It's time to continue on with our travels across Asia mostly on low cost carriers. So far my wife B, four year old son Alex and I have flown Scoot from Sydney to Singapore
then AirAsia to Penang and Kuching
in Malaysia. From Kuching we flew in a MASWings turboprop up to Kota Kinabalu via Bintulu and onwards to Taipei
with Malaysia Airlines.
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.
Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper
- copyright © Karl L. Swartz
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?|
ETD: 06:50 (local)
ETA: 10:40 (local)
AIRCRAFT: Boeing 777-200
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...
[Edited 2013-04-25 21:01:23]