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allrite
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Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:02 pm

This report follows on from Low Cost Asia 2.1: AirAsiaX SYD-KUL-SIN and Low Cost Asia 2.2: Jetstar SIN-KIX J in a Typhoon where I described how my wife Beatrice, almost 5 son Alex and myself were embarking on an insane itinerary of 10 flights in 11 days. It's now time for us to return to Singapore from Japan before continuing on to Ho Chi Minh City aboard Jetstar.


It's always the same old story. The final day in Japan is spent shopping and I am tired and depressed at having to leave. After shopping around Namba it was time to catch the Nankai Rapi:t back to Kansai International Airport.

Namba Walks

Nankai Rapi:t

I was tired out from long days and late nights writing up my travel blog. I even fell asleep for part of the train ride, but it was not enough.


Mixed in with the exhaustion and sadness was fear. The weather map showed Typhoon Danas approaching southern Japan and I really hoped that the flight would not be as rough as on the way up.

Train station at Terminal 1

Departures

Japan's tourist slogan (and it's totally correct) is "Endless Discovery". Malaysia's new slogan is "Endless Possibilities". Malaysia: Number 1 for accurate and original slogans! Yeah!

When we arrived at the check in area we were surprised to discover that our flight was actually rescheduled early! Not the more normal delayed. So now we had to hurry and there was no time to enjoy more shopping or eating.


We passed through security and caught the automated shuttle to the gates. There was a bit of flight activity, but the terminal felt quiet, dead. Which is how I like it. Not much in the way of shops out there, not that we were in the market for much.

Aboard the shuttle

Delta

Cathay Pacific 777

Not sure of the airline, but a view of the bridge back to the mainland

Free wifi, not many takers

.

Isn't she a beauty - Asiana 747-400


An announcement was made that the gate had been changed from 4 to 2. There weren't many passengers boarding - loads are not looking great for Jetstar to and from Singapore if this is any example.

Our Jetstar A320

08/OCT/2013

CARRIER: Jetstar Asia

FLIGHT: 3K722

SECTOR: KIX-TPE

CLASS: Economy

ETD: 17:05 (local)

ETA: 18:55 (local)

AIRCRAFT: Airbus A320-200

REGISTRATION: ?


The nice thing about this flight in an A320 compared with the A330 was that we were all seated together. The pitch feels a bit tighter, but it was comfortable enough. One thing I didn't like about these newer A320 is the magazine rack at the top of the seat. The solid plastic doesn't allow for the storage of other items, plus there's a hole down the bottom, as I discovered when my phone slipped through and knocked over my cup of drink later in the flight.

My bag matches the scheme. Sorry about the legs.

The cabin


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Announcements were made in English, Japanese and Mandarin. Despite the early departure time we were delayed by the long taxi. There were some nice views of Kansai Airport and nearby cities after we took off and looped around, then we were above the clouds into a rapidly darkening sky.

At the gate

Don't tell me there's a queue?

Take off

Turning around with Kansai Airport visible

Past KIX

City lights

Through the cloud

Once the seatbelt lights were switched off the crew came through. I hadn't realised that we had pre-ordered food. Alex was asleep already and neither of us felt hungry, so we just got the included drinks instead.

A&W Root Beet (soft drink)


Despite my fears, it was a pretty smooth flight of about two and a half hours. Despite the darkness there were still things to see outside. There was a lot of air traffic headed in the opposite direction, obviously this was a busy route. I glanced out to see a meteor fall and explode in the sky. It was much brighter than a full Venus and seemed at least twice the diameter. Red sparks of disintegrating rock were visible before the final detonation. That's at least my third meteor spotted during a flight, at altitude they are even more amazing than from the ground.


As we approached Taipei yellow lightning flashed in the clouds. From the air the city always reminds me of a vision of Hell at night. A malevolent orange glow fills the hazy sky, interspersed with black clouds.

Taipei

It's a pity that we weren't stopping for a few days in the city as it is a fascinating place that we'd love to return.


