Monday, June 2, 2014

Special Mid-Term Summer Birthday Trip to Japan in June 2014 ~ Section 1

Welcome to this special blog report about my mid-summer birthday vacation to Japan in June 2014. This blog report will be divided into a total of five segments. There will be a total of four segments that will be covered in this very first segment of the blog report, which will mainly be the in-bound flights towards Seoul (Incheon) and Osaka (Kansai), as well as the journey towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya.

All the holiday videos posted on this blog report may also be found on my YouTube channel. However, please be aware that for the safety and security of my YouTube channel and all of my videos, nobody is allowed to post or leave comments on any of these medium. Should any user be determined to be in violation of this strict safety policy, their comments will be deleted automatically and will be dealt with accordingly.


Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences


After spending several weeks of endless pondering on where to travel to for the mid-term June school vacation, we finally decided upon going to Kyoto, Japan. My spirits soared as I had enjoyed my two previous trips there in June 2013 and December 2013. It would be like visiting Japan every June to me, meaning that this would be another birthday trip for me to the country.


Japan has always been my most favourite country in the world since my first trip there in September 2001, and this would be my 11th trip there. Ever since my first trip to the country in 2001, travelling to Japan every year has become a traditional family norm for myself and for my family. Alongside Hong Kong, Japan is also one of my paradise countries in the world as it allows me to be myself.

On the very morning of Saturday (31 May), I woke up relatively early at around seven o' clock to prepare my last minute baggage in preparation for the summer trip throughout the entire afternoon. My parents had packed our bulky check-in baggage which contained our toiletries and clothes several weeks before the trip in advance. They had arranged for a MaxiCab to come and fetch us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at seven o' clock later that evening.

For the in-bound journey towards Osaka (Kansai), we would fly with Korean Air on flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon), which would be scheduled to depart from Singapore Changi Airport at 10.35 p.m., and arrive at Seoul's Incheon International Airport at 5.55 a.m. the next morning. We would then have a long layover of 3 hours 40 minutes before connecting to Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai), which would be scheduled to depart Incheon International Airport at 9.35 a.m., and arrive at Kansai International Airport at 11.20 a.m.. This would literally mean that Korean Air would become my third birthday airline after Etihad Airways in June 2012 and Thai Airways International in June 2013.

Once we had finished packing all of our baggage in preparation for the trip to Japan, we laid them out in our living room and did a final check to see that none of our necessities for the trip were left unpacked. Soon enough, our pre-arranged MaxiCab finally arrived at the front gate of our house at 6.45 p.m.. The driver, who was a Chinese gentleman, got out of the cab and offered to help load our baggage into the boot of his cab.

While we boarded the cab, both my housekeeper and the MaxiCab driver helped to load all of our baggage into the cab. After all of our baggage had been loaded into the cab and all of us were on board, we finally left the compound of our home at 6.50 p.m. for a short road journey time of just 25 minutes over the Central Expressway and Tampines Expressway towards Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2.

Arriving at the departures and drop-off area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at 7.15 p.m., both my younger brother and I immediately went to get three baggage trolleys, while the MaxiCab driver helped my parents unload our baggage from the cab. Paying our cab fare, we thanked the driver for his services before heading to the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge located in the departures and check-in hall.

Terminal 2 is the second airport passenger terminal operating at Singapore Changi Airport today. The terminal was opened for revenue 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 with a daily 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 flight connections with 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 view of the control tower located across Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 shortly after we had arrived

The departures and drop-off area located at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 in the evening

The smaller departure flight information screen located in the departures and check-in area of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

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

The overall view of the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

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

After a short and quick five-minute walk from the departures and drop-off area located just outside Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, we finally arrived at the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge at 7.20 p.m.. Two lounge porters came to assist us with our baggage as we went to the Korean Air check-in desk to check in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 723 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Osaka (Kansai). The entire check-in process took no more than just 15 minutes.


Korean Air (Hangul: 대한항공; Hanja: 大韓航空) is the national 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 largest hubs at Incheon International Airport and Gimpo International Airport. The airline offers a wide variety of destinations within Asia, Africa, Oceania, the Americas and the European Union, using a mixed fleet consisting of narrow-body and wide-body aircraft from Airbus and Boeing.

Korean Air is one of the very few airlines in the world to fly to all six inhabited continents (excluding Antarctica), and is also one of the co-founding members of SkyTeam, the world's third airline alliance, which was formed on 22 June 2000, with Aéromexico, Air France and Delta Air Lines to form the alliance, which has a total of 20 pure members, as of 1 May 2014. 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 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 Terminals 1 and 2, and is mainly used by certain foreign airlines operating at Singapore Changi Airport for their First & Business Class passengers.

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

As of 1 May 2014, the following airlines make use of the special premium SATS Premier Check-in Lounge for their First & Business Class passengers:

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)

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

A nice can of Coca-Cola light for myself in the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Looking up towards the restaurant level from the SATS Premier Check-in Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

After checking in for Korean Air flights KE 644 and KE 723 bound for Seoul (Incheon) and Osaka (Kansai), we finally received our boarding passes and our invitation passes to the SATS Premier Lounge at 7.35 p.m.. The check-in agent informed us that tonight, Korean Air flight KE 644 would depart at 10.35 p.m. from Gate No. F59, and that boarding would also commence at 10.05 p.m., approximately half an hour before the scheduled departure timing.

With that, we thanked the check-in agent for her kind and warm services and immediately headed to the immigrations area. To clear the immigrations area, we made use of the thumb fingerprint checkpoint, which is reserved exclusively for all local Singaporean citizens and permanent residents of Singapore. Once we were in the airside by 7.40 p.m., we were soon feeling rather hungry and wanted to eat at a good restaurant in the airside itself.

However, it was also important that we change some money into Japanese yen first before finding a good restaurant to eat at for dinner. With that, we immediately headed to the nearest money exchange counter to change some Singapore dollars into Japanese yen. At the money exchange counter itself, I exchanged a total of S$2,570 and HK$540, eventually receiving ¥210,000 in return.

From the remaining ¥145,000, my total amount of Japanese yen increased to ¥355,000, leaving HK$8,260 in my pockets. After changing all of our necessary money into Japanese yen, we went to a duty-free shop selling chocolates, known as The Cocoa Trees, to buy some duty-free chocolates before our trip to Japan. Upon doing this, we went to look around for a good restaurant in the airside to eat at for dinner.

The interior of the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 located just aft of the passport control area

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

The departure flight information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 located just aft of the passport control area

The money exchange counters located near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Several duty-free shops located near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Arriving at The Cocoa Trees duty-free shop to buy some duty-free chocolates

After looking at the various restaurants available in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2, we finally stumbled upon a Hong Kong-style cuisine restaurant, known as Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast, at eight o' clock. Feeling very hungry already, we immediately made a request for the table for the four of us, where a waiter directed us to an empty table near the observation mall and left us with the food and beverage menus to review.

Having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waiter came by to our table to take down our main meal orders for dinner. From the menu, we ordered several roasted meat items and some noodle dishes, along with a bowl of congee. That night, we had a filling dinner at Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast. I also did some plane-spotting before and during dinner at the restaurant itself.

The interior of Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast shortly after we had arrived at the restaurant

The cover page for the food and beverage menu at Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Reviewing the food and beverage menu at Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The overall view of the interior of Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The dim sum page on the food and beverage menu of Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The night view of the airport tarmac located near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A Lufthansa Airbus A380-841, registered D-AIMI, resting at Gate No. F31 before being serviced for her long late overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey back home towards the Federal Republic of Germany as Lufthansa flight LH 779 bound for Frankfurt

An Etihad Airways Airbus A330-243, registered A6-EYS, awaiting pushback from Gate No. E3 in preparation for her evening trans-Indian Ocean journey back home towards the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East as Etihad Airways flight EY 473 bound for Abu Dhabi

The viewing mall located in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 at night

The departure flight information screens located near Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The logo of Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The overall view of our main dinner course dishes in Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A platter of assorted pork to be shared among us

Two platters of assorted dim sum to be shared among us

A platter of roast duck to be shared among us

The platter of roast pork to be shared among us

Another platter of roast duck to be shared among us

The interior of Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 shortly before we left for the SATS Premier Lounge

After having a filling dinner at Tai Hing Hong Kong Roast, the clock was finally showing 8.50 p.m.. Feeling relatively full, we paid up our dinner bill and went to some kind of lucky draw promotion area to fill in some lucky draw documents before heading to the SATS Premier Lounge. Once the lucky draw documents were filled up, we walked up the escalator to the airline lounge level and arrived at the SATS Premier Lounge by 9.05 p.m..

