departure curb side and drop-off point of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 6.40 p.m.. While the driver assisted my parents in unloading our baggage from the boot of his cab, my younger brother and I went to get three baggage trolleys to load our baggage on. We then thanked the MaxiCab driver for his services and went into the terminal building towards the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge.

Terminal 2 is the second terminal operating at Singapore Changi Airport today. The terminal was opened for service on 22 November 1990 to help cater to the increasing tourist arrivals into Singapore. Singapore Airlines and SilkAir, along with several Southeast Asian carriers, shifted their operations to Terminal 2 following its official opening. Certain foreign carriers, such as Lufthansa, also shifted their operations here.

However, in collaboration with the opening of Terminal 3 on 9 January 2008, Singapore Airlines shifted all of its long-haul operations to the Americas, the European Union, Oceania and Far East from Terminal 2 to the newly-opened Terminal 3. All Singapore Airlines flights bound for the Indian Sub-continent, Middle East, Africa and Southeast Asia continue to operate out of Terminal 2, though the airline shifted its operations bound for the Philippines to Terminal 3 on 28 October 2013.

Etihad Airways commenced service between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane via Singapore using Terminal 2 on 27 September 2007, initially thrice a week, but was increased to daily from 1 February 2013. All Nippon Airways shifted its operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 on 1 October 2008. As time went by, Air India, Air India Express, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air shifted their operations from Terminal 1 to Terminal 2 on 29 March 2009. All of the low-cost carriers operating from the Budget Terminal also shifted their operations to Terminal 2 on 25 September 2012, following the closure of the Budget Terminal on the same date.

Swiss International Air Lines resumed its service to Singapore from Zurich with a daily direct non-stop flight using Terminal 2 on 12 May 2013. Asiana Airlines re-located its operations at Singapore Changi Airport from Terminal 2 to Terminal 3 on 30 September 2013, in order to ease connections with other long-haul destinations operated by fellow Star Alliance partner, Singapore Airlines. Philippine Airlines also shifted its operations from Terminal 2 to Terminal 1 on 28 October 2013.

The departure curb side of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 during the early evening hours shortly after we had arrived

The departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 during the early evening hours

The massive departure flight information board in the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as we proceed to the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge

After a short five-minute walk from the departure curb side and drop-off area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, we finally arrived at the entrance to the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge at 6.45 p.m.. Two baggage porters came to assist us with our baggage as we went in to check ourselves in for our flights. With everything completed, we checked ourselves in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose), with the entire check-in process taking no more than just 10 minutes.

Korean Air (Hangul: 대한항공; Hanja: 大韓航空) is the flag carrier and largest airline of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The airline maintains its headquarters in Gonghang-dong, Gangseo-gu, Seoul, as well as a satellite campus at Incheon. The airline mainly maintains its international hub at Incheon International Airport, and at Gimpo International Airport for its domestic flights, as well as limited international flights.

Korean Air is also one of the co-founding members of SkyTeam, the world's third and final airline alliance, which was formed on 22 June 2000. The airline worked together with three other airlines, namely Aéromexico, Air France and Delta Air Lines to form the alliance, which has a total of 19 pure members, as of 1 December 2013. The official frequent flyer program for the airline is known as SKYPASS. Outside of SkyTeam, Korean Air maintains codeshare agreements with other non-SkyTeam airlines, such as Japan Airlines and Malaysia Airlines, both of which members of Oneworld.

The SATS Premier Check-in Lounge is a special premium check-in lounge that is operated by Singapore Airport Terminal Services Limited (SATS Ltd.), or most commonly known as simply SATS. This special and exclusive check-in lounge is available only in Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, and is mainly used by certain foreign airlines for their First and Business Class passengers.

In Terminal 1, certain foreign airlines, such as Air China, British Airways, Japan Airlines and Thai Airways International use this special check-in lounge exclusively for their First and Business Class passengers. Also, in Terminal 2, certain foreign airlines, such as All Nippon Airways, Etihad Airways and Lufthansa, use this special check-in lounge for their First and Business Class passengers.

The following carriers make use of the special SATS Premier Check-in Lounge for their First and Business Class passengers in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, as of 1 December 2013:

1) Air India (Future Star Alliance carrier)

2) All Nippon Airways (Star Alliance carrier)

3) Etihad Airways

4) Hainan Airlines

5) Korean Air (SkyTeam carrier)

6) Lao Airlines

7) Lufthansa (Star Alliance carrier)

8) Malaysia Airlines (Oneworld carrier)

9) Royal Brunei Airlines

10) SilkAir

11) Singapore Airlines (Star Alliance carrier & Flag carrier of the Republic of Singapore)

12) Swiss International Air Lines (Star Alliance carrier)

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The Korean Air check-in desk at the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The interior of the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly before we checked in

A beautifully decorated Christmas Tree in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The interior of the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly after we had finished checking in

After checking in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 765 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose) at the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge, we finally received our boarding passes for both flight segments, along with our lounge invitation passes to sample the SATS Premier Lounge. The check-in agent then informed us that Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would depart at 10.30 p.m. from Gate No. E27, and that boarding would commence at ten o' clock, which would be approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure timing.

We then thanked the check-in agents and the lounge attendants for their kindly and warm services. Feeling very hungry already, we decided to have dinner at a restaurant first before heading into the airside. With that, we proceeded to the nearest elevator lobby, which was located just between the escalators towards the restaurant level located on the third floor. Upon taking the elevator up towards the third floor, we made a very careful look through the many restaurants available.

The list of many foreign airlines using the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge for their First & Business Class passengers in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as seen from the escalator and lift lobby towards the restaurants on the third floor

The departure information screen on the third level of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as seen from the restaurant level on the third floor

Bypassing Crystal Jade Restaurant on the third floor

A mock-up of Saint Basil's Cathedral as a Christmas decoration located in the departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After having a careful look through the many restaurants available on the third floor of the terminal building, we finally stumbled upon a local Chinese restaurant, which was known as Soup Restaurant. Entering the restaurant, we requested a table for the four of us since we were feeling rather hungry already. A waitress then ushered us to a conjoined empty table by the entrance to the restaurant and allowed us to leave our carry-on baggage beside us.

Leaving us with the food and beverage menus, we made a very good review through them prior to placing our orders for our main dishes for this upcoming dinner. Once we were ready to eat, a waitress finally came up to our table to take down our main meal orders for dinner. We ordered several items of the menu that would suite our tastes and preferences, such as fish slices in dark soy sauce and fried clay pot bean curd (tofu). That evening, we had quite a sumptuous dinner at Soup Restaurant in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Finally arriving outside Soup Restaurant in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The interior of Soup Restaurant in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly after we were seated at a table

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

The interior of Soup Restaurant in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly before we had dinner

A nice, mouthwatering plate of drunken chicken to be shared among us

A nice pot of fried bean curd (tofu) for myself

A platter of sautéed spinach to be shared among us

A platter of fried rice for my younger brother

A platter of fish slices in black soy sauce to be shared among us

After having a sumptuous dinner at Soup Restaurant on the third floor, the clock was finally showing 7.40 p.m.. Since it was time to head into the airside, we paid our bill and took the elevator down towards the second floor, though I took the escalator down instead. Upon arriving at the send-off area in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge, we had our passports and boarding passes examined before proceeding to the passport control area.

