Thursday, December 11, 2014

2014 Christmas Special: End-of-Year Winter Vacation to Japan in December 2014 ~ Section 1

Dear bloggers, seasons greetings to all of you! Firstly, I would like to sincerely apologise for not having any posts for the past three months, owing to the busy preparations for both my College Year 2 End-of-Year Examinations and the GCE 'A' Level H1 Project Work kicking in next year in fiscal 2015! Nevertheless. welcome to this 2014 Christmas special report about my end-of-year winter vacation to Japan in December 2014, as the official Christmas special report you have been waiting for! This new winter trip report will be divided into a total of six sections, for which, this will be the first segment of the entire report.

There will be four sub-topics, not counting the opening sequences, that will be covered up in this first segment of the trip report. They shall be the evening and overnight in-bound flights to Tokyo (Narita) via Hong Kong and the trip to The Big Bear Chalet & Apartments Hakuba. While the videos featured in this trip report may also be accessed via my YouTube channel, please be aware that for safety reasons, it is forbidden to post comments for these YouTube videos. Violations may result in the removal of comments and / or other consequences.

Part 1 ~ The Opening Sequences

After spending several months of planning on which country to undertake a travel to for the winter season to celebrate the end of the year 2014, my parents finally decided to bring us on a special winter vacation to Japan, but to Honshu rather than Hokkaido. Over the next coming weeks, I became very excited since it was always mandatory and wonderful to be travelling to Japan at least once a year, having enjoyed my summer birthday trip there in June 2014. We would also be trying out to stay in both Hakuba in Nagano Prefecture and downtown Tokyo.

I could not wait to see what Hakuba would be like since it would be our first time to the ski village. On the morning of Tuesday (9 December), I woke up at around eleven o' clock to pack the remaining components of my baggage for the winter vacation to Japan. Given that we had already packed most of our baggage components several weeks before the winter vacation, we had lunch in the living room after laying our baggage out. My parents had also arranged for a MaxiCab to come and take us to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 3.15 p.m. later that afternoon.

For the overnight in-bound journey to Tokyo (Narita), we would be flying with Cathay Pacific on flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong, which would be scheduled to depart from Singapore Changi Airport at 6.15 p.m., and arrive at Hong Kong International Airport at ten o' clock late that evening. After arrival in Hong Kong, we would have a layover of three hours before our eventual connection to Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita), which would be scheduled to depart Hong Kong International Airport at 1.05 a.m., and arrive at Narita International Airport at 6.15 a.m. the next morning.

I was quite happy about the flight itineraries as Cathay Pacific was one of my most favourite airlines worldwide, having enjoyed their in-flight service countless of times. Soon enough, our pre-arranged MaxiCab to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 finally arrived at the main entrance to our housee at 3.05 p.m.. The driver, who was a Chinese gentleman, got out of the cab and offered to help load our baggage into the boot, while my younger brother and I boarded the MaxiCab for the road trip to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1.

With our baggage loaded in, we ultimately departed the surrounding area of our house by 3.10 p.m. for a mid-afternoon road trip of 25 minutes via the Tampines Expressway to Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1. Arriving at the departure and drop-off point outside Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 at 3.35 p.m., I proceeded to retrieve three baggage trolleys to load all our baggage while the MaxiCab driver helped my parents and younger brother in unloading our baggage from the MaxiCab boot.

Paying our fare, we thanked the MaxiCab driver for his services and promised to contact him again. Entering the departures and check-in hall of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1, we headed over to the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counters, arriving there at 3.40 p.m.. Proceeding to the nearest open Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counter, we then checked ourselves in for Cathay Pacific flights CX 716 and CX 524 bound for Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita), with the entire check-in process for both flight segments to Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita) taking approximately 10 minutes.

Cathay Pacific (Traditional Chinese: 國泰航空公司; Simplified Chinese: 国泰航空公司) is the international flag carrier and largest airline of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Headquartered at Cathay City on Lantau Island, the airline maintains its largest and sole hub at Hong Kong International Airport, with focus cities located at Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taipei. The airline offers 112 destinations through Asia, Africa, Oceania, North America and the European Union, using a purely wide-body fleet of Airbus A330s, Airbus A340s, Boeing 747s and Boeing 777s.

Cathay Pacific fully owns a subsidiary airline, Dragonair (Traditional Chinese: 港龍航空公司; Simplified Chinese: 港龙航空公司), which mainly offers regional destinations in Mainland China and some regional destinations located in Asia. The airline is one of the co-founding members of Oneworld, the world's second airline formed on 1 February 1999, together with American Airlines, British Airways and Qantas. Cathay Pacific is also classified as one of the seven five-star airlines by Skytrax, and was awarded the 'Airline of the Year' award in 2003, 2005, 2009 and 2014, making it the only airline in the world to have won it more than three times.

The departure and drop-off area located outside the departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 shortly after we had arrived

The departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 during the mid-afternoon hours

Finally arriving at the Cathay Pacific Business Class check-in counters in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

After completing the whole check-in process for both Cathay Pacific flights CX 716 and CX 524 bound for Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita), we finally received both our boarding passes and lounge invitation passes at 3.50 p.m.. The check-in agent then informed us that today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong would be scheduled to depart at 6.15 p.m. from Gate No. D40. Boarding would also commence at 5.50 p.m., approximately 25 minutes before the scheduled departure timing. Without wasting anymore time, we sincerely thanked the check-in agent for her services and proceeded to the passport control area.

To clear the passport control area, we used the thumb fingerprint security checkpoint, which screens the thumb fingerprints of local Singaporeans and Singapore permanent residents, with the entire process taking not more than five minutes, eventually entering the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 by 3.55 p.m.. Entering the main airside, the first thing we decided to do was to head to the Skyview Lounge first. With that, we walked past some duty-free shops to Concourse D, and decided to stop at a nearby money exchange counter to change some Singapore dollars into Japanese yen.

At the money exchange counter itself, I changed a total S$1,012.50, HK$4,630, RM100 and the remainder of my Thai baht left from July 2014 into Japanese yen. In return for this, I managed to receive a total of ¥184,500, resulting in the total amount of my Japanese yen increasing from ¥141,750 left from my previous birthday trip to Japan in June 2014 to ¥326,250. Once we were done exchanging our currencies, we resumed our short walk to the Skyview Lounge, with the entire short walk there taking no more than approximately 10 minutes.

The departures and check-in hall at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 shortly before entering the airside

My boarding pass for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

Finally in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The departure flights information screen in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Walking past some duty-free shops in the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 to Concourse D

Stopping at a money exchange counter to change some Singapore dollars into Japanese yen

Bypassing a Starbucks Coffee cafeteria on the way to the Skyview Lounge in Concourse D

Finally arriving at the escalators leading to the Skyview Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

After walking through the airside of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 to Concourse D, we finally arrived at the entrance to the Skyview Lounge at 4.05 p.m.. Taking the escalator up to the lounge reception counter, the lounge receptionist checked our lounge invitation passes before allowing us to enter the Skyview Lounge. Entering the main lounge area itself, we observed that the entire outer seating areas were already occupied with travellers, which led us to going up into the inner seating areas of the lounge.

Entering the inner seating areas, we saw that there were lots of waiting travellers in it too. Seeing that it was almost close to being full, my parents and younger brother decided to go out to shop, allowing me to remain in the lounge on my own at the same time. Being the only one among us to use the Skyview Lounge, I found a four-people seating area and got my electronics to use before the flight to Hong Kong. My parents also came back for some light bites and beverages at some point in time.

The self-service food and beverage corner in the Skyview Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 shortly after we entered the lounge

The tarmac view of Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 as seen from the Skyview Lounge

A Qantas Airbus A330-303, registered VH-QPB, resting at Gate No. C13 after arriving from her long morning journey from the Commonwealth of Australia as Qantas flight QF 051 from Brisbane

A Scoot Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-OTC, resting on the tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1. This aircraft once flew for Singapore Airlines as 9V-SQC until it was transferred to Scoot on 1 March 2012

The interior of the inner seating areas in the Skyview Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

Reading through the most hilarious line in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks, which cracks me up the most - "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

The self-service food and beverage corner in the inner seating areas of the Skyview Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

A glass of white wine and a can of Coca-cola Light for myself in the Skyview Lounge

Crafting out the first section of the 2014 Christmas special report on my blog in the Skyview Lounge

The interior of the inner seating areas in the Skyview Lounge at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 shortly before I left the lounge for Gate No. D40

Part 2 ~ The Flight To Hong Kong

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 716
From: Singapore Changi Airport (SIN / WSSS), Singapore
To: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH), Hong Kong
Aircraft: Airbus A330-343X
Registration No.: B-HLO
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 14A
Date: Tuesday, 9 December 2014

After spending approximately 1 hour 15 minutes of relaxations, having some light bites and beverages and charging my electronic devices in the Skyview Lounge, the clock was finally showing 5.20 p.m.. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong would commence in half an hour's time, I immediately packed away all my belongings and left the Skyview Lounge for Gate No. D40. The entire walk linking between the Skyview Lounge with Gate No. D40 took less than five minutes.

Soon enough, I finally arrived outside the entrance to Gate No. D40 at 5.25 p.m., which was in good time for boarding to commence in 20 minutes' time, meeting up with my family at the same time at 5.30 p.m.. With a relatively hassle-free security check, we were finally in the passenger waiting room of Gate No. D40 by 5.35 p.m.. Given the number of passengers in the passenger waiting area at Gate No. D40, I could simply see that Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong would be almost filled to the brim this evening.

Today, Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong would be operated by an Airbus A330-300 aircraft, registered B-HLO and powered using two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines. B-HLO was delivered new to Cathay Pacific on 30 March 2001 as the 16th Airbus A330-300 and the 16th Airbus A330 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 13.7 years old today. This particular aircraft was familiar to my eyes since I had flown on it previously as Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 in our Hari Raya weekend trip to Bangkok back in July 2014.