Entering the SATS Premier Lounge, we immediately showed our lounge invitation passes to the SATS Premier Lounge receptionist. Once we were positively checked and identified, we were eventually allowed to enter the lounge. In the SATS Premier Lounge, we set up our portable laptop computers for our own use during our brief rest in the lounge before heading to Gate No. F59 for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon).

Several duty-free shops located near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as we make our way towards the SATS Premier Lounge

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

Overlooking The Cocoa Trees duty-free shops from the airline lounge level in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Overlooking a miniature nature pond from the airline lounge level near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Finally arriving at the 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 had arrived

Crafting out the first segment of my report on my blog, with the use of Helvetica as the main typeface for the report

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

A few massage chairs 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
Registration No.: HL7532
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 8J
Date: Saturday, 31 May 2014

After spending 25 minutes of relaxing and using 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 35 minutes' time, we immediately packed up all our belongings and left the SATS Premier Lounge by 9.35 p.m. for Gate No. F59. The entire walk between the SATS Premier Lounge and Gate No. F59 took no more than just 10 minutes. 
Soon enough, we finally arrived at the passenger waiting area of Gate No. F59 by 9.45 p.m., just 15 minutes before the first boarding announcements were made.

With just a very quick security check of just five minutes, we were finally in the passenger waiting room of Gate No. F59 by 9.50 p.m.. Judging by the number of waiting passengers in the passenger waiting room of Gate No. F59, I could quite tell that Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would have a rather light load tonight. Tonight, Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) would be operated using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, with the registration number HL7532 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines.

HL7532 was delivered new to Korean Air on 12 August 1999 as the very first Boeing 777-300 and the fourth Boeing 777 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 14.8 years old today. I remember riding on HL7532 as Korean Air flight KE 641 between Seoul (Incheon) and Singapore when I returned home from my traditional winter vacation to Hokkaido, Japan, in December 2011, and from my winter vacation in South Korea in December 2012.

The Boeing 777-300 is the third market version of the Boeing 777 family in operation today. Designed to replace the older Boeing 747-100 and Boeing 747-200, it is a stretched version of the Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-200/ER. The aircraft is powered by a choice of two Pratt & Whitney PW4090, General Electric GE90-92B or -94B or Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines. The first aircraft, B-HNH, was delivered to Cathay Pacific on 21 May 1998, and only a total of 60 aircraft have ever been produced.

As of 1 May 2014, Cathay Pacific and Emirates are the largest operators of the Boeing 777-300, with a total of 12 aircraft each in their fleets. Although the Boeing 777-300 does not have a direct competitor from Airbus, the Airbus A340-600 is offered in competition with the aircraft. However, due to the modern technological improvements and a capability of flying longer ranges, many major airlines have opted to order the Boeing 777-300/ER over the normal Boeing 777-300.

Bypassing the Golden Lounge on the way towards Gate No. F59

Finally leaving the SATS Premier Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 for Gate No. F59

Overlooking a miniature nature pond from the airline lounge level near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 on the way to Gate No. F59

Bypassing The Cocoa Trees duty-free shop again on the way to Gate No. F59

The interior of the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 on the way to Gate No. F59

Several duty-free shops located near Concourse E in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 as we make our way towards Gate No. F59

Bypassing another miniature nature pond located near Concourse F in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The passageway leading to Concourse F in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The Singapore Changi Airport Skytrain station linking to Terminal 3 in Concourse F of Terminal 2

Bypassing Gates No. F51 and F52 on the way to Gate No. F59

Finally approaching Gate No. F59

The passenger waiting area of Gate No. F59 shortly after we had arrived

Our aircraft for tonight, HL7532, being serviced at Gate No. F59 in preparation for her long overnight journey back home towards the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

A closeup of HL7532 being serviced at Gate No. F59 in preparation for her long overnight journey back home towards the Republic of Korea (South Korea) as Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

The passenger waiting area of Gate No. F59 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon)

After spending 10 minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting area, the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 644 bound for Seoul (Incheon) were finally made at ten o' clock, which was five minutes earlier. The First & Prestige Class passengers and the SKYPASS Club members, along with the passengers requiring special assistance were called out to board the aircraft first. Since we were among the first passengers to be called out for boarding, we held on to our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process.


As we walked along the jet bridge towards Door A, we were finally on board HL7532 at 10.05 p.m., which was just in good time for a 10.35 p.m. departure. At the entrance door, two friendly crew members warmly welcomed us on board, and checked our boarding passes prior to showing us the direction to our seats located in the Prestige Class cabin. Entering the cabin, we stowed away our belongings and settled into our assigned Seats No. 8E, 8F, 8H and 8J for the long overnight flight time of 6 hours 20 minutes towards Seoul.

The Prestige Class seats we would be using for the long overnight flight towards Seoul were the newer generation of Prestige Sleeper seats. These seats are capable of reclining up to a maximum of 180º in order to provide full lie-flat rest for passengers travelling on long-haul flights. These new generation of seats were introduced and fitted on most of Korean Air's long-haul aircraft after the airline took delivery of its first Boeing 777-300/ER in May 2009.

During the pre-departure process, the flight attendants went down to take the main meal orders in preparation for the in-flight late night supper service later on. Both my younger brother and I opted to have the grilled beef tenderloin with rosemary sauce served with potato gratin and vegetables. The pre-flight routines of distributing the free newspapers and pre-departure beverages to the First & Prestige Class passengers were also carried out by the flight attendants, as usual.

A view of my seat, 8J, during the boarding process at Gate No. F59 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The tarmac view of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 during the boarding process at Singapore Changi Airport

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the boarding process at Gate No. F59 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

My usual pre-departure glasses of champagne and orange juice on the centre armrest

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)

Crafting out the first segment of my report on my blog during the boarding process at Gate No. F59 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

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

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

A warning sign in the lavatory that indicates that smoking on board and / or tampering with, disabling or destroying smoke detectors in the lavatories is prohibited by law at all times

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

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before pushing back from Gate No. F59 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

At 10.40 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. F59, which was just five minutes behind schedule. The safety briefing information video was then shown on all of our front seat video screens, and we began to make our taxi towards our assigned runway for departure, taxiing past several aircraft parked at or near Terminal 2 along the way, with the entire taxiway taking no more than just 15 minutes.

After a relatively long and slow taxiway of just 15 minutes towards our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 10.55 p.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a long overnight flight time of 5 hours 50 minutes over the South China Sea towards the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea).

The opening titles to the safety briefing information video just as we begin pushback from Gate No. F59

Finally pushing back from Gate No. F59

The safety briefing information video illustrating the hazards and consequences of on-board smoking

Finally taxiing away from the tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

Two airlines of Singapore resting on the tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER resting on the tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat as we make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off

Taxiing towards our assigned runway for take-off

Finally approaching our assigned runway for take-off

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Night Departure From Singapore Changi Airport

The seatbelt signs were switched off at around eleven o' clock, which was just five minutes after we had taken off from Singapore Changi Airport. I immediately got up to retrieve my laptop and went to the lavatory before settling down further into the flight. The flight crew also sprung into action to commence the in-flight late night supper service, passing small dishes containing two sticks of beef satay to the passengers at the same time.

Once a flight attendant had passed our beef satay plates, she asked us whether we wanted anything to drink. While my younger brother simply requested for a glass of water, I ordered a glass of orange juice to commence the in-flight late night supper. With my glass of orange juice delivered, I immediately tucked into my beef satay, which was a good start to a meal as an appetiser, as I am quite a big fan of satay myself.

