Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Combined Christmas Winter Vacation to Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013 ~ Section 5

Welcome to the fifth section of my special combined Christmas winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan and South Korea in December 2013. There will be a total of three main focus topics that will be covered in this section of the report. They will mainly be the road journey back to New Chitose Airport and the regional afternoon flight between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon), and the road journey and overnight stay at the Han Suites Serviced Residences.

Part 1 ~ The Road Journey Back To New Chitose Airport

After spending 13 enjoyable days of food, shopping, snow and trains in Hokkaido, Japan, it was finally time to head over to South Korea. On the morning of Tuesday (24 December), which was Christmas Eve, all of us woke up at around 7.30 a.m. after having a well-earned good night's rest. Since we would be heading to South Korea to spend the night before heading back home to Singapore, we had a nice, hot shower and changed into our attire for the afternoon journey to Seoul.

For the journey to Seoul, we would fly with Korean Air on flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon), which would be scheduled to depart New Chitose Airport at 2.15 p.m., and arrive at Incheon International Airport at 5.30 p.m.. However, as we would be staying overnight in Seoul and that most of our check-in baggage would be destined all the way back home to Singapore, some of our check-in baggage would remain at Incheon International Airport to be taken care of by Korean Air.

Once we had changed into our attire and footwear for the afternoon journey to Seoul, we went to pack up our remaining baggage and checked around our rooms to see that none of our belongings had been left unpacked. Upon finishing our baggage-packing, my dad went to call the hotel receptionist to send a porter with a baggage trolley up to our rooms to assist us with all our baggage. While waiting for the baggage porter to come up to our Rooms No. 1401 and 1402, we enjoyed the last views of the Sea of Japan.

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 shortly after we all woke up on a clear Christmas Eve's morning

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a clear Christmas Eve's morning

A Shin Nihonkai Ferry at Otaru Port by the Sea of Japan

The view of my Room No. 1402 shortly after all of us were awake

The view of the small boat quay by the Sea of Japan in Otaru from my Room No. 1402 shortly before we checked out of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from my Room No. 1402 on a clear Christmas Eve's morning shortly before we checked out of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

After spending the rest of the morning packing our baggage for the journey to South Korea, a hotel porter finally came up to our Rooms No. 1401 and 1402 with a baggage trolley at 9.15 a.m.. He helped us to load our baggage onto the baggage trolleys and offered to take care of it before we came down. Doing a final check to see that nothing was left unpacked in our rooms, we took the elevator down to the grand entrance hall to check out of the hotel.

Both my younger brother and I followed my mum to the grand entrance hall for the check-out, while my dad went down to the basement car parking level to get our rented car. Upon completing the check-out process, the Grand Park Hotel Otaru staff sincerely thanked us for our stay and we promised to come back again on our future winter trips to Hokkaido. With all our belongings, we went out to the main entrance door, where my dad was waiting for us.

The hotel porter offered to help my parents load our baggage into the boot of the car while both my younger brother and I boarded. With our belongings loaded into the car, we finally departed the Grand Park Hotel at 9.45 a.m. for a road drive of 1 hour 50 minutes back to the Toyota Rent-a-Car station located in the suburban city of Chitose near New Chitose Airport, stopping at Wattsu rest station for breakfast along the way.

Overall, the Grand Park Hotel Otaru has still maintained its high standards over the many years we have stayed here. With its breathtaking views of the Sea of Japan, the Grand Park Hotel Otaru still remains as my most favourite and one of the best hotels I have ever stayed at in Hokkaido, Japan. I will never hesitate to stay at this particular hotel again whenever we go on future winter vacations to Hokkaido, Japan.

The marble staircase in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru during a fine Christmas Eve's morning

A large miniature gingerbread house with several Christmas trees in the grand entrance hall at the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a fine Christmas Eve's morning

Our rented Toyota car outside the main entrance to the Grand Park Hotel Otaru shortly before we left for New Chitose Airport

Finally departing the Grand Park Hotel Otaru

Bypassing a railway yard located near Otaru-chikko Station on a fine Christmas Eve's morning

One last view of the Grand Park Hotel Otaru on a fine Christmas Eve's morning as we enter the Otaru-Sapporo Expressway

Finally driving along the Otaru-Sapporo Expressway

The beautiful view of the Sea of Japan from the Otaru-Sapporo Expressway on the way to New Chitose Airport

Bypassing a large settlement located in Teine-ku, Sapporo, on the Otaru-Sapporo Expressway

Bypassing an apartment housing area located in downtown Nishi-ku, Sapporo, on the Otaru-Sapporo Expressway

Bypassing a snow-covered hill forest located near the suburban city of Kitahiroshima on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

Pulling over to the road leading to the Wattsu rest station on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

Finally arriving at the Wattsu rest station on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

The interior of the Wattsu rest centre cafeteria along the Otaru-Chitose Expressway on a fine Christmas Eve's morning