Captain Zoran finally spoke up. I was missing an announcement from the flight deck.


Our descent path looped around to approach Taipei Taoyuan Airport from the south. As we landed the sight of the Novotel returned happy memories of a giant panda toy and the wonderful service of our stay there earlier this year.


Turning across the black sea

Neon signs along the street

Taxiing

Service vehicles all lined up as we approach the gate

Despite the fact that our flight would be continuing on to Singapore we all had to depart the aircraft. We were handed transit tags, then it was a long walk back to the boarding lounge, where a much larger crowd waited than on the first leg.

Alex loves moving walkways

A long walk past Duty Free

There is quite a bit to see airside. I've only just noticed, but this must be access to prayer rooms, Buddhist (not Nazi!) on the left, Christian on the right.

Ah, so this is why the 1 stop flights between Singapore and Osaka are more expensive than the direct flights. The Singaporeans are all going to the now hip foody destination of Taiwan. The aircraft was almost fully packed for this leg.


08/OCT/2013

CARRIER: Jetstar Asia

FLIGHT: 3K722

SECTOR: TPE-SIN

CLASS: Economy

ETD: 19:55 (local)

ETA: 00:30 (local)

AIRCRAFT: Airbus A320-200

REGISTRATION: ?


We retraced our path out to the runway, taking off past the Novotel, Alex telling us he wished we could go there. So did the rest of us. We were tired and hungry. This time we all accepted the prebooked meals, katsu (crumbed) chicken on rice, which was pretty good and the kind of simple food that works well. We usually seem to order katsu before flying out of Japan anyway!

Taxi please!

Taking off

Dinner


The almost five hour flight felt interminably long. B finished her book part way through and had nothing else to entertain her. I'd heard no mention of hiring video entertainment on this flight. We had opted not to bring her iPad or my Android tablet in order to save on weight. Alex watched videos on his player for a while before falling asleep. I listened to music and watch a couple of ancient episodes of The IT Crowd on my phone.


Once we'd flown past Taiwan there was almost nothing to see outside but the odd ship and island. There was weather, swirling winds that shook the aircraft enough to switch the seatbelt lights on and prompt Captain Zoran to make an announcement. The whole flight was relatively bumpy. We may have skipped the typhoon earlier, but this leg made up for it. It was difficult to settle back and relax.


As we neared Singapore I could see big blue flashes of lightning out of the opposite window and wished that I was sitting on that side of the aircraft as they looked spectacular.


We made a northerly descent into Changi with a feeling of real relief that the journey was over. I don't think that the Jetstar flight was bad per se. Had the weather conditions been better and B had brought something to watch, play or read, we would probably have enjoyed it more. Also, we'd already had the long flights from Australia to Osaka via Kuala Lumpur and Singapore and were feeling a bit weary of long travel by this stage.

Descending into Changi

At the gate

This wasn't the end of our flying for the day. That afternoon we had another Jetstar flight to Ho Chi Minh booked. But first we needed some sleep. So we hurried through immigration, only to discover that we'd just missed the free shuttle to our hotel, the Grand Mercure Roxy Square at Katong. So, off in a taxi, and we still beat the shuttle.


We fell asleep to the sound of rain and thunder and I wondered if it was the same storm we'd flown past earlier.
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allrite
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sat Oct 26, 2013 2:05 pm

The Grand Mercure is close to the airport but located close opposite a hawker centre and old shophouses, so we got to eat our fill of local food. I'm rather fond of the area and really wished we had a few days there.

Marine Parade

Food!

This is how I like to eat

Laksa and popiah

East Coast Road

Rumah Bebe, selling Peranakan kuih

Old shophouses along East Coast Road


We had to race back to check out and catch the free shuttle to back to Changi Airport's Terminal 1. We might have been able to get our boarding passes the night before from the Jetstar transit desk airside, but we were too tired to think of that. Naturally we returned to Bengawan Solo for the second time that day (there's a branch at Parkway Parade) to get more of Alex and my favourite kuih lapis spekkoek.

It's a pretty drive to the airport

.