My younger brother, who had no intention to spoil his appetite before the main course, gave me his satay plate to finish off. While waiting for our main supper courses to arrive, the flight attendants handed down the meal trays containing the first courses to the passengers. At the same time, I also ordered a glass of Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine to accompany the upcoming main supper course.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat after the seatbelt sign was switched off

Finally climbing into the pitch black night sky away from Singapore

Crafting out the first segment of my report on my blog shortly after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport

A scene in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", where Molly Weasley severely reprimands here three sons, Ron, Fred & George, for stealing the Flying Ford Anglia overnight, even if their mission was to rescue Harry from the Dursley home as his room window was fitted with bars

A scene in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets", where the Weasley brothers are about to drive off with Harry from the Dursley home, leaving Harry's Uncle Vernon, who initially grabbed Harry by the ankle, falling into the back garden

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during cruising altitude somewhere over the Johor Strait

A deleted scene from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", where Harry's Aunt Petunia attempts to crack some eggs, only to find that they turn into Hogwarts acceptance letters

A glass of fresh orange juice to commence the in-flight late night supper service with

A platter of beef satay for myself as an appetiser before the in-flight late night supper service

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before the in-flight late night supper service commenced

A view of my seat, 8J, shortly before the in-flight late night supper service commenced

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

The first course: Smoked salmon tartar with sour cream

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

The bottle of Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine being held up by a flight steward

My wine glass being filled with Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine

A glass of Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine for myself

The second course: Broccoli cream soup

After finishing off the first courses of our meal trays, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at our seats again at 11.10 p.m.. This time, she had our main supper courses of grilled beef tenderloin with rosemary sauce served with potato gratin and vegetables, with one cooked medium rare and the other medium. With our main courses delivered to us, we tucked into our in-flight late night supper.

Taking a first bite out of my grilled beef tenderloin, it tasted quite tender and not overcooked, with the rosemary sauce, potato gratin and vegetables being the perfect accompaniments. The Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine I had also went quite well with the meal, making it one of the most appropriate and sumptuous in-flight late night suppers I had ever eaten on a plane.

Upon finishing my main course, the flight attendant came by to collect our used meal trays and asked us whether there was anything else we wanted. To round off this in-flight late night meal, I requested for a small tub of strawberry-flavoured Häagen-Dazs ice cream and a glass of Baileys Irish Cream. Once they were delivered, I finished them off within a few minutes and had them cleared away soon enough. Throughout the night, I was simply left to my laptop before I decided to get some sleep during the flight.

My main supper course: Grilled beef tenderloin with rosemary sauce served with potato gratin and vegetables

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

Cruising somewhere over the South China Sea between Vietnam and the Philippines late at night

My wine glass being filled with Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine again

A glass of Bordeaux, Château Saint-Genès 2011 white wine for myself during my main supper course

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

A warning sign in the lavatory that indicates that smoking on board is forbidden at all times

The rear view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the in-flight late night supper service was finished

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

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before the cabin was dimmed to allow the passengers to get some sleep

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude between Vietnam and the Philippines

Cruising somewhere over the South China Sea between the Philippines and Taiwan shortly before I went to bed

Part 2(b) ~ The Arrival Into Seoul (Incheon)


After getting approximately 3 hours 10 minutes of sleep on board the aircraft, I finally woke up again at 5.05 a.m., in line with the South Korean Standard Timing, just before the cabin lights were switched on again. As I looked through the window outside, I was greeted by the very beautiful early morning sunrise over the Taiwan and Korea Straits, which were always a wonderful greeting on each new day. 
By 5.15 a.m., most of the passengers were slowly beginning to wake up after having a well-earned good night's sleep.

The first thing I did was to head over to the lavatory to brush my teeth in preparation for the arrival into Incheon International Airport, so that I would not have to take the trouble to brush them again during our layover. Upon brushing my teeth, I went back to my seat and asked the flight attendant for a cup of hot tea with milk, which was promptly delivered to me. Upon drinking my tea, my cup was cleared and I did my own personal stuff on my laptop before the seatbelt sign was switched on again for landing.

The beautiful early morning sunrise greeting me over the Taiwan and Korea Straits shortly after I woke up

The view of the dimmed Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after I had woken up

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude between the Taiwan and Korea Straits

The rear view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly after the cabin lights were switched on again

One of the two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines cruising over the Korea Strait as we begin to enter South Korean airspace

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during cruising altitude over the Taiwan and Korea Straits

A cup of hot tea with milk to refresh myself

One of the two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines during the beautiful early morning sunrise over the Korea Strait

The view of the early morning sunrise over the Korea Strait as we begin to cruise into South Korean airspace

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over South Korean airspace

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before the seatbelt signs were switched on for landing

Cruising over some local land of South Korea just before we commenced our final approach into Incheon International Airport

In accordance with the Japanese & South Korean Standard Timing, the seatbelt sign was illuminated at 5.35 a.m., which was approximately 10 minutes in preparation for descent into Incheon International Airport. Knowing that we had very little time left before our arrival into Seoul, we immediately stowed away all our belongings, including our electronic devices, into their respective storage spaces and buckled up in preparation for the descent.

The sun was already starting to shine very brightly the early morning sky as the aircraft began to make its very final approach into Incheon International Airport. After a very long overnight flight duration of 5 hours 50 minutes over the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down in Incheon International Airport at 5.45 a.m., which was approximately 10 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 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 central international hub for South Korea's two largest airlines, Asiana Airlines and Korean Air.

The airport was opened for service 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 caters mainly to domestic flights and a limited number of international flights bound for Mainland China, Japan and Taiwan. Since then, the airport has taken over most of the international flights flying to and from the country. The airport is directly connected to the mainland via the Incheon Bridge, which handles road traffic and the Incheon International Airport Railroad linking to downtown Seoul
.

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt sign was switched on again for landing in Incheon International Airport

One of the two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines as we cruise over local lands during our descent into Incheon International Airport

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during our final approach into Incheon International Airport

Cruising over some local land of South Korea as we begin our descent into Incheon International Airport

The view of the Incheon Bridge as we begin our final approach into Incheon International Airport

One of the two Pratt & Whitney PW4098 engines as we cruise over the sea between downtown Seoul and Incheon International Airport

Korean Air Flight 644 ~ Morning Arrival Into Incheon International Airport

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

A Korean Air Airbus A330-322, registered HL7540, resting on the tarmac near Terminal A at Incheon International Airport. I remember riding on this aircraft when I returned from my traditional winter vacation in Hokkaido, Japan, as Korean Air flight KE 766 between Sapporo (Chitose) and Seoul (Incheon) in December 2011

A Korean Air Boeing 747-4B5, registered HL7491, resting on the tarmac near Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

The view of Terminal A as we make our way towards the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

Approaching the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The tarmac view of Incheon International Airport as we make our way towards the Main Terminal

A Korean Air Airbus A380-861, registered HL7611, resting at Gate No. 11 at the Main Terminal after her early morning arrival from her long overnight transpacific journey from the United States as Korean Air flight KE 012 from Los Angeles

A Korean Air Boeing 737-9B5, registered HL7718, resting at Gate No. 9 just adjacent to us

The view of the Korean Air Boeing 777-300 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after we had docked on to our arrival gate, Gate No. 8, at the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

After a relatively short taxi duration of just 10 minutes along the airport tarmac towards the Main Terminal, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 8, at 5.55 a.m.. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled and retrieved all of our personal belongings, checking to see that nothing had been left behind on board the aircraft prior to disembarking at the same time.

With all our belongings with us, we rolled up behind some other passengers in preparation for the disembarkation process to be carried out smoothly. As we disembarked the aircraft, the flight attendants at the exit door thanked us for our patronage with Korean Air and also wished us a pleasant, onward journey for our upcoming flight to Osaka (Kansai) later that morning at 9.35 a.m..

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, as of 1 May 2014:

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: 20 / 20
Food: 17 / 20
Service: 19 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 20 / 20
Total: 93 / 100

Overall, in total, Korean Air has managed to obtain a total aggregate score of 93% for the segment between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon), which would mean that the airline has earned an 'A+' grade, which is the highest airline grade that can ever be awarded. Korean Air has really performed up to my expectations since my past flight experiences with them, and they should continue to strive to keep up their good work!

Shortly after disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore, we walked along the passageway leading to the immigrations area and connecting flight security checkpoint in preparation for our continuing flight to Osaka (Kansai), bypassing the immigrations area and eventually arriving at the connecting flight security checkpoint by 6.10 a.m.. We then removed our necessary belongings in preparation for the security checkpoint, with my dad and I clearing the transit security check by 6.15 a.m..