A mouthwatering bowl of Katsudon for my younger brother

A nice, mouthwatering meal of Yakiniku Teishoku for myself

The interior of the souvenir shop at the Wattsu rest station on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

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

Finally travelling along the Otaru-Chitose Expressway to New Chitose Airport

Travelling past a snow-covered field in the suburban city of Eniwa on the Otaru-Chitose Expressway

Turning to the toll gate in the suburban city of Chitose leading to New Chitose Airport

Travelling past a snow-covered forest in the suburban city of Chitose

Bypassing a bus bay located adjacent to the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

About to bypass underneath the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

Travelling past a snow-covered field located at New Chitose Airport on the way to the Toyota Rent-a-Car station

Overlooking the Chitose Line tracks near Minami-chitose Station

A view of the Chitose Line tracks leading to Tomakomai, Muroran and Hakodate on the way to the Toyota Rent-a-Car station near New Chitose Airport

Travelling along the bridge crossing the Sekisho Line on the way to the Toyota Rent-a-Car station near New Chitose Airport

Bypassing a car parking centre located near the Toyota Rent-a-Car station near New Chitose Airport

Finally arriving back at the Toyota Rent-a-Car station located near New Chitose Airport

After a long morning road drive of 1 hour 50 minutes from the suburban port city of Otaru, we finally arrived back at the Toyota Rent-a-Car station located near New Chitose Airport at 11.35 a.m.. Stopping our car just outside the car rental office, the office lady came out and offered to assist us in unloading our baggage, while my parents went into the office to pay and sign the rental bill. Upon completing the necessary bills, the office lady escorted us to the free shuttle bus bound for the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport.

The bus driver then got out of the bus and helped us load our baggage in while all of us got in for the short shuttle bus ride back to the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport. In the free airport shuttle bus itself, there were not many passengers other than just ourselves heading to New Chitose Airport. Soon enough, once everything was loaded into the shuttle bus, we finally departed the Toyota Rent-a-Car station at 11.45 a.m. for a short free airport shuttle bus ride of just 10 minutes to the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport.

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

Our rented Toyota Car at the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran station located near New Chitose Airport shortly before we returned it

The free Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran shuttle bus ready to take us back to the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

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

Travelling past a snow-covered forest in the suburban city of Chitose just near the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran station near New Chitose Airport

About to cross underneath the underpass below the Chitose Line tracks on the way to New Chitose Airport

Turning towards the roads leading to downtown Chitose and New Chitose Airport

Travelling past a snow-covered forest in the suburban city of Chitose located just near New Chitose Airport

Travelling past some maintenance buildings located near New Chitose Airport

About to bypass underneath the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport before arriving at the pick-up and drop-off area

Turning around at the roundabout near the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

Finally arriving back at the drop-off area located below the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

After a short and quick airport shuttle bus journey of just 10 minutes from the Toyota Rent-a-Car Suzuran station near New Chitose Airport, we finally arrived at the drop-off area located below the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport at 11.55 a.m.. Checking to see that nothing had been left behind on board, we quickly grabbed three baggage trolleys while the bus driver helped my parents to unload all our baggage from the bus itself and loading them onto the baggage trolleys.

Once all our baggage had been loaded onto the baggage trolleys, we went into the terminal building and took the elevator up to the third floor, where the international departures and check-in hall was located, eventually arriving there by noon. In the international departures and check-in hall itself, we proceeded to the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter to check in for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon). The entire check-in process took no more than just 10 minutes.

The international terminal curb side at New Chitose Airport on a fine Christmas Eve's afternoon

The view of the first level of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport on a fine Christmas Eve's afternoon

The Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter in the departures and check-in hall of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport on a clear Christmas Eve's afternoon

The view of the international departures and check-in hall in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport on a clear Christmas Eve's afternoon

After checking in for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) at the Korean Air Prestige Class check-in counter, we finally received our boarding passes and Royal Lounge invitation passes at 12.10 p.m.. The check-in agent then informed us that for today, Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be scheduled to depart at 2.15 p.m. from Gate No. 65. Boarding would also commence at 1.45 p.m., approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure timing.

With that, we thanked the check-in agent for her utmost and kind services and proceeded to the security checkpoint for a slightly slow and crowded security check, eventually clearing it by 12.30 p.m.. Once we had cleared the airport security checkpoint, we headed over to the passport control area, which also took slightly long as the area was crowded with departing travellers. With the security check and passport control procedures finished, we were finally in the airside of the terminal building by 12.40 p.m..

Since we still had some time left before our regional afternoon flight to Seoul, we decided to head over to the Royal Lounge first. With that, we took the escalator to the upper level of the airside, and arrived at the entrance to the Royal Lounge by 12.45 p.m.. Entering the lounge, the lounge receptionist checked our lounge invitation passes before allowing us in. While in the Royal Lounge, we used our electronic devices and had some light soft beverages before our regional afternoon flight to Seoul.

