After checking into the Cross Hotel in Osaka (very funky hotel, highly recommended) the first thing we did was go to the adjacent Dotombori Street to find a late snack. There were Jetstar posters all along the strip along with a big model A330-200 atop a pole.
We had five full days to explore around Osaka. Day one was Kurashiki, a warehouse town with a lovely canal, near Okayama. On the way back we caught the Nozomi Series 500 train which, as the message board informed us, reached 300 km/h.
The next day we caught a slower train to Kyoto and the Fushimi-inari shrine, famous for its tunnels of red and black torii. It was a long walk around the hills in the hot and humid conditions, but it was well worth it. Afterwards we just wandered through the Gion district and Higashiyama, with a meal of all-you-can-eat shabu-shabu in the Ponto-cho area to end off the day.
Japanese shops have great gadgets for me and clothes for B, so Thursday was shopping day. Den-Den Town, Osaka's equivalent of Akihabara was great, though I restricted myself to the model railways of Super Kids Land. We also wandered around punky Amerika-mura. Japanese fashions are great fun to see, and even their dogs are dressed up!
Koya-san is a major Buddhist complex atop cool tablelands. The train ride up the mountains is stunning, especially the final funicular-like cable car stretch.
On our final day we travelled with our luggage to Kyoto. I wanted to walk the Path of Philosophy again, something we had done four years ago. The bus out there was painfully slow, but the gorgeous Ginkaku-ji gardens and peaceful walk by the canal made it all worth it.
The JR Haruka Express took us directly back to KIX from Kyoto, a comfortable 75 minute trip. This was the first time I had crossed to KIX before dark and the long ride across the bridge made me realise how far this artificial island airport is from the mainland.
While wandering around the shops at KIX we saw a Kobe White Chocolate Cheesecake and had to buy, ostensibly for breakfast on the plane (being a dairy product we didn't dare try to bring it through Australian quarantine). But then we needed spoons, so I brought a small tub of Kobe Custard. Security wouldn't let us take the custard on the plane, so we had to eat it in front of them... don't care, it was worth it!
When we arrived at the gate we discovered that Jetstar had a huge promotion going on for the inaugural flight from KIX-CNS.
They were handing out showbags, giving speeches, photographs with the crew. Unfortunately, all we got were apologies for our late arriving flight. Our boarding was delayed by about 40 minutes. I had a chat with one of the pilots and he told me that he thought that it would be a pretty smooth flight, though the area around Guam was always a little rough with cloud build-up and the jetstream would make the Brisbane-Sydney leg a bit bumpy. We hadn't realised that our flight was scheduled with a Brisbane stopover.
ETD: 21:50 (local) ETA: 10:30 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Airbus Industrie A330-202
Eventually we boarded. The crew came through and handed out headphones and as we sat on the tarmac I listened to the calming "Let's fly away" Jetstar song while pop songs played on the cabin speakers. It wasn't quite as good as Cathay's cabin music which they also used for their safety video (the Cantonese language then "Brace! Brace!" and back to Cantonese sticks in my mind now). Then we lifted off from the airport and into the darkness. I forgot to say that our flight out had only been half full with 156 passengers. This flight was more packed, but B found three seats nearby to stretch out and sleep. I was left alone by the window on a chair with the recline button broken (those damn arm rests again!). I could have moved into her seat, but I like the window.
Amenity packs were handed out to to those who pre-ordered them. I wondered why, on the flight out, that some people were given blankets only. I discovered that for JAL and perhaps QF codeshare passengers blankets and meals were included in their presumably more expensive tickets. There was one meal served before lights out and window shades closed (fortunately the crew weren't window shade Nazi's as on some airlines - we were also requested to keep them closed on the flight up, but I peeked out frequently).
I thought that I hadn't ordered anything as cold doesn't bother me, we had eaten dinner already and we had brought delicious Japanese bakery products with us for breakfast. I was in the middle of watching a Red Dwarf episode on my Zaurus when an attendant gave me DigEPlayer unit that we had apparently pre-ordered (it was there on the boarding pass). B didn't need it as she was already asleep so I accepted it.
I'm glad I did. The fear of heavy turbulence made me feel every little bump and I couldn't sleep. There was nothing to see outside and watching movies on the player proved to be a great distraction. On the main screen was tv programs followed by Shrek 3. However, by that time I was already watching "Fracture" on the DigEPlayer.
The DigEPlayer's screen was a lot poorer quality than the Airvod on the northbound flight. However, it was easier to use, didn't crash and the stand for keeping it upright on the tray table was a lot better than the newer model. It was still a brick though.
The movie choices were, I thought, pretty bad and too heavily aimed at children. No movie music this time, though they did have "relaxation music". I also saw Amazing Grace, Scrubs and House (why two medical show episodes?). In my opinion they should have loaded British and Australian comedies.
The entertainment really did make the flight go faster. On the way up I had many "are we there yet?" moments, frequently checking my watch. On this flight we were across the border almost before I knew it (except for the turbulence around Guam).
Now and then, when I felt some shaking, I would look out the window and see us flying through high cloud. The seatbelt sign came on a couple of times, but it wasn't that bad. I hadn't realised that the powerful forward "headlights" were mostly switched off during flight. I noticed this because the pilots would sometimes switch them on briefly when we were in areas of cloud buildup, presumably to find a smoother passage and avoid storm clouds.