My dad noticed that my mum and younger brother were not with us when we were in the transit mall of the airport. Nevertheless, we decided to head over to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge and wait for them there until they arrived. With that, we immediately proceeded to the information counter to ask for directions to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge. The lady information counter informed us that the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge was located just aft of the passport control area near Gate No. 11.

The lady at the transit mall information counter also notified us that for today, Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would be scheduled to depart at 9.35 a.m. from Gate No. 14. Boarding would also commence at 9.05 a.m., approximately half an hour prior to the scheduled departure timing. Without wasting anymore time, we thanked the lady at the transit mall information counter and walked along the transit mall towards the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge.

One last look at HL7532 resting at Gate No. 8 after her long overnight journey from the Republic of Singapore as Korean Air flight KE 644 from Singapore

Walking along the passageway leading towards the immigrations area and the connecting flight security checkpoint

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5, registered HL7533, resting at Gate No. 12 after arriving from her regional early morning journey from the Republic of the Philippines as Korean Air flight KE 624 from Manila

Bypassing the immigrations area on the way to the connecting flight security checkpoint

Finally in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

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

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

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

The departure information screens located just aft of the immigrations area in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

After spending just five minutes of walking through the airside of the Main Terminal building at Incheon International Airport, my dad and I finally arrived at the entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge by 6.25 a.m.. Heading towards the main lounge reception counter via the escalator, we showed our boarding passes to the lounge receptionist, who eventually allowed us to enter the lounge at our own convenience after she had checked our boarding passes.

We also requested for our shower room keys, since we wanted to have a nice, hot shower before our connecting flight to Osaka (Kansai). The lounge receptionist then informed us that we could come back to the reception counter to claim our boarding passes back after returning our shower room keys. With that, my dad and I went into the lounge and got out some of our belongings to use during our relatively long layover at Incheon International Airport.

Soon enough, my mum and younger brother finally met up with us in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge at around 6.50 a.m.. They apologised for the inconvenience as they had to check in one of my dad's carry-on bags due to security reasons that it could not be fitted well into the aircraft cabin, given its size and weight. Nevertheless, during our layover at Incheon International Airport, I did some plane-spotting in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge and had a nice, hot shower before doing anything else.

Finally arriving at the main entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge shortly after we had arrived

Crafting out the upcoming segment to Osaka (Kansai) on my blog in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7734, resting at Gate No. 12 after her long overnight journey from the Federation of Malaysia as Korean Air flight KE 672 from Kuala Lumpur

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

A deleted scene from "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone", where Harry and Hagrid take the London Underground to access Diagon Alley via The Leaky Cauldron

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL8210, parked at Gate No. 16 at the Main Terminal

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

HL8210 being towed away from the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

A Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL7552, being towed to the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

An Air France Boeing 777-328/ER, registered F-GZNB, taxiing towards Terminal A after arriving from her long overnight trans-Siberian journey from the French Republic as Air France flight AF 264 from Paris (Charles de Gaulle)

A Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL7552, being serviced at Gate No. 12 in preparation for her early morning regional journey towards the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as Korean Air flight KE 819 bound for Changsha

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

The self-service food and beverage corner in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge shortly before I went for my shower

The interior of the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge before we left for Gate No. 14

Part 3 ~ The Flight To Osaka (Kansai)


Airline: Korean Air

Flight No.: KE 723
From: Seoul, Incheon International Airport (ICN / RKSI), Seoul, South Korea
To: Osaka, Kansai International Airport (KIX / RJBB), Tajiri, Osaka, Japan
Aircraft: Airbus A330-223
Registration No.: HL8276
Class: Prestige Class (Business Class)
Seat No.: 10A
Date: Sunday, 1 June 2014

After spending approximately two hours of relaxation, having a nice, hot shower and using our electronic devices in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge, the clock was finally showing 8.25 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would commence in 40 minutes' time, we quickly packed up all our belongings and left the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge by 8.30 a.m. for Gate No. 14. 
The entire walk between the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge and Gate No. 14 took just 10 minutes.

On the way, we stopped by at a beverage stall for my parents to purchase some fruit juices for themselves near Gate No. 14. Soon enough, we finally arrived at the passenger waiting area of Gate No. 14 at 8.40 a.m., which was just 25 minutes before the first boarding calls for Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) were made. Judging by the number of passengers in the passenger waiting area of Gate No. 14, I could see that Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would have a relatively light load today.

For today, Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) would be operated using an Airbus A330-200, with the registration number HL8276 and powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW4170 engines. HL8276 was delivered brand new to Korean Air on 8 March 2013 as the eighth Airbus A330-200 and 24th Airbus A330 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 1.2 years old today, which makes it one of the newest Airbus A330s in Korean Air's fleet today.

A large Korean Air Airbus A380 aircraft model on display near the lounge reception counter in the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge

The airside located just aft of the immigrations area in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport becoming relatively crowded with lots of departing travellers

The entrance to the Korean Air (KAL) Prestige Class Lounge as we make our way towards Gate No. 14

The transit mall in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the mid-morning hours

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

The passageway leading to Gates No. 12 to 25 in the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport during the mid-morning hours

Walking along the passageway leading towards Gate No. 14

Stopping at a beverage stall to purchase some beverages near Gate No. 14

Two shops located between Gates No. 14 and 16 in the airside of the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The departure information screen at Gate No. 14 showing the flight details for Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

The passenger waiting area of Gate No. 14 shortly after we had arrived

Our aircraft for today, HL8276, being serviced at Gate No. 8 in preparation for her morning regional journey to the Kansai region of Japan as Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

A closeup of HL8276 being serviced at Gate No. 8 in preparation for her morning regional journey to the Kansai region of Japan as Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

A Korean Air Airbus A330-223, registered HL7552, awaiting pushback from Gate No. 12 for her regional morning journey towards the People's Republic of China (Mainland China) as Korean Air flight KE 819 bound for Changsha

The passenger waiting area near Gate No. 14 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) were made

After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting at the passenger waiting area between Gates No. 12 and 14, the first boarding announcements for Korean Air flight KE 723 bound for Osaka (Kansai) were finally made at 9.05 a.m.. The First & Business Class passengers, as well as the SKYPASS club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called out to board the aircraft first. Since we were among the first passengers to be called out for the boarding process, we secured our belongings and rolled up for the boarding process to commence smoothly.

As we walked along the jet bridge towards Door A, we were finally on board HL8276 at 9.10 a.m., which was just in good time for a 9.35 a.m. departure. At the entrance, three cheery-looking stewardesses warmly welcomed us on board and showed us the direction to our seats in the Prestige Class cabin. Entering the Prestige Class cabin, we stowed away our belongings and settled into our assigned Seats No. 10A, 10B, 10D and 10E for the short regional journey of just 1 hour 45 minutes to Osaka (Kansai).

The Prestige Class seats we would be using for the short regional journey towards Osaka (Kansai) would be the exact same Prestige Sleeper seats used between Singapore and Seoul (Incheon). The flight attendants did their usual pre-flight routines of distributing the food and beverage menus, pre-departure beverages and free newspapers to the Prestige Class passengers. The First Class cabin would remain empty throughout the entire flight. I then had my usual pre-departure glass of orange juice. While awaiting pushback from Gate No. 14, I did my usual stuff on my laptop.

Walking down the escalator towards HL8276 via the front jet bridge

A view of my seat, 10A, during the boarding process at Gate No. 14 at Incheon International Airport

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin during the boarding process at Gate No. 14 at Incheon International Airport

The newer generation of 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs during the boarding process at Gate No. 14 at Incheon International Airport

A pre-departure glass of orange juice for myself

A Korean Air Boeing 777-3B5/ER, registered HL8210, being serviced at Gate No. 12 in preparation for her long transpacific morning journey towards the United States as Korean Air flight KE 093 bound for Washington D.C.

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

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

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat while awaiting pushback from Gate No. 14

The flight route indication map indicating that we are still boarding at Seoul (Incheon)

Crafting out the upcoming segment to Osaka (Kansai) on my blog while awaiting pushback from Gate No. 14

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly before we pushed back from Gate No. 14 at the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

At 9.40 a.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. 14, which was approximately five minutes behind schedule. The safety briefing information video was then shown on all of our front seat video screens as we began to commence our taxi towards our assigned runway for departure, taxiing past several aircraft parked at both the Main Terminal and Terminal A at Incheon International Airport along the way.

