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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Flew pass Chitose airport during the approach. Pillows and duvet were also collected by the crew.
Approach and landing on Rwy19L.
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.
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.
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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Hokkaido University compound.
We went to Sapporo Beer Museum and Garden for dinner.
Had the popular Gengis Khan BBQ buffet, and opted for the seafood-inclusive buffet. For the price of the buffet and unlimited servings of lamb and crabs, it was definitely worth it.
Air Asia X
Buy on board6.5
Bangkok - DMK
Chitose - CTS
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.
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