To clear the passport control area, we made use of the thumb fingerprint checkpoint, which is reserved exclusively for the Singaporean citizens and permanent residents of Singapore. Soon enough, we were finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 7.50 p.m.. The very first thing we decided to do was to head over to the SATS Premier Lounge to have some light bites and charge our electronic devices before the flight to Seoul (Incheon).

The third floor of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 housing the restaurants

The view of the departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as I head down on the escalator

Walking along the departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 towards the passport control area

The entrance towards the passport control area in the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The departure flight information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The transit mall in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The escalators leading to the airline lounge level in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The Cocoa Trees duty-free shop as we head up the escalator towards the SATS Premier Lounge

After walking from the Soup Restaurant towards the airside for approximately 20 minutes, we finally arrived at the main entrance towards the SATS Premier Lounge at eight o' clock. Arriving at the main lounge reception counter, the lounge receptionist checked our invitation passes before allowing us to enter the lounge. Once we entered the lounge, we found an empty seating area before setting up our electronic devices to be charged before the long overnight flight towards Seoul (Incheon).

Upon setting up my laptop and doing some draft essay work on my blog, I was getting rather bored. Wanting to pass the time, I decided to do some night plane-spotting activity, as I had always done previously during my previous vacations. With that, I left my belongings in the care of my parents at the SATS Premier Lounge, and went down the escalator to the main airside before heading to a nearby money exchange counter to exchange some Singapore dollars into Japanese yen.

At the money exchange counter itself, I changed approximately S$1,455, which earned me approximately ¥116,100 in return. This eventually increased my total amount of Japanese yen from ¥146,000 left from the previous mid-summer birthday trip there in June 2013 to ¥262,100. Upon completing the money exchange process of some of my Singapore dollars into Japanese yen, I headed over to the observation area near the toy shops to do my usual night plane-spotting activity.

Upon doing some of my usual night plane-spotting activities, I was beginning to feel slightly peaky, which resulted in me deciding to head back to the SATS Premier Lounge. Taking the escalator back to the airline lounge level, I finally arrived back at the SATS Premier Lounge at 8.40 p.m.. In the SATS Premier Lounge, I went to the self-service food and beverage area to get myself a glass of Michel Torino Chardonnay 2012 white wine with a nice, warm bowl of fresh mushroom soup twice while planning out my holiday report on my blog.

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The interior of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly after we arrived

The interior of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 from our seating area

The self-service food and beverage corner in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as seen from our seating area

Writing up a draft essay report in preparation for the trip in the SATS Premier Lounge. Helvetica will be the main font used for this report

The view of the miniature fish pond as seen from the airline lounge level in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of The Cocoa Trees duty-free shop as I make my way down towards the observations area

The money exchange counters in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The observations area in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A340-313X, registered HB-JMG, being serviced at Gate No. E3 in preparation for her long late overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey back home to the Swiss Confederation (Switzerland) as Swiss International Air Lines flight LX 179 bound for Zurich

A Scoot Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-OTC, being serviced at Gate No. F33 in preparation for her long overnight journey towards Queensland, Australia as Scoot flight TZ 006 bound for Gold Coast. This aircraft previously flew for Singapore Airlines as 9V-SQC before she was transferred to Scoot on 1 March 2012

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A330-343X, registered 9V-STB, being serviced at Gate No. F31 in preparation for her evening journey towards the Republic of the Maldives as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 452 bound for Malé

The airport tarmac view of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at night

The exterior view of Concourse E at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 by the tarmac at night

A Tiger Airways Airbus A320-232, registered 9V-TAW, about to be serviced at Gate No. E1 in preparation for her regional evening journey to the Republic of India as Tiger Airways flight TR 2624 bound for Hyderabad

The departure information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 by the observation deck

The miniature fish pond with koi fish in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The miniature rainforest in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A lineup of private individual desks for laptop users located in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Continuing with my draft essay planning on my blog report, with Helvetica as the core font

The self-service food and beverage corner in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A nice, warm bowl of fresh mushroom soup for myself

The mushroom soup self-service pot located in the food and beverage corner of the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The bottle of Michel Torino Chardonnay 2012 white wine bottle at the food and beverage corner in the SATS Premier Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A glass of Michel Torino Chardonnay 2012 white wine with another bowl of mushroom soup for myself

The seating area around the individual private area in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The overall interior of the inner seating areas in the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Part 2(a) ~ 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: Boeing 777-3B5/ER
Registration No.: HL8208
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 14J
Date: Thursday, 12 December 2013

After spending approximately 1 hour 30 minutes of relaxing, having some light bites and charging our electronic devices in the SATS Premier Lounge, the clock was finally showing 9.30 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would commence in half an hour's time, we quickly packed all our carry-on baggage and left the SATS Premier Lounge by 9.35 p.m. for Gate No. E27. The entire walk linking from the SATS Premier Lounge to Gate No. E27 took no more than just 10 minutes.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the main entrance to Gate No. E27 by 9.45 p.m., which was in good time for boarding to commence in 15 minutes' time. The security checkpoint was rather packed with queuing passengers for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon), which resulted in the security check being slightly slow by approximately 10 minutes. Clearing the security checkpoint, we finally entered the passenger waiting room at 9.55 p.m., five minutes before the first boarding calls could commence.

As for tonight, Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be operated using a Boeing 777-300/ER aircraft, registered HL8208 and powered by two powerful General Electric GE90-115B engines. HL8208 was delivered brand new to Korean Air on 10 May 2010 as the fourth Boeing 777-300/ER and the 26th Boeing 777 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 3.5 years old today, making HL8208 one of the youngest Boeing 777s in the Korean Air fleet today.

The Boeing 777-300/ER is currently the latest passenger model of the Boeing 777 family. It has the same body as the existing Boeing 777-300, though it has some differences, such as having raked and extended wingtips and being powered exclusively by two General Electric GE90-115B engines, which are the most powerful jet engines in the world today. Emirates is the world's largest operator for the Boeing 777-300/ER, with a total of 90 aircraft in its fleet as of 1 December 2013.

The first customer for the Boeing 777-300/ER was Air France, with its first aircraft, F-GSQA, delivered to the airline on 29 April 2004. The Boeing 777-300/ER's main aircraft competitor from Airbus is the Airbus A340-600, which is powered by a choice of four Rolls-Royce Trent 556-61, Rolls-Royce Trent 556A2-61 or Rolls-Royce Trent 560A2-61 engines. The future and upcoming Airbus A350-1000 will also compete with the Boeing 777-300/ER, and will be powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines.

Many major airlines today are placing orders for the Boeing 777-300/ER to replace their older fleet of aircraft, such as the Boeing 747-400, due to rising fuel costs and aircraft age. For example, Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong, has placed an order for a total of 50 Boeing 777-300/ERs to replace their older fleet of fuel-guzzling Boeing 747-400s, with a total of 37 aircraft delivered, as of 1 December 2013. The first Boeing 777-300/ER, B-KPA, was delivered to the airline on 27 September 2007.