After a short taxi duration of just 10 minutes towards our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Pratt & Whitney PW4170 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Incheon International Airport at 9.50 a.m.. We then climbed into the bright sunny morning sky for a short regional flight time of just 1 hour 15 minutes over the Korea Strait and Sea of Japan towards the hustling and bustling city of Osaka located in the Kansai region of Japan.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. 14 at the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport

The opening titles to the safety briefing information video just as we begin pushback from Gate No. 14

The safety briefing information video illustrating the hazards and consequences of on-board smoking

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7734, being serviced at Gate No. 17 in preparation for her long transpacific morning journey towards Canada as Korean Air flight KE 073 bound for Toronto

A Thai Airways International Boeing 777-2D7, registered HS-TJH, being serviced at Gate No. 113 at Terminal A in preparation for her morning journey back home towards the Kingdom of Thailand via the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Thai Airways International flight TG 629 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) via Hong Kong

A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-341, registered PK-GPF and painted in the special "SkyTeam" livery, being serviced at Gate No. 109 at Terminal A, in preparation for her morning journey back home to the popular Indonesian resort island of Bali as Garuda Indonesia flight GA 871 bound for Denpasar (Bali)

A Malaysia Airlines Airbus A330-323X, registered 9M-MTM, being serviced at Gate No. 109 in preparation for her morning journey back home towards the Federation of Malaysia as Malaysia Airlines flight MH 067 bound for Kuala Lumpur

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin as we make our way towards our assigned runway for take-off

Making our way towards our assigned runway for take-off

A Korean Air Boeing 777-2B5/ER, registered HL7575, being towed towards the Main Terminal at Incheon International Airport in preparation for her early afternoon transpacific journey towards the United States as Korean Air flight KE 031 bound for Dallas

A Korean Air Boeing 747-4B5, registered HL7460, resting on the tarmac near Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

Taxiing past the aircraft rest tarmac near Terminal A at Incheon International Airport

An Asiana Airlines Boeing 777-28E/ER, registered HL7500, resting on the tarmac near the aircraft hangars at Incheon International Airport

Finally approaching our assigned runway for departure

Korean Air Flight 723 ~ Bright Departure From Incheon International Airport

Finally climbing into the bright morning sky towards Osaka (Kansai)

The seatbelt sign was switched off at around 9.55 a.m., which was just five minutes after taking off from Kansai International Airport. As the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight brunch service, I went to the lavatory before taking out my laptop for the flight. Interestingly, the lavatories had a single round window for passengers to gaze out at the sky while using the lavatory during cruising altitude.

The flight attendants also came by to our seats to pass around some hot towels and some beverages to commence the in-flight brunch service, of which, I just had my usual glass of orange juice to start off with. One of them also came to take down our main meal orders for the in-flight brunch service. Both my younger brother and I opted to have chive omelette with sautéed ball pepper served with red skin potatoes, pork sausage, spinach and cherry tomato for the main course.

At the same time, I also requested for a small bottle of red wine to accompany my brunch meal. Once the flight attendant took down our orders and understood them, she went back to the galley to fetch the meal trays. While waiting for my main meal course to arrive, I just did some personal stuff on my laptop computer, such as crafting out my blog report on my blog and reading Harry Potter on iBooks.

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt sign was switched off

A warning sign in the lavatory that indicates that smoking on board and / or tampering with, disabling or destroying smoke detectors in the lavatories is prohibited by law at all times

The window in the lavatory of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 aircraft

The rear view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin shortly before the in-flight brunch service commenced

A view of my seat, 10A, shortly before the in-flight brunch service commenced

Crafting out the first segment of my report on my blog shortly after taking off from Incheon International Airport

A glass of fresh orange juice to commence the in-flight brunch service with

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over Wonju and Gangneung

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly before the in-flight brunch service commenced

After spending approximately just five minutes of anticipated waiting at our seats, the flight attendant finally re-appeared at our seats with our meal trays containing our main brunch courses at 10.15 a.m., along with my requested bottle of red wine with a glass. With all our main courses delivered to us, both my younger brother and I immediately tucked into our main brunch courses.

The omelette tasted very refreshing, as the fresh smell enabled me to keep alert throughout the day. The spinach and potatoes also went quite well with the dish, as well as the pork sausage. However, given that my younger brother liked the pork sausage, he finished my sausage after I became rather full. The bottle of red wine that I drank also went quite well with my omelette.

Upon finishing our main brunch courses, the flight attendant came by to clear our used food trays and asked us whether there was anything else we wanted. As we were already stuffed to the brim, both my younger brother and I simply but politely declined. With that, we were simply left to our own electronic devices for our own entertainment until the seatbelt sign was illuminated again for landing in Kansai International Airport.

My main brunch course: Chive omelette with sautéed bell peppers served with red skin potatoes, pork sausage, spinach and cherry tomato

A glass and bottle of red wine to accompany my main brunch course

Cruising over the Sea of Japan between South Korean airspace and Japanese airspace

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over the Sea of Japan between South Korea and Japan

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat during the in-flight brunch service

Cruising over the Sea of Japan close to Shimane Prefecture in Japan

Cruising over Shimane Prefecture in the Chugoku region of Japan

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over Shimane and Okayama Prefectures

The rear view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin during cruising altitude over Shimane and Okayama Prefectures

Cruising over several mountains over Okayama Prefecture

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over Okayama and Osaka Prefectures

Cruising over the Naruto Strait between Okayama and Osaka Prefectures

In accordance with the Japanese Standard Timing, the seatbelt sign was illuminated again at 10.50 a.m., which was approximately 15 minutes in preparation for descent into Kansai International Airport. Since we knew that we had very little time left prior to our arrival into Osaka, we immediately stowed away all our belongings and buckled up with our seat belts in preparation for the descent into Kansai International Airport.

The sun was shining brightly as the plane began to commence its final approach into Kansai International Airport. After a very short regional flight time of just 1 hour 15 minutes over the Korea Strait and Sea of Japan from the capital city of the Republic of Korea (South Korea), we finally touched down in Kansai International Airport at 11.05 a.m., which was 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

Kansai International Airport (関西国際空港) is a Japanese first-class airport located on an artificial man-made island in the middle of Osaka Bay, Osaka, Japan. The airport serves as the central international airport serving the Keihanshin metropolitan area, and is one of the busiest airports in Japan. The airport serves as a major hub for All Nippon Airways, Japan Airlines, Jetstar Japan, Nippon Cargo Airlines and Peach. The airport is classified as a first-class airport under national Japanese law.


The airport was opened for business on 4 September 1994 in order to relieve overcrowding at the older Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport), which now caters only to domestic flights within Japan. Kansai International Airport is directly connected to the mainland via the Sky Gate Bridge R. The bridge houses a vehicle expressway on its upper portion, along with the West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Nankai Electric Railway using the lower portion of the bridge
.

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt sign was switched on again for landing in Kansai International Airport

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude closer towards Osaka

Cruising over some mountainous areas in Tokushima Prefecture on final approach to Kansai International Airport

Flying over the sea during final approach to Kansai International Airport

Korean Air Flight 723 ~ Bright Arrival Into Kansai International Airport

Taxiing along the tarmac towards the main passenger terminal building shortly after we had landed at Kansai International Airport

The view of the main passenger terminal at Kansai International Airport as we taxi along the tarmac towards it

An Air France Boeing 777-228/ER, registered F-GSPA, being serviced at Gate No. 34 in preparation for her afternoon trans-Siberian journey back home towards the French Republic as Air France flight AF 291 bound for Paris (Charles de Gaulle)

The view of the Sky Gate Bridge R linking Kansai International Airport with the mainland as we make our way to the North Wing

A Garuda Indonesia Airbus A330-243, registered PK-GPS, being serviced in preparation for her afternoon flight back home towards the Republic of Indonesia as Garuda Indonesia flight GA 889 bound for Jakarta at Gate No. 26

A Thai Airways International Airbus A380-841, registered HS-TUF, about to be pushed back from Gate No. 13 in preparation for her afternoon journey back home towards the Kingdom of Thailand as Thai Airways International flight TG 623 bound for Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi)

A Korean Air Boeing 737-9B5, registered HL7716, resting at Gate No. 10 just adjacent to us

The view of the Korean Air Airbus A330-200 Prestige Sleeper cabin from my seat shortly after we docked on to Gate No. 9 in the North Wing at Kansai International Airport

After taxiing along the airport tarmac for approximately 15 minutes towards the North Wing, we finally docked on to our arrival gate, Gate No. 9, at 11.15 a.m.. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled and retrieved all of our belongings from their respective storage spaces, checking to see that nothing had been left behind on board as we prepared to disembark from the aircraft.