One last view of the Skyview Lounge in Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 as I begin to make my way to Gate No. D40

A KLM ー Royal Dutch Airlines Boeing 777-306/ER, registered PH-BVG, being serviced at Gate No. D34 after arriving from her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey from the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Indonesia as KLM ー Royal Dutch Airlines flight KL 835 bound for Denpasar (Bali) via Singapore

An All Nippon Airways Boeing 787-881 Dreamliner, registered JA834A, taxiing along the tarmac to Terminal 2 after arriving from her long afternoon journey from Japan as All Nippon Airways flight NH 841 from Tokyo (Haneda)

Walking past the Starbucks Coffee cafeteria in Concourse D at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1 on the way to Gate No. D40

Finally arriving at the entrance to Gate No. D40

The departure flight information screen at Gate No. D40 detailing the information for Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong

Our aircraft for today, B-HLO, being serviced at Gate No. D40, in preparation for her early evening regional journey back home to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong. I can clearly remember flying on this particular aircraft as Cathay Pacific flight CX 712 from Singapore to Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi) when we went on our short Hari Raya Adilfitri weekend trip to Bangkok, Thailand, in July 2014

A closeup of B-HLO being serviced at Gate No. D40 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

A Turkish Airlines Airbus A330-303, registered TC-JOA, resting at Gate No. D41 after arriving from her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey from the Republic of Turkey as Turkish Airlines flight TK 066 from Istanbul and before going on to the Republic of Indonesia to Jakarta

The inside of the passenger waiting area at Gate No. D40 during the early evening hours

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER, registered 9V-SWA, resting on the tarmac near Concourse D at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

A Scoot Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-OTB, taxiing to her assigned runway for her regional evening journey to the Kingdom of Thailand as Scoot flight TZ 302 bound for Bangkok (Don Mueang). This aircraft once flew for Singapore Airlines as 9V-SQB until it was transferred to Scoot on 21 August 2012

The three foreign airlines awaiting departure to their respective destinations at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. D40 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong were made

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367, registered B-HNK, about to taxi to her assigned runway for her delayed late afternoon regional return journey back home to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Cathay Pacific flight CX 734 bound for Hong Kong

After spending approximately just 15 minutes of anticipated waiting in the passenger waiting area located at Gate No. D40, the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 bound for Hong Kong were finally made at 5.50 p.m.. The Business Class passengers, along with the Asia Miles & Marco Polo club members and the passengers requiring special assistance, were called out to board the aircraft first. Since we were among the first ones to be called out, we rolled up with our belongings for the boarding process to commence.

Walking through the jet bridge through Door A, we were finally on board B-HLO before 5.55 p.m., which was just in good time for a 6.15 p.m. departure. At the front entrance to Door A, a cheerful flight stewardess warmly welcomed us on board and showed us the direction to our seats located in the Business Class cabin. Stowing our jackets and belongings in their respective storage spaces, we settled into our assigned Seats No. 11D, 11H, 12H and 14A respectively for the upcoming regional evening flight duration of 3 hours 45 minutes to the ultra-modern city of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).

The Business Class seats we would be using for this short evening regional journey to Hong Kong would be the newer generation of Regional Business Class seats. Introduced in mid-2013 with the Boeing 777-300, these seats are capable of reclining up to a total of 165º with enhanced facilities, such as AC power outlets being provided for each seat with much larger sliding tables and expanded legroom. These seats are expected to be rolled out on the rest of Cathay Pacific's regional fleet by the end of fiscal year 2015.

After settling into our seats, the flight attendants went about their normal pre-flight routines of distributing free newspapers and pre-departure beverages to all passengers seated in the Business Class cabin. To commence the flight with, I had my normal pre-departure glasses of orange juice and pre-departure champagne. The seat next to me, 14C, was taken by a South Korean lady, whom I could tell to be heading home to South Korea in preparation for the upcoming Christmas holiday season.

A view of my seat, 14A, during the boarding process at Gate No. D40 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the boarding process at Gate No. D40 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs illuminated during the boarding process at Gate No. D40 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 1

My usual pre-departure glasses of orange juice and champagne on my tray table

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before pushing back from Gate No. D40

At around 6.10 p.m., all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. D40, which was approximately five minutes ahead of schedule. With the safety briefing information video was played on all the front seat video screens, we commenced our taxi to our assigned runway for departure, taxiing past several aircraft parked at the neighbouring Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 along the way, with the entire taxi taking about 20 minutes.

After a relatively long taxi of approximately 20 minutes to our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Rolls-Royce Trent 772B-60 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Singapore Changi Airport at 6.30 p.m.. We then climbed into the bright early evening sky for a regional evening flight duration of 3 hours 25 minutes over the South China Sea to the ultra-modern city of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), with the sun gradually beginning to set.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. D40

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-SRQ, resting at Gate No. E28 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 after arriving from her regional afternoon journey from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 863 from Hong Kong. She will then have another regional evening journey to the Republic of Indonesia as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 966 bound for Jakarta

A Singapore Airlines Airbus A380-841, registered 9V-SKC, being serviced at Gate No. E11 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her regional evening journey to the Republic of India as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 424 bound for Mumbai

A Lufthansa Airbus A380-841, registered D-AIMF, resting at Gate No. E8 at Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 after arriving from her long overnight trans-Indian Ocean journey from the Federal Republic of Germany as Lufthansa flight LH 778 from Frankfurt

The opening to StudioCX, the in-flight entertainment system for Cathay Pacific

A clearer view of 9V-SWA resting on the tarmac near Singapore Changi Airport Terminals 1 and 2

A Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-212/ER, registered 9V-SQJ, taxiing on the tarmac towards Singapore Changi Airport Terminal 2 after arriving from her regional afternoon journey from the Republic of the Philippines as Singapore Airlines flight SQ 917 from Manila

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

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the taxi to our assigned runway for take-off

Finally approaching our assigned runway for take-off

Cathay Pacific Flight 716 ~ Evening Departure From Singapore Changi Airport

Finally climbing into the bright early evening sky with the sun beginning to set

The seatbelt signs were switched off at 6.40 p.m., which was approximately just 10 minutes after taking off from Singapore Changi Airport. As the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight service, I headed to the lavatory and got out my portable electronic devices for my own entertainment purposes for the duration of the flight to Hong Kong. Soon enough, the flight attendants handed out the food and beverage menus to everyone seated in the Business Class cabin in preparation for the in-flight dinner service to commence.

Small plates of baked cashew nuts were also given at the same time, with the beverages cart coming round at the same time. When a stewardess turned up at my seat, she asked me what beverage I wanted to start with first. To begin with, I requested for a glass of Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 white wine and a glass of Coca-cola. With that, the flight attendant took an empty wine glass and poured in my intended white wine and promptly handed it out to me, leaving me to sit back and enjoy my light dinner appetisers.

The flight attendants also went around the Business Class cabin distributing the meal trays containing the first in-flight dinner courses. Sitting back to enjoy my first dinner appetiser, I took a bite out of the cured salmon, which tasted quite good for a first dinner course. At the same time, my wine glass was kept topped up with the Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 white wine. While waiting for the main course meal cart to arrive, I was left to my own electronic devices to keep me entertained.

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were switched off

A warning sign in the lavatory indicating that on-board smoking and tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories is forbidden at all times under Hong Kong law

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

Crafting out the first section of the 2014 Christmas special report on my blog for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

Reading through the most hilarious line in "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" on iBooks, which cracks me up the most, during cruising altitude between East Malaysia and Vietnam ー "WHAT HAVE I TOLD YOU," thundered his uncle, spraying spit over the table, "ABOUT SAYING THE 'M' WORD IN OUR HOUSE?!"

The last view of the sun shining brightly over the South China Sea close to Malaysia during sunset

The cover page for the wine list for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

Reviewing the wine list for the segment between Singapore and Hong Kong

A scene from "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)", where Ron, Fred and George rip the bars off Harry's room windows to rescue Harry from the Dursleys at 4 Privet Drive

The beautiful view of the sunset over the South China Sea somewhere close between East Malaysia and Vietnam

A small bowl of baked cashew nuts on my dining table to commence with

My glasses of Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 white wine and Coca-cola on my dining table to begin with

The scene in "The Curse Of The Flying Dutchman: The Movie (2011)" which cracks me up the most ー Sir Topham Hatt has the runs right in front of his engines at Tidmouth Sheds while being hypnotised by Toby (actually possessed by the Flying Dutchman's troll engine)

A scene from "The Curse Of The Flying Dutchman: The Movie (2011)", where Toby (under the possession of the Flying Dutchman's troll engine) tells the Railway Inspector about the Sir-Topham-Hatt-and-the-runs ordeal at Tidmouth Sheds the other night during a meeting at Knapford Station

The first course: Cured salmon fillet with fennel citrus salad and crème fraiche cucumber roll

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

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the in-flight dinner service

After spending the first one hour of sampling and enjoying my first in-flight dinner courses, the flight attendants finally re-appeared with the main course dinner cart at around eight o' clock. Once the main course meal cart appeared at my seat, the flight attendant asked me what I wanted for the main dinner course. I immediately opted for the braised veal cheek with barley and vegetable orzotto as the main course. With that, the flight attendant took one of the braised veal cheek dishes and promptly placed it on my meal tray.

With my main in-flight dinner course delivered to my table, I immediately took a bite out of the braised veal cheek. It was then that I found out that the veal cheek actually tasted very tender, especially with the sauce, although the barley and vegetable orzotto tasted at most alright. Once I was finished, the flight attendants came by with the fruits, cheese, crackers and liqueur cart and to clear my meal tray. One of them then asked me what else I wanted to end off the in-flight dinner service.

To finish off, I simply requested for a glass of Baileys Irish Cream, a mug of hot cocoa and a small tub of summer berries & cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream. With that, she took my order down and cleared away my meal tray. While waiting for my dessert to arrive, I went to the lavatory and was left to my own devices to keep myself entertained. Soon enough, all three of my dessert orders were delivered to my table at 8.55 p.m., and I immediately tucked into my desserts.

