Now, anyone who reads my trip reports will be aware that I have a love affair with Japan. Today's leg was the first booked of this trip and would see us flying again with Scoot. Japan is like a second home to me and it's always nice to end a trip with somewhere you can relax.
It may have been a short flight at tad under three hours but gosh was it pain in the neck. Scoot has no online check in facilities and their desks are only open between one and three hours prior to the flight. With that flight departing a 6.50am it made for a very early morning, despite our hotel being only five minutes drive away from the airport.
I woke at 4am and we were down at the lobby an hour later, checking out and collecting our bags of breakfast rolls, croissants and fruits and juice, it being too early for the included buffet breakfast. It was also too early for the free shuttlebus, so a taxi had been arranged.
Terminal 2 was quiet and largely shut, the darkness outside reflected in the interior. The queue for check in was short and so was the process. There was maybe only one other airline doing the same at that time of the morning.
What doesn't fit here?
Presumably check in opened at 3.50am. No thanks.
There were a number of modern decorative sculptures hanging from the ceiling of the terminal, from the big discs colourfully reminiscent of compact discs hanging above the drop off points to the black and white bottle objects inside. But what really caught the attention was the pink fuselage shaped Hello Kitty themed Eva Air check-in terminal area.
Do they let you check out if you check in this way?
With nothing at all to do landside - it was too early - we went straight to security, where the cups of juice were passed without question, and immigration. The duty free shops were all shuttered, which was fine as we had no desire to buy anything. What I really liked about airside were the decorative spaces and the areas set aside to display Taiwanese culture. And Hello Kitty. Even a bright pink kids play area that looked entirely inappropriate for Alex.
Duty and shopping free
Hiya Japan, isn't Hello Kitty yours?
Paper umbrella exhibition
You sure you need that many phonebooks to call everyone in Taiwan?
Where do boys get to play?
Dolls and costumes
The waiting area of our flight was downstairs. Our aircraft was already there, Taipei being a stopover from Singapore en route to Narita. And guess what, it was Barry again. Bloody Barry from Scoot has been following me around the place, just like MAS's Penang. You want to catch a different registration, but no, Barry shows up again. Next he'll want to be a Facebook friend. Well, sorry Barry, you just aren't my type you piece of cheap trash. I aspire to a better class of aircraft.
Okay, okay, people in my position can only, as my son likes to say, "get what you get and you don't get upset." Fine, but I'm not hanging out with you for long. Next bird I'm going to enter will be orange and silver, not all bananas and cream. So there, Barry!
The sky is getting lighter by the time that boarding arrives.
Cathay and TransAsia Airways (fixed)
Okay, okay Barry, I'm coming in again. Just this time, right?
Same seats as before, same everything as on our previous Scoot flight from Sydney to Singapore. The Eastern European captain welcomed us aboard then warned that the airport was experiencing congestion and we would be delayed. We taxied past a wide variety aircraft types belonging to the local Eva Air. A couple were even decorated with Hello Kitty liveries. No wonder there was a delay as the taxi route took us right on to the main runway before looping around to face the opposite direction.
Feast your eyes on this and you'll still be hungry
Yellow seats have extra legroom.
Well, hello again Kitty.
Eva Air and a Delta difference
Garuda is dwarfed by Cathay
Eva Air Cargo and a GE 747
We eventually took off into the murky skies with some good views of the airport and industrial Taiwan before we quickly crossed the coast and through the cloud layer.
Interesting terminal roof in the background
Not particularly scenic
Up through the clouds
For the next hour and a half there wasn't much to see outside as we flew above the clouds. Despite the restrictions on bringing your own food on board we had no issues discretely eating our bakery goods in the sparsely populated cabin, while waving away any offers of purchasable food from the trolley.
Carpet of clouds
A young lady was moved into the Stretch Seat in front of us by the crew. She seemed to be reading some flight related textbooks and I wondered if she was in training with Scoot, though she moved again during the flight.
I spotted a couple of aircraft flying in the opposite direction. Long contrails streamed out behind them, black like smoke. They are always so white and pure from the ground.
All of us fell asleep during the cruise. I was fortunate to awake in time to see the volcanic Izu islands off the Japanese coast and that most famous of Japanese volcanoes, sacred Mount Fuji.
I like this photo
Oshima and Mt Fuji in the background
I found it very difficult to get good photos of Mt Fuji through the haze, though it was much clearer to my eyes.