One last view of the SATS Premier Lounge just before we left for Gate No. E27

Bypassing the Golden Lounge operated by Malaysia Airlines on the way towards Gate No. E27

The view of the indoor miniature fish pond from the airline lounge level as we begin to make our way towards Gate No. E27

About to bypass The Cocoa Trees duty-free shop as we head down the escalator towards Gate No. E27

The passageway in Concourse E of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 leading to Gates No. E20 to E28

The connecting flight information screen in Concourse E of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Finally approaching Gate No. E27

The departure information screen above the entrance to Gate No. E27 detailing the information for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

Our aircraft for tonight, HL8208, being serviced at Gate No. E27 in preparation for her long overnight journey back home to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A close-up of HL8208 being serviced at Gate No. E27

The interior of the passenger waiting room at Gate No. E27

One last glimpse of HL8208 shortly before boarding commenced

After spending just five minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting room, the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at ten o' clock. The First & Prestige Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS Club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were all called to board the aircraft first. Since we were among the passengers being called out to board first, we held on to our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process to commence smoothly.

Walking through the jet bridge to Door A, we were finally on board HL8208 at 10.05 p.m., which was just in a good time for a 10.30 p.m. departure. At the front door, two cheery flight stewardesses extended a warm welcome to us on board and checked our boarding passes. As soon as our boarding passes had been checked, we bypassed the First Class Kosmo Suites cabin and went into the Prestige Class cabin. The Prestige Class seats we would be using for the relatively long overnight flight of 6 hours 10 minutes to Seoul were the newer generation of Prestige Sleeper seats.

The seats are capable of reclining up to a maximum of 180º to allow completely lie-flat rest positions for passengers during long-haul flights. They were fitted on most of Korean Air's long-haul fleet following the introduction of the airline's fleet of Boeing 777-300/ERs in May 2009. AC power outlets are also available at each seat below the centre armrest just above the life vest containers. Stowing away our belongings in their respective storage areas, we finally settled down into our assigned Seats No. 14E, 14F, 14H and 14J in preparation for the long overnight journey to Seoul.

I would be seated beside my younger brother, who was sitting in Seat No. 14H, for the entire journey. The flight attendants did their pre-flight routines of distributing the pre-departure beverages and free newspapers to the First & Prestige Class passengers. I decided to have a glass of water, orange juice and champagne, accompanied with a packet of honey-roasted peanuts to begin with. Korean Air would become the second airline I would drink wine on board, after Thai Airways International in June 2013.

A view of my seat, 14J, during the boarding process at Singapore Changi Airport

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during the boarding process in Singapore Changi Airport

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312, registered 9V-SYI, resting at Gate No. E28 just adjacent to us after she had arrived from the Republic of Indonesia as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 961 from Jakarta earlier that evening

The package containing the front seat contents on board

The safety information brochure for Korean Air's fleet of Boeing 777-300/ERs

The flight route indication map indicating that we are still stationary in Singapore

My wonderful glasses of orange juice and champagne, accompanied by a packet of honey-roasted peanuts

My younger brother and I posing for a photograph in our seats during the boarding process in Singapore Changi Airport

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Class cabin from my seat shortly after the boarding process was completed

At exactly 10.30 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. E27, which was just as scheduled. The safety briefing information video was then shown on all of our personal in-flight video screens as we began to make our taxi towards our assigned runway for take-off, taxiing past several aircraft parked at Terminal 2 along the way and lasting for approximately 15 minutes.

After a relatively short 15-minute taxi duration towards our assigned runway, the aircraft's two powerful General Electric GE90-115B engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 10.45 p.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a long overnight flight time of 5 hours 35 minutes over the South China Sea towards the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The safety briefing demonstration video being shown on my front seat video screen during pushback from Gate No. E27

Finally pushing back from Gate No. E27

A Lufthansa Airbus A380-841, registered D-AIMI, being serviced at Gate No. E8 in preparation for her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey back home to the Federal Republic of Germany as Lufthansa flight LH 779 bound for Frankfurt

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-SRO, resting at Gate No. E12 after arriving from her regional evening journey from the Republic of Indonesia as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 963 from Jakarta. She will then have another regional early morning journey towards the Republic of India as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 402 bound for New Delhi

Finally taxiing away from Concourse E at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Taxiing past Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 along the way towards our assigned runway

Bypassing the area where the former Budget Terminal was once located at Singapore Changi Airport

Approaching our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ A Dark Take-off From Singapore Changi Airport

Finally climbing into the pitch black night sky over the South China Sea towards Seoul

The seatbelt sign was switched off at 10.50 p.m., which was just five minutes shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport. With that, I immediately got out my electronic devices to do some more essay drafting on my blog report about the trip. At the same time, the flight attendants started to hand out the food and beverage menus for the long overnight journey between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon).

Once I had received my food and beverage menu, the flight attendant also asked me what I wanted to have as the main course for the in-flight late night supper service. I opted to have the grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce served with roasted potato and vegetables, accompanied with a glass of Bordeaux, Château Saints-Genès 2011 white wine. The flight attendant then took down my main meal order and went back to the galley to fetch the meal trays with our first two courses.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

Continuing with my draft essay planning on my blog for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

Cruising somewhere over the Johor Strait after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

Reviewing the wine list for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon)

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Singapore and East Malaysia

Two glasses of water for my younger brother and I

The mirror view of the lavatory on the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER aircraft

A warning placard in the lavatory that warns passengers that smoking on board the aircraft and / or tampering with, disabling or destroying smoke detectors in the lavatories is strictly prohibited by law

The rear view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly before the in-flight late night supper service commenced

A view of my seat, 14J, shortly before the in-flight late night supper service commenced

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at my seat with two plates of chicken satay at 11.30 p.m.. Since my younger brother was not in the mood for satay, he gave me his plate to finish off. The chicken satay tasted quite tender, since satay is one of my favourite comfort foods. Through this, I can safely say that satay makes a very good appetiser before a main meal course.

Upon finishing my two satay plates, the flight attendant re-appeared at our seats containing our first two meal courses and cleared away my used satay plates. Tucking into the first two courses of the meal, I found that the ham, melon and the lentil cream soup tasted very good and made very good appetisers prior to a main meal course, which was just like the chicken satay I had earlier.

My two mouthwatering plates of chicken satay on my dining table

My usual glass of orange juice on my dining table

Watching A Christmas Carol: The Musical (2004) on my iPad

The bottle of Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine held by the flight attendant

My wine glass being filled with the Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine I want

My nice glass of Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine on my dining table

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before our meal trays were brought to our seats

Cruising over the South China Sea somewhere between East Malaysia and Vietnam

A nice can of Coca-cola for myself

The first course: Melon with prochuitto

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between East Malaysia and Vietnam

Cruising over the South China Sea somewhere between Vietnam and the Philippines

The second course: Lentil cream soup

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during the in-flight late night supper service

After spending approximately five minutes of anticipated waiting, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at our seats again at 12.10 a.m.. This time, she had our main courses, which were our plates of grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce served with roasted potato and vegetables. While I had my tenderloin cooked to medium, my younger brother had his beef tenderloin cooked to medium rare. We then tucked into our main supper courses.

Once I took a bite out of my beef tenderloin, I could feel that the beef tenderloin tasted really tender, and the thyme sauce, potatoes along with the vegetables were perfect and suitable accompaniments to a fine meal like this. My brother also agreed with me that this would be one of the best beef dishes we have ever eaten on board an airplane. My wine glass was also constantly topped up with my desired Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine.