The Korean Air check-in counters in the departures and check-in hall in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport on a fine Christmas Eve's afternoon

The departures and check-in hall in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport shortly before we went into the airside

My boarding pass for the segment from Sapporo (Chitose) to Seoul (Incheon)

Finally in the airside of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The departure information screen in the airside of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The signboard leading to the escalators to the Royal Lounge in the upper level of the airside

Finally arriving at the entrance to the Royal Lounge in the International Terminal airside at New Chitose Airport

The list of airlines using the Royal Lounge in the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The interior of the Royal Lounge in the airside of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport shortly after we entered the lounge

The self-service food and beverage corner in the Royal Lounge in the airside of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

Crafting out my report for the journey to Seoul (Incheon) in the Royal Lounge at New Chitose Airport

One last view of the Royal Lounge at New Chitose Airport shortly before I headed over to Gate No. 65

Part 2 ~ The Flight to Seoul (Incheon)

Airline: Korean Air
Flight No.: KE 766
From: Sapporo, New Chitose Airport (CTS / RJCC), Chitose, Hokkaido, Japan
To: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
Aircraft: Boeing 747-4B5
Registration No.: HL7493
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8J
Date: Tuesday, 24 December 2013 (Christmas Eve)

After spending approximately 45 minutes of relaxing and having some light beverages in the Royal Lounge, the clock was finally showing 1.30 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would commence in just 15 minutes' time, I immediately packed up all my carry-on baggage and proceeded to Gate No. 65 with my parents' acknowledgements. The entire walk between the Royal Lounge and Gate No. 65 took no more than just five minutes.

Soon enough, I finally arrived at the passenger waiting area at 1.35 p.m., which was just in good time for boarding to commence in 10 minutes' time. My family then met up with me at the boarding gate at 1.40 p.m., which was just five minutes before boarding for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) commenced. Today, Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be operated using a Boeing 747-400 aircraft, registered HL7493 and powered by four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines.

HL7493 was delivered new to Korean Air on 22 March 1995 as the eighth Boeing 747-400 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 18.7 years old today. Though the aircraft was already showing its age, it was still in good shape. However, these ageing aircraft are expected to be retired by 2017 and replaced with newer fleets of Airbus A380s, Boeing 747-8 Intercontinentals and Boeing 777-300/ERs.

Walking down the escalator from the Royal Lounge to Gate No. 65

Finally arriving at the passenger waiting area near Gate No. 65

Our aircraft for today, HL7493, being serviced at Gate No. 65 in preparation for her regional afternoon return journey back home to the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A closeup of HL7493 being serviced at Gate No. 65 at the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

A Jetstar Japan Airbus A320-232, registered JA06JJ, parked at Gate No. 0 at the Domestic Terminal at New Chitose Airport

Overlooking the main Domestic Flight Terminal from the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 65 on a bright Christmas Eve's afternoon

The boarding area at Gate No. 65 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were made

After spending approximately 10 minutes of anticipated waiting at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 65, the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 766 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at 1.45 p.m.. The First & Prestige Class passengers, together with the SKYPASS club members and the passengers requiring special assistance, were all called out to board the aircraft first. Being some of the first passengers being called out, we rolled up in front of some other passengers for the boarding process to commence.

Walking along the jet bridge to Door A, we were finally on board HL7493 at 1.50 p.m., which was just in good time for a 2.15 p.m. departure. At Door A, two cheery flight stewardesses extended a warm welcome to us on board and showed us the direction to our seats located in the Prestige Class cabin. Entering the Prestige Class cabin itself, we stowed away our belongings in their respective storage spaces and settled into our assigned Seats No. 7H, 7J, 8H and 8J for the short regional afternoon flight of 3 hours 15 minutes to Seoul.

The Prestige Class seats we would be using for this short regional afternoon flight to Seoul were the older generation of Prestige Plus shell seats. These seats are found on selected Boeing 747-400s and Boeing 777-200/ERs and are capable of reclining up to 172º to allow some flat rest for all passengers travelling on long-haul flights. However, unlike the newer Prestige Sleeper seats, each of these seats feature only one AC power outlet located below the centre armrest.

The flight attendants then went about their usual pre-flight routines of distributing the food and beverage menus, pre-departure beverages and free newspapers to the First & Prestige Class passengers. Since champagne is not offered as a pre-departure beverage on regional flights, I ordered my usual pre-departure glass of orange juice, together with a small packet of honey-roasted peanuts to begin with. While awaiting pushback from Gate No. 65, I settled back into my seat to enjoy the pre-flight service.