Once we had checked to see that none of our belongings had been left behind on board, we rolled up behind some other passengers so that the disembarkation process could go out as planned. As we disembarked from the aircraft with our belongings, the flight attendants at the exit door thanked us for our patronage with Korean Air, and managed to wish us a very pleasant mid-term summer vacation in Japan.

Korean Air Flight 723 Score Report

Seat: 20 / 20
Food: 16 / 20
Service: 17 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 18 / 20
Legroom space: 19 / 20
Total: 90 / 100

In the final analysis, Korean Air has managed to obtain a total aggregate score of 90% for the short segment between Seoul (Incheon) and Osaka (Kansai). This would literally mean that Korean Air has managed to earn another 'A+' grade, which is the highest airline grade. This has been indeed another pleasant flight with Korean Air, and they should continue to work hard to keep up the good work!

Part 4 ~ The Journey Towards The Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya


After disembarking from Korean Air flight KE 723 from Seoul (Incheon), we walked along the North Wing passageway leading towards the immigrations area located on the other side of the terminal building. Considering the distance between Gate No. 9 and the immigrations area, we knew that there was a free shuttle train linking towards the immigrations and arrivals area, which would be our sole option to access the immigrations and arrivals area.


Upon arriving at the free shuttle train station linking towards the main terminal building, we quickly hopped on to the nearest shuttle train towards the immigrations and arrivals area in the main terminal building area, eventually arriving there by 11.20 a.m.. We then took the escalators down towards the immigrations area, with the entire immigration process taking no more than just five minutes as it was not very crowded early that afternoon.

Once we had cleared the immigrations area, I immediately went to check the baggage claim information screen to check which baggage belt our bulky check-in baggage would arrive at. According to the baggage claim information screen, all check-in baggage from Korean Air flight KE 723 from Seoul (Incheon) would be scheduled to arrive at Belt No. 2. With that, we quickly headed down to the baggage claiming area and grabbed a total of three baggage trolleys before heading to Belt No. 2 to claim our bulky check-in baggage.

Walking along the passageway linking from Gate No. 9 to the free airport shuttle train station

Walking on the passageway closer towards the free airport shuttle train station

Arriving at the free Wing Shuttle airport shuttle train station in the North Wing

The platform of the free Wing Shuttle airport shuttle train in the North Wing at Kansai International Airport

The interior of the free Kansai International Airport Wing Shuttle train towards the Main Terminal from the North Wing

Kansai International Airport Shuttle Train ~ North Wing To Main Terminal

The platform of the free Wing Shuttle airport shuttle train in the Main Terminal at Kansai International Airport

Walking down towards the immigrations and arrivals area in the Main Terminal at Kansai International Airport

The baggage claiming information screen located just aft of the immigrations area in Kansai International Airport

After claiming all of our baggage from Belt No. 2, we finally entered the international flight arrivals and meeting area of Kansai International Airport at 11.30 a.m.. The first thing we decided to do after entering the international arrivals and meeting area would be to head to the post office located at the southern side of the terminal building near the domestic flight check-in counters on the second floor to get two Internet dongles.

With that, we took the elevator up to the second floor and walked through the domestic flight lobby towards the southern end of the terminal, where the post office was located, arriving there by 11.40 a.m.. At the post office itself, we successfully managed to obtain two Internet routers and two Internet dongles for our use to gain Internet access for our upcoming stay in Japan. Once we had obtained our Internet routers and dongles, we immediately decided to head to Kansai Airport Station to purchase our four limited express train tickets to Kyoto.

We then crossed the footbridge and arrived at the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station by 12 noon. At the JR Ticket Office, we saw that it was extremely crowded with a lot of travellers given that some of the offices were not open. Once our turn to purchase our train tickets to Kyoto came, we immediately made our Green Car (first class) limited express seat reservations for the trip towards the hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto.

In total, we managed to purchase four Green Car (first class) limited express train tickets for a total of ¥16,520 (S$201.54). For the in-bound journey to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya, we would catch the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto, which would be scheduled to depart Kansai Airport Station at 1.16 p.m., and arrive at the Kyoto terminal station at 2.31 p.m.. Upon arriving at Kyoto Station, we would arrange for MK cabs to take us towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto.

Kansai Airport Station (関西空港駅) is a ground level railway station located within Kansai International Airport in Tajiri, Sennan District, Osaka, Japan. It is the central railway terminal serving Kansai International Airport, and is linked directly to the main passenger terminal building via a pedestrian footbridge. The station is jointly managed by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) and Nankai Electric Railway, via the Kansai Airport Line and Nankai Airport Line respectively.

The station has a total of two island platforms, with Tracks No. 1 and 2 serving the Nankai Electric Railway, including the Nankai Airport Limited Express Rapi:t bound for Namba in downtown Osaka. Tracks No. 3 and 4 mainly serves the JR line trains, including the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka linking towards downtown Osaka, Kyoto and Maibara. A JR Ticket Office is located in the station concourse near the JR line ticketing gates, being open from 5.30 a.m. to eleven o' clock at night daily.

At the JR Ticket Office, foreign tourists coming into Japan via Kansai International Airport can exchange their Japan Rail Pass Exchange Vouchers for their Japan Rail Passes. The Nankai Tourist Support Center is located just across the Nankai Electric Railway ticketing gates, where passengers can purchase their Nankai Line train tickets, including reserved seat tickets for the Nankai Airport Limited Express Rapi:t. Its business hours are from five o' clock in the morning to eleven o' clock at night.

The international arrivals and meeting area at Kansai International Airport shortly after we had arrived

The interior of the domestic flight level in the Main Terminal building at Kansai International Airport

Finally arriving at the post office in the southern side of the domestic flight level

The main entrance to the main terminal building at Kansai International Airport towards the domestic flight level

Overlooking the bus and cab bay at Kansai International Airport on the way to Kansai Airport Station

The passageway towards a pet hotel from the entrance to Kansai Airport Station

The main station concourse of Kansai Airport Station during the early afternoon hours

The Nankai Tourist Support Center in the main station concourse of Kansai Airport Station during the early afternoon hours

Arriving at the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station

The interior of the JR Ticket Office at Kansai Airport Station

After purchasing our four Green Car (first class) limited express train tickets for the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto, the clock was finally showing 12.15 p.m.. Since we still had an hour left before our train to Kyoto, we decided to head to a fast-food restaurant for lunch first. With that, we left the station concourse and went back into the domestic flight level, arriving back there by 12.20 p.m..

In the domestic flight level of the main passenger terminal, we managed to stumble upon a fast-food restaurant by the name of McDonald's. We seem to prefer McDonald's in Japan more than in Singapore, as the Japanese use beef tallow when making their french fries and Chicken McNuggets, which gives it a tantalising flavour. That afternoon, we had a very filling and sumptuous fast-food lunch at McDonald's in Kansai International Airport.

The JR Line ticketing gates in the main station concourse of Kansai Airport Station during the early afternoon hours

The Nankai Line ticketing gates in the main station concourse of Kansai Airport Station during the early afternoon hours

Walking along the pedestrian footbridge linking Kansai Airport Station with the main passenger terminal

Finally stumbling upon McDonald's in the domestic flight level at Kansai International Airport

An overall view of our fast-food lunch at McDonald's in Kansai International Airport

The interior view of McDonald's in the domestic flight level at Kansai International Airport

After having a brief fast-food lunch break at McDonald's in the domestic flight level of Kansai International Airport, the clock was finally showing 12.45 p.m.. Knowing that we only had 20 minutes left before the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto, we immediately grabbed hold of our belongings and walked across the pedestrian footbridge leading towards Kansai Airport Station, eventually arriving there by 12.50 p.m..