I was captivated by the colours of sunrise as we flew off the coast of Queensland, so I'll now subject you to a selection of the photos!
North of Rockhampton, near Shoalwater Bay we crossed the coast and over land.
I went to high school on the Capricorn Coast and the old volcanic plugs, seen here poking out above morning fog, were a familiar sight.
We had a brief transit stop in Brisbane. We had to go through security again and this time they complained about a small jar of lip balm that had accompanied us the entire way. We were allowed to keep it in a clear plastic bag. We also swapped some of our polite Japanese passengers for local bogans (VB beanie and all).
We reboarded the plane for the final leg down to Sydney. It wasn't as rough as the pilot had predicted and we spent very little time at cruising altitude. Sydney's weather was quite cloudy, which lead to a few sharp bumps on our way down from the northern suburbs.
I was disappointed that the only obvious evidence of APEC on the tarmac was a Russian jet liner and a hovering helicopter. As we pulled into the gate I did spot my favourite plane the Virgin Atlantic A340-600 (never flown with them, just like the look) and the OzJet 737-200.
I would also fly Jetstar again. Though you have to pay for some extras the operation didn't feel low cost, the seat pitch was fine for me with stumpy legs and long torso. Somehow not quite as good as mainline Qantas, but more than good enough to get from A to B.
Overall I quite enjoyed the flight back, much better than the northwards flight to Osaka. I really have a love-hate relationship with flying. I'll stare up at the sky and watch the planes fly overhead and dream of the adventures the passengers are on. But then I'll be flying northwards and wonder when this flight will be over, when my feet will be on solid ground. Maybe I just prefer those evening North West flights to SE Asia above the Australian desert on my way to Europe. That won't stop me from visiting Japan again. This was my fifth trip there and there is still so much to see and explore.
Please see my travel blog for more information about the trip. A much larger selection of photos are available from photos
Good reports. My brother and I have just come back this Wednesday from a trip to Hawaii (MEL-HNL-MEL) on Jetstar (we too booked with the $3 companion fares). We flew on VH-EBA as you did on SYD-KIX on the HNL-MEL sector and from your picture from your seats you look almost exactly the same place on the plane (we were in 50 J & K). We also preordered the entertainment units. We had the Digiplayer for MEL-HNL and the AirVOD for HNL-MEL. I found there was a surprisingly large selection of music (whole albums) on the AirVOD and there were quite a few documentaries, loads more content than the DigiEplayer. I too watched Amazing Grace on the Digiplayer and Anchorman (one of my all time favorites) on the AirVOD. Agree about their headphones they were useless, I could hardly hear some stuff at full volume, but when I put my own headphones in they worked much better. Despite the captain saying that the batteries may only last 6 hours ours both lasted all the flight (over 10 1/2 hours).
I wish the flight attendants would serve water every half hour - they are really not doing anything at all for most of the flight accept taking among themselves - I guess they really want people to purchase their overpriced beverages. The water fountain that you can only fit their very small cups (100 ml) was really annoying. I just filled my water bottle by pouring out 5-6 of the tiny cups. I was paranoid about getting dehydrated on such a long flight, do you think dehydration contributed to your headache? Most of our crew where Thais on both our flights, what about yours?
"I get what they call a stipend, a stipend is like money but its such as small amount they don't really call it money"
Every time we thought we risked getting "templed out" (we have seen so many temples and shrines over the past 5 years) we found a beautiful garden, or scenic railway ride, or just something different and special that made the visit worth it.
Quoting SpinalTap (Reply 2): from your picture from your seats you look almost exactly the same place on the plane (we were in 50 J & K).
Actually, we were in row 28 (A&B, J&K) forward of the wing on both flights.
I'm glad we had the two different units because it ensured our entertainment selection was changed between flights. I found the supplied headphones okay with the DigEPlayer, but had to swap with my own headphones for the AirVOD.
I'm a little confused whether the attendants supply free water or not because I ordered a meal on the way up and was given free water refills (and could then have requested other non-alcoholic beverages). That said I had plenty of water and fruit juice during the northwards flight - once you are past security you can buy drinks from the vending machines at Sydney airport. On the flight back I drank almost a litre before boarding the plane - had to get rid of vending machine purchased drinks before security! I am susceptible to headaches, on bright days when I don't wear my sunglasses, so I think it was the glare (and it didn't improve on descent, so it's not oxygen levels as per some flights).
I had no problems with the levels of service on our flights as the attendants came very regularly through the cabin. It seemed like a couple were Thai, a couple Japanese and the rest Caucasian. All seemed quite friendly and helpful.
Interesting trip report. Whenever low-cost is mentioned, the first thing that comes to my mind are short to medium flights, but it seems that those flights are getting longer and longer. What extras are supposed to be additionaly paid for?
I really like your TR and photos from Japan are amazing. Speaking of shopping day, when you mentioned railroad model shop, I began to envy you
Meals, personal IFE (cabin tv entertainment is free), the amenities pack including blanket and inflatable neck pillow (you get to keep it all). I don't have a big issue with this because we didn't need more than we paid for.
Quoting Aleksandar (Reply 4): Speaking of shopping day, when you mentioned railroad model shop, I began to envy you
N-gauge Japanese trains are half the price that we pay over here in Australia. I started buying some as a reasonably priced souvenir of our trip (3 trips ago). Now I have a layout winding it's way around the desk I am typing this on.