DAY 1: THURSDAY 14TH NOVEMBER 2013
Similar to my last trip in December 2012, chose yet another red-eye flight beginning at 1-plus am, so that I can sleep on the plane and begin the day upon touch-down immediately and not lose too much time.
As mentioned in the foreword entry, settled on Cathay Pacific and booked in mid-August when NATAS was ongoing as it was the best offer at that point in time. Saved around $300 this time round as compared to my last December trip where I booked JAL on peak rates. Only catch is that there will be transit in Hong Kong for the to and fro flights. $640 (estimated) is a really good rate for an international airline like Cathay. Will be paying similar rates if I were to take budget (Air Asia, Scoot, Jetstar) which I will also have to transit elsewhere ….. while Delta (which N was looking at initially) had lousy timings and mediocre flying experience based on feedback, and worst of all only stops at Narita (from my personal experience, travelling from Narita to downtown is very time consuming). So despite it being a direct flight, it was also a no-no! Have not heard much negative complains about Cathay, thus went with them!
Decided to skip photo taking at Changi and on the flight to Hong Kong. Reached Hong Kong close to 0500 Hrs.
The transit was very much welcome as I had a much needed toilet break after being uncomfortably stuck in my seat ( was in the midst of ‘time of the month’ urgh). Stomach felt funny as well after being served a cold bread in-flight. Got to charge my phone and use the free wifi to catch up on some backlog shows on my ipad 😛
As the flight for Haneda/Tokyo departs at 0840 Hrs, went for a meal break at the food area as well. Beef Brisket Noodles In Fish Soup @ a branch of Tsui Wah in the immigration area. Overpriced considering the small portion but that is airport food for you!
Have somewhat developed an ability to fall asleep instantly on a plane (and train) throughout this trip.Managed to sleep more during the HK-Tokyo/Haneda sector of the flight. Fell asleep immediately after sitting down on the plane, woke up briefly 1/2 hour later only to find the plane still circling around HK airport …… then went back to sleep again until the next meal (which is breakfast at around 9+). After some fiddling around the touch-screen in-flight entertainment system , finally settled on a decent movie to watch – the latest Korean thriller Cold Eyes. Could not finish the movie (15 min more to go) before touch-down so made a mental note to watch it again on the return flight 😛
Close to 4 hours later, finally landed in Tokyo Haneda around 1335 Hrs (Japan is 1 Hour Ahead). It was a breeze clearing immigration as there were no other flights landing at the same time!
The next most important task – activate my 7 Day Japan Rail Pass (JRP) for use starting from the next day (Friday 15th November). At the same time, also reserved seats for the various Shinkansen trips that I am going to take for the next 7 days whilst travelling down to Kansai region and back. Was undecided on whether to change 2 local lines from Kobe to Kyoto or take a shinkansen instead so the staff attending to me advised that I could think through it and reserve later at one of the JR West offices in Kansai. Also made some brief enquiry about the JR Kanto Pass (which I intend to use to cover the trip to Mount Fuji later on) and decided to think about it more before firming the purchase later on. All in all, got this done pretty quickly within 1/2 hour or so as there was NO QUENE!
Wasn’t that hungry and so decided to forgo the original plan of having lunch at airport (lots of restaurants at level 5) and head straight to my hotel at Oimachi. After some enquiry at the monorail counter and Keikyu counters, decided to take the Keikyu line to Shinagawa, and change to the JR Keihin-Tohoku Line to Oimachi station (1 stop).
Quick journey that took less than 20 min (think I hopped on to the express/rapid line) & cost 400 JPY only!
Shinagawa – in addition to being a skyscraper district full of office buildings, is also a major railway hub where most of the major railway lines pass through. It is also one of the key stops for Narita Express, Keikyu and Shinkansen (to various regions outside of Tokyo).
Spotted this row of trees as I got off the train at Shinagawa as well. Makes a nice picture don’t you think
1 stop to Oimachi and crossed the road to my hotel for the day/night – Ours Inn Hankyu
Got a high floor room that looks right down to the Oimachi neighbourhood and the train tracks. As the room was a smoking room (could not get a non-smoking room in time as I only booked in late Oct – did a hotel change) – the hotel was really considerate to give me an air freshener to ‘freshen’up the room.
Very new hotel (operational in 2011), simple yet very stylish decorated. Best of all, convenient location (right across the road from the train station), with shops,restaurants, and a giant food hall/supermarket right below it. This was really a good deal for 5500 JPY per night (single room). Looking foward when their new Annex wing opens in 2014 with double/twin rooms.