This time security doesn't want to x-ray our bags before immigration. Once airside we get delayed in the shops. There are clothes and toys. Fortunately our gate is in the opposite direction to the play centre from the earlier flight, otherwise we may not have made it in time.

It's looking a lot nicer than last time I was here.

Views out on to the tarmac

The social tree

Our Jetstar Asia A320 is labelled with ValuAir as well.

09/OCT/2013

CARRIER: Jetstar Asia

FLIGHT: 3K557

SECTOR: SIN-SGN

CLASS: Economy

ETD: 13:45 (local)

ETA: 14:55 (local)

AIRCRAFT: Airbus A320-200

REGISTRATION: ?


Back on board another Jetstar Asia flight. We taxied out past a variety of aircraft. Full service, low cost, big small, long haul short haul. Yes, Changi has got them all. Except for domestic flights!

Safe from any Barrys today.

Fellow Jetstar A320

Interior

B was already wrapped in a BYO blanket, courtesy of earlier Jetstar flights

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There's already a queue forming

FireFly, SilkAir and Scoot

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Bye Changi

Golf carriers below...

Banking past a cloud bank

Over Malaysia

.

.

.

So here we were on another flight, heading to Vietnam for the very first time. I felt unprepared, especially when I exchanged our first Dongs. First time I've had a million in currency in my hand.


Alex was naturally asleep and after our morning pig out B wasn't hungry, but I decided to try the prepurchased food (we were travelling on Starter Plus fares which give Qantas Frequent Flyer points). The roti paratha and chicken curry was yum! Best airline food I'd had on this trip so far.

Roti paratha

For a little while I could just sit back and enjoy this two hour flight, tropical clouds over the sea before the excitement of seeing a country from above for the first time. Okay, not quite the first time, there was a brief crossing of Vietnam en route to Bangkok a couple of years ago, but that was all too brief and quickly obscured by cloud.

.

All quiet on board

There was high cloud, but a reasonably smooth ride

The scenery below crossing into Vietnam and the descent into Ho Chi Minh City was amazing. I'll let the photos do the talking.

So many paddy fields

A land underwater.

.

.

.

.

.

Bridge construction

Outskirts of Ho Chi Minh City

.

The buildings were certainly crammed in

Landed!

Tan Son Nhat International Airport was certainly home to some interesting sights from an aviation enthusiast's perspective.

Stained glass hangers?

MiL helicopters

And UH-1 Iroquois from "the enemy"

.

Old control tower?

.

Pulling into the gate

The sight of the Russian MiL helicopters near American UH-1s, possibly remnants of a war that had been fought in my lifetime was a jarring reminder that Vietnam was probably different to any other country we had yet visited. Our third communist/ex communist country after China and the Czech Republic, but the latter is European first while the former is unique in itself. I had read and heard reports celebrating the wonders of Vietnam and others that said "Watch out!". I was not sure what to expect and just had to embrace the adventure of the unknown, but cautiously because I am looking after someone who is too young to fend for himself.


The airport terminal was clean and functional, if not particularly inspiring. At least the toilets were good, a definite plus! We made our way out quickly through immigration.

Moving walkways for Alex

Airside

My electronic latest edition of the Lonely Planet Vietnam stated that the taxi operations at each terminal was a monopoly operation of a single taxi company. They were wrong and yes, we were met by a taxi tout. We ignored him but still caught a Vina Taxi (not the supposedly reliable Vinasun Taxi). Yes I'll use a meter. Oh he says when he finds out where the Parkroyal Saigon is en route, near the gate to the airport. Now I'll charge you a flat rate.

Motorcycles everywhere!


When we got to the hotel the door staff sorted out the taxi driver quick smart and returned a sum of cash to us. Despite that initial (and not unexpected, I hadn't even come to terms with an exchange rate of roughly 1:20,000 yet) negative experience from then on the tone of our Vietnam stay was positive.