The mug of hot cocoa tasted quite refreshing to help me in freshening up for the arrival into Hong Kong, while the summer berries & cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream and Baileys Irish Cream were the most perfect method to round off a typical in-flight dinner service. Once my used mug and cutleries were cleared away by the flight attendants, I was simply left again to my personal electronic devices to keep me company until the seatbelt signs were switched on again in preparation for the arrival into Hong Kong.

The main course dinner cart on board the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin during cruising altitude somewhere over Vietnam and the Philippines

My main course: Braised veal cheek with barley and vegetable orzotto

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

Singapore Airlines Boeing 777-312/ER Herpa Scale 1:500 (524858)

The rear view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over the South China Sea between Vietnam and the Philippines

A view of my seat, 14A, during cruising altitude over the South China Sea somewhere between Vietnam and the Philippines

The fruit, cheese, crackers and liqueur cart in the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin

A scene from "Gordon's Christmas Carol: The Movie (2010)", where as shown by The Ghost Engine of Christmas Present to Gordon, the engines all mourn Henry's accident cum death at Tidmouth Sheds

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

A scene from "Gordon's Christmas Carol: The Movie (2010)", where at Elsbridge Station, Gordon blatantly and sharply tells Thomas and Percy that Christmas is 'humbug' and that any engine who says 'Merry Christmas' should be scrapped and melted down in the Sodor Steamworks

A glass of Baileys Irish Cream, together with a mug of hot chocolate and a small tub of summer berries & cream Häagen-Dazs ice cream, on my table

The flight arrival information screen indicating the arrival gate and baggage belt for Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 from Singapore

The rear view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over the South China Sea somewhere closer to Hong Kong

The flight route indication map indicating that we are getting closer to Hong Kong

In accordance with the Hong Kong Local Time, all the seatbelt signs were illuminated again at 9.30 p.m., which was approximately 25 minutes in preparation for the descent into Hong Kong International Airport. Knowing that we had less than half an hour left before our arrival into Hong Kong, we immediately packed away all of our personal carry-on belongings and buckled up our seatbelts in preparation for the aircraft to commence its final approach into Hong Kong International Airport. The in-flight service came to a closure at the same time, with the cabin crew collecting the used in-flight headsets from the passengers.

The sky was pitch dark as the aircraft began to commence its final descent into Hong Kong International Airport. After a short regional evening flight duration of 3 hours 25 minutes over the South China Sea from the Republic of Singapore, we finally touched down in Hong Kong International Airport at 9.55 p.m., which was approximately five minutes ahead of schedule. An announcement pertaining to the 2014 Ebola virus disease outbreak was also made to advise transiting passengers to take precautions when travelling to and from Ebola-affected countries.

Hong Kong International Airport (Traditional Chinese: 香港國際機場; Simplified Chinese: 香港国际机场) is the central and sole international airport serving the ultra-modern city of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR). Occasionally referred to as Chek Lap Kok Airport (Traditional Chinese: 赤鱲角機場; Simplified Chinese: 赤鱲角机场), the airport is located on Lantau Island, and serves as the central hub for Air Hong Kong, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express Airways.

The airport was opened for regular passenger service on 6 July 1998, replacing the older Kai Tak Airport (Traditional Chinese: 啟德機場; Simplified Chinese: 启德机场), which had been in service since 1925, until the former eventually closed down on the same date. It has also won Skytrax's 'Airport of the Year' award countless of times, since it is one of the three five-star airports in the world. Hong Kong serves as an important Asian destination for many airlines, and is a focus city for China Airlines and China Eastern Airlines.

The airport is easily accessible from Hong Kong Island and downtown Kowloon with MTR's Airport Express, with in-town check-in service provided at Hong Kong Station and Kowloon Station. An Airport Express MTR train journey from Hong Kong Station to the airport takes about 24 minutes. Several taxis are also available from the airport to various destinations in Hong Kong, with the red taxis heading to the Kowloon and Hong Kong city areas, the green taxis heading to New Territories and the light blue taxis heading to regional Lantau areas.

The 'no smoking' and 'fasten seatbelt' signs illuminated in preparation for descent into Hong Kong International Airport

The flight route indication map indicating our final approach into Hong Kong

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were illuminated in preparation for descent into Hong Kong International Airport

Cruising over the South China Sea as the aircraft commences its final descent into Hong Kong International Airport

Cathay Pacific Flight 716 ~ Night Arrival Into Hong Kong International Airport

Taxiing along the airport tarmac shortly after arrival into Hong Kong International Airport

A United Airlines Boeing 747-422, registered N175UA, resting at Gate No. 22 adjacent to us after arriving from her long transpacific journey from the United States as United Airlines flight UA 869 from San Francisco

Finally docking onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 24, at Hong Kong International Airport

The view of the Cathay Pacific Airbus A330-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after docking onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 24

After taxiing along the airport tarmac for approximately five minutes towards the passenger terminal building, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 24, at ten o' clock. Once the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled from our respective seats and retrieved our belongings from their respective storage spaces, checking to see that not a single piece of carry-on baggage had been left behind on board the aircraft.

Upon checking to see that none of our belongings had been left behind in our seating areas, my parents and younger brother alighted first, while I was behind a few other passengers. As we disembarked from the aircraft, the flight attendant standing by at the front exit door sincerely thanked us for our patronage with Cathay Pacific, bade us goodbye, and wished us a pleasant onward connecting journey to Tokyo (Narita).

For each airline that I fly on, every flight sector will receive a grade and score report. This is divided into five sections, coming under seat, food, service, aircraft cleanliness and legroom space. These five sections are worth 20 points each, which totals up to 100 airline points. It is mandatory for an airline to attain a minimum grade of 'D' (40% or above) in order to obtain a pass. The system is currently as follows, as of 1 December 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 minimum requirement for the minimum grade)

Cathay Pacific Flight 716 Score Report

Seat: 19 / 20
Food: 14 / 20
Service: 18 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 17 / 20
Total: 85 / 100

To summarise, Cathay Pacific has managed to attain an overall score report of 85 out of 100 points between Singapore and Hong Kong, meaning that they deserve the highest airline grade, which is an 'A+' grade. This has been a pleasant regional evening flight with Cathay Pacific, and they should continue to keep up with their high quality standards. Cathay Pacific has indeed proven itself to be worthy of Skytrax's 'Airline of the Year' award this year, and they should keep up their good reputation.

Part 3 ~ Our Long Layover At Hong Kong International Airport

After disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 716 from Singapore, we walked along the passageway leading to the connecting flight security checkpoint, with the walk taking just five minutes, since there were not much connecting passengers heading to the connecting flight security checkpoint. Arriving at the connecting flight security checkpoint at 10.10 p.m., we immediately got out our necessary belongings to be screened, with the entire cleaning process taking no more than just five minutes.

Soon enough, once we had cleared the connecting flight security checkpoint, we were finally in the airside of the Main Terminal at 10.15 p.m.. The first thing I did was to proceed to the departure flight information screen to check which gate Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would depart from. According to the departure flight information board, Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would be scheduled to depart at 1.05 a.m. from Gate No. 27.

Boarding would also commence at 12.40 a.m., which would be approximately 25 minutes before the scheduled departure timing. Since my younger brother was feeling hungry for some roasted duck, my family decided to find a nearby local restaurant to eat at first while I decided to head directly to The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge. With that, we went our separate ways and my parents promised to meet me at The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge later on, and the walk there took about 10 minutes.

Walking along the passageway leading to the immigrations area and connecting flight security checkpoint at Hong Kong International Airport

My boarding pass for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita)

Finally in the main airside at Hong Kong International Airport

The departure flight information screen in the main airside at Hong Kong International Airport

Walking past Gates No. 1 to 4 on the way to The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

A Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A340-313X, registered HB-JMB, being serviced at Gate No. 21 in preparation for her long overnight journey back home to the Swiss Confederation as Swiss International Air Lines flight LX 139 bound for Zurich

The view of the airport tarmac of Hong Kong International Airport at night

Finally arriving at The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

After a short and quick walk of 10 minutes through the airside of Hong Kong International Airport, I finally arrived at the entrance to The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at 10.25 p.m.. Entering the lounge itself, I headed to the lounge reception counter, where I showed the lounge receptionist my lounge invitation pass. Checking my lounge invitation pass, the lounge receptionist allowed me into the lounge and informed me that the showers were located at the other end of the main lounge level.

Entering the lounge itself, I secured a seating area located adjacent to the self-service food and beverage corners and got out my electronic devices for my entertainment purposes as I waited for my family to come to the lounge. Soon enough, my family finally arrived at The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge at 11.05 p.m.. Setting up our own stuff, we had a nice, hot refreshing shower in the lounge in preparation for our upcoming overnight flight to Tokyo (Narita) and had some light stuff in the lounge at the same time.

The interior of The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge shortly after I had entered the lounge

The self-service food and beverage corner in The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

A can and glass of Coca-cola Light for myself in The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Overlooking the parking lot outside the main terminal building at Hong Kong International Airport late at night

Crafting out the report for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita) in The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

Reading up on the part in "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix", where Harry's Aunt Petunia receives a Howler from Albus Dumbledore about his last letter to her on his agreement to take care of Harry after Uncle Vernon threatens to eject Harry from 4 Privet Drive ー "REMEMBER MY LAST, PETUNIA!!!"

A small bowl of fresh mushroom soup for myself in The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

One last view of The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge shortly before we departed for Gate No. 27

Part 4 ~ The Flight To Tokyo (Narita)

Airline: Cathay Pacific
Flight No.: CX 524
From: Hong Kong International Airport (HKG / VHHH), Hong Kong
To: Tokyo, Narita International Airport (NRT / RJAA), Narita, Chiba, Japan
Aircraft: Boeing 777-367
Registration No.: B-HNG
Class: Business Class
Seat No.: 16K
Date: Wednesday, 10 December 2014

After spending approximately 1 hour 35 minutes of charging our electronics, having some light beverages and relaxations in The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge, the clock was finally showing 12.05 a.m.. Knowing that boarding for Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would commence in 35 minutes' time, we immediately packed away all our belongings and departed the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge by 12.10 a.m. for Gate No. 27.