A view of my seat, 8J, during the boarding process at Gate No. 65 at New Chitose Airport

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

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

A China Airlines Boeing 747-409, registered B-18207, being serviced at Gate No. 66 in preparation for her mid-afternoon return journey back home to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as China Airlines flight CI 131 bound for Taipei (Taoyuan)

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

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin during the boarding process at Gate No. 65 at New Chitose Airport

My usual pre-departure glass of orange juice with a small packet of honey-roasted peanuts

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly before the aircraft doors were closed for departure

After the clock struck exactly 2.15 p.m. sharp, all of the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. 65, which was just as scheduled. As the safety briefing information video was being shown on our front seat video screens, we began to make our way to our assigned runway for take-off, taxiing past several local Japanese carriers parked at the main Domestic Passenger Flight Terminal along the way.

After taxiing along the cold, snowy airport tarmac for approximately 15 minutes, the aircraft's four Pratt & Whitney PW4056 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from New Chitose Airport at 2.30 p.m.. We then climbed into the bright winter Christmas Eve afternoon sky for a short regional afternoon flight duration of just 2 hours 30 minutes over the Sea of Japan to the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The safety briefing information video being shown on my front seat video screen

Finally pushing back from Gate No. 65 at the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

One last view of B-18207 being serviced at Gate No. 66 at the International Terminal in preparation for her afternoon journey back home towards the Republic of China (Taiwan) as China Airlines flight CI 131 bound for Taipei (Taoyuan)

About to taxi away from the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport

The view of the snow-covered tarmac at New Chitose Airport as we begin our taxi towards our assigned runway

The view of the International Terminal at New Chitose Airport on a clear Christmas Eve's afternoon

A Jetstar Japan Airbus A320-232, registered JA05JJ, being serviced at Gate No. 0 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional afternoon domestic run towards the Chukyo Metropolitan Area as Jetstar Japan flight GK 182 bound for Nagoya

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-281/ER, registered JA744A, being serviced at Gate No. 8 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional afternoon domestic run towards Kyushu on Christmas Eve as All Nippon Airways flight NH 290 bound for Fukuoka

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 777-381, registered JA752A, being serviced at Gate No. 10 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional afternoon domestic run towards the capital city of Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 068 bound for Tokyo (Haneda)

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-246, registered JA773J, being serviced at Gate No. 10 at the Domestic Terminal in preparation for her regional afternoon domestic run towards the capital city of Japan as Japan Airlines flight JL 514 bound for Tokyo (Haneda)

Overlooking several mountains while making our way to our assigned runway for take-off at New Chitose Airport

Taxiing along the snowy tarmac at New Chitose Airport to our assigned runway for take-off

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat as we approach our assigned runway for take-off

Approaching our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 766 ~ Bright Afternoon Take-off From New Chitose Airport

Finally climbing into the bright winter afternoon sky shortly after taking off from New Chitose Airport

The seatbelt signs were switched off at 2.40 p.m., which was approximately 10 minutes after taking off from New Chitose Airport. As the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight lunch service, I paid a visit to the lavatory and got out my laptop to be used for my entertainment purposes for the upcoming duration of the entire regional flight to Seoul. A few moments later, a flight attendant came by to my seat to take down my main meal order for the in-flight lunch service.

I opted to have the braised chicken with Japanese soy sauce served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables as the main lunch course. I also ordered a glass of water and a small bottle of red wine to go with my upcoming lunch. With my main meal order taken down, the flight attendant went back to the kitchen to fetch the meal trays containing our first lunch courses. Once our beverages and lunch tray delivered to our tables, we tucked into our first lunch courses while waiting for the main course, with the salad tasting fresh and good with blue cheese, sliced apples and sesame.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were switched off

Cruising somewhere near Muroran over the Pacific Ocean

A glass of water to begin the in-flight service with

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

Cruising over the Tsugaru Strait between Hokkaido and Aomori

A bottle and glass of red wine for myself

The first course: Fresh salad with blue cheese, apple slice and toasted pine nuts served with sesame dressing

Cruising over a blanket of clouds over the Tsugaru Strait

After spending approximately five minutes of waiting at my seat following the consumption of my first in-flight lunch courses, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at my seat at 3.10 p.m.. This time, she had my braised chicken with Japanese soy sauce served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables. With my main lunch course delivered to my table, I immediately tucked into my in-flight lunch service. The chicken tasted very tender and cooked perfectly, with the mushrooms and rice going very well with the meal.

The sole red wine option, which was available on regional flights, also went quite well with the braised chicken meal. Once I was finished with my main course, the flight attendant came over to my seat to clear my meal tray and asked me whether there was anything else I wanted. Since I was feeling stuffed to the brim already, I requested for some hot tea with milk and a Baileys Irish Cream to round off this in-flight lunch service, to which, she took my orders down quickly and delivered my Baileys Irish Cream first.

Upon finishing my Baileys Irish Cream, I went to pay a visit to the lavatory and got my laptop out for my entertainment purposes for the remainder of the flight to Seoul. Soon enough, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at my seat with my hot tea with milk at 4.35 p.m.. Once she had taken my liquor glass, I sat back to enjoy my hot tea with milk, which I finished in a few minutes before the flight attendant came back to collect my used cup. For the rest of the flight, I was left to my laptop until the seatbelt signs were illuminated for landing in Seoul.

