Flight time: 1:00
It was time to leave Siem Reap. Cambodia was a very interesting adventure. I was lucky with the weather but it still was very hot and humid. I did not mind moving to Japan where the weather would be cooler. I got a late check out from the hotel and their car took me to the airport 2 hours before the flight. I did not have any status on VN and I was traveling economy so no lounge this time. VN does have quite a nice lounge at the REP airport. I tried but could not talk myself in there. I will post some pictures of the airport instead.
People are very friendly and relaxed here. Want to take a group picture on the tarmac? Sure!
The flight to SGN will be on an Airbus 321. VN is more or less the carrier for Cambodia as well. Although the two countries do not like each other they are highly interdependent. Here some pictures of 'my' aircraft. There was one other A321 there.
Besides VN there was this colorful bird at the airport. Any thoughts?
We boarded via the stairs. The flight was only 50% full this time in Y and maybe 20% in J. I had chosen the exit seat again but since that one has no window I moved to seat 10A before take off. A Korean couple behind me decided to each take three seats and lie down.
The airport taxiway
The in flight safety video
Halfway during the flight we were in between thunderstorms but taking pictures of it failed completely. The plane got tossed around quite a bit and the captain put on the fasten seatbelt sign. The Korean dude behind me kept lying down without his belt on. I told him that he should and he said he was not worried. “No dude, but if you get hurled to the sealing and fall on me it is my ass!” (he was sort of heavy). All of a sudden he spoke no more English. I called the FA and had her sort it out.
The flight remained bumpy to the very end but I am confident that the pilots are used to this weather over there. We landed safely at SGN and were taxied to a remote stand. Even though there were only 4 J pax on board VN showed a greater understanding than BA (for instance) by having a separate bus for them enabling them to get to customs early.
By now it was 7:20pm and my JL flight was not scheduled for another 6,5 hours. I had (surprisingly since I was traveling on a paper ticket!) checked in online for this flight. That could not be right... When I reached the transit desk there was a VN employee holding a sign with my name.
“Yes sir, we could not find your reservation for your JL flight!”
“But how did you know I would be here then?” I asked pointing at the sign
“So what do we do next?”
“We wait for JL employee to check you in”
I was a bit taken aback by the apparent illogic of the situation. In the end I was checked in to the same seat I had checked in for online and handed a boarding pass by a very non communicative JL employee and escorted to the lounge by the charming VN employee. I first had to make a round past the flue check camera though.
The VN employee was rather new to her job. I knew where the lounge was but she didn't. She walked me and my luggage all around the airport steadily refusing to follow my lead. When we finally ended up where I said we would she was very apologetic and we laughed it off.
Flight time: 5:45
I had about 5,5 hours to spend in the lounge and I had no idea what to expect. I must say: not bad. The food was reasonable but certainly not great.
Vietnamese spring rolls: bland and cold.
The lounge does have a view of part of the airport. Nothing major though.
I also spend about 1 hour in the massage chair
Several movies and spring rolls later I boarded my flight to NRT. It was an overnight flight that left at 23:45 and landed at 07:30. Due to the time difference the actual flying time is 5:45. Way too short to get a good night sleep. I could only hope that my hotel in Tokyo would allow an early check in.
The flight is operated by JALways, meaning that you fly the old business class: the Skybed Deluxe or something. Not the nicest seat in the world.
My seat. I once again managed to convince the check in to keep the seat next to me empty. I have a great success rate with that. About 100%
The ancient seat controls
The cabin was pretty full. Except for the seat next to me there was just one other seat empty.
I don't even know if they served dinner (don't believe they did) but I immediately tried to get into sleep mode with limited success. I slept for about 4 hours. Sleeping is done like this.
Not much of a recline. When I woke up most people had the blinds already open and breakfast was being served. I liked the breakfast. Catering on JALways has been positive so far.
Their amenity kit is a joke however. A plastic bag with few goodies.
Cabin before landing
Descent into Tokyo
JALways has nose cams. Interesting to watch. Here is the view just before touchdown.
We got through customs pretty quickly. It was not busy and the process was efficient like expected. I booked a room at the Tokyo Hilton and the best way to get there (or any hotel) is by bus from the airport.
When I got to my hotel they had a room ready. It was on the lowest floor and had no view. I was moved per my request to the 33rd floor a couple of hours later. This is the view from my room.
The room itself
Japan was a unique experience. I am still debating whether I love it or not. It is hard to understand the society. I will refrain from comment just yet. I did decide I needed to get out the city too so the next day I took a train ride to Kami-Suwa, about 2,5 hours west of Tokyo Shinjuku.
The train (I bought a green car ticket – First Class)
View from the train
The train leaving me at Kami-Suwa station
It took about an hour before we left Tokyo and the suburbs and saw anything remotely resembling countryside. Kami-Suwa is a nice small town by a lake. It has birds too...
Actually this is the head of a tourist boat. They all looked like this. It felt typically Japanese. Don't ask me why.
The also had an old locomotive I thought some of you might appreciate
I spend about 4 hours in Kami-Suwa. That was 2 hours too much but I had tea in a nice Starbucks ripoff. The waitresses (none of whom spoke English) found it all very amusing. The ride back was less interesting since it was dark by now.
Lady waiting at Kami-Suwa station
Back in Tokyo I went out and took some pictures of Tokyo by night.
Two days was not enough time to get to know anything about Japan but I doubt if any time would be enough. I am hesitant to go back.
From Tokyo I went to DPS. The trip report for that flight can be found here - Surprising JALways - NRT-DPS In J (or F) (by Henkybaby May 28 2009 in Trip Reports)
As always: I hoped you enjoyed the read and the pictures. Feedback is always appreciated.
Thanks for reading!