The entire walk linking from the Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge to Gate No. 36 took no more than just five minutes. Soon enough, we finally arrived at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 27 at 12.15 a.m., which was in good time for boarding to commence in 25 minutes' time. Judging by the number of passengers waiting at the passenger waiting area near Gate No. 36, I could tell that Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would most probably be filled to the brim tonight.

Tonight, Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) would be operated using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft, bearing the registration number B-HNG and powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines. B-HNG was delivered brand new to Cathay Pacific on 25 June 1998 as the second Boeing 777-300 and the sixth Boeing 777 for the airline. The overall delivery would make the aircraft approximately 16.2 years old today, making it one of the oldest Boeing 777s in the Cathay Pacific fleet.

The Boeing 777-300 is the third market version of the Boeing 777 family in service today. Designed to replace the Boeing 747-100 and Boeing 747-200, the Boeing 777-300 is a stretched version of the Boeing 777-200 and Boeing 777-200/ER. It 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 60 aircraft have been produced.

As of 1 December 2014, Cathay Pacific and Emirates are currently the largest operators of the Boeing 777-300, with 12 aircraft in each of their fleets. Though the Boeing 777-300 has no direct competitor from Airbus, the Airbus A340-600 is offered in competition with it, like the Boeing 777-300/ER. However, due to the capability of flying longer ranges and modern technological improvements, many major carriers have opted to order the enhanced Boeing 777-300/ER over the normal Boeing 777-300.

Walking past Gate No. 1 shortly after departing The Wing Cathay Pacific Business Class Lounge

The view of the main airside at Hong Kong International Airport during the late night hours

Walking along the moving passageways to Gate No. 27

Finally arriving at Gate No. 27

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 27 shortly after we had arrived

Our aircraft for tonight, B-HNG, being serviced at Gate No. 27 in preparation for her regional overnight journey to Japan as Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

A closeup of B-HNG being serviced at Gate No. 27

The departure flight information screen located near Gates No. 27 and 28

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-367/ER, registered B-KPW, being serviced at Gate No. 25 in preparation for her long overnight transpacific journey to the United States via Canada as Cathay Pacific flight CX 888 bound for New York (JFK) via Vancouver

A Finnair Airbus A340-313X, registered OH-LQA, awaiting pushback from Gate No. 29 for her long overnight trans-Siberian journey back home to the Republic of Finland as Finnair flight AY 070 bound for Helsinki

The passenger waiting area at Gate No. 27 shortly before the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) were made

The departure information screen at Gate No. 27 detailing important information about Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita)

After spending approximately 25 minutes of anticipated waiting at the passenger waiting area at Gate No. 27, the first boarding announcements for Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 bound for Tokyo (Narita) were finally made at 12.40 a.m.. The Business Class passengers, along with the Asia Miles & Marco Polo club members and the passengers requiring special assistance were called out to board the aircraft first. As we were among the first passengers to be called out, we rolled up with our belongings for the boarding process to commence.

Walking along the jet bridge towards Door A, we were finally on board B-HNG at 12.45 a.m., which was just in good time for a 1.05 a.m. departure. At the front entrance door, a cheery flight attendant welcomed us on board and showed us the direction to our seats located in the Business Class cabin. Stowing our belongings away in their respective storage spaces, we settled into our assigned Seats No. 15H, 15K, 16H and 16K for the regional overnight journey of 4 hours 10 minutes over the East China Sea to Tokyo (Narita).

The Business Class seats we would be using for this upcoming regional overnight journey to Tokyo (Narita) would be the exact same new Regional Business Class seats used between Singapore and Hong Kong. The flight attendants then went about their normal pre-departure routines of distributing free newspapers and pre-departure beverages to the Business Class passengers. To begin with, I had my normal glasses of water, champagne and orange juice to help settle in for the upcoming regional overnight journey to Tokyo (Narita).

A view of my seat, 16K, during the boarding process at Gate No. 27 at Hong Kong International Airport

Crafting out the report for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita) during the boarding process at Gate No. 27

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during the boarding process at Gate No. 27 at Hong Kong International Airport

My usual pre-departure glasses of water, champagne and orange juice on my dining table

Awaiting pushback from Gate No. 27 at Hong Kong International Airport

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly before the aircraft doors were closed for departure

At exactly 1.05 a.m. sharp, all the aircraft doors were closed, and we finally pushed back from Gate No. 27, which was just as scheduled. Once the safety briefing demonstration video was shown on all our video screens, we commenced our taxi to our assigned runway for departure, taxiing past several aircraft parked at the Main Terminal and at the aircraft hangars along the way, which lasted for approximately 15 minutes.

After a short and quick 15-minute taxi to our assigned runway, the aircraft's two Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines spooled into action, and we finally lifted off from Hong Kong International Airport at 1.20 a.m.. We then climbed into the pitch black night sky for a regional overnight journey of 3 hours 45 minutes over the East China Sea to the ultra-modern national capital city of the Land of the Rising Sun located in the easternmost Far East region of Asia.

Finally pushing back from Gate No. 27

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

Finally taxiing away from the Main Terminal building at Hong Kong International Airport late at night

A Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-267, registered B-HNL, resting at Gate No. 41 overnight. She will have a regional morning journey to western Japan the next morning as Cathay Pacific flight CX 506 bound for Osaka (Kansai)

Taxiing along the tarmac of Hong Kong International Airport to our assigned runway late at night

Taxiing past the aircraft hangars on the way to our assigned runway at Hong Kong International Airport

Finally approaching our assigned runway for departure

Cathay Pacific Flight 524 ~ Late Night Take-off From Hong Kong International Airport

Finally climbing into the pitch black late night sky to Tokyo (Narita)

The seatbelt signs were turned off at 1.30 a.m., which was approximately 10 minutes after taking off from Hong Kong International Airport. As the flight attendants sprung into action to commence the in-flight service, I got out my laptop and other electronic devices out for my own entertainment use for the short overnight flight to Tokyo. Soon afterwards, all the flight attendants handed out the food and beverage menus to the Business Class passengers for their reviews for their meals later on.

Since this was a red-eye journey, most of the passengers chose to get some sleep. Shortly afterwards, the flight attendants finally re-appeared in the cabin with the beverage cart. As one of them appeared at my seat, she asked me what beverage I wanted to commence the in-flight late night supper service with. I ordered my normal glass of Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 white wine to commence with. With that, the flight attendant got out my glass and poured out my intended white wine before disappearing back into the galley.

Soon enough, the flight attendants began to distribute the supper meal trays to the Business Class passengers who were still wide awake for the in-flight late night supper service. Oddly enough, there was dessert displayed directly in the tray, which was a small bowl of salted chocolate caramel tart. Since I did not intend to spoil my appetite before my main supper course, I decided to save my salted chocolate caramel tart for the last part of the late night in-flight supper service.

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were switched off and the cabin lights were dimmed

The cover page for the food and beverage menu for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita)

Reviewing the food and beverage menu for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita)

The cover page for the wine list for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita)

Reviewing the wine list for the segment between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita)

My late night supper tray set up on my dining table

My glass of Spy Valley Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc 2013 white wine to commence with

Cruising somewhere over the Taiwan Strait in the pitch black late night sky

After spending approximately a few minutes of using my electronic devices while waiting, the flight attendants finally re-appeared in the cabin with the main supper course meal cart at two o' clock. When one of them appeared at our seats, she asked me what my younger brother and I wanted as the main supper course. Both my younger brother and I opted to have the signature dish, which was the stir-fried beef fillet with porcini mushroom, steamed jasmine rice and broccoli.

With that, the flight attendant promptly got out our intended main courses and placed them on our meal trays. Having our main courses on our trays, we immediately tucked into our late night in-flight supper. The beef fillet tasted really tender, and the steamed rice was a refreshing way to stay up for the night, together with the mushroom and broccoli. This would make this dish one of the best in-flight beef dishes I have ever eaten on board a plane, even if it was a late night supper.

The salted chocolate caramel tart was also the perfect way to end off such a wonderful in-flight late night supper. Once we were finished with our in-flight supper courses, the flight attendant came by to collect our used meal trays and asked us whether there was anything else we wanted. Since we knew that this overnight flight would be far too short to get some sleep, we requested for two mugs of hot cocoa to keep us awake for the night. With that, the flight attendant took down our orders and went back to the galley.

While waiting for our mugs of hot cocoa, I paid a visit to the lavatory and went back to my laptop for my entertainment purposes for the next 40 minutes. Soon enough, our mugs of hot cocoa were finally delivered to us at 3.10 a.m., which we managed to sip down in just a few minutes. Once we were finished, our mugs were cleared, and we were left to our own stuff for comfort. Most of the passengers gradually began to wake up at around 4.25 a.m. when the cabin lights were on again, and dawn started to break over the East China Sea as we entered Japanese airspace.

My main course: Stir-fried beef fillet with porcini mushroom, steamed jasmine rice and broccoli

Cruising somewhere over Taiwan late at night

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude over Taiwan

The rear view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin during cruising altitude over Taiwan

A warning sign in the lavatory indicating that on-board smoking and tampering with smoke detectors in the lavatories is forbidden at all times under Hong Kong law

A view of my seat, 16K, during cruising altitude somewhere over the East China Sea

A nice, warm mug of hot cocoa for myself

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat during cruising altitude somewhere between Kyushu and Wakayama Prefectures

The flight route indication map indicating our cruising altitude close to Wakayama Prefecture

Cruising somewhere over Wakayama Prefecture as we cruise into Japanese airspace

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the cabin lights were switched on again for the passengers to wake up

The first lights of dawn breaking over the Izu and Boso Peninsulas as we enter into Japanese airspace

In accordance with the Japanese Standard Timing, the seatbelt signs were illuminated again at 5.40 a.m., which was approximately 25 minutes in preparation for the descent into Narita International Airport. Knowing that we had less than half an hour left prior to our arrival into Tokyo (Narita), we immediately stowed away all our carry-on belongings and buckled up our seat belts in preparation for the descent into Narita International Airport.