Alex had to wake up for our descent into Narita Airport and the captain warned of some potential turbulence, but that's normal for Narita.
Quick somebody is shadowing us.
One of the male flight attendants instructed me to switch off my camera for the descent, which irritated me greatly, this being the first time in many flights. Unlike for Qantas and Jetstar the Scoot safety card does include cameras in their list of electronic devices. However, I complied... until he sat down for the landing. Though I did reduce my photo rate, aware of the rough EM output of the camera (no built in transmitter) through having been involved with radio astronomy, far more sensitive devices than an aircraft.
Though I have flown in Narita many, many times it has often been in the late evening or very early morning, so I enjoyed this new view of the landscape. From above the flat coastline looked highly vulnerable to tsunamis such as that of two years before. The land was surprisingly brown, the paddy fields bare of growth. Even the golf courses were yellowed around the edges. The exceptions were the forested hills interspersing the agriculture.
Habitation and forest
So many golf courses!
There were fantastic views of the airport on descent. You realise just how isolated it is from Tokyo city when you see its rural surrounds, though Narita city isn't far away.
Airport with Narita in the background
Look at the queue
The control tower
Hello beautiful, I remember you from last time!
Then we landed and taxied to familiar Terminal 2, past the last holdout of Narita.
Down with Narita Airport! Yeah, I'm totally down with it.
Well, Scoot had managed to disappoint once again, though really it was just a short flight from A to B. Price really is the only thing going for Scoot.
We quickly hurried out, excited to be back in Japan and...
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 1, posted (7 months 2 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 9050 times:
Caught the Narita Express to Shinjuku, check into my favourite hotel, my second home, the Shinjuku Prince. It was so good to be back!
Narita now has some cultural displays too
Like this one of gold relief lacquer
Automated shuttle train to the main terminal building
Looking for level crossings on the Narita Express
View from our room. We could see both the Tokyo Skytree and the old Tokyo Tower.
Streets of Shinjuku
This was my thirteenth visit to Japan, an annual or biannual event since 2003 (with the exception of 2004). You might think that I'd seen everything worth seeing by now. And you'd be wrong. As the current JNTO slogan goes, Japan is "endless discovery" and they are right. There's so much to see and so many train lines to catch.
We spent the first four days in Tokyo. During that time we caught the amazing suspended Chiba monorail, which even B thought was surprisingly fun. Along the way we spotted the Chiba Zoo and accompanying amusement park, so squeezed in a few rides there for Alex.
The modern cars have a window at the bottom of the driver's compartment. Worth standing up front unless you get bad vertigo.
We also visited a rather larger amusement park in the form of Tokyo Disneyland, after a colleague suggested that 4 was a good age to take kids to Disneyland. Fortunately, the few scary rides had 3 hour long waits and had to be missed.
One train I didn't want to catch
Alex thought the haunted house was funny. Me too!
Alex and B catch a 747.
Wasn't yet Snow White meets the Ewoks.
Spectacular night parade.
I had hoped to take Alex to see the end of winter snow, but Japan had experienced an unseasonably warm spell and most of the snow was gone. On the plus side the cherry blossoms were out and we viewed some beautiful specimens at Shinjuku Park.
Combining spotting with blossom viewing
Taiwanese pavilion behind
Another amusement park (with Tokyo's slowest rollercoaster) was reached on the last remaining Tokyo streetcar line, the Toden Arakawa.
Toden Arakawa Tram
We then spent a couple of night in Toyohashi, which was a staging post for our ride up the Oigawa line. This was supposed to be Alex's first trip on a steam train, but there was another at Disneyland. A steam train took us up to Senzu, then we caught a small diesel train up to the dam at Ikawa. At one point the line is so steep that it requires the assistance of an Abt rack railway equipped helper engine. I thoroughly recommend this fairly unknown private railway line. The scenery is absolutely stunning.
Gorgeous river scenery
Up along the river to high in the mountains
Helper locomotive - note how tiny our train is.
Another pretty place that most would be unfamiliar with is Gujo-Hachiman, a well beautiful preserved town famous for its pure water cold springs. The private railway is pleasant way to reach it too.
Beautiful, clear water.
Houses built right up against the river
In the mountains
We stopped a transit night in Osaka. It wasn't my fault that we had to go to a location opposite Kansai International Airport - honest! Seacle, in Rinku Town, has discount kids clothes and a play area, as we discovered from a previous trip.