During the main supper course itself, the flight attendants came by with a trolley containing seasonal fresh fruits and Häagen-Dazs ice cream. I opted to have a strawberry-flavoured ice cream, along with a glass of Baileys Irish Cream before ending off my main in-flight late night supper course. Once we were finished with our in-flight late night supper, our trays were promptly cleared away, and the cabin lights were dimmed to allow the passengers to get some sleep during the long journey. I then did some more drafting on my blog before I decided to get some shut-eye at around one o' clock late that night.

My main course: Grilled beef tenderloin with thyme sauce served with roast potato and vegetables

A nice small tub of strawberry-flavoured Häagen-Dazs ice cream and a glass of Baileys Irish Cream for myself

My meal tray after I had finished my main supper meal

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after the in-flight late night supper service was completed

Singapore Airlines Boeing 747-412 Herpa Scale 1:500 (500852) ~ New Generation

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Vietnam and the Philippines

The dimmed Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin view from my seat

Cruising over the South China Sea near the Philippines late at night

Part 2(b) ~ The Arrival Into Seoul (Incheon) & Layover at Incheon International Airport

After getting some shut-eye for approximately 2 hours 30 minutes, I woke up at around 4.30 a.m., in accordance with the Japan & South Korean Standard Timing. The sky was still very dark as the aircraft cruised over the East China Sea located just aft of the Taiwan Strait. By this time, most of the passengers were slowly beginning to wake up to freshen themselves up before the arrival into Incheon International Airport. Feeling slightly hungry already, I called for a flight attendant to whip up some Korean instant noodles for me and a glass of water, with the instant noodles being less spicy.

With my meal request taken down, the flight attendant went back into the galley to fetch my meal tray, and she managed to arrive back at my seat with my Korean instant noodles by 4.45 a.m.. I then tucked into my Korean instant noodles, since I was feeling rather hungry by this time. The noodles tasted quite soft and tender, and though the soup was still slightly spicy, I knew that it would help warm me for the arrival into Seoul (Incheon). Upon finishing my Korean instant noodles, the flight attendant promptly came to collect my meal tray, and I headed to the lavatory to brush my teeth before the arrival into Incheon International Airport.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after I woke up

My nice, warm bowl of Korean instant noodles to warm up before the arrival into Seoul

Cruising over the East China Sea as we enter South Korean airspace

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during cruising altitude over the East China Sea into South Korean airspace

In accordance with the Japan & Korea Standard Timing, the seatbelt sign was illuminated again at 5.05 a.m., which was approximately 15 minutes in preparation for descent into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we less than sufficient time before our arrival into Seoul, I immediately rushed back to my seat and packed away my personal belongings before buckling up in preparation for the landing.

The early morning sky was still very dark as the aircraft began to make its final approach into Incheon International Airport. After a relatively long overnight flight duration of 5 hours 35 minutes over the South China Sea straits from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down at a dark Incheon International Airport at 5.20 a.m., which was approximately 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

Incheon International Airport (Hangul: 인친국체공항; Hanja: 仁川國際空港) is the central international airport serving the Seoul metropolitan area in the Republic of Korea (South Korea). The airport is the largest and busiest airport in the Republic of Korea (South Korea), and the eighth-busiest airport in Asia and the world, in terms of the number of passengers passing through the airport. The airport serves as the main hub for South Korea's two major airlines, Asiana Airlines Korean Air.

The airport was opened for business on 29 March 2001 in order to relieve overcrowding at the older Gimpo International Airport (Hangul: 김포국체공항; Hanja: 金浦國際空港), which mainly caters to domestic flights, and a limited number of international flights to Mainland China, Japan and Taiwan. Since then, the airport has taken over most of the international flights to and from the country. The airport is connected directly to the mainland via the Incheon Bridge, which handles road and rail traffic to downtown Seoul.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt sign was illuminated in preparation for descent into Incheon International Airport

The lights of Seoul shining below us as we begin to make our final approach into Incheon International Airport

Cruising over the inland sea between Seoul and Incheon with the Incheon Bridge in the darkness as we make our final approach into Incheon International Airport

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ A Dark Early Morning Landing in Incheon International Airport

Several Korean Air aircraft resting on the tarmac at Incheon International Airport during the wee hours of the early morning shortly after we had landed

About to taxi past Terminal A as we make our way towards the Main Terminal

The view of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the wee hours of the early morning as we make our way towards it

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5, registered HL7533, resting at Gate No. 14 after arriving from her regional night journey from the Republic of the Philippines as Korean Air flight KE 624 from Manila

Finally docking onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 12, at the Main Terminal

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300/ER Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after we docked onto Gate No. 12 at the Main Terminal

After a very quick and short 10-minute taxi along the very dark airport tarmac to the Main Terminal, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 12, at 5.30 a.m., alongside a Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5 aircraft parked at Gate No. 14. Once the seatbelt signs were turned off, we immediately unbuckled and took all of our personal belongings from their respective storage spaces prior to disembarking the aircraft.

Upon ensuring that nothing had been left behind on board the aircraft, we rolled up behind some other passengers in preparation for the disembarkation process from the aircraft to commence smoothly. As we disembarked from the aircraft, all the flight attendants at the exit door sincerely thanked us for our patronage with Korean Air and wished us a pleasant, onward connecting journey to Hokkaido, Japan.

On each airline that I fly with, a score report is calculated after every flight segment. The total aggregate score is split into a total of five sections, which are the seat, food, service, legroom space and aircraft cleanliness. Every section is worth 20 points, which totals up to 100 points. To obtain a pass, a minimum of 'D' grade is a mandatory pre-requisite, which will mean a total aggregate score of 40% or above. The 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 644 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 18 / 20
Service: 18 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 92 / 100

To summarise, Korean Air obtained a total aggregate score of 92% for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon), which means that the airline earns the highest airline grade, which is an 'A+'. Other than the topping up of my wine glass, the flight stewardesses never failed to have smiles on their faces, which is a very nice gesture from Korean Air. This has been a very pleasant journey with them, and they should keep up the good work. Well done, Korean Air!

Shortly after disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore at Gate No. 12, we walked through the Main Terminal's relatively quiet passageway leading to the immigrations area and the transit security checkpoint. Since we would be continuing our long journey to Sapporo (Chitose) in Hokkaido, Japan, we immediately headed over to the transit security checkpoint, eventually arriving there by 5.40 a.m.. Once the transit security check took approximately 10 minutes, we finally took the escalator up to the airside, eventually arriving there by 5.50 a.m..

The first thing we did was to proceed to the information counter to ask for directions on how to get to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge, as we were planning to a have a nice, hot shower during our long early morning layover. The receptionist at the transit information counter informed us that the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge was located aft of the immigrations area and just adjacent to Gate No. 11. She also notified us that today, Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would be scheduled to depart at 10.05 a.m. from Gate No. 21.

Boarding would commence at 9.35 a.m., approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure timing. With that, we grabbed a few baggage trolleys and headed to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge, with the walk taking no more than just five minutes. As it was still the pre-dawn hours of the early morning, most of the duty-free shops, including the immigrations area were still closed, which made the entire airside rather quiet with very few connecting passengers in it. Through this, I could tell that the very quiet surroundings made Incheon International Airport appear to be like a haunted airport terminal building.