Dawn was already beginning to break with the first signs of the morning sunlight showing as the aircraft began to commence its final approach into Narita International Airport. After a short overnight regional flight duration of 3 hours 45 minutes over the East China Sea from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR), we finally touched down in Narita International Airport at 6.05 a.m., approximately 10 minutes ahead of schedule.

Narita International Airport (成田国際空港) is a major Japanese international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area in Japan. Located in the suburbs of Narita, Chiba Prefecture, it is the main international airport serving the Greater Tokyo Area, and the second-busiest airport in Japan, in terms of the number of passengers passing through the airport annually. Narita International Airport serves as the largest international hub for Japan's two largest airlines, All Nippon Airways and Japan Airlines, and a major Asian hub for many major United States carriers, such as Delta Air Lines and United Airlines.

The airport was opened on 20 May 1978 to cope with the increasing number of international flights into Greater Tokyo and to relieve overcrowding at the older Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport). Since then, most international operations use Narita International Airport, though from 21 October 2010, Haneda Airport catered to regular international flights again whenever Narita International Airport is closed during the late night hours. Competition for international flights has since arose between both airports, though it is expected that more travellers would use Haneda Airport in the near future.

Narita International Airport houses two main airport terminals, which are Terminals 1 and 2. Terminal 1 is split up into the North Wing, which mainly houses SkyTeam members (China Airlines & China Eastern Airlines in Terminal 2), and the South Wing, which mainly houses All Nippon Airways and other Star Alliance members (Air India in Terminal 2). Terminal 2 is mainly used by Japan Airlines and all other Oneworld carriers. The airport is accessible from the Greater Tokyo Area via the Narita Express limited express train service by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), and can be used free of charge by Japan Rail Pass holders.

Rapid services bound for the Yokosuka Line are also available to Kamakura and Yokosuka at cheaper costs, but also free of charge for Japan Rail Pass holders, and make more stops. Keisei Electric Railway operates the Skyliner limited express service to Ueno Station in 44 minutes via the Keisei Narita Airport Line (Narita Sky Access Line), making it the fastest and cheapest option between the airport and downtown Tokyo. Certain commuter trains on the Narita Sky Access Line also offer direct service to the Toei Asakusa Line and Keihin Kyuko Line, sometimes going as far as to Tokyo International Airport (Haneda Airport).

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after the seatbelt signs were illuminated in preparation for landing in Narita International Airport

The first lights of dawn breaking over the Boso Peninsula as the aircraft commences its final approach into Narita International Airport

The first lights of dawn breaking over the suburban city of Sosa, Chiba

The sun beginning to rise over the suburban city of Narita, Chiba, as the aircraft makes its final approach into Narita International Airport

Cathay Pacific Flight 524 ~ Early Morning Landing In Narita International Airport

Taxiing along the airport tarmac of Narita International Airport shortly after landing

Terminal 2 coming into view during the break of dawn over Narita International Airport

Taxiing along the airport tarmac closer to Narita International Airport Terminal 2

Finally docking onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 95, at Narita International Airport Terminal 2

The view of the Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 New Regional Business Class cabin from my seat shortly after docking on to our arrival gate, Gate No. 95, at Narita International Airport Terminal 2

After a short taxi duration of 10 minutes on the airport tarmac to Narita International Airport Terminal 2, we finally docked onto our arrival gate, Gate No. 95, at 6.15 a.m., which was just as scheduled. Once all the seatbelt signs were switched off, we immediately unbuckled our seat belts and retrieved our belongings from their respective storage spaces, checking our seats to see that nothing had been left behind on board at the same time.

Upon retrieving all our belongings from their respective storage spaces, we rolled up behind some other passengers for the disembarkation process to commence smoothly with all the aircraft doors opened. As we disembarked from the aircraft via the frontmost exit, the flight attendants sincerely thanked us for our patronage with Cathay Pacific, bade us farewell and wished us a pleasant upcoming winter vacation fiesta in Japan.

Cathay Pacific Flight 524 Score Report

Seat: 17 / 20
Food: 19 / 20
Service: 17 / 20
Aircraft cleanliness: 17 / 20
Legroom space: 16 / 20
Total: 86 / 100

In total, Cathay Pacific has managed to attain an overall score of 86% for the overnight flight between Hong Kong and Tokyo (Narita), meaning that they deserve another 'A+' grade, as usual. Though this overnight flight was too short to get some sleep, it has indeed been very pleasant flying with them, and the late night in-flight supper was of truly high quality. Cathay Pacific should continue to maintain their high standards to attract more consumer demand in the near future.

Part 5 ~ The Journey To The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Shortly after disembarking from Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 from Hong Kong, we walked along the passageway of the Satellite Building leading to the arrivals and immigrations area. Given that both the arrivals and immigrations area were located in the Main Building and the considerable distance between both buildings, we knew that we had to go through a newly-opened passageway linking both buildings together. It was also because that in September 2013, the Narita Airport Terminal 2 Shuttle System was closed due to maintenance costs.

With that, we walked along the air-conditioned passageway from the Satellite Building to the Main Building, eventually arriving there by 6.25 a.m.. Once we were in the Main Building, we promptly headed to the immigrations area, where a lot of people were lining up to enter the country. We then cleared the immigrations area in less than five minutes, eventually doing so by 6.30 a.m.. Upon clearing the immigrations area, I went to check the huge baggage belt information screen to see which baggage belt our check-in baggage would arrive at.

According to the baggage claiming information screens, all check-in baggage from Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 from Hong Kong would be scheduled to arrive at Belt No. A3. With that, we immediately took the escalator down to the baggage claiming hall of Narita International Airport Terminal 2 and grabbed a total of three baggage trolleys. There, we loaded our much lighter carry-on belongings before heading over to Belt No. A3 to claim our bulkier check-in baggage from Cathay Pacific flight CX 524 from Hong Kong.

Walking along the passageway leading to the arrivals and immigrations area via the Main Building in the Satellite Building at Narita International Airport Terminal 2

Walking up the escalator leading to the passageway connecting the Main Building with the Satellite Building at Narita International Airport Terminal 2

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-346/ER, registered JA741J, resting at Gate No. 92 at the Satellite Building at Narita International Airport Terminal 2 before being serviced for her early afternoon journey to the Republic of Indonesia as Japan Airlines flight JL 725 bound for Jakarta

Walking along the passageway linking between the Satellite Building and Main Building in Narita International Airport Terminal 2

A Japan Airlines Boeing 777-346/ER, registered JA743J, resting at Gate No. 61 at the Main Building at Narita International Airport Terminal 2 in preparation for her long early afternoon transpacific journey to the United States as Japan Airlines flight JL 006 bound for New York (JFK)

After claiming all our bulky check-in baggage from Belt No. A3 and loading the rest of our baggage, we finally entered the arrivals and meeting hall of Narita International Airport Terminal 2 at 6.40 a.m.. Knowing that there were a few errands to run before heading for The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba, we went to a nearby seating area to sort out the necessary things first. My mum then knew that we had to get Wi-Fi Internet routers for our own use in Japan and our Nissan car rental papers to rent a car for our use in Hakuba.

With that, she went to a Nissan Rent-a-Car counter located just nearby to do the necessary rental errands. I also knew that I had to exchange my Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher for my two-week Japan Rail Pass, knowing that the closest major railway station would be Airport Terminal 2 Station. My dad offered to accompany me to Airport Terminal 2 Station to help, as he knew that instead of following them in the Nissan car to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba, I would be embarking on a long train journey there.

Heading to the elevator lobby, we took the elevator all the way down to the first basement, where Airport Terminal 2 Station was located. Upon arriving at Airport Terminal 2 Station, we promptly headed to the JR Ticket Office, where I lined up behind some other passengers so that I could exchange my Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher for my Japan Rail Pass. Upon getting my turn in the line, I promptly filled up the necessary documents and I managed to receive my two-week Green-type Japan Rail Pass.

Airport Terminal 2 Station (空港第2ビル駅) is an underground railway station located directly below Narita International Airport Terminal 2 in the suburban city of Narita, Chiba, Japan. Operated jointly by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and Keisei Electric Railway, it is a mandatory stop point for all trains serving Narita International Airport, including JR East's Narita Express and Keisei's Skyliner limited express services. The station is notable for being the first railway station in the country to contain Hindu-Arabic numerals in its name.

There is a security checkpoint which separates the station platforms and concourse, and all passengers coming into the airport terminal building, even for a short while, must produce identification documents, such as passports, for security reasons. Since the opening of the Keisei Narita Airport Line (Narita Sky Access Line) on 17 July 2010, both the Keisei Line platforms became segregated. Passengers using the Keisei Main Line must pass through a second ticketing gate prior to entering the platforms for separate fare structures.

The arrivals and meeting hall at Narita International Airport Terminal 2 during the early morning hours

The main station concourse of Airport Terminal 2 Station during the early morning hours shortly after my dad and I arrived at the station

Rolling up at the JR Ticket Office to exchange my Japan Rail Pass Exchange Voucher for my Japan Rail Pass at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The JR Ticket Office at Airport Terminal 2 Station crowded with waiting travellers

The main station concourse at Airport Terminal 2 Station shortly before my dad and I headed back up to the arrivals and meeting hall of Narita International Airport Terminal 2

After filling the necessary exchange documents at the JR Ticket Office at Airport Terminal 2 Station, I finally received my two-week Green-type Japan Rail Pass at seven o' clock. My Japan Rail Pass was to be used for a two-week period lasting from today until Tuesday (23 December), though we would be returning to Singapore on Monday (22 December). The ticketing receptionist then asked me where I was intending to head to on this very first day of my train travels in Japan.