Our next stop was historic Kinosaki Onsen, where we stayed at the Morizuya Ryokan which, to Alex's absolutely delight, was equipped with the most modern of toilets and a games room with lots of Plarail trains to play with. Everyone dresses up in their ryokan's yukatas and roams the town visiting the 8 bathhouses. It was probably the highlight of the trip.
Games room - he had lots of model military aircraft at the back
Moon over Kinosaki Onsen
The lanterns were lit beneath the cherry blossoms
A romantic night walk
The view in the day
Us in our yukatas - fortunately I brought my own rubber thongs (err flip-flops) from home.
We had another overnight in Kyoto, though unfortunately we didn't have time to enjoy much of the city's beauty, only shopping and eating.
Canal along Kiyamachi
The blossoms were still beautiful at night
During my last trip alone to Japan I had visited the Usui Pass Museum in Yokokawa, a half hour from Takasaki. I wanted to take Alex there, so our final night was spent in Takasaki, a quiet city an hour from Tokyo.
Mount Fuji from our Tokaido shinkansen to Tokyo
The old castle moat in Takasaki
The museum has amusement rides
A ride up the remains of the Usui Pass section - this used to have a rack system, then very powerful helper engines.
Alex drove the train
Yokokawa town is one of those decaying places. One old convenience store had chocolate with a used by date of 2008!
Train back to Takasaki, then Tokyo.
One more instalment to go: our trip from Narita to Sydney via the Gold Coast with Jetstar. How does my home LCC compare? You'll have to read it to find out!
dirktraveller From Singapore, joined Jan 2011, 375 posts, RR: 0 Reply 5, posted (7 months 2 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 8885 times:
Another great addition to your Asia TR series.
Quoting allrite (Thread starter): One of the male flight attendants instructed me to switch off my camera for the descent, which irritated me greatly, this being the first time in many flights. Unlike for Qantas and Jetstar the Scoot safety card does include cameras in their list of electronic devices.
First time I've heard about another trip reporter experiencing this. Officially cameras are not included in the list of electronic devices (although Scoot strangely did), but I wonder if the prohibition comes due to the aircraft flying into Japan? Same thing happened to me when I was flying an NH B763 into NRT, the flight attendant politely tell me to stop taking pictures.
Japan looks great as usual. Some of your photos bring back memories from my trip to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto back in 2010. The Tokyo Disneyland was one of the best theme park I've visited, and it was simply too big for me to finish exploring it in a day! I remembered the beautiful night parade before the park is closing. Your son must have been enjoying his time so much there.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 6, posted (7 months 2 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 8849 times:
Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 4): And yes, that's a TransAsia Airways bird with Cathay I do like the livery a lot.
The actual name was in another photo which I didn't include. Silly me!
Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 4): P.S. Scoot's Chinese name gave me a chuckle when I saw it this past March at TPE.
Cool! Which is only representative of indoor Singapore.
Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 5): First time I've heard about another trip reporter experiencing this. Officially cameras are not included in the list of electronic devices (although Scoot strangely did), but I wonder if the prohibition comes due to the aircraft flying into Japan? Same thing happened to me when I was flying an NH B763 into NRT, the flight attendant politely tell me to stop taking pictures.
Neither Jetstar, Cathay or Qantas have ever complained before when flying into Japan. I was told to put my camera away back on descent into Sydney back from Kuala Lumpur in 2008 by a Thai crew member when flying with Jetstar. Never after that by Jetstar and it's not like I've hid it (though the camera is a bit bigger now). I assumed that it was a lack of training and a certain zeal on the part of the crew, which is what I suspect happened here.
Quoting dirktraveller (Reply 5): The Tokyo Disneyland was one of the best theme park I've visited, and it was simply too big for me to finish exploring it in a day! I remembered the beautiful night parade before the park is closing. Your son must have been enjoying his time so much there.
We were there from an hour after it opened until it closed and yes, there was certainly more to see. But we did pretty well! We were intending to miss the night parade and use the time to visit other popular attractions while the queues were shorter, but we got stuck and I'm glad of it. Plus we raced to the haunted house straight afterwards and got in very quickly. Not so those behind us!
In 2002 NRT built a new parallel runway. Because of the protesters and one farm that refused to sell their land, the runway had to be made shorter. Most aircraft can land on it, but long haul flights need to depart off the other runway. I flew JFK-NRT in May 2003, my first trip there since 2000. We landed to the north, but I did not know NRT had built a new runway. It was a 20 minute taxi to Terminal 1.