In the station concourse, we went to check to see which platform the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto would depart at 1.16 p.m. from Track No. 4. Without wasting any time, we headed to the JR Line ticket gates, where we showed our limited express train tickets to the staff at the staffed ticketing gate before taking the elevators down to the platforms, arriving there by 12.55 p.m..

The Haruka (はるか) is a dedicated limited express train service operated by West Japan Railway Company (JR West) between Kansai International Airport and the Keihanshin metropolitan area. Dubbed the “Kansai Airport Limited Express” (関空特急) by JR West, the Haruka is the fastest train service operating between Kansai International Airport and downtown Osaka and Kyoto, though some trains continue to and from Maibara instead of normally terminating at Kyoto. The train service is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).


The Haruka service commenced operations on 4 September 1994, in collaboration with the opening of Kansai International Airport, using a dedicated fleet of three-car and six-car 281 series EMUs, operating at a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). Services are normally formed of six cars, but the three-car sets are sometimes coupled to the normal six-car sets to form a total of nine cars for some services. As of 15 March 2014, there are a total of 24 daily return workings operating in both directions, with some services continuing to and from Maibara.


Over its route, the service travels over the Kansai Airport Line, Hanwa Line, Osaka Loop Line and Tokaido Main Line (Kyoto Line & Biwako Line). Services normally stop at Tennoji and Shin-osaka Stations along the way, though some services make additional stops at Izumi-fuchu and Hineno Stations during the early morning or late evening hours. The service runs over the Umeda Freight Line between Shin-osaka Station and the Osaka Loop Line, which leaves none of the services going towards Osaka Station.

A typical journey duration between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto takes 1 hour 15 minutes. Service frequency is approximately every one hour for most of the daylight hours, and half an hour during the early morning and late night hours. Extra charges are not mandatory for the Haruka for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in Car No. 1. Without a Japan Rail Pass, a typical Green Car (first class) ticket on the Haruka service linking between Kansai International Airport and Kyoto costs ¥4,130 (S$50.40) each way.

The Haruka has a direct competitor, Rapi:t (ラピート), the name of a limited express train service operated by the private Nankai Electric Railway between Kansai International Airport and Nankai Namba Station located in downtown Osaka and operating at a top speed of 110 km/h (68 mph). The service uses a dedicated fleet of six 6-car Nankai 50000 series EMUs painted in a purely navy blue livery, with streamline ends and oval-shaped windows, which make the trains look like modern-day passenger aircraft.


Due to the relatively high fare structures and low catchment areas for the Haruka, some foreign tourists without a Japan Rail Pass may opt to take the private and cheaper Nankai Airport Limited Express Rapi:t to Namba Station in downtown Osaka, and then change to some other private railway lines in order to access Kyoto and other cities in the Keihanshin metropolitan area. Some may also seek other modes of transportation between Kansai International Airport and the Keihanshin metropolitan area
.

The view of the domestic flight level in Kansai International Airport as we make our way towards Kansai Airport Station

A lineup of shops near McDonald's in the domestic flight level of Kansai International Airport

Looking up towards the international departures and check-in area as we make our way towards Kansai Airport Station

Approaching the station concourse at Kansai Airport Station

Finally arriving back at the main station concourse at Kansai Airport Station

The JR Line ticketing gates in the station concourse of Kansai Airport Station

The JR Line platforms at Kansai Airport Station shortly after we had arrived

A 4-car 225 series EMU, operating on the "Kansai Airport Rapid Service" bound for central Osaka, awaiting departure from Track No. 4 at Kansai Airport Station

The overall view of the station platforms at Kansai Airport Station

A 6-car Nankai 50000 series EMU, operating on the Nankai Airport Limited Express "Rapi:t β" No. 44 bound for Namba, entering Kansai Airport Station on Track No. 1. Note that this train is temporarily painted red in celebration with Neo Zeon Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn until 30 June 2014

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

The JR Line platforms at Kansai Airport Station shortly before the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto arrived at Track No. 4

After spending about 10 minutes of anticipated waiting on the JR Line platforms, a 6-car 281 series EMU, which would soon operate on the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 bound for Kyoto, finally entered Kansai Airport Station at 1.05 p.m. on Track No. 4. Once the train doors opened, we immediately boarded the train through Car No. 1, which was the Green Car (first class) coach, and put all our bulky baggage in the baggage racks prior to going into the main seating cabin.

We then entered the cabin, where we settled into our assigned Seats No. 3A, 3B, 4A and 4B respectively for the short journey duration of 1 hour 15 minutes towards the hustle and bustle of downtown Kyoto. At exactly 1.16 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka No. 20 finally pulled out of Kansai Airport Station. We were then on our way for a short journey duration of 1 hour 15 minutes to the hustle and bustle of the historical capital of Japan.

Kyoto (京都市) is a large major city located in the central part of the Kansai Region, Honshu, Japan. While the city serves as the prefectural capital of Kyoto Prefecture, it was historically the imperial capital of Japan for many years until 1868, when the Emperor moved to Tokyo, thus making Tokyo the national capital of Japan today. With a population of approximately 1.47 million, as of 1 February 2014, the city plays a key role in the Keihanshin metropolitan area. Kyoto is well-known for its rich history of Japan, most notably for its historical temples.

The 6-car 281 series EMU, which would soon operate on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, finally entering Kansai Airport Station on Track No. 4

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process at Kansai Airport Station

A view of my seat, 4A, during the boarding process at Kansai Airport Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, during the boarding process at Kansai Airport Station

My dad, younger brother and myself posing for a photograph during the boarding process at Kansai Airport Station

Awaiting departure from Kansai Airport Station

281系 関空特急はるか20号 京都行き 関西空港 (発車) ~ 東貝塚 (通過)

Bypassing a shopping mall in the suburban city of Kishiwada

Bypassing several housing areas in the suburban city of Kishiwada

Passing through Kumeda Station

Bypassing a rice paddy field between the suburban cities of Kishiwada and Izumi

Bypassing a road crossing near Izumi-fuchu Station

Passing through Izumi-fuchu Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, from my seat between Izumi-fuchu and Tonoki Stations

Bypassing several housing areas in the suburban cities of Izumi and Takaishi

Passing through Tonoki Station

Passing through Otori Station

Bypassing several housing areas in Nishi-ku, Sakai

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, from my seat between Otori and Sakaishi Stations

281系 関空特急はるか20号 京都行き 堺市 (通過) ~ 天王寺 (到着)

Making a brief stop at Tennoji Station

281系 関空特急はるか20号 京都行き 天王寺駅から新大阪駅間

Making a brief stop at Shin-osaka Station

Passing through Higashi-yodogawa Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 6-car 281 series EMU, operating on the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto, from my seat between Shin-osaka and Suita Station

Passing through Suita Station

Bypassing a freight railway container yard in the suburban city of Suita

Passing through Senrioka Station

Passing through Ibaraki Station

Bypassing several housing areas in the suburban city of Ibaraki

Bypassing several housing areas in the suburban city of Takatsuki

Passing through Takatsuki Station

Bypassing several housing areas near Takatsuki Station

281系 関空特急はるか20号 京都行き 島本 (通過) ~ 京都 (到着)

After a short train travel duration of just 1 hour 15 minutes from the lively vicinity of Kansai International Airport located along the surrounding waters of Osaka Bay, we finally arrived at the Kyoto terminal station at 2.33 p.m. on Track No. 30, which was just two minutes behind schedule. Heading to the door area, we grabbed all of our bulky baggage after checking to see that none of our carry-on belongings had been left behind in the cabin before alighting from the train.

We then walked towards the central ticketing gate, where we turned in our train tickets and walked through the station building to search for a tourist information centre. Given that it had been a long time since we stepped foot into Kyoto Station from Kansai International Airport by train, it was a hard struggle to try to find the Kyoto Tourist Information Centre. As my dad and younger brother stayed with the baggage, my mum and I went up to the tourist information centre.

Kyoto Station (京都駅) is the main railway terminal serving the hustling and bustling city of Kyoto, Japan. It is located in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto, and is one of the major railway terminals serving the Keihanshin metropolitan area. The station serves as a major interchange station for the Tokaido Shinkansen, Tokaido Main Line (JR Kyoto Line & Biwako Line), San'in Main Line, Kosei Line, Nara Line, Kintetsu Kyoto Line and the Kyoto Municipal Subway Karasuma Line. The station also houses the JR Isetan Department Store and the Hotel Granvia Kyoto directly above it.