As I would be heading to Hakuba today, my dad offered to fetch me from Shinano-omachi Station on the way. With that, I made my necessary Green Car (first class) seat reservations for the long journey to Shinano-omachi, although the journey from Matsumoto to Shinano-omachi would be on the local JR Oito Line. As for the long trip to Shinano-omachi, I would catch the Limited Express Narita Express No. 6 bound for Ikebukuro, which would depart Airport Terminal 2 Station at 8.17 a.m., and arrive at Shinjuku Station at 9.55 a.m..

Upon arriving at Shinjuku, I would connect to the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, which would be expected to depart Shinjuku Station at eleven o' clock, and arrive at the Matsumoto terminal station at 1.46 p.m.. After arrival at Matsumoto, I would change to a JR Oito Line local train bound for Shinano-omachi, which would be scheduled to depart Matsumoto Station at 2.09 p.m., and arrive at the Shinano-omachi terminal station at 3.03 p.m..

With all the necessary errands done, my dad and I promptly went back to the elevator lobby to head up to the arrivals and meeting hall, where my mum and younger brother were still waiting. My mum then gave me my Wi-Fi Internet router and taught me on how to use it for my entire stay in Japan. Though it was still early before my train to Shinjuku, I decided to go back down to Airport Terminal 2 Station in preparation for my long train journey to Shinano-omachi.

With my family promising to meet me at Shinano-omachi Station, I took the elevator back to Airport Terminal 2 Station, and went to check the departure information board to see which platform the Limited Express Narita Express No. 6 bound for Ikebukuro would depart from. According to the departure information board, the Limited Express Narita Express No. 6 bound for Ikebukuro would depart at 8.17 a.m. from the sole JR Line platform. Though it was still early, I showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate and went down to the platform.

The Narita Express (成田エクスプレス) is a limited express train service operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) between Narita International Airport and the Greater Tokyo Area in Japan. The service frequency is approximately every half an hour, with a total of 27 daily return workings in both directions. A typical journey duration from Tokyo Station to Narita International Airport takes about one hour, with some services making additional stops at Chiba, Yotsukaido and Narita Stations during the early and late night hours. The service is capable of reaching a top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The Narita Express service commenced operations on 19 March 1991, using 3-car and 6-car 253 series EMUs at a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph). These sets were often coupled together to form as either nine or 12 cars from Tokyo Station to Narita International Airport. From 1 October 2009, new 6-car E259 series EMUs were introduced on these services at a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph), gradually displacing the older 253 series EMUs by 30 June 2010. Like the earlier 253 series EMUs, these sets were often coupled together to form as 12 cars between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport.

Green private compartments were available on services operated by the 253 series EMUs. However, this was phased out on 30 June 2010 as the newer E259 series EMUs are not fitted with these compartments. All seats on the Narita Express service are reserved and non-smoking, with Green Car (first class) accommodation provided in Car No. 6 for 6-car formations, and additionally in Car No. 12 for 12-car formations between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport. There are no extra charges required for the Narita Express for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.

The Narita Express has a direct competitor, which is the Skyliner (スカイライナー), a limited express train service operated by Keisei Electric Railway between Keisei Ueno Station and Narita International Airport. The services uses 8-car Keisei AE series EMUs at a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph), with an average journey duration taking about 44 minutes. However, following the Great East Japan Tsunami on 11 March 2011, all Narita Express services were suspended indefinitely. They were partially restored on 4 April 2011, with the pre-earthquake and tsunami timetable and services finally re-instated on 3 September 2011.

The arrivals and meeting hall at Narita International Airport Terminal 2 shortly before I headed back down to Airport Terminal 2 Station

Finally back in the main station concourse at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The JR Line ticketing gates at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The JR Line concourse at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The JR Line platform at Airport Terminal 2 Station shortly after I had arrived on it

An 8-car Keisei AE series EMU, operating as the Keisei Airport Limited Express "Skyliner" No. 5 bound for Narita International Airport, on Track No. 2 at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The JR Line platform at Airport Terminal 2 Station while overlooking the Keisei Line platforms

The JR Line name plate on the JR Line platform at Airport Terminal 2 Station

A 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 5 bound for Narita International Airport, departing Airport Terminal 2 Station

An 8-car Keisei AE series EMU, operating as the Keisei Airport Limited Express "Skyliner" No. 7 bound for Narita International Airport, departing Airport Terminal 2 Station

A 15-car E217 series EMU, operating on a Sobu Main Line and Yokosuka Line "Rapid Service" bound for Ofuna via Tokyo, at Airport Terminal 2 Station

A 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 7 bound for Narita International Airport, at Airport Terminal 2 Station

After spending approximately 40 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, a 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express Narita Express No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, finally arrived at Airport Terminal 2 Station at 8.15 a.m.. Once the train doors were opened, I quickly boarded the train through Car No. 12, which was the Green Car (first class) coach bound for Ikebukuro, and settled into my assigned Seat No. 3A for the early morning journey of 1 hour 38 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku in the heart of downtown Tokyo.

The seat adjacent to me, 3B, would remain vacant through the entire early morning journey from Narita International Airport to Shinjuku. At exactly 8.17 a.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Narita Express No. 6 finally pulled out of Airport Terminal 2 Station for its early routine morning journey to the Greater Tokyo Area, with Cars No. 1 to 6 bound for Ofuna and Cars No. 7 to 12 bound for Ikebukuro. I was then on my way for an early morning journey of 1 hour 38 minutes to the lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku in the heart of the national capital of Japan.

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス6号 大船・池袋行き 空港第2ビル駅に入線シーン

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, during the boarding process at Airport Terminal 2 Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, during the boarding process at Airport Terminal 2 Station

A view of my seat, 3A, during the boarding process at Airport Terminal 2 Station

Awaiting departure from Airport Terminal 2 Station

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス6号 池袋行き 空港第2ビル駅から成田駅間

Making a brief stop at Narita Station

My Green Car (first class) ticket for the segment between Airport Terminal 2 and Shinjuku

Bypassing a small farming field in the suburban city of Narita after departing Narita Station

A view of my seat, 3A, between Narita and Shisui Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, between Narita and Shisui Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, between Narita and Shisui Stations

The "Narita Express" snacks and beverages menu on board the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro. Note that on the Limited Express "Narita Express" service, on-board trolley refreshment service is available between Tokyo Station and Narita International Airport

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban town of Shisui

Passing through Shisui Station

Bypassing a dry farming field between Shisui and Sakura Stations on the Narita Line

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, from my seat between Narita and Yotsukaido Stations

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Yotsukaido

Making a brief stop at Yotsukaido Station

Making a brief stop at Chiba Station

Bypassing an Aeon Department Store in downtown Chiba

Passing through Inage Station

Bypassing a commuter train yard near Funabashi Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Funabashi

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, from my seat between Chiba and Tokyo Stations

Crossing a river bridge between Chiba and Tokyo Stations on the Sobu Main Line

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, between Chiba and Tokyo Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, between Chiba and Tokyo Stations

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ) and a small bottle of Coca-cola for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

Passing through Shin-nihombashi Station

Making a brief stop at Tokyo Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, while making a brief stop at Tokyo Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 12-car E259 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ofuna and Ikebukuro, while making a brief stop at Tokyo Station

The wheelchair-friendly lavatory on board the 6-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ikebukuro, while making a brief stop at Tokyo Station

Awaiting departure from Tokyo Station

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス6号 行き 東京駅から渋谷駅間

Making a brief stop at Shibuya Station

E259系 特急成田エクスプレス6号 池袋行き 渋谷駅から新宿駅間

After a short early morning journey duration of 1 hour 38 minutes from Narita International Airport, I finally arrived at Shinjuku Station at 9.55 a.m. on Track No. 6. Checking to see that I had left none of my belongings behind, I alighted the train and took the escalators up to the main station concourse. Since I still had approximately an hour before my connecting train to Matsumoto, I went to check the train departure information board to see which platform the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 bound for Matsumoto would depart from.

According to the departure information board, the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 bound for Matsumoto would be scheduled to depart at eleven o' clock from Track No. 9. Since it was still early before my connecting train to Matsumoto, I decided to exit through the West Exit ticketing gate and cross the road to the South Entrance of the station. Heading to the JR Ticket Office, I decided to make a Shinkansen Gran Class seat reservation for a planned northward day trip to Aomori for Thursday (18 December).

Upon making my seat reservation at the JR Ticket Office, I immediately went to the South Entrance and showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate before heading down to Tracks No. 9 and 10 at 10.30 a.m. for connecting train journey to Matsumoto. On Track No. 9, I found an 11-car E257 series EMU still undergoing extensive cleaning before becoming the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 bound for Matsumoto. While waiting for boarding to commence, I went to purchase something to eat for my upcoming journey from a nearby station kiosk.

The Azusa (あずさ) and Super Azusa (スーパーあずさ) are limited express train services operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East) from Shinjuku to Matsumoto in Japan. There are a total of 18 daily return workings running in both directions, with the fastest travel duration between Shinjuku and Matsumoto taking 2 hours 25 minutes only and one daily return working starting and terminating at Chiba and Minami-otari Stations respectively. The service travels through the Chuo Main Line, Shinonoi Line and Oito Line, and is capable of reaching a maximum top speed of 130 km/h (80 mph).

The service commenced operations on 12 December 1966 as simply Azusa (あずさ), using 181 series EMUs, 183 series EMUs and 189 series EMUs, until the 181 series EMUs were retired from these services in the mid-1990s. From 23 December 1993, E351 series EMUs were introduced on these services as the premium Super Azusa (スーパーあずさ) services, reducing travel timings linking between Shinjuku and Matsumoto. From 1 December 2001, E257 series EMUs were introduced on these services, eventually displacing the remaining 183 series EMUs and 189 series EMUs previously used.