My main lunch course: Braised chicken with Japanese soy sauce served with steamed rice and mixed vegetables

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan near Yamagata and Niigata Prefectures

Cruising over the Sea of Japan near Yamagata and Niigata Prefectures

My glass of Baileys Irish Cream to round off the in-flight lunch service

Crafting out my report for the journey to Seoul (Incheon) during cruising altitude after the in-flight lunch service

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan near the Hokuriku region

Cruising over the Sea of Japan near the Hokuriku region

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

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin during cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan near the Hokuriku region

A view of my seat, 8J, during cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan near the Hokuriku region

Playing "LEGO Racers: Amazon Adventure Alley (Mirrored)", with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord, attacking Achu with three homing missiles

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly after the in-flight lunch service was finished

Cruising over the Sea of Japan somewhere close to Busan

Playing "LEGO Racers: Tribal Island Trail (Mirrored)", with myself playing as Basil the Bat Lord, attacking Islander with three homing missiles

Etihad Airways Airbus A340-642 Herpa Scale 1:500 (523998)

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat dimmed to allow the passengers to rest

A cup of hot tea with milk and sugar on my centre armrest for myself

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin during cruising altitude somewhere over Busan and Daegu with the cabin still dimmed slightly for passengers to rest

A warning sign in the lavatory that informs passengers that smoking, including tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories, is forbidden under local South Korean law and civil aviation regulations

Cruising over some local South Korean settlements shortly before the seatbelt signs were illuminated for landing in Incheon International Airport

The seatbelt sign was illuminated again at 4.50 p.m., which was approximately 10 minutes in preparation for descent into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we were about to arrive into Seoul in less than half an hour's time, we immediately stowed away our personal belongings in their respective storage spaces and buckled up our seat belts in preparation for the landing in Incheon International Airport.

The sun was gradually beginning to set over the Korea Strait as the aircraft began to make its final approach into Incheon International Airport. After a very short regional flight duration of just 2 hours 30 minutes over the Sea of Japan from the metropolitan prefectural capital of Hokkaido in northern Japan, we finally touched down in Incheon International Airport at five o' clock, approximately half an hour ahead of schedule.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were illuminated for landing in Incheon International Airport

Cruising over some local South Korean settlements as the aircraft makes its descent into Incheon International Airport

The view of the Incheon Bridge linking Incheon International Airport with the mainland as the aircraft makes its final approach into Incheon International Airport

Korean Air Flight 766 ~ Early Evening Landing In Incheon International Airport

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL7782, resting along the tarmac before being towed to the Main Terminal in preparation for her long evening transpacific journey towards the United States as Korean Air flight KE 085 bound for New York (JFK)

Two Korean Air Boeing 777s resting on the tarmac at Incheon International Airport

Several foreign carriers parked at Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

Taxiing along the main tarmac at Incheon International Airport shortly after we had landed

Finally approaching our assigned arrival gate, Gate No. 109, at Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

A China Southern Airlines Airbus A320-232, registered B-9911, awaiting pushback from Gate No. 105 at Terminal A in preparation for her regional evening journey back home towards the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as China Southern Airlines flight CZ 696 bound for Dalian

The Korean Air Boeing 747-400 Prestige Plus cabin shortly after docking onto Gate No. 109 at Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

After a short taxi duration of just 10 minutes along the airport tarmac, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 109, at the Main Terminal at 5.10 p.m.. This was rather unusual as Korean Air mainly uses the Main Terminal for its flight operations rather than Terminal A at Incheon International Airport. Once all the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled and claimed our belongings from their respective storage spaces.

Checking our seats to see that none of our belongings had been left behind on board, we rolled up behind some other passengers in preparation for the disembarkation process to commence smoothly. As we disembarked from the aircraft, the flight attendants sincerely thanked us for our patronage with Korean Air and wished us a pleasant overnight stay in South Korea before our ultimate return journey back home to Singapore the next day.

Korean Air Flight 766 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 15 / 20
Service: 16 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 16 / 20
Legroom space: 19 / 20
Total: 85 / 100

In the final analysis, Korean Air has managed to obtain a total aggregate score of 85% for the segment from Sapporo (Chitose) to Seoul (Incheon), meaning that they have earned an 'A+' grade, which is the highest airline grade. This was a pleasant journey with Korean Air, though there is still room for improvement in terms of food offerings. Nevertheless, Korean Air should continue to keep up with their standards to attract more travellers.

Part 3 ~ The Road Journey To The Han Suites Serviced Residences

After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 766 from Sapporo (Chitose), we walked along the passageway of Terminal A leading towards the immigrations area located in the Main Terminal. However, considering the distance between Terminal A and the Main Terminal, we knew that we had to use the Incheon International Airport Starline underground people mover system to access the Main Terminal. This free underground shuttle mover system mainly connects the Main Terminal with Terminal A at Incheon International Airport.