Glad you enjoyed Japan. I lived there four years, just outside Tokyo and it became my favorite city in the whole world.
palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 9, posted (7 months 1 week 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 7988 times:
I nearly missed this next installment - how careless of me!
Great next part of your Asia series. I enjoyed reading about your experiences leaving Taipei. The first time I flew into that airport back in December 1990, there was no second terminal and there was no Eva Air! My how things change.
Although Hello Kitty is a Japanese creation, the Taiwanese have historically gone mental over that Kitty. I remember reading an article in a Taiwanese newspaper many years ago now about a riot outside a McDonalds in Taiwan somewhere because they ran out of give-away Hello Kitty toys with the Happy Meals. This always makes me giggle.
I also had the pleasure of flying in one of those Hello Kitty Jets that Eva has when I went to Japan a few years back. It was Hello Kitty "crazy" inside and out of that aircraft. Thankfully the flight was only a few hours long.
Quote: Okay, okay Barry, I'm coming in again. Just this time, right?
Oh how naughty...
Great shots of your time in Japan as well. It really makes me want to go back. It looks like you had some decent weather for some of the time, and lovely to see the cherry blossoms as well. We have a few out now here in London now that Spring has (finally) arrived.
Finally, I am a little disappointed.... what? No hairy knees shot in this report? I feel deprived!
Ryanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4706 posts, RR: 26 Reply 11, posted (7 months 1 week 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 7920 times:
Coincidentally, I was in Taiwan just two weeks ago for the first time in my life officially (I have only previously been on transit at TPE on my way to USA). And wow, what an experience! Made me wonder what took myself so long to set foot in that beautiful country?!
Thanks for some really awesome shots of Japan. I see that you have been there almost every year every since I started reading your reports. Sorry to hear that Scoot was sub-par. I flew them for the first time some months ago and I thought they were alright. Nothing to shout about although I thought the insert of "SCOOT" into their announcements in an attempt to sound "cool" was rather cheesy. Made me cringe for a bit pretty much like how a joke falls flat and the punchline fails to crack an audience. Urgh... Awkward.
Regards to B!
Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
While stuck in a long line for foreigners entering Taiwan, I looked around and wondered why I appeared to be surrounded by hip-looking, gadget-clutching Singaporeans half my age. Then I realized they all came from the Scoot flight that pulled in the same time as my flight. Then I realized what the Chinese name for Scoot is. All of a sudden it made sense of the weirdest sort: I am not cool - they are.
I think I shall try Scoot next year when I'm in Asia again. Possibly very masochistic of me but I believe I can survive a few hours with them.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 13, posted (7 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 7450 times:
Thanks for all your replies!
Quoting palmjet (Reply 9): I remember reading an article in a Taiwanese newspaper many years ago now about a riot outside a McDonalds in Taiwan somewhere because they ran out of give-away Hello Kitty toys with the Happy Meals. This always makes me giggle.
Worse than that, there was a riot in Singapore at a Burger King! Being a dog person myself, Hello Kitty leaves me unmoved.
Quoting palmjet (Reply 9): I also had the pleasure of flying in one of those Hello Kitty Jets that Eva has when I went to Japan a few years back. It was Hello Kitty "crazy" inside and out of that aircraft. Thankfully the flight was only a few hours long.
By the sounds of it, it could be a dangerous experience depending on duty free stocks of said creature.
Quoting palmjet (Reply 9): Finally, I am a little disappointed.... what? No hairy knees shot in this report? I feel deprived!
Barry was NOT getting another look at my legs. I wore trousers instead and nobody should see me in them. Ruins my reputation.
Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 11): I thought the insert of "SCOOT" into their announcements in an attempt to sound "cool" was rather cheesy. Made me cringe for a bit pretty much like how a joke falls flat and the punchline fails to crack an audience. Urgh... Awkward.
Quoting CdnCactus (Reply 12): Then I realized what the Chinese name for Scoot is. All of a sudden it made sense of the weirdest sort: I am not cool - they are.