From mid-2016, new E353 series EMUs are scheduled to be introduced on these services, displacing the existing E257 series and E351 series EMUs currently used. These trains will feature Wi-Fi internet access and AC power outlets at each seat for passengers to use at their convenience. Green Car (first class) accommodation is provided in Car No. 9 for Super Azusa services, and in half of Car No. 8 for Azusa services. There are no extra charges required for both the Azusa and Super Azusa services for foreign tourists travelling with a Japan Rail Pass.

Shinjuku Station (新宿駅) is a major railway station situated between the major districts of Shinjuku-ku and Shibuya-ku located in downtown Tokyo, Japan. With approximately 3.64 million passengers passing through the station daily in 2007, it is the world's busiest railway terminal and serves as a major transportation hub for trains linking between the 23 special wards of Tokyo and Western Tokyo. Housing 36 platforms, the station is jointly managed by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), Odakyu Electric Railway, Keio Corporation, Toei Subway and Tokyo Metro.

The station serves as a starting point for most limited express trains bound for the Shin'etsu region via the Chuo Main Line, and for limited express trains bound for Nikko and Kinugawa Onsen via joint operations with Tobu Railway. It is also a mandatory stopping point for the Narita Express limited express service linking to Narita International Airport. With about 1.5 million passengers handled daily, JR East is the busiest train operator at Shinjuku today. Commuter trains on the Yamanote Line, Chuo Main Line (Rapid), Chuo-Sobu Line, Saikyo Line and Shonan-Shinjuku Line also make stop here.

Shinjuku also serves as a starting point for all trains operated by Odakyu Electric Railway, including the Odakyu Romancecar limited express services linking to major tourist beach and mountain resorts, such as Enoshima, Gotemba and Hakone. The Odakyu Line section of the station handles approximately 490,000 passengers daily. The station also houses many major shopping malls around its complex, such as Shinjuku Takashimaya and Keio Department Store. The Keio Line section handles about 720,000 passengers daily, making it the busiest non-JR Group railway station in the country.

The 6-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 6 bound for Ikebukuro, on Track No. 6 at Shinjuku Station

Tracks No. 5 and 6 serving the limited express trains bound for Tobu Nikko, Kinugawa-onsen, and Narita International Airport at Shinjuku Station on a bright winter's morning

A 6-car E259 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Narita Express" No. 19 bound for Narita International Airport, on Track No. 5 at Shinjuku Station

Walking through the passageway undergoing renovations to the West Exit ticketing gates

About to cross the South Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The JR Ticket Office located near the South Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The JR Line ticketing gates located near the South Entrance to Shinjuku Station

The JR Line concourse leading to the platforms near the South Exit of Shinjuku Station

The departure information board for limited express trains departing from Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station in the main station concourse

Tracks No. 9 and 10 serving the limited express trains bound for the Chuo Main Line to Kofu and Matsumoto at Shinjuku Station

The 11-car E257 series EMU, which would operate as the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

The LED destination panel of the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

A 12-car E351 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Super Azusa" No. 6 bound for Tokyo, arriving at Shinjuku Station on Track No. 10

Getting ready to board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating as the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

After spending approximately 15 minutes of anticipated waiting on the platforms, the train doors of the 11-car E257 series EMU, which would soon operate as the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, were finally opened again at 10.45 a.m.. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly boarded the train via Car No. 8 and headed into the Green Car (first class) cabin before settling into my assigned Seat No. 15A for the early afternoon trip of 2 hours 46 minutes to the suburban city of Matsumoto.

The seat adjacent to me, 15B, would remain vacant for the entire early afternoon journey from Shinjuku to Matsumoto. Once the clock struck exactly eleven o' clock sharp, all the train doors were closed, and the Limited Express Azusa No. 13 finally pulled out of Shinjuku Station for its afternoon journey of 2 hours 46 minutes to the suburban city of Matsumoto located in the Shin'etsu region of the country. I was then on my way for an early afternoon journey of 2 hours 46 minutes to the suburban city of Matsumoto.

A view of my seat, 15A, during the boarding process on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, during the boarding process on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat during the boarding process on Track No. 9 at Shinjuku Station

Awaiting departure from Shinjuku Station

E257系 特急あずさ13号 松本行き 新宿 (発車) ~ 武蔵小金井 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Kokubunji

Passing through Kokubunji Station

Bypassing some housing apartments in the suburban city of Tachikawa

Making a brief stop at Tachikawa Station

Bypassing more housing apartments between Tachikawa and Hachioji

Crossing the Tama River between the suburban cities of Tachikawa and Hachioji

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Hachioji

Passing through Takao Station

A box of conger eel (anago; 穴子) sushi bento for myself

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat between Hachioji and Otsuki Stations

Bypassing a hilly forest in Midori-ku, Sagamihara

Passing through Sagamiko Station

My Green Car (first class) ticket for the segment between Shinjuku and Matsumoto

Bypassing some houses in the sparse, rural city of Uenohara

E257系 特急あずさ13号 松本行き 上野原 (通過) ~ 大月 (通過)

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Otsuki

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat between Otsuki and Kofu Stations

A view of my seat, 15A, between Otsuki and Kofu Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Otsuki and Kofu Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Otsuki and Kofu Stations

The on-board trolley refreshment service on board the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto

A box of Jagariko potato sticks (じゃがりこ) and a small bottle of Coca-cola for myself purchased from the on-board trolley refreshment service

Crafting out my report for the segment between Shinjuku and Matsumoto

Crossing a river iron bridge onto the sparse, rural city of Koshu

Bypassing some houses in the sparse, rural city of Koshu

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat shortly before passing through Yamanashi-shi Station

Passing through Yamanashi-shi Station

Bypassing some houses in the suburban city of Kofu

Making a brief stop at Kofu Station

E257系 特急あずさ13号 松本行き 甲府駅から韮崎駅間

Making a brief stop at Nirasaki Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Nirasaki

A scene from "Sodor's Long Forgotten Secret: The Movie (2010)", where Duncan eyes Rusty suspiciously about his late night adventure to visit the abandoned unnamed Mine Engine the previous night

Bypassing a dry forest near the sparse, rural city of Hokuto

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Nirasaki and Kobuchizawa Stations

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Nirasaki and Kobuchizawa Stations

Bypassing a green forested area near the sparse, rural city of Hokuto

Making a brief stop at Kobuchizawa Station

Bypassing a small housing area in the sparse, rural town of Fujimi

Passing through Fujimi Station

Bypassing a somewhat frost-covered field near the sparse, rural city of Chino

Making a brief stop at Chino Station

Bypassing a small housing area in the sparse, rural city of Chino

The rear view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Chino and Kami-suwa Stations

The front view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, between Chino and Kami-suwa Stations

Making a brief stop at Kami-suwa Station

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat between Kami-suwa and Shimo-suwa Stations

Making a brief stop at Shimo-suwa Station

Bypassing a small farming field near the sparse, rural city of Okaya

Making a brief stop at Okaya Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the sparse, rural city of Okaya

The view of the Green Car (first class) cabin on board the 11-car E257 series EMU, operating on the Limited Express "Azusa" No. 13 bound for Matsumoto, from my seat between Okaya and Shiojiri Station

Bypassing some housing areas in the suburban city of Shiojiri

Making a brief stop at Shiojiri Station

E257系 特急あずさ13号 松本行き 塩尻駅から終点松本駅間

After an early afternoon journey duration of 2 hours 46 minutes from the very lively hustle and bustle of Shinjuku in the heart of downtown Tokyo, I finally arrived at the Matsumoto terminal station at 1.46 p.m. on Track No. 3. Checking to see that I had left nothing behind on board, I alighted the train and headed up to the main station concourse via elevator for a quick washroom break before my connecting JR Oito Line local train to Shinano-omachi.

Upon having a quick washroom break near the main station concourse, I immediately went to check the departure information board to see which platform the nearest JR Oito Line local train bound for Shinano-omachi would depart from. According to the train departure information board, the closest JR Oito Line local train bound for Shinano-omachi would be scheduled to depart at 2.09 p.m. from Track No. 5. Without wasting anymore time, I quickly took the elevator down to Tracks No. 4 and 5 for my remaining journey to Shinano-omachi.

Matsumoto Station (松本駅) is a railway station in the suburban city of Matsumoto, Nagano, Japan. It serves as the main railway station for Matsumoto and is jointly managed by both East Japan Railway Company (JR East) and Alpico Kotsu. The station serves as a transfer station for the Shinonoi Line, Oito Line and Alpico Kotsu Kamikochi Line. The station serves as a terminus for most limited express linking Shinjuku Station in downtown Tokyo via the Chuo Main Line, and as a mandatory stopping point for the Shinano limited express service by Central Japan Railway Company (JR Central) linking between Nagoya and Nagano.

Tracks No. 3 and 4 serving the limited express trains bound for the Greater Tokyo Area via the Chuo Main Line at Matsumoto Station

The overall view of the station platforms at Matsumoto Station on a bright winter's afternoon

The main station concourse leading to the platforms at Matsumoto Station

After taking the elevator down from the main station concourse, I finally arrived at Tracks No. 4 and 5 of Matsumoto Station at 1.55 p.m.. At Track No. 5, a 3-car 211 series EMU, operating as the 2.09 p.m. Oito Line local service bound for Shinano-omachi, was waiting. With that, I immediately boarded the train through Car No. 1 and went into Car No. 3 via Car No. 2 and secured a seat for the short afternoon journey of 54 minutes to Shinano-omachi.

Once the clock struck exactly 2.09 p.m., all the train doors were closed, and the Oito Line local train finally pulled out of Matsumoto Station for its short mid-afternoon journey of just 54 minutes to Shinano-omachi Station located in the sparse, rural city of Omachi. I was then on my way for a short mid-afternoon journey of just 54 minutes to Shinano-omachi Station located in the sparsely-populated secluded rural city of Omachi.