The entire walk linking from Gate No. 109 and the underground Incheon International Airport Starline intra-airport terminal station took approximately five minutes. Arriving at the Incheon International Airport Starline Terminal A Station by 5.20 p.m., a 3-car Crystal Mover Starline train arrived at the platform just in time. Without wasting anymore time, we immediately got on to the nearest Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle train for the short one-minute ride to the Main Terminal, departing Terminal A in just a few seconds.

In terms of the interior, I could really tell that the Incheon International Airport Starline free inter-terminal underground shuttle train looked exactly like the Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain, which links all of the three terminals together at Singapore Changi Airport in the Republic of Singapore. Soon enough, we were finally in the Main Terminal of Incheon International Airport at 5.25 p.m.. Walking along the passageway towards the immigrations area, we saw that there were not much people around it, which made the entire process take no more than just five minutes.

Once we had cleared the immigrations area, I quickly went to check the baggage claiming information screen to see which belt our check-in baggage would be arriving at. According to the baggage belt information screen just aft of the immigrations checkpoint, all check-in baggage from Korean Air flight KE 766 from Sapporo (Chitose) would arrive at Belt No. 10. Without wasting anymore time, we immediately proceeded all the way down towards the baggage claiming hall to claim three baggage trolleys before heading over towards Belt No. 10 to claim our bulky check-in baggage.

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER, registered 9V-SWT, being service at Gate No. 113 at Terminal A after arriving from the Republic of Singapore as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 016 bound for San Francisco via Seoul (Incheon). She will continue with her transpacific journey towards the United States as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 016 bound for San Francisco after her short layover in Incheon International Airport

One last view of HL7493 resting at Gate No. 109 at Terminal A as we begin to make our way towards the Incheon International Airport Starline Terminal A underground station

Walking along the passageway leading to the underground Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle train in Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

Walking down the escalator to the underground Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle station in Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

The platform of the underground Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle train at Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

The interior of the Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle train at Incheon International Airport

Incheon International Airport Starline ~ Terminal A To Main Terminal

The platform of the underground Incheon International Airport Starline shuttle train at the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

Walking along the passageway leading to the immigrations area in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The passageway located just aft of the immigrations area leading to the baggage claiming hall

The baggage claiming information screen located just aft of the immigrations area in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The baggage claiming hall in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

After claiming all of our bulky baggage and loading them onto the baggage trolleys, we finally went into the arrivals and meeting area at 5.35 p.m.. Looking out for our surname destined for the Han Suites Serviced Residences, a well-dressed gentlemen finally came to meet us in the arrivals and meeting hall. He the offered to assist us with our baggage and escorted us out to the pick-up area located outside the arrivals and meeting hall, where we found a medium-sized black cab waiting to take us to the Han Suites Serviced Residences.

While we got onto the cab, the driver offered to help load our baggage into the boot of the cab. I then carefully boarded through the right way to the front passenger seat since unlike Japan, South Korea has right-hand traffic. As soon as all our belongings were loaded into the cab, we finally departed the lively vicinity of Incheon International Airport at 5.45 p.m. for an early evening road journey time of 1 hour 25 minutes towards the Han Suites Serviced Residences located in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul.

The arrivals and meeting hall in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the early evening rush hour

The pick-up curb side located just outside the arrivals and meeting hall in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The black limousine cab that would soon take us to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

About to depart the pick-up area located outside the arrivals and meeting hall in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

About to pass through the toll gate linking to the Incheon-Seoul Expressway from Incheon International Airport

Finally departing the compound of Incheon International Airport for the Incheon-Seoul Expressway

Travelling along the Gyeongin Expressway in the direction to downtown Seoul from Incheon International Airport

Approaching the Incheon Bridge linking Incheon International Airport with the mainland

Crossing the Incheon Bridge linking Incheon International Airport with downtown Seoul

Travelling parallel to the Incheon International Airport Railroad (A'REX) shortly after crossing the Incheon Bridge

Approaching the toll gate linking from Incheon International Airport to downtown Seoul

An Incheon International Airport Railroad (A'REX) commuter train bound for Seoul travelling parallel to the Incheon-Seoul Expressway

Bypassing Gyeyang Station on the Gyeongin Expressway at night

Travelling through a long road tunnel on the Gyeongin Expressway to downtown Seoul

About to bypass some housing areas along the Gyeongin Expressway near downtown Seoul

Travelling along a crowded freeway located adjacent to the Han River

Crossing the Banpo Bridge over the Han River in the busy early evening traffic rush

The view of the Han River from the Banpo Bridge at night

Travelling along the busy roads of downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, at night

Bypassing Seoul Station via a flyover bridge at night

Turning to the side road leading to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Finally arriving at the Han Suites Serviced Residences

After an early evening journey time of 1 hour 25 minutes from Incheon International Airport, we finally arrived at the main entrance to the Han Suites Serviced Residences at 7.10 p.m.. I was quite familiar with this hotel since we had previously stayed here on our second trip to South Korea in December 2008. A baggage porter then came out with a baggage trolley to assist us with our baggage, while we paid the cab driver the fare and thanked him for his services.