The Parkroyal is located close to the airport but away from the sights in District 1. While the building itself is nothing special, we found the staff fantastic. It took us a while to settle in (the safe needed replacement), but we had to make something of our very brief stay in Ho Chi Minh City, so we caught a taxi downtown. Most things were closing, but it was interesting just to walk around. We ended up around Ben Thanh market, after it shut we had a dinner at an outside stall that seemed to cater for western tourists but still had tasty local food.

.

Did I mention the motorcycles?

Notre Dame

The Opera?

.

Bitexco Financial Tower

Evening light

Ben Thanh markets

.

Watch out, durian about!

Outside the markets

.

Shellfish on offer

We couldn't stay out too late as we had an early flight the next day. And Alex just wanted to return to the hotel and relax and play. As you can see, despite our hectic schedule, young child and limited time we still get the most out of every stop.


I thought Jetstar Asia fine, especially for shorter hops. The comfort was okay, the service was friendly and the food good. You just need to bring enough entertainment for longer flights.


In the next instalment we fly from Ho Chi Minh City up to Hue aboard Vietnam Airlines, then catch a train down to Da Nang and Hoi An.
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luv2fly
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sat Oct 26, 2013 4:31 pm

What a treat to have this to read today. And inspiring to see how much you manage to see and do each and every place you go.
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sun Oct 27, 2013 12:20 pm

Hi Allrite,

Thanks for another great trip report!

Jetstar look pretty decent, and the food looks really tasty! I've only flown them on domestic and Tasman, but have always thought that they were one of the better LCCs out there.

Thanks for the photos of Ho Chi Minh City, and I can't wait to read about your trip to Northern Vietnam.

Best,
Alex
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sun Oct 27, 2013 2:08 pm

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
Not sure of the airline, but a view of the bridge back to the mainland

Jeju Air

Quoting allrite (Thread starter):
We ended up around Ben Thanh market, after it shut we had a dinner at an outside stall that seemed to cater for western tourists but still had tasty local food.

What memories I have of Saigon! Ben Thanh market was a place I went to a lot. There are some street side hawkers along the inner edges of the market and they all come alive after the market closes along the road. I had bowls of pho which only cost like 50 cents there. Definitely an interesting experience.
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allrite
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Sun Oct 27, 2013 9:53 pm

Quoting luv2fly (Reply 2):
Quoting RyanairGuru (Reply 3):

Thanks guys!

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 4):
Jeju Air

Ta! Been seeing a lot of Jeju Air while in Japan. Will have to do a side trip to Korea one day, only been there briefly.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 4):
What memories I have of Saigon! Ben Thanh market was a place I went to a lot. There are some street side hawkers along the inner edges of the market and they all come alive after the market closes along the road.

There's a gap between when the market closes and when the outside stalls can set up, so we killed time by having a wander around. Seemed to be the Indonesian/Malaysian/Singaporean end of town judging by the type of restaurants there.
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Thai744
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:00 am

Really enjoying your series of trip reports - I really like your style of writing. Not too much text, but enough to let us know what was going on during the flight... I really don't need to know every single word that the flight attendants said to you as you see in some reports. You have the balance just right.

And I really like the pictures you include of the sightseeing side of things too. Very interesting.

I didn't realise that Jetstar used A330's on intra-Asian flights. I guess they're Australian registered planes.
When they cease the SIN-KIX service that you mentioned in November I guess they'll deploy these aircraft on other routes. Does anyone know where?

Anyway, great reports. And yes - that pic is of The Opera House in Saigon.
 

Thanks for taking all the time and effort to write these up.

P.S. I too have an Asian wife and I also know the horrendous consequences if you deprive her of eating/food for an extended period of time! LOL. Food comes first!  
 
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Mon Oct 28, 2013 10:31 pm

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 6):
Not too much text, but enough to let us know what was going on during the flight... I really don't need to know every single word that the flight attendants said to you as you see in some reports.

It's necessity, I'm kept too busy to make notes of everything! But I really wanted to use this one as the model.  
Quoting Thai744 (Reply 6):
I didn't realise that Jetstar used A330's on intra-Asian flights. I guess they're Australian registered planes.
When they cease the SIN-KIX service that you mentioned in November I guess they'll deploy these aircraft on other routes. Does anyone know where?