One last look at HL8208 resting at Gate No. 12 after arriving from her long overnight journey from the Republic of Singapore as Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore shortly before we proceeded to the transit security checkpoint

The passageway leading towards the immigrations area and transit security checkpoint in Incheon International Airport

A Korean Air Boeing 737-8B5, registered HL8223, resting at Gate No. 11 at the Main Terminal

The passageway leading to Gates No. 12 to 25 in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the wee hours of the early morning

The view of the main transit mall in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the wee hours of the early morning

The massive departure flight information screen within the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the wee hours of the early morning

The departure flight information screen located between the immigrations area and the main transiting mall in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The passageway in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport leading to Gates No. 6 to 11 during the wee hours of the early morning

After walking through the somewhat deserted Main Terminal airside at Incheon International Airport, we finally arrived at the entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge at six o' clock. Knowing that baggage trolleys were not permitted to be brought up into the lounge, we claimed our belongings and took the escalator to the lounge reception counter to have our passports and boarding passes checked. Once the lounge receptionist checked our passports and boarding passes, we proceeded to some empty areas located by the plane-spotting area in the lounge and also had turn intervals for showers in the lounge.

Once it was my turn to have a nice, hot shower, my parents offered to take my baggage to a private room in the lounge, where we would be relaxing for the next few hours. While having a shower, I could tell that the airline lounge showers in Incheon International Airport are much better than the ones in Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok, since they were much cleaner. Changing back into my attire, I headed to the private room where my family was relaxing. There, we had some light bites and drinks, while I also did some plane-spotting in the lounge and spent some time drafting out my vacation report. Surprisingly, the sky was still dark at seven o' clock, with the sun rising at 7.30 a.m..

Arriving at the main entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge at six o' clock

A Korean Air Airbus A380-861 aircraft stand model located near the main reception counter in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A beautifully decorated Christmas Tree by the main reception counter in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge during the wee hours of the early morning

HL8208 being unloaded at Gate No. 12 after transporting us from the Republic of Singapore as Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore

The interior of the private room at the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge during the wee hours of the early morning

My boarding pass for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

Continuing my essay report about the trip on my blog in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge. Helvetica is the core font used for this report

Some of the many aircraft of Korean Air parked at the Main Terminal during the early morning sunrise

A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7587, being towed away from the Main Terminal after her early morning arrival from the Republic of the Maldives via Sri Lanka as Korean Air flight KE 474 from Malé via Colombo

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge shortly before the early morning sunrise

A Korean Air Boeing 747-4B5, registered HL7494, resting at Gate No. 12 after arriving from her long overnight journey from the Federation of Malaysia as Korean Air flight KE 672 from Kuala Lumpur

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7734, resting at Gate No. 16 after arriving from her ultra-long transpacific journey from the United States as Korean Air flight KE 034 from Atlanta. She will then have another regional morning journey towards the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong as Korean Air flight KE 603 bound for Hong Kong

HL8208 about to be towed away from Gate No. 12 at the Main Terminal

A Lufthansa Airbus A340-313X, registered D-AIFC, taxiing towards her assigned runway in preparation for her continuing morning journey as Lufthansa flight LH 718 bound for Busan

HL7533 being pushed back from Gate No. 14 for her regional morning journey towards the Republic of the Philippines as Korean Air flight KE 621 bound for Manila

The self-service food and beverage corner in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge during the early morning sunrise

HL7494 being towed away from Gate No. 12

A Korean Air Airbus A330-322, registered HL7551, being towed away to another gate at the Main Terminal in preparation for her regional morning journey towards the People's Republic of China as Korean Air flight KE 807 bound for Xi'an

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL8210, waiting to dock onto Gate No. 14 after arriving from her long overnight journey from the Federation of Malaysia as Korean Air flight KE 8672 from Kuala Lumpur

HL7734 being pushed back from Gate No. 16 for her regional morning journey to the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong as Korean Air flight KE 603 bound for Hong Kong

A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-343X, registered PK-GPR, taxiing towards Terminal A after arriving from her long overnight journey from the Republic of Indonesia as Garuda Indonesia flight GA 870 from Denpasar (Bali)

An Asiana Airlines Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7747, taxiing towards the Main Terminal after arriving from her long overnight journey from the Republic of Indonesia as Asiana Airlines flight OZ 762 from Jakarta

Part 3 ~ The Flight to Sapporo (Chitose)

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: Boeing 747-4B5
Registration No.: HL7494
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 10A
Date: Friday, 13 December 2013

After spending approximately three hours of relaxing and charging our electronic devices in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge, the clock was finally showing nine o' clock. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would commence in 35 minutes' time, we immediately packed up our carry-on baggage and left the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge by 9.05 a.m. for Gate No. 21. The entire walk between the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge and Gate No. 21 took approximately 10 minutes.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 21 at 9.15 a.m., which was just in very good time for boarding to commence in 20 minutes' time. The area near Gates No. 18 to 21 was starting to fill up with waiting passengers to board their flights. While waiting for the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) to be made, we headed to a nearby duty-free shop, Lotte Duty-Free, to purchase a Baileys Irish Cream liquor bottle. I was quite excited since it had been a long time since I last flew on a Boeing 747.

For today, Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) would be operated using a Boeing 747-400, with the registration number HL7494 and powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines. HL7494 was delivered new to Korean Air on 10 August 1995 as the ninth Boeing 747-400 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 18.3 years old today. Despite its age, the aircraft was still in good shape. However, these will eventually be phased out by 2017, as Korean Air has plans to replace them with newer Airbus A380s, Boeing 747-8 Intercontinental (currently on order) and Boeing 777-300/ERs.

One last view of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge just before we left for Gate No. 21

The view of the large Korean Air Airbus A380 model and Christmas Tree by the main reception counter in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge just as we were about to leave for Gate No. 21

The passageway in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport leading to Gates No. 6 to 11

The passageway leading towards Gates No. 12 to 41 in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The main entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge as we make our way towards Gate No. 21

The main transiting mall in the airside of the Main Terminal of Incheon International Airport in the morning

The massive departure flight information board in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport in Chinese in the morning

The departure flight information screen in the passageway leading to Gates No. 12 to 25

Walking along the moving passageway leading to Gates No. 12 to 25

Approaching the concourse near Gates No. 17 to 21

Finally arriving at Gate No. 21 at 9.15 a.m.

Our aircraft for today, HL7494, being serviced at Gate No. 21 in preparation for her regional morning journey towards Hokkaido, Japan as Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777-3D7, registered HS-TKC, receiving her final minute preparations at Gate No. 123 at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 659 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7715, being towed to the Main Terminal in preparation for her long transpacific journey to the United States as Korean Air flight KE 093 bound for Washington D.C.

The departure information screen above Gate No. 21 detailing information for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose)

A Korean Air Airbus A330-323X, registered HL7554, being towed to the Main Terminal in preparation for her regional morning journey to the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as Korean Air flight KE 805 bound for Tianjin. I previously rode on this aircraft when I returned from my traditional winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan back in December 2010

The Lotte Duty Free shop located just adjacent to Gate No. 21

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 21 packed with waiting passengers

HL7551 making her way towards her assigned runway for her regional morning journey towards the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as Korean Air flight KE 807 bound for Xi'an

One last view of the waiting area around Gate No. 21 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) were made

An Asiana Airlines Airbus A330-323X, registered HL8282, about to taxi away from the Main Terminal for her regional morning run to Kyushu, Japan as Asiana Airlines flight OZ 132 bound for Fukuoka

After spending approximately 20 minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting area, the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) were finally made at 9.35 a.m.. The First & Prestige Class passengers and the SKYPASS Club members, as well as the passengers requiring special assistance were called out to board the aircraft first. Since we were among the first passengers being called out to board, we held on to all of our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process.