The 3-car 211 series EMU, operating as the 2.09 p.m. JR Oito Line local service bound for Shinano-omachi, on Track No. 5 at Matsumoto Station

Tracks No. 4 and 5 serving the JR Oito Line trains at Matsumoto Stations

The interior of the 3-car 211 series EMU, operating as the 2.09 p.m. JR Oito Line local service bound for Shinano-omachi, during the boarding process on Track No. 5 at Matsumoto Station

Awaiting departure from Matsumoto Station

211系 大糸線 普通列車 信濃大町行き 松本駅から島内駅間

Crossing a dry river bridge in the sparse, rural city of Azumino

Making a brief stop at Toyoshina Station

Crossing another dry river in the sparse, rural village of Matsukawa

Bypassing a dry field and some housing areas near the sparse, rural city of Omachi

Making a brief stop at Shinano-tokiwa Station

211系 大糸線 普通列車 信濃大町行き 信濃常盤駅から終点信濃大町駅間

After a short mid-afternoon journey of just 54 minutes from the suburban city of Matsumoto, I finally arrived at the Matsumoto terminal station at 3.03 p.m. on Track No. 3. Checking to see that I had left none of my personal belongings behind, I alighted the train and crossed the pedestrian footbridge to the main station concourse. Arriving at the station concourse, I showed my Japan Rail Pass to the ticketing officer at the staffed ticketing gate before exiting the station building.

Exiting the station building, my family finally arrived in a large rented black Nissan car at 3.05 p.m. to fetch me. My dad then got out of the car and offered to help me in loading my baggage into the boot of the car while I got in. Once everything had been loaded in, we finally departed Shinano-omachi Station at 3.10 p.m. for a long road journey of 45 minutes to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba located in the adjacent popular sparse, rural ski village of Hakuba.

Shinano-omachi Station (信濃大町駅) is a railway station located in the sparse, rural city of Omachi, Nagano, Japan. Operated by East Japan Railway Company (JR East), the station is located on the Oito Line, with most trains terminating at this station and very few services going as far as Hakuba and Minami-otari. A ticket office is available at this station, with its business hours from 5.20 a.m. to 8.00 p.m. daily. As of 15 March 2014, the station has an island platform and a side platform serving three tracks.

Hakuba (白馬村) is a village located in the Kitaazumi District of Nagano Prefecture in Japan. It is a popular ski resort village in the northern Japanese Alps, and is internationally notable for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics. Hakuba houses 10 ski resorts with at least 200 runs, and is served by Hakuba Station on the Oito Line, which serves some limited train services and one direct daily Azusa limited express return working to Shinjuku. The village has a total population of 8,902 residents, as of 1 December 2014.

Tracks No. 3 and 4 serving the JR Oito Line local trains bound for Hakuba and Minami-otari at Shinano-omachi Stations

Track No. 1 serving the JR Oito Line trains bound for Matsumoto and Shinjuku via the Chuo Main Line at Shinano-omachi Stations

The main entrance to Shinano-omachi Station on a bright winter's afternoon

Our rented black Nissan car picking me up from Shinano-omachi Station

Finally on the roads of the sparse, rural city of Omachi

Bypassing a Delicia supermarket in the sparse, rural city of Omachi

About to turn to the road leading to Hakuba in the sparse, rural city of Omachi

Bypassing a small housing area and farming field in the sparse, rural city of Omachi

Travelling close to a mountain lake by the JR Oito Line close to Hakuba

Travelling past a snow-covered hill forest between Omachi and Hakuba

Travelling along the slushy roads between Omachi and Hakuba

Bypassing a car parking area by a snow-covered field in the sparse, rural and popular ski village of Hakuba

Bypassing a snow-covered field in the sparse and popular, rural ski village of Hakuba with a snow mountain visible in the background

Climbing up a hilly road to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

About to turn to the snowy road leading to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Bypassing an apartment at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Bypassing a small village inn close to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

After a somewhat long road journey of 45 minutes from the sparse, rural city of Omachi, we finally arrived at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 3.55 p.m.. Meeting up with the resort owner, Mr. Darren McGann, he offered to escort us to our chalet for the upcoming week. With that, Mr. McGann got into his resort van and we followed behind in our car to our chalet. Soon enough, we finally arrived at our assigned chalet, Chalet No. 1, just before four o' clock that afternoon.

With Mr. McGann and my dad parking our vehicles, we unloaded our baggage from the car and Mr. McGann showed us on how to unlock the door via a special chalet code. Entering the chalet itself, we brought our baggage in and sorted some of our belongings out for the upcoming days. The first floor of the chalet housed the living room, kitchen, a bathroom and a bedroom, which we decided to use as a clothes room. The upper floor consisted of two bedrooms and an extra bathroom.

Seeing that we were about to feel rather hungry, Mr. McGann recommended us to have our first Hakuba village dinner at a local charcoal barbecue (yakiniku; 焼肉) restaurant, known as Miyama (深山). With that, he contacted the restaurant and made a dinner reservation for us under our surnames for six o' clock. With all the necessary errands done, we thanked Mr. McGann for his services before he left us to enjoy our stay. He also assured us that should we require any assistance, he gave out two name cards for us to contact him.

Following Mr. Darren McGann's van in our car towards The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba chalet area

About to turn to the road leading to the chalets at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Finally arriving at the many chalets at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The exterior of our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba shortly after we arrived

The interior of the living room in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The first floor bedroom in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba to be used as a clothes room

The master bedroom in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The twin bedroom in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

After having a well-earned rest in our Chalet No. 1 for the rest of the afternoon, the clock was finally showing 5.30 p.m.. Knowing that our dinner reservation at Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant would be in half an hour's time, we put on our necessary footwear and grabbed our necessary belongings before heading to our rented black Nissan car. Getting into our rented Nissan car, we finally departed our Chalet No. 1 at 5.35 p.m. for Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant, with the entire drive taking no more than just five minutes.

Soon enough, we finally arrived outside Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant at 5.40 p.m.. While I got off with my mum and younger brother, my dad went to park the car near the restaurant. Entering the restaurant itself, we immediately requested the waiter to positively identify our reservation. Once our dinner reservation was positively identified, the waiter, who could speak some English, promptly showed us to our table located by the main entrance to the restaurant and left us with the food and beverage menus to make our reviews.

Finally departing the compound of The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba to Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant at night

About to bypass a Lawson convenience store in the sparse and popular rural, ski village of Hakuba at night

Finally arriving at the entrance to Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant

The logo of Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant located above the restaurant entrance

The interior of Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant shortly after we were all seated

The English language food and beverage menu at Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant

The portable charcoal barbecue griller set up on our dining table

After having a good review at the menus at Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant, the waiter finally came by to our dining table to take down our main meal orders for the upcoming charcoal barbecue dinner. We managed to order several beef and pork dishes, including beef karubi and tongue with pork ribs and bacon, and a spicy Jijigae soup. That night, we had a filling and sumptuous charcoal barbecue (yakiniku) dinner at Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant, though my younger brother fell asleep close to the end of the dinner.

Once we were all finished with our dinner, the clock was finally showing 6.25 p.m.. Feeling stuffed to the brim and rather exhausted already, we decided to head back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba. Paying up our barbecue dinner bill, we headed back to our rented black Nissan car parked at the car parking area near the restaurant. Soon enough, after we were all on board, we finally departed Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant at 6.30 p.m. for a short five-minute road drive back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba.

A bowl of Kimchi soup to be shared among my parents

Our first platter of beef tongue ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our first platter of bacon ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our first platter of pork karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Four pieces of beef tongue grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller

Four pieces of bacon grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller

Four pieces of pork karubi grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our second platter of beef tongue ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our second platter of beef tongue and first platter of beef karubi ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of beef large intestines and gizzards ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of beef karubi grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller

A platter of mixed vegetables to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of meat and vegetables grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of grilled beef large intestines grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

Several pieces of vegetables grilling on the charcoal barbecue griller

Our second platters of pork karubi and bacon ready to be grilled on the charcoal barbecue griller

The last pieces of pork karubi and bacon grilling succulently on the charcoal barbecue griller

The dark and cold roads of Hakuba outside Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant at night

The exterior view of Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant shortly before heading back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba shortly after departing Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant

Travelling along the roads of Hakuba at night on the way back to The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

Finally arriving back at our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba

The interior of the living room in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night shortly after we arrived back at our chalet

The interior of the dining room in our Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at night

After a short early night road drive of five minutes from Miyama Yakiniku Restaurant, we finally arrived back at Chalet No. 1 at The Big Bear Chalets & Apartments Hakuba at 6.35 p.m.. While my dad went to park our rented black Nissan car, I followed both my mum and younger brother into the house and helped my mum to sort out our attires for the upcoming days in Hakuba. Once my dad joined us in the house, we all went to have a nice, refreshing hot shower and changed into our pyjamas before settling in for the night.

Upon changing into our pyjamas for the night, we set up all our electronic devices and their chargers to be charged overnight. Seeing that we were very tired from our long overnight journey from Singapore via Hong Kong, my dad decided that we should sleep in for the rest of the night. My mum then set up the extra blankets and pillows in the living room, where we would occasionally sleep for some nights during our stay in Hakuba. Since I was feeling too tired, I finally turned in between nine and ten o' clock early that night for a well-earned sleep.

This now brings the first section of this year's 2014 Christmas special winter vacation trip report detailing my end-of-year winter vacation in Japan in December 2014 to a formal conclusion. The remaining five segments of this end-of-year 2014 Christmas special blog report shall be published once I have selected the best quality photographs and videos for them. However, please do be patient as this requires time and effort to publish them.

2 comments:

  1. I appreciate for your hard work. :)

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    1. Thanks! The quality of my photographs and videos are very important for my trip reports.

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