I have to laugh at those that believe they are cool simply because they define themselves as so. Maybe Cool Airlines and I just don't get along because I am the epitome of anti-cool (I think Barry thinks I am hot). Anyway, as I have said before, the colloquial meaning of scoot in Australia is a dog dragging his bum along the grass. My opinion is that their seats have much the same effect on my butt. But maybe it's Barry.
palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1116 posts, RR: 17 Reply 14, posted (7 months 1 week 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 7151 times:
Quote: Barry was NOT getting another look at my legs. I wore trousers instead and nobody should see me in them. Ruins my reputation.
Barry (and me) would like to lodge a formal protest!
Quote: I have to laugh at those that believe they are cool simply because they define themselves as so. Maybe Cool Airlines and I just don't get along because I am the epitome of anti-cool (I think Barry thinks I am hot). Anyway, as I have said before, the colloquial meaning of scoot in Australia is a dog dragging his bum along the grass.
Perhaps instead of yellow, they should have gone for a "brown" branding?
I hear what you say about the cool thing. I think FlyBe here are guilty to some extent of the same thing. Airlines that try too hard in this respect just end up having it mostly backfire. By all means, have a relaxed or casual theme, if that's what you're after - but leave it at that. There are only a very small handful of airlines that have ever been able to pull it off successfully and WN is one of them.
WROORD From United States of America, joined Mar 2009, 886 posts, RR: 0 Reply 15, posted (7 months 1 week 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 6445 times:
Another great report and a number of excellent pictures. I rather like the themed waiting areas at TPE. Everyone locks to the Hello Kitty and the picey store next to it. When I was there people used the Hello Kitty check in counters.
I like the TransAsia livery and it looks great on a bigger aircraft. I flew with them from TSA to HUN. Taroko Gorge is my favorite place in Taiwan.
You are lucky you got to Japan in time to see the cherry trees in full boom. I was in DC a couple of weeks ago and the pond around Jefferson memorial has cherry trees as the gift from Japan, but they do not look as great as the ones on your pictures.
Sorry you were disappointed with the Scoot.
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 16, posted (7 months 1 week 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 6293 times:
Quoting palmjet (Reply 14): Perhaps instead of yellow, they should have gone for a "brown" branding?
With a cute little puppy dog sitting on the grass... I challenge everyone to come up with some more examples based upon this description of scooting.
Quoting palmjet (Reply 14): I hear what you say about the cool thing. I think FlyBe here are guilty to some extent of the same thing. Airlines that try too hard in this respect just end up having it mostly backfire. By all means, have a relaxed or casual theme, if that's what you're after - but leave it at that.
I actually think that Scoot has done a good job on social media of being "cool" while disguising their deficiencies in their actual product. Then again, others like them more than me...
Quoting WROORD (Reply 15): Taroko Gorge is my favorite place in Taiwan.
Wish we could have gone there, but not enough time. So many places to visit in Taiwan, so many trains to catch. Just not on weekends.
Quoting WROORD (Reply 15): You are lucky you got to Japan in time to see the cherry trees in full boom. I was in DC a couple of weeks ago and the pond around Jefferson memorial has cherry trees as the gift from Japan, but they do not look as great as the ones on your pictures.
I don't think you can understand the Japanese obsession with cherry blossoms until you have actually been there during the season. I've been lucky enough to experience it a few times and each time I am left in awe of their beauty.
I think I picked unpopular days of the week. The flight from Sydney to Singapore was discounted several times prior to the flight (sometimes below what we paid grrrrr), while the days around it had no cheap seats.
N809FR From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 181 posts, RR: 2 Reply 23, posted (6 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 3887 times:
This report makes me want to return to Japan soon, I absolutely loved Osaka and Nagasaki. Such a beautiful country with amazingly friendly people, though I will say your impression of NRT was a bit more positive than my own!
allrite From Australia, joined Aug 2007, 1660 posts, RR: 4 Reply 24, posted (5 months 3 weeks 5 days 7 hours ago) and read 2779 times:
Quoting N809FR (Reply 23): Such a beautiful country with amazingly friendly people, though I will say your impression of NRT was a bit more positive than my own!
I really don't mind Narita, but I think KIX has better shopping. My problem with both is that the food seems much poorer and more expensive than similar options available elsewhere in Japan. But then, that's airports for you, isn't it!
Applying insanity to normality
25 airbuseric: Hi Allrite, I really enjoyed the read and many pictures on this Scooty trip! Indeed, one seems to get crazy easily with so much Hello Kitty around. Ou
26 allrite: Thanks for your kind comments. Scoot can be really cheap, especially during sales, between Australia and Singapore, less than half the price of full