As we walked along the jet bridge to our aircraft, we were finally on board HL7494 at 9.40 a.m., which was in good time for a 10.05 a.m. departure. At the entrance door itself, two cheery flight attendants warmly welcomed us on board and showed us the direction to our seats in the Prestige Class cabin. Once we had stowed all of our belongings, we settled down into our assigned Seats No. 10A, 10B, 11A and 11B respectively for the short regional journey of 2 hours 40 minutes to Sapporo.

The Prestige Class seats we would be using for this regional hop of 2 hours 40 minutes to Sapporo would be the older generation of Prestige Plus shell seats, which are capable of reclining up to 172º to allow some flat rest during long-haul flights for passengers. These seats can mainly be found on selected Boeing 747-400s and Boeing 777-200/ERs. Unlike the newer generation of Prestige Sleeper seats, these seats have only one AC power outlet below the centre armrest of each seat.

While awaiting pushback from Gate No. 21, the flight attendants then went about their pre-flight routines of distributing the pre-departure beverages, food and beverage menus and free newspapers to the First & Prestige Class passengers. I opted to have my normal pre-departure glasses of water and orange juice, together with a small packet of honey-roasted peanuts, since champagne is not offered as a pre-departure beverage on long-haul Korean Air flights as we awaited for departure from Seoul.

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

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat during the boarding process at Incheon International Airport

My usual glasses of orange juice and water, along with a packet of honey-roasted peanuts on the armrest

A Korean Air Boeing 737-9B5, registered HL7708, being serviced at Gate No. 20 in preparation for her regional morning journey towards Japan as Korean Air flight KE 779 bound for Shizuoka

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

At exactly 10.05 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. 21, which was just as planned. The safety briefing information video was shown on all the video screens as we began to make our way to our assigned runway for take-off, taxiing past several aircraft parked at Terminal A and the Main Terminal along the way. The entire taxi to our assigned runway took no more than just 10 minutes.

After a relatively quick and short 10-minute taxi along the tarmac to our assigned runway, the aircraft's four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 10.15 a.m.. We then climbed into the bright winter morning sky for a short regional morning flight duration of 1 hour 55 minutes over the Sea of Japan to the prefectural capital city of Hokkaido located in northern Japan.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. 21

The safety briefing information video being shown on the bulkhead video screen in front of me

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-28E/ER, registered HL7755, about to make her way towards her assigned runway for her regional morning trip to Japan as Asiana Airlines flight OZ 112 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

The view of Terminal A as we begin to make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off

A British Airways Boeing 777-236/ER, registered G-YMMK, being serviced at Gate No. 113 at Terminal A before her trans-Siberian morning journey back home to the United Kingdom as British Airways flight BA 018 bound for London (Heathrow)

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-323X, registered 9M-MTC being loaded at Gate No. 111 at Terminal A prior to her morning journey back home to the Federation of Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur

A Vietnam Airlines Airbus A330-223, registered VN-A375, being receiving her final minute preparations at Gate No. 111 at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home to the Socialist Republic of Vietnam as Vietnam Airlines flight VN 409 bound for Ho Chi Minh City

A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-343X, registered PK-GPR, being loaded at Gate No. 107 at Terminal A before her morning journey back home to the popular resort island of Bali in the Republic of Indonesia as Garuda Indonesia flight GA 871 bound for Denpasar (Bali)

Taxiing towards our assigned runway at Incheon International Airport for departure

About to make a turn towards our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 765 ~ Bright Morning Take-off From Incheon International Airport

Finally climbing into the bright morning sky for our regional hop towards Sapporo (Chitose)

The cabin view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport

The seatbelt sign was switched off at 10.25 a.m., approximately 10 minutes shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport. As the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight brunch service, I paid a customary visit towards the lavatory prior to settling down further into the short regional journey. My younger brother, who was seated in Seat No. 11B with my mum, fell asleep throughout the entire journey. Shortly after I had returned to my seat, a flight attendant came up to our seats to take down our main meal orders for the in-flight brunch service.

Both my dad and I opted to have the chive omelet with tomato coulis served with roasted potato and vegetables for our main courses. At the same time, I also requested for a small bottle of red wine in order to accompany the meal. The flight attendant took down our main meal orders and went back to the galley to prepare for the in-flight brunch service. Since most of the seats in the Prestige Class cabin were left empty, I could tell that Korean Air flight KE 765 bound for Sapporo (Chitose) had a very light passenger load today.

A warning sign in the lavatory that warns passengers that smoking on board and / or tampering with smoke detectors in lavatories is forbidden at all times on board

The view of the rear Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin during cruising altitude over South Korea

A typical pair of Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus seats in Row No. 12

The view of the aircraft's wing and two of the four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines as we cruise over some mountainous areas in South Korea

Cruising over some mountainous areas in South Korea

The bulkhead video screen indicating our cruising altitude within South Korean airspace towards the Sea of Japan as we head out towards Hokkaido, Japan

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at our seats with our meal trays at 10.40 a.m.. My requested small bottle of red wine also arrived at my table at the same time. Once everything was delivered to our meal tables, I tucked into my main brunch course. The omelet tasted very tender and fresh on both the outside and inside, which helped me to feel more refreshed.

Also, the mushrooms, along with the shredded bacon and potatoes were some of the most perfect accompaniments to a mid-day meal like this. The red wine also went pretty well with my meal too, though my dad jokingly warned me not to get drunk. Upon finishing our main brunch courses, our trays were cleared away and I had a cup of hot milk tea before settling down towards my own electronic devices for the remainder of the entire flight.

Cruising over the Sea of Japan somewhere between South Korea and Japan

My main course: Chive omelet with tomato coulis served with roasted potato and vegetables

My nice small bottle and glass of red wine

My meal tray shortly after I had finished my main brunch meal

A nice cup of warm milk tea for myself resting on my centre armrest

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin during our cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan between the Hokuriku and Tohoku Regions

The bulkhead video screen indicating our cruising altitude over the Hokuriku Region of Japan

Cruising above a blanket of clouds over the Hokuriku Region of Japan

Continuing with my essay report for the segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Sapporo (Chitose)

The bulkhead video screen indicating our cruising altitude over Aomori Prefecture in the Tohoku Region

Cruising above a blanket of clouds over Aomori Prefecture

A view of my seat, 10A, during our cruising altitude over the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori Prefecture and Hokkaido, Japan

Cruising over the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori Prefecture and Hokkaido

The flight route indication map indicating our flight over the Tsugaru Strait between Aomori and Hokkaido

The seatbelt sign was illuminated again at 11.55 a.m., which was approximately 15 minutes in preparation for descent into New Chitose Airport. Knowing that we had a limited amount of time left before our arrival in Sapporo, we immediately stowed away our belongings and buckled up in preparation for the landing in New Chitose Airport. The weather changed into a very snowy weather as the aircraft made its final descent into New Chitose Airport.

After a short regional morning flight duration of 1 hour 55 minutes over the Sea of Japan from the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), we finally touched down in a very snowy New Chitose Airport at 12.10 p.m., which was approximately 35 minutes ahead of schedule. By this time, there was a very heavy snow storm greeting us, which I find to be a very magical and welcoming sight, even if it is in Hokkaido in northern Japan.

