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Old 12th November 2018, 11:10 PM   #1
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Default Autumn in Hokkaido and an SQ Suites Experience (FD, XJ, GK and SQ Suites)

Early this month, I revisited Hokkaido for the autumn, making the 4 nights trip over a public holiday. This trip would be flown on a mix of mainly LCCs as well as a finale on my 1st ever flight in SQ Suites. Itinerary would be SIN-DMK-CTS-KIX-SIN. As SQ has upgraded one of the 2x daily flights to KIX to the A380 for the peak travel season, Suites availability was widely open for redemption, with 4 seats or more available on most days. KIX is definitely not a premium-heavy destination. However, before sharing on my Suites experience, lets first embark on the flights up to Sapporo on the AirAsia group.

The flight up to Japan was booked on a combination of Thai AirAsia and Thai AirAsiaX, needing a transit at Don Mueang. Did self check-in for the flight at Changi Terminal 4 and boarding passes for both flights were printed. Baggage were dropped off at the self-drop counters and would be checked through for the connecting flight.








Most of the departures from T4 were from the AirAsia group.




Passed through the centralised security screening into the departure hall. This afternoon, the terminal was busier than usual with travellers heading off for the weekend getaways.




Using my Priority Pass, I visited the Blossom Lounge, which is both a SATS Premier Lounge and a Plaza Premium Lounge. Other than CX passengers, all other full-service airlines' premium passengers in T4 are sent to this lounge.




Seating was plentiful and there were different seating options, such as individual pods, solo seats, sofas and dining areas.










There is a manned bar.




And a decent buffet selection.

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Old 12th November 2018, 11:31 PM   #2
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Salad bar and cheeses




Alcohols, juices and snacks.




4 hot dishes and a soup.




Noodle bar offering Laksa and Vegetarian noodles.




Sandwiches and desserts.




Beverage area




Something to bite before the flight. The laksa was actually pretty good!





02 November 2018
Thai AirAsia
FD 354
Singapore (SIN) - Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK)
A320
HS-ABI
Economy Class
Flight Time: 2H15M



Upon reaching the gate, boarding had already commenced and we proceeded immediately to board. No surprises that it would be operated by one of the A320 workhorses.








The usual LCC black leather seats.




Boarding in progress

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Old 12th November 2018, 11:46 PM   #3
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View out the window.




I was seated at the emergency exit row, which offered a comfortable legroom as compared to the rest of the tight rows. My Premium Flatbed fare had allowed free selection of the extra legroom seats on the A320 sectors as well.




Inflight magazines.




Boarding completed, and it was a very full flight. Only empty seats were at the emex rows.




Safety demo performed manually and we taxied out to the runway. Even though the taxi distance to Rwy02C was short, we had to hold for some time to allow aircraft ahead of us to depart and land.












Finally holding for departure. There was an SQ A330 beside, which was held at the position for quite a while since we started taxi. Not sure what went wrong with the aircraft.




Departing from Rwy02C.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6wXBFiO_7M



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Old 13th November 2018, 09:10 PM   #4
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Weather was not too good and it took a while before seatbelt signs were turned off. However, the bumps were light.




Service started and pre-booked meals were distributed.




My fare was inclusive of a meal and I pre-booked the ML Noi’s Basil Fried Chicken on Rice. It tasted meh... Lots of rice but miniscule proteins in a very watery sweet-tasting sauce. Nowhere near the authentic Thai Basil fried chicken, and this coming from the Thai unit of AirAsia. Came with a bottle of water. The catering standards on the various AirAsia units seemed inconsistent as I find the catering quality on the big brother Malaysia AirAsia to be superior, even for the same dishes.








The Thai Green Curry with Rice which my friend ordered was probably only slightly better.




Setting sun




Lavatory was basic. The single lav at the front of the aircraft was unoperational and the almost full flight had to use the 2 at the rear. Luckily it was only a short flight and not many passengers had the urge to use the lavs.




Cabin view




Soon, we were descending into Don Mueang and landed on Rwy21R.





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V25IspOqbBQ


Parked at the gate. No bussing needed this time round.

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Old 13th November 2018, 09:24 PM   #5
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Disembarking and a look at my comfortable emex row seat.






