Lost in Translation – Korea/Japan 23-27 Dec 2011
Despite the locker fiasco (~30 minutes), I was never in danger of missing my flight.
In fact the check-in counters weren’t even opened yet although the agents in Asiana uniforms were already at the desks when I got there.
I thought that it was kinda strange as Biz passengers was made to wait as well. I was tempted to do a DYKWIA but was too thin-skinned to do so.
When the time to commence check-in arrived, the agents all stood up and bowed, thanking the passengers in Japanese (probably for flying with ANA). I was pleasantly surprised by this gesture; to be honest I would be grateful if the check-in agent at SIN gave me a smile.
The agent greeted me in Japanese but quickly switched once I replied in English. She gave me the aisle seat that I requested and also informed me that the Asiana Lounge was located before the immigration. This wasn’t the news that I would want to hear since I would need to leave the lounge early to pass through immigration.
The lounge was located at some hidden corner behind the security checkpoint for immigration control.
It wasn’t really crowded inside the lounge as my flight was the only remaining Star Alliance flight departing that day.
TR’s never complete without a pic of boarding pass.
After a long day my iPod Touch’s juice was running out and I had to borrow an adapter from the friendly front desk agent (who greeted me in Japanese too) in order to charge it.
There weren’t any cooked food but plenty of snacks to nibble on.
The closest thing to warm food was instant noodles.
I left the lounge with plenty of time to clear the immigration. There wasn’t any queue though and I was through to the gates in no time. With too much time, I just walked around taking photographs of things that were semi-interesting.
My ride to HND was a Boeing 777-200.
I was among the first few passengers to board the plane with the crew greeting me in Japanese. The cabin was quite warm and I quickly stripped down to my t-shirt. It seemed that both Korean and Asian carriers prefer to keep their cabins at rather uncomfortably high temperature.
I started to explore the seat pocket in front of me.
I was offered some pre-departure drink and the purser came over to greet me (in Japanese again). I asked a crew to bring me an English version of the immigration card which was in Japanese and Korean only.
The business section never got filled and only 10 out of the 35 seats were taken. I moved over to the window seat after boarding was completed.
We actually took off before schedule and as soon as the plane reached cruising altitude the crew went into action.
Before I could finish my snack, supper was served.
Left to right:
– Mixed vegetable and leek pancake Korean-style with soy and mayonnaise sauce
– Sauteed scallop and boiled asparagus
– Prosciutto and and melon wedge roulade
I quite liked the appetizers and main course and polished all of them off. The dessert (chocolate cake) was not too bad but I wasn’t one with sweet tooth and just took a bite.
After the crew cleared away my finished meal, I flipped through Windspan to see if there was anything interesting.
With half an hour to go, I discovered that I could watch the air show.
We landed at HND around 20 minutes ahead of schedule. While waiting for the aerobridge to be connected, I looked out of the window and spotted a group of baggage handlers (I think 6-7 of them) standing by on the tarmac. When the plane came to a complete stop, all of them stood in a line and bowed to the plane.
At the back of my mind I wondered how many passengers actually saw the gesture…
It was a warm 7 degrees Celsius evening in Tokyo, a welcome change to the sub-zero temperature in Seoul.
The immigration officer asked if I knew the contact number of the hotel that I would be staying; I didn’t know but I was still allowed to enter Japan, the 29th country that I have visited.
The priority tag did work and my luggage came out ahead of the other non-tagged ones.
After passing through the immigration, I was off to tackle Tokyo’s public transportation.