Kyoto Station has the second-largest railway terminal building in all of Japan, after Nagoya Station. The station previously operated the Kyoto City Air Terminal until it was closed on 31 August 2002. The station serves as the northeastern terminus for the Kansai Airport Limited Express Haruka linking to Kansai International Airport, and for some limited express trains bound for the San'in region and the Kii Peninsula. The station also serves as a mandatory stopping point for limited express trains heading towards the Hokuriku region.

The 6-car 281 series EMU, which transported us from Kansai International Airport as the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" No. 20 bound for Kyoto earlier, on Track No. 30 at Kyoto Station

Tracks No. 30 and 31 serving the San'in Main Line trains and the Kansai Airport Limited Express "Haruka" trains linking towards Kansai International Airport at Kyoto Station

The passageway linking the San'in Main Line with the main station concourse at Kyoto Station

After my mum and I arrived at the Kyoto Tourist Information Centre at 2.50 p.m., two lady staff informed us that to get an MK cab to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya, we had to cross over towards the Hachijo Shinkansen entrance and cross the road to the Ibis Styles Hotel Kyoto, where the MK cab reservation office was located. As all the big cabs were full that day, we had to arrange for two MK cabs to transport both ourselves and our baggage to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya.

Heading back down towards the Central Entrance, we walked through the very busy station concourses towards the Hachijo Shinkansen entrance, and crossed the busy road towards the Ibis Styles Hotel Kyoto, eventually arriving at the MK cab reservation office at 3.05 p.m.. At the office, a man came to us and understood that we had to arrange for two cabs to take us with our baggage towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya.

He then arranged for two cabs for us so that all of our baggage could be easily transported to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya. At the cab bay, the drivers of our pre-arranged cabs got out and offered to help load our baggage into the boots of the cabs. While my dad and I went in one cab, my mum and younger brother followed behind. Soon enough, we finally departed the lively vicinity of Kyoto Station at 3.10 p.m. for a journey time of just 20 minutes towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya located in downtown Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto.

One of the black medium-sized MK cabs that would take us to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

Finally departing the lively hustle and bustle of Kyoto Station in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Bypassing the New Miyako Hotel Kyoto, where we stayed at on our second trip to Japan in November 2004

Travelling adjacent to the Tokaido Shinkansen viaduct near Kyoto Station

About to turn towards a road running by the Kyoto Aquarium in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Travelling along the busy roads of Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Bypassing the Kyoto Aquarium in Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Bypassing some old traditional shophouses between Nakagyo-ku and Shimogyo-ku, Kyoto

Bypassing a small butcher's shop in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Travelling along a small road in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, near the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

Bypassing more old shophouses near the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya located in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

After a short MK cab journey time of just 20 minutes from the lively hustle and bustle of Kyoto Station, we finally arrived outside the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya at 3.30 p.m.. While we paid the fare and alighted, checking to see that nothing had been left behind, the MK cab drivers offered to help unload our baggage from the boots of the cabs. Once all of our baggage was unloaded from the cabs, we thanked the MK cab drivers for their services and promised to contact them again if necessary.

At a locked door located by the entrance to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya, there was a black box which contained a key to open the main door to the Machiya. Entering the code, we unlocked the door to our Machiya and grabbed all of our baggage inside. The Machiya consisted of two bedrooms, of which, one of them had beds and the other one had a Tatami bedroom. There was also a bar, where we would store our used laundry, a mid-sized kitchen and a living room where we would have meals and store our baggage.

Outside of the Machiya, there was a small garden with an extra but disused room, along with three toilet cubicles, two sinks and two baths, of which, one consisted of just a shower and a sink, and the other one containing a bath tub and a sink. Taking all our baggage into the Machiya, we unpacked our belongings and sorted out our attires for the upcoming days, including our electronic devices and their battery chargers. After preparing everything for the coming days, my parents, at some point of that late afternoon, went out to purchase some groceries before we simply had a well-earned rest in our Machiya throughout the entire day until nightfall.

Finally outside the main entrance to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The interior of the kitchen in the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The three washroom cubicles located outside our living room at the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The small garden and gazebo located outside our living room at the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The Western-style bedroom, where my younger brother and I would sleep

The tatami-style living room located adjacent to the kitchen

Examining the washroom cubicles outside the living room area at our Machiya

Looking at the kitchen area in the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The bar area by the main entrance, where we would store all our used laundry

The tatami-style bedroom, where my parents would sleep, in the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

After having a well-earned rest in our Machiya throughout the entire afternoon, the clock was already showing 10.45 p.m. by the time we had woken up. Feeling very hungry already, we decided to search for a nearby restaurant around the area located near our Machiya for a late night dinner. With that, we had a nice, hot shower and changed back into our attires before preparing our electronics for the late night walk.

Once we had prepared all of our necessary belongings, we left our Machiya at around 11.45 p.m. and walked along the quiet and secluded streets of Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto. As it was the late night hours, most of the shops around the vicinity were closed, with the exception of a few 24-hour convenience stores. While walking along the dark streets, we searched for a good restaurant that was still open to eat at for dinner.

The exterior view of the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya late at night

A small red Mini car located across the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The dimly-lit alley near the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, late at night

Walking past some closed shops in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, by a dimly-lit road

About to cross a railway crossing to the other side of Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

Finally stumbling upon Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto

After walking through the dark alleys of Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, from the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya, we finally managed to stumble upon a western restaurant, by the name of Big Boy Restaurant Shijo, at 11.50 p.m.. Entering the restaurant itself, we immediately requested for a large table for the four of us. Once we were seated at our assigned table, we made a good review through the food and beverage menus provided for us at our table.

Having a good review through the food and beverage menus, a waitress finally came by to our table to take down our main meal orders for our late night dinner. We managed to order several hot meat plates and several side orders, such as mozzarella cheese sticks and fried potatoes, along with some wine. Late that night, we had a filling and sumptuous Western dinner at Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto, even if it was already past midnight.

Upon finishing our dinner, we were finally stuffed to the brim at 12.35 a.m.. Paying up our dinner bill, we left the restaurant by 12.40 a.m. to head back towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya, stopping at a nearby Lawson convenience store to purchase some light beverages and snacks. As a result, the entire walk between Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto and the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya took approximately 15 minutes.

The cover page for the Grand Menu at Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto

Reviewing the Grand Menu at Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto

The interior of Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto during the late night hours

A glass of white wine for myself at Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto

An overall view of our alcoholic beverages at Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto

A large basket of french fries and mozzarella cheese sticks to be shared among us

A platter of deep-fried chicken to be shared among us

A sizzling platter of grilled and potato wedges to be shared among us

A platter of spaghetti alla carbonara with egg for my mum

A sizzling plate of hamburg steak with bacon, fried egg and potato wedges for my younger brother

A sizzling plate of Angus sirloin steak with baked potato for myself

The interior of Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto shortly before we left for the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The exterior view of Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto just as we make our way back to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

About to cross the road towards the Lawson convenience store in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto

About to cross a railway crossing to the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

Walking past some closed shops in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, by a dimly-lit road towards the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya

The dimly-lit alley near the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, late at night as we make our way back towards it

Finally arriving back at the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya late at night

After a short walk of just 15 minutes through the dark streets of Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, from the Big Boy Restaurant Shijo Kyoto, we finally arrived back at the Mibu Machiya Kyoto Cotoriya at 12.55 a.m.. Entering the Machiya, we put away our belongings inside our rooms before having a wash and changing into our pyjamas and settled in for the night. We also set up all of our electronic devices to be charged overnight.

Soon enough, after we had changed up, we were simply left to our own devices for our own entertainment for the rest of the night. In advance, I had travel plans to return to Kansai International Airport to do some shopping the next day. Informing my mum to pass me my Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher the next morning, we finally turned in by around two o' clock for a well-earned good night's sleep.

This officially brings the first segment of my special mid-term summer birthday vacation to Japan in June 2014 to a formal conclusion. Like all previous reports, any questions and / or comments will be more than welcome, and will all be answered to the best extent possible. The remaining four segments of the report will be posted once the highest quality videos and photographs have been selected.

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