Disembarked from the FD A320.




It was a run-of-the-mill LCC flight on AirAsia. Catering was mediocre (as as it looked) but comfort was enhanced with the spacious exit row seat, though I am sure the experience would not be as fun if I were to be stuck in the fully filled normal rows with limited seat pitch.

With almost 5hrs to spare, we did a bit of lounge hopping at Don Mueang, first visiting the Miracle Lounge. Having seen and read rather great reviews of the Miracle Lounges at the main Suvarnabhumi Airport, the one at Don Mueang was nowhere near the quality of the ones at the main airport. Furnishing was basic and looked make-shift.






The buffet selection was not too bad though, offering a range of choices.













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Old 13th November 2018, 11:50 PM   #6
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After about 2hrs at Miracle Lounge (Priority Pass members are limited to 2hrs per entry), we went over to the Coral Lounge. I had visited this lounge on my last transit via Don Mueang early this year and knew what to expect. Lounge décor was definitely much more pleasant than the Miracle Lounge.






Buffet consisted of finger food, warm mains, servings of pasta, desserts and beverages. Cocktails and alcoholic drinks are available from the bar.














40min prior to departure, we headed to the gate, where boarding had already commenced.






02 November 2018
Thai AirAsia X
XJ 620
Bangkok Don Mueang (DMK) - Sapporo New Chitose (CTS)
A330-300
HS-XTA
Premium Flatbed (Business Class)
Flight Time: 6H24M



XJ's 1st A330 aircraft, HS-XTA, would be operating the flight today. XJ is expanding rapidly this year and had acquired 3 additional aircraft, including a 'new' ex-SQ A330 (ex 9V-STA) which is still in the SQ seat configuration pending retrofit. The new aircraft (HS-XTI) is primarily operating on the DMK-NGO route, but was also deployed to CTS on the day before and after my flight. Missed the chance to fly on an ex-SQ cabin but AirAsiaX-operated flight, which would definitely be an interesting experience.




The Premium Flatbed cabin consists of 12 angled-flat beds, with plush pillows already placed on occupied seats. The cabin would only be 8/12 on this flight, and economy seemed not too full as well.



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Old 14th November 2018, 09:44 PM   #7
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Each seat is equipped with a divider, reading lights and power ports.




Safety card. Inflight magazines were the same as the previous flight.




After boarding, hot towel and a bottle of water was distributed to each Premium Flatbed passenger.






Being a lightly loaded flight, doors were closed on schedule and we pushed back. Safety demo was again performed by the crew.




'Lotte world' liveried aircraft beside.




Passed TG aircraft parked at Don Mueang for maintenance/storage.




Departure from Rwy21L bound for Sapporo.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=353QYCSXr2k






Quick visit to the lav upfront, which only had the basic amenities but was clean.




After takeoff, plush red duvets were given out for our use. Immediately, we reclined our seats flat and settled in for the red-eye. Crew also confirmed that we would be having our meals before arrival in Sapporo.




4hrs into the flight, I awoke to a breaking dawn.


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Old 14th November 2018, 11:25 PM   #8
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It was soon bright outside. BOB service was conducted in economy at the back, but our small cabin remained dimmed. Crew would offer the meals only when we woke up, allowing us to maximise the sleeping time. A couple of pax only had their meals less than an hour to arrival.




Due to a website/app glitch, we were able to pre-order up to 3 meals each! I had the Kung Pao Chicken with Rice and Roasted Chicken with Pesto Cream Sauce. The meals were served on a tray, along with a cup of coffee.






The Kung Pao Chicken with Rice fell short of expectations, and was hardly authentic. Think Chinese takeaway food in the US.




The Roasted Chicken with Pesto Cream Sauce was a better choice definitely. At least the chicken pieces were still juicy.




My friend had the Tasty Grilled Chicken with Baked Jasmine Rice and Pak Nasser's Nasi Lemak.




The grilled chicken with rice was decent, but the nasi lemak was nowhere near the version served on Malaysia AirAsia.




We also shared a Vegetable Stew with Rice Pilaf. 2 mouthfuls and I left it.... It just tasted weird....




After our meals were cleared, we were already leaving Honshu and crossing into Hokkaido.