New Chitose Airport (新千歳空港) is an airport located in the suburban city of Chitose near Tomakomai, Hokkaido, Japan. The airport serves as the central airport serving the Sapporo metropolitan area and the main gateway airport to Hokkaido, as well as the busiest airport on the island. A majority of both local and foreign tourists pass through New Chitose Airport when coming to Hokkaido via airplane. New Chitose Airport is ranked as a second class airport under national Japanese law.

The airport mainly serves domestic flights, but also caters to limited international flights to Guam, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Russia, South Korea, Thailand and Taiwan. A new international passenger flight terminal was opened on 26 March 2010 in order to cater to more foreign tourist arrivals into Hokkaido. Prior to the opening of the new international flight terminal , there was a sterile area in the main domestic passenger terminal that catered to very limited international flights.

Hokkaido (北海道) is a Japanese island located in northern Japan near Russia. The island is the second-largest island in Japan after Honshu and the largest prefecture in Japan in terms of land area, with a total land area of approximately 83,454.57 square kilometres. The island is bordered by the Tsugaru Strait from Aomori Prefecture in Honshu, although the undersea Seikan Tunnel connects both Honshu and Hokkaido via the JR Tsugaru-kaikyo Line, though the Hokkaido Shinkansen is expected to open in March 2016.

Sapporo is the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, and is also the island's sole city designated by government ordinance. The best time to visit Hokkaido is usually between late November and mid-April, since the long winter season is extremely popular with both local and foreign tourists, where skiing and other winter activities take place. Sunshine during the long winter season, especially in Japan, can be quite brief, with the sun rising at around seven o' clock in the morning, and the setting between four and five o' clock in the afternoon.

The safety information brochure for Korean Air's fleet of Boeing 747-400s

About to cruise through some thick clouds as we begin our descent into New Chitose Airport

The view of the galley as the aircraft makes its approach into New Chitose Airport

Cruising through some snow storm clouds as we begin to make our final approach into New Chitose Airport

Korean Air Flight 765 ~ Snowy Landing in New Chitose Airport

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-281, registered JA8967, about to be serviced at Gate No. 8 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional domestic run towards the capital city of Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 064 bound for Tokyo (Haneda)

Taxiing past the Domestic Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport during a very snowy weather as we make our way towards the newer International Flight Terminal

A Jetstar Japan Airbus A320-232, registered JA07JJ, being serviced at Gate No. 0 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional domestic run towards the capital city of Japan as Jetstar Japan flight GK 106 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

The exterior view of the International Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport as we make our taxi along the tarmac towards it during a very heavy snow storm

Finally approaching our arrival gate, Gate No. 65, at the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The view of the snowy airport tarmac at New Chitose Airport near the International Flight Terminal

Finally docking onto Gate No. 65 at the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly after we docked onto Gate No. 65 at the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

After a short taxi duration of just five minutes along the very snowy airport tarmac of New Chitose Airport to the International Terminal, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 65, at 12.20 p.m.. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled and took all of our belongings from their respective storage areas, ensuring that nothing had been left behind on board.

We then rolled up at the nearest exit door before it was opened to allow the passengers to disembark from the plane. Once the doors were opened, all of the passengers alighted the aircraft one by one in two rows. As we disembarked from the aircraft, the flight attendants thanked us for our patronage with Korean Air, and wished us a pleasant winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan.

Korean Air Flight 765 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 18 / 20
Service: 16 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 15 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 88 / 100

In summary, Korean Air has managed to obtain a total aggregate score of 88% for our final segment between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon), which will mean that they have earned themselves another 'A+' grade, the highest airline grade. Again, it was another very pleasant journey with them, especially on a short hop, and Korean Air should continue to work hard to maintain its high standards.

Part 3 ~ The Road Journey to the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 765 from Seoul (Incheon), we walked along the passageway to the arrivals and immigrations area, feeling happy that we were in Hokkaido again. There were lots of foreign tourists who had mostly come to Hokkaido for their winter holidays, which made the immigrations area quite crowded, although the entire immigration process lasted for approximately five minutes only. Upon clearing the immigrations area, we went to the baggage claiming hall and I checked to see which baggage belt our bulky check-in baggage would be arriving at.

According to the baggage information screen, all check-in baggage from Korean Air flight KE 765 from Sapporo (Chitose) would arrive at Belt A. Without wasting anymore time, we went to claim three baggage trolleys and waited at Belt A for our check-in baggage to arrive. Once we had claimed our check-in baggage and loaded them onto the baggage trolleys, we walked into the arrival hall and went to purchase some snacks and beverages from a nearby convenience store, known as Lawson Convenience Store. After that, we proceeded to take the elevator down to the first level of the terminal.

One last look at HL7494 resting at Gate No. 65 at the International Passenger Terminal at New Chitose Airport after arriving from the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 765 from Seoul (Incheon)

Walking along the passageway leading to the immigrations and arrivals area within the International Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport

HL7494 resting at Gate No. 65 before receiving her preparations for her return journey back home towards the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

The interior of the international flight baggage claiming area at New Chitose Airport

The baggage belt information screen in the international flight baggage claiming hall in New Chitose Airport

Finally in the arrivals and meeting area in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The interior view of the arrivals and meeting area in the International Passenger Flight Terminal in New Chitose Airport

The Lawson convenience store in the international arrivals and meeting area at New Chitose Airport

The view of the very snowy roads near New Chitose Airport

The view of a snow-covered car parking area between both terminals at New Chitose Airport

The view of the Domestic Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport as seen from the International Passenger Flight Terminal

The elevator lobby linking all the three levels in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

After taking the elevator down to the first level of the terminal building, we finally made it to the Toyota Rent-a-Car reception counter at 12.55 p.m.. At the counter itself, we showed the receptionist our international driving licence and had it checked while waiting for a car rental customer card. My younger brother also went outside the terminal, only to realise that it was very cold with lots of snowfall. Once we had our international driving licence checked, the receptionist issued us our Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran customer number.

She also informed us to wait for the free airport shuttle bus bound for the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport to arrive. While we waited, we sorted out all of our belongings in the first level of the International Terminal. After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting, a gentlemen, who was also the driver for the free shuttle bus bound for the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station located near New Chitose Airport, finally came to meet us in the terminal building at 1.05 p.m..

He then escorted us towards the free shuttle bus that was waiting for us at the curb side, and also offered to assist us in loading our baggage into the bus. Soon enough, once all of our baggage was loaded onto the bus, we finally departed the very snowy compound of New Chitose Airport at 1.10 p.m.. The entire journey from New Chitose Airport to the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station took no more than just 10 minutes. Everywhere was covered in a thick blanket of snow, even as we bypassed the railway lines near Minami-chitose Station.

Soon enough, we finally arrived at the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station at 1.20 p.m.. As we entered the main car rental office, the shuttle bus driver and a rent-a-car station staff came to assist us with our baggage. In the main office, we made our car rental reservations to rent a rather large car until the end of our winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan, which would be on Tuesday, 24 December (Christmas Eve). As one of the car rental station staff went to find a smart and large-looking car for us, we went to get some maps of Hokkaido.