Entering the main hotel lobby itself, we went to the main reception counter to check in for the overnight stay in Seoul. Once the check-in process was completed, the receptionist informed us that we would be assigned to Room No. 604 located on the sixth level for the overnight stay in Seoul. At the same time, we had plans to have dinner at a local barbecue restaurant, known as Hwaruyohaeng (Hangul: 화로여행; Hanja: 火爐旅行), which was just located in the nearby Myeongdong shopping district.

With that, we gave the restaurant's name card to the hotel receptionist and requested him to call the restaurant to make a table reservation for the four of us at nine o' clock that night. He then called the restaurant and made the reservations under our names, and got back to us that the table reservation for nine o' clock's dinner was successful. The hotel receptionist also informed us that all our baggage would be delivered up to our room suite at the same time.

Thanking the hotel receptionist for his kind services, we proceeded to take the elevator up to the sixth floor, where our room suite was located, eventually arriving at our Room No. 604 at 7.20 p.m.. Entering the room suite itself, we saw that it had an unusual arrangement. There was a master bedroom, two bathrooms, a kitchen, an extra bedroom to be used as a clothes and baggage room, together with a living room with two beds facing the television. This was very strange since it is not normal for beds to be located in a living room with a television.

Soon enough, as promised, our baggage was safely delivered up to our hotel room suite by a hotel porter. With our baggage in our rooms, we spent the next few minutes unpacking our electronic devices and their battery chargers, together with our assorted pyjamas for the rest of the night, and our attire for the journey back home to Singapore the next day. Upon doing this, we decided to have a well-earned rest in our room suite for a while before going out to the Myeongdong shopping district for explorations.

The main hotel lobby at the Han Suites Serviced Residences shortly after we had arrived

The sixth floor passageway at the Han Suites Serviced Residences during the late evening hours

Finally arriving at our Room No. 604

The master bedroom, where my parents would be sleeping, in our Room No. 604 at the Han Suites Serviced Residences

The extra bedroom, which would be used as a baggage and clothing room, in our Room No. 604 at the Han Suites Serviced Residences

The living room with two beds, where both my younger brother and I would be sleeping, in our Room No. 604 in the Han Suites Serviced Residences

The kitchen area in our Room No. 604 at the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Overlooking some apartment buildings in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, from our Room No. 604 at the Han Suites Serviced Residences at night

After spending a few minutes unpacking our baggage in our Room No. 604, the clock was finally showing 7.35 p.m.. Feeling slightly peaky, we decided to head to the Myeongdong shopping district for some hot beverages and light snacks first. With that, we took the sole elevator down to the hotel lobby and left the hotel by 7.40 p.m., crossing the very busy and lively roads for approximately 10 minutes first, eventually arriving at the lively Myeongdong shopping district at 7.50 p.m..

Since we were feeling bitterly cold, we decided to stop at a small cafeteria to have some hot beverages first. With that, we walked past several shops, restaurants and cafeterias along the shopping district, eventually stumbling upon an international chain cafeteria, known as Starbucks Coffee, at 7.55 p.m.. Entering the cafeteria itself, we rolled up behind some other patrons to purchase some take-out cups of coffee and hot cocoa to keep ourselves warm for the bitter cold.

Upon doing this, we looked at several other restaurants around the district before arriving at a local fast-food restaurant, known as Lotteria. Entering the restaurant itself, we lined up at the order counter and ordered some light snacks, such as mozzarella cheese sticks, a giant double burger and a few chicken drumsticks. Finishing our light snack before our big dinner at Hwaruyohaeng, we left Lotteria fast-food restaurant and looked at more stuff around the Myeongdong shopping district.

Myeongdong (Hangul: 명동; Hanja: 明洞) is a notable and lively shopping district located in downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, South Korea. It is a major shopping attraction for both local and foreign tourists, and has proven to be the most popular shopping district in Seoul for years. Myeongdong was listed as the ninth-most expensive shopping district in the world between 2011 and 2013, and is notable for the Myeongdong Cathedral and the Myeongdong Nanta Theatre as historical sites. Approximately 3,320 people reside around Myeongdong today.