I believe that they are Australian registered - which is why you can (but soon cannot) fly from Melbourne to Beijing, though with a big layover in between. So far as I know the A330s will be used to increase frequency on existing routes rather than open new ones, but I may well have missed something.

Quoting Thai744 (Reply 6):
Food comes first!

Absolutely!  
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:05 pm

Quoting allrite (Reply 7):
I really wanted to use this one as the model

  
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Mon Oct 28, 2013 11:27 pm

Hello allrite!!!

I really enjoyed this report! I also liked reading about Taipei being sort of like hell on earth and the explosion in the sky! Would have loved to see that one!!! Apart from seeing other aircraft in-flight from my window seat, occasionally I get to see a few bolts of lightning. ha ha ha!

Kansai looks like it would be a nice airport to use as an Asian Gateway. Maybe it was the lack of a crowd, but your photos makes me want to reconsider transiting through Osaka instead of Tokyo all of the time!

The Katsu and Roti dishes looked really nice. I love airplane/airport/restaurant/lounge/street food photos, so keep them coming when you can! And suddenly, I am craving a Root Beer!!!! YUM!!!!!

Thanks again for showing us your nice photos to Saigon!

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allrite
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Tue Oct 29, 2013 3:59 am

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 9):
I also liked reading about Taipei being sort of like hell on earth

I first noticed it on a CX flight from NRT to HKG.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 9):
Kansai looks like it would be a nice airport to use as an Asian Gateway. Maybe it was the lack of a crowd, but your photos makes me want to reconsider transiting through Osaka instead of Tokyo all of the time!

I'm not sure one is much better than the other when it comes to transits, unless you go landside. As I discovered this year, Narita makes for a pleasant dose of Japanese culture, but you may find Osaka more accessible for some quick shopping if you catch the train to Namba. My advice is to stop and enjoy either one.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 9):
The Katsu and Roti dishes looked really nice. I love airplane/airport/restaurant/lounge/street food photos, so keep them coming when you can! And suddenly, I am craving a Root Beer!!!! YUM!!!!!

I'll post links to the blog and more photos in the final instalment. Malaysia is the place we really went food crazy and that's coming up soon.

As they appear to have got a bit lost in the crowd, note that

Low Cost Asia 2.4: Vietnam SGN-HUI, Train Hoi An

and

Low Cost Asia 2.5: BL Cancels, VietJet Rescues

are now up, the former featuring the very scenic town of Hoi An.

[Edited 2013-10-28 21:00:31]
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Tue Oct 29, 2013 4:34 am

Thank you for the helpful hints! I am never in Narita for more than 3 hours, but DL always gives me an option to fly LAX-HND and then a NRT-BKK with a 20 hour layover, so this is an option I am exploring for winter. I am actually quite looking forward to a stopover in Tokyo. Any hotel suggestions while I am there for the night?

I can't wait to see all the food photos in Malaysia!!! I saw a segment with Anthony Bourdain: Layover in Penang and it showed a 24-hour food market that looked appealing!

Hope you are having fun!!!!


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allrite
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RE: Low Cost Asia 2.3: Jetstar Asia KIX-TPE-SIN-SGN

Tue Oct 29, 2013 9:13 am

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 11):
Any hotel suggestions while I am there for the night?

My favourite, which is not the cheapest, is the Prince Hotel in Shinjuku. You can catch the NEX (again, not the cheapest) direct to Shinjuku from Narita Airport and should be easy from Haneda. Shinjuku has the neon canyons. Another option is Ueno, which is readily accessible from both airports and has the fun of the Ameyoko markets and Ueno park.

Quoting AirAfreak (Reply 11):
I can't wait to see all the food photos in Malaysia!!! I saw a segment with Anthony Bourdain: Layover in Penang and it showed a 24-hour food market that looked appealing!

I have a trip report for Penang from earlier in the year.
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