Walking along the passageway towards the car rental counter on the first level of the International Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The interior of the first level in the International Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The car rental counter in the first level of the International Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The flight departures and arrivals information screen in the first level of the International Passenger Flight Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The view of the first level of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport by the car rental reception counter

Our Toyota Rent-a-car Suzuran Station customer card

The international terminal curb side at New Chitose Airport

The free Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran shuttle bus ready to take us to the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station located near New Chitose Airport

The interior of the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran shuttle bus bound for the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station located near New Chitose Airport

Awaiting departure from New Chitose Airport

Finally departing the very snowy compound of New Chitose Airport

The view of the Domestic Passenger Flight Terminal during a very snowy weather at New Chitose Airport

The view of the International Passenger Flight Terminal during a very snowy weather at New Chitose Airport

Bypassing an Eneos petrol station located near New Chitose Airport

The view of the entire land covered in snow near the compound of New Chitose Airport

Bypassing the Chitose Line and Sekisho Line tracks near Minami-chitose Station

Crossing the bridge above the Sekisho Line track as we near the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station

Finally arriving at the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport

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

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting in the reception area of the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station, the car rental receptionist finally showed us to a smart-looking four-wheeled Toyota Car. Knowing that this car would be big enough for our tastes and preferences, we accepted it for the upcoming 12-day winter stay in Hokkaido, Japan. While my younger brother and I boarded the car, the car rental receptionist offered to assist my parents in loading all of our baggage into the boot of the car.

Once everything had been loaded into the rented car, we finally departed the very snowy compound of the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station by 1.40 p.m.. The entire road journey from the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport to the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel took no more than 2 hours 15 minutes. Along the way, we stopped briefly at a rest station, known as Wattsu Rest Station, located just adjacent to the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway to have some afternoon tea.

The Renaissance Sapporo Hotel (ルネッサンスサッポロホテル) is a 14-storey luxury hotel operated by the Renaissance Hotels Group in Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan. It is located in Toyohira 4-Jo, Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, and is just 15 minutes away from Sapporo Station via car or taxi. The hotel was opened on 7 September 1991, and has a total of 323 guest rooms. The hotel also underwent a major renovation process in April 2004. The first three levels mainly house three basement car parking areas, with the main hotel lobby located on the first floor. All the remaining eleven storeys house the guest rooms.

Sapporo (札幌市) is the fourth-largest city in Japan in terms of population, and the largest city in Hokkaido, Japan. It serves as the prefectural capital of Hokkaido, and the sole city designated by government ordinance in Hokkaido, with a total of 10 wards. Sapporo serves as an important transportation hub in Hokkaido, with its largest transport network situated around Sapporo Station. The city is also well-known for hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, which were the first Olympics ever held in Asia.

Our rented Toyota Car for the 12-day winter holiday in Hokkaido, Japan

Awaiting departure from the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport

Finally departing the snowy compound of the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport

About to cross underneath the underpass below the Chitose Line tracks

Bypassing Minami-chitose Station during very snowy weather

Running adjacent to the Chitose Line tracks between Minami-chitose and Chitose Stations

Driving through a snowy road located within the city of Chitose

Finally driving along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

Bypassing a snowy hill by the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

Pulling into the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The exterior of the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The car parking area outside the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The entrance towards the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The souvenir shop in the Wattsu Rest Station

The interior of the cafeteria at the Wattsu Rest Station

A nice, mouthwatering meal of Yakiniku Teishoku for myself

A soba noodle soup for my dad

Two bowls of Katsudon for my mum and younger brother

The car parking area outside the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway just before we resumed our journey towards the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

The entrance towards the Wattsu Rest Station along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway shortly before we carried on with our journey towards the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

Resuming our journey on the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

Bypassing the suburban city of Eniwa along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

The view of several snowy hillside forests while travelling along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

Travelling along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway between Eniwa and Kitahiroshima

Travelling towards the direction leading to Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, along the Sapporo-Chitose Expressway

Travelling through a suburban street in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo

The panoramic view of the roads of Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, as we drive along to the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

Bypassing some housing apartments in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo

About to drive through some housing areas in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, during a very heavy snow storm

The view of the snowy roads in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, after stopping at McDonald's Drive-Through

Bypassing more housing areas in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo, during a very heavy snow storm

Turning into the direction leading to the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel in Toyohira-ku, Sapporo

Finally arriving at the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

After a somewhat long road journey time of 2 hours 15 minutes and battling through the very snowy weather from the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran Station near New Chitose Airport, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Renaissance Hotel Sapporo at 3.55 p.m.. A hotel porter then came out with a baggage trolley to assist us with our baggage while my mum, followed by my younger brother and myself, went towards the main reception counter in the hotel lobby to check in for our three-day stay.

As we went in, my dad went down to park the car. The entrance to the hotel was connected towards the main hotel lobby via a mini-footbridge. I could also see that the ceiling in the main hotel lobby had some very beautiful and classical kind of master arts. The classical art portrayals really made the hotel lobby look very grand and beautiful, which was just like the appearance of the grand entrance hall in the Grand Park Hotel Otaru.

The interior of the meeting hall in the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Renaissance Hotel Sapporo

The view of the beautiful classical Japanese art above the ceiling in the main hotel lobby at the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Renaissance Hotel Sapporo with a guest lounge on the right

After checking in for our three-day stay at the main check-in reception counter, we finally received our hotel room keys at 4.05 p.m.. The hotel receptionist then informed us that our rooms were located on the eleventh floor, which was the topmost level of the hotel, and they would be two connecting twin rooms. She also informed us that all of our baggage would be brought up to our rooms for us.

With that, we took the elevator all the way up towards the eleventh floor and walked along the passageway towards our Rooms No. 1134 and 1136, arriving there by 4.10 p.m.. Once we entered the rooms, we saw that the rooms were quite big enough for our likings. While my parents would stay in Room No. 1134, my younger brother and I would stay in Room No. 1136. Just as promised, our baggage was brought up to us soon.

With all of our baggage in the room, we unpacked all of our belongings and sorted all of our attires for the upcoming days in Sapporo. The view of the Toyohira River flowing gracefully in the winter was very beautiful from our room. From my hotel room, I also saw that there was an indoor swimming pool located on the fourth level. As we sat back to have a good, well-earned rest, the sky became darker and soon enough, a heavy snow storm was raging across Sapporo, with the entire city becoming white with snow.

Finally arriving at our Rooms No. 1134 and 1136

The view of Room No. 1136, where my younger brother and I would sleep

The view of Room No. 1134, where my parents would sleep

The beautiful evening view of the Toyohira River from my Room No. 1136 at the Renaissance Sapporo Hotel

The entire city of Sapporo white with snow during a heavy and raging snow storm across Toyohira-ku, Sapporo

After having a well-earned rest following our long overnight journey from Singapore in the hotel room, my parents decided to go out for dinner. Since my younger brother and I were feeling too exhausted, my parents offered to bring back a fast-food dinner of McDonald's for us. While my parents were out, both my younger brother and I had the time of our lives in the hotel room.

Soon enough, our parents returned at around ten o' clock late that night, with our fast-food McDonald's dinner brought for us. Once we all had our in-room fast-food dinner, we both had a nice, hot shower and changed into our pyjamas prior to settling in for the remainder of the snowy night. Late that night, we finally turned in for a good night's sleep by 2.30 a.m. after spending the time of our lives.

This officially brings the first section of my very special combined Christmas winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013 to a conclusion. Questions and / or comments will be more than welcome. The remaining five segments of the entire report will be published once I have selected the best quality photographs and videos.

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