Walking down the slope road leading to downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, from the Han Suites Serviced Residences

About to cross the busy roads of downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, to the Myeongdong shopping district near the Sejong Hotel

Finally in the lively nightlife of the Myeongdong shopping district

Walking through the busy and crowded streets of the Myeongdong shopping district in the direction to Starbucks Coffee

Finally arriving at Starbucks Coffee in the Myeongdong shopping district

An assortment of cakes and pastries in a cool glass display in Starbucks Coffee in the Myeongdong shopping district

The interior of Starbucks Coffee in the Myeongdong shopping district with lots of patrons

Walking past several shops and cafeterias in the lively Myeongdong shopping district at night

The interior of the lower level of Lotteria fast-food restaurant with lots of diners

The interior of the upper level of Lotteria fast-food restaurant with lots of diners

Our light fast-food meal at Lotteria fast-food restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district

Walking through the busy and crowded pedestrian shopping area in the Myeongdong shopping district in the direction to Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

Finally arriving at Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

After spending approximately 50 minutes of exploring walking around the busy and lively nightlife of the Myeongdong shopping district, we finally arrived at the main front entrance to Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant at 8.40 p.m.. Entering the restaurant itself, the owner immediately recognised us since our last dining experience here in December 2012. This restaurant specialises in its grilled beef large intestines (Hangul: 대창; Hanja: 大腸), and is often left out by popular Korean tourists guidebooks.

This restaurant is also open daily from 11.00 a.m. to 11.00 p.m.. We informed the owner that we had a reservation for the four of us at nine o' clock. Reviewing the table reservations list, she positively identified our table reservation and directed us to a front table located near the entrance door. Hanging all our winter jackets near the main entrance, the owner left us with the food and beverage menus to review before placing our main dinner orders for the upcoming local charcoal barbecue dinner feast.

Once we had made a good review through the main food and beverage menus, one of the waitresses, who happened to be a Chinese national, came by to our table to take down our main orders. We managed to order a variety of beef and pork dishes, including the notable grilled beef large intestines, together with some local hot soup dishes. Plates of local Korean appetisers were also set up at our table at the same time. Soon enough, with all our orders delivered, we had a large sumptuous and filling barbecue dinner feast at Hwaruyohaeng.

The interior of Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district during dinnertime

The cover page for the food and beverage menu at Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district

Reviewing the food and beverage menu at Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district

The smoke extractor chute located above our table at Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant

The charcoal pot and barbecue griller placed in the centre of our table with several local Korean appetisers

A platter of samgyeopsal pork belly ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our first platter of the famous beef large intestines ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of the famous beef large intestines with the samgyeopsal being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of Kimchi soup to be shared among my parents

A large platter of thinly-sliced beef brisket ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of grilled beef large intestines and thinly-sliced beef brisket being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of sliced beef tongue ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

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

A platter of beef galbi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our second platter of the famous beef large intestines ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

More pieces of the grilled beef large intestines and the beef galbi being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The last pieces of the grilled beef large intestines being grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

After having a very huge and sumptuous Korean barbecue dinner feast at Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant, the clock was finally showing 9.45 p.m.. Since we were filling stuffed to the brim and feeling rather tired already, we felt that there was not much left to do other than to head back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences. With that, we proceeded to the payment counter near the restaurant entrance to pay our dinner bill and grabbed our winter jackets before leaving the restaurant.

As we exited the restaurant at 9.50 p.m., the restaurant owner thanked us for coming over for dinner, and we promised to come again if we happened to be in Seoul at any time in the future. Upon leaving Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant, we walked through the very busy and lively nightlife of the Myeongdong shopping district, and crossed the road where we had come through back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences. The entire walk back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences took no more than just 15 minutes.

The exterior view of Hwaruyohaeng Barbecue Restaurant in the Myeongdong shopping district shortly before we headed back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

The lively nightlife of the Myeongdong shopping district as we make our way back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Walking along the busy pavements by the busy roadside of downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, on the way back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Crossing the busy roads of downtown Jung-gu, Seoul, on the way back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Walking along the pavement leading back to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

Finally arriving back at the main entrance to the Han Suites Serviced Residences

The interior of the main hotel lobby at the Han Suites Serviced Residences shortly after we arrived back

After a short 15-minute walk from the busy and lively nightlife of the Myeongdong shopping district, we finally arrived back at the main entrance to the Han Suites Serviced Residences at 10.05 p.m.. Entering the hotel itself, we took the elevator back up to the sixth floor, where our Room No. 604 was located, eventually arriving back at our suite by 10.10 p.m.. Once we were all back in our suite, we had a nice, hot shower in our bathrooms and changed into our pyjamas before settling in further for the night.

For the rest of the night, we made some hot beverages for ourselves to warm ourselves up, and were simply left to our own electronic devices for our own entertainment and comfort for the rest of the entire night. My parents, however, advised us against staying up too late as we had to get up early for our Christmas afternoon flight back home to Singapore the next day. Soon enough, we all finally turned in by around midnight or one o' clock late that night for a well-earned good night's rest.

This officially brings the fifth segment of my very special report of my most recent combined Christmas winter vacation to Hokkaido, Japan, and South Korea in December 2013 to a formal conclusion. The sixth and final segment of this entire Christmas special report will be published once I have selected the best quality photographs and videos for the upcoming segment, which may require a certain amount of time and effort to publish it qualitatively.

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