Flying past the city of Hakodate as we started the descent.




Along the coastline of Hokkaido as we descend into Chitose.





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gAj6RCz6pU4
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Old 15th November 2018, 11:29 PM   #9
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Flew pass Chitose airport during the approach. Pillows and duvet were also collected by the crew.




Approach and landing on Rwy19L.





https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W7K04_PdYyY


Quite a lengthy taxi to the international terminal, passing the busy domestic terminal.






Parked beside TG's B744, which is the 1st international arrival of the day and the other sole aircraft at the international terminal.






Final view of my seat while awaiting to disembark.




Peek of the aircraft.




AirAsia X offers a comfortable premium hardware with basic amenities, which is what you would be paying for essentially. Service and catering is definitely no match with the full-service carriers, but you are not paying for them for the cost of the ticket. When at an attractive fare, I would definitely fly on AirAsia X again on mid-haul flights as at least it offered more comfort over the economy cabins.

Immigration and baggage reclaim was fast as the earlier TG flight had cleared. We then proceeded to the domestic terminal to catch the train direct to Otaru, where we would stay for a night. The train ride from Chitose to Otaru was slightly more than an hour.

Arriving at Otaru and being too early to check into the hotel, we deposited the luggage at the hotel, and crossed the street to Sankaku Market for some seafood goodness!





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Old 17th November 2018, 09:09 PM   #10
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Lunch shall be at a very popular seafood don store within the market. There was a 30min wait for a table, but it was very worth it for the freshness and quality. I had a big bowl of crab and ikura, with a side of crab miso soup and grilled cod (unfortunately I am not a sashimi person).








After lunch, we sent about exploring Otaru. Weather was perfect and the autumn leaves are vivid.










Along the famed canal and warehouses.








The shopping street of Otaru.



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Old 17th November 2018, 09:38 PM   #11
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Historical monuments along the street.




Having Le'tao limited edition milk and pumpkin softee.




Stayed at Dormy Inn Premium for the night. The room was compact, but reasonably comfortable with all necessary amenities available. The hotel was had hot springs for guests' use and was very popular with domestic Japanese tourists.






View from the hotel room, overlooking Otaru train station and the town.






Dinner was at Naruto Honten, a very popular restaurant for its fried chicken.










The hotel offered all guests a free serving of hot soya flavoured soba noodles after 930pm, which is warming and very popular as well.




The next morning, breakfast was a buffet at the hotel restaurant, which was included in the room rate. The hotel is also famous for its breakfast seafood buffet, which included a selection of seafood items, such as unlimited servings of ikura, salmon and shrimp on rice, apart from the standard breakfast fare.

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Old 17th November 2018, 10:18 PM   #12
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A snapshot of my first serving from the breakfast buffet.




Before departure from Otaru, we had some delicious Le'tao cakes from the Le'tao café just beside our hotel.




Hopped back onto the train for the 40min ride to Sapporo, where we would be staying at La' gent Hotel for 2 nights. This relatively new hotel offered very comfortable and spacious rooms, as well as offering hot springs too for guests. A very recommended hotel in Sapporo.






Late lunch was at Suage, which is my favourite soup curry chain in Sapporo. They had recently also opened a branch in Singapore.








Sapporo streets and city tram.






Heading to Odori Park for the autumn scenes.





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Old 17th November 2018, 11:48 PM   #13
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Autumn in Odori












Streets of Sapporo are definitely not as busy as Tokyo or Osaka.




Having a crab feast at Kani-ya in Susukino. The king and snow crabs were prepared in various ways, such as sashimi, boiled, grilled, sukiyaki etc.








The next morning, we headed to Nijo market.






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Old 18th November 2018, 04:31 AM   #14
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Beautiful photos. Thank you for sharing ycp81
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Old 18th November 2018, 08:06 PM   #15
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Other than crabs, other types of seafood were also sold at Nijo Market.






Seasonal fruits are available as well.




A bowl of seafood don at Ohiso.




I simply loved the baked cheese tart, silky milk softee and the limited edition custard apple pie from Kinotoya Bake!!






More bright autumn leaves near the government offices.






Within the Hokkaido Government Office compound, with all shades of autumn colours.







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