Incheon and Robot

Our layover at Incheon International Airport is most likely the closest I can get in terms of setting foot on Korean soil this year. Last we’ve been to South Korea was six years ago, and I’ve been meaning to renew my Korean visa but couldnt find time to squeeze it into my schedule in between travels. Alas, maybe first thing next year.

So, Incheon – long time no see! Within a couple of hours we gaped at the mix of modern and nature-themed interiors. I had to touch a plant to check if was rea – nope it wasn’t. But it sure looked like it. Made me think – are the plants in Singapore’s Changi Airport real? Must be hard to maintain.

Anyway, I eventually found myself face to face with AIRSTAR robot as she navigated her way through the crowd trying to show the directioons to a passenger. There’s something about robots that enthrall me. Are they taking over the world? Maybe it’s too much sci-fi binge watching on TV.

AIRSTAR looked harmless, cute even. She headed her way back and announced that she needed to rest and that she’s tired, if people can please get out of her way. D was one of those people on her way. Tsk.

Later I found her taking a snooze as she recharged at a corner. How cool was that?!

NAIA’s Club Manila Lounge

Our journey to Montreal begins at Manila’s Ninoy Aquino International Airport Terminal 1. I hardly go to this airport as most of my flights commence from Terminals 2 and 3. This one’s the oldest of the 3 big NAIA airports, and As far as I remember it hardly stands out of the options I’ve got in Manila.

The silver lining was D telling me that we could use the Club Manila Lounge with his credit card. I didn’t bring that card with me but it was ok because cardholders can bring a plus one (yay for the freebie!). It is open for use by platinum and gold cardholders of selected banks in the Philippines. For non cardholders, the lounge is also open for a fee of 750 pesos (around $13 US).

It’s located at the fourth floor. I set my expectations low as on our way from the lift the hall was dim and there were a lot of blockages, it almost felt as if we were walking at a back alley. I wonder if we took the service lift?

At last, the lounge. It was bigger than the one we always go to at Terminal 3, and the lighting here is more relaxing. The food options are more varied: there are halal food, fruits, salad, sandwiches, hot meals, pastries, nachos and chips. For drinks there’s beer, fresh fruit juice, coffee and tea, and liquor. The seats are comfortable and the place is spacious. Wifi speed was also fast. Lastly their restrooms were clean. Unlike NAIA 3’s lounge, the boarding announcements can be heard in Club Manila Lounge. I guess the one advantage that the lounge at Terminal 3 has is the view of the runway – though it comes with too bright lighting in the whole lounge as well.

It’s quite a steal for cardholders, but something I’d reconsider if I didn’t have my card and will be paying out. I guess if I was so tired and needed a few hours’ sleep while waiting for my flight out of NAIA I’d pay for a stay at the lounge. Otherwise, I’m happy walking around next to the terminal gate, giving my feet a stretch in preparation for a long flight. Which reminds me, I have less than an hour to do that now.

Cee’s Black & White Challenge

Transportation

Can’t get enough of these fun photo challenges 😄

Here’s my response to Cee’s Black & White Photo Challenge on Public transportation (no cars or trucks).

This one’s taken Narita Airport, showing one of the best airlines in my opinion. Transportation

And this one’s taken while I was walking along the Chicago river.

Transportation

Always Excited to Fly to Narita

Narita

What I look forward to when traveling is experiencing the culture. On the other hand, if there’s any part of traveling that I’d rather skip it’s the wait time – from the boarding, to layovers, to the actual flight. To make good use of the wait time I would have my ebooks ready, or connect to the WIFI and surf away. So I usually end up having tired and strained eyes from all the reading.

It’s different, though, in the case of all my wait times in the Narita International Airport in Japan. I actually look forward to every couple of hours’ stay here, and I feel like I discover new places or things to do in this airport every time I check in or drop by for a connecting flight.

Just like most places in Japan, the Narita International airport is efficient, safe and clean. The airport staff is polite and accommodating. WIFI is free, and connection is fast. On top of these, here are what sets the Narita International Airport apart for me:

Information at my fingertips

Narita has a chatbot named Bebot that travelers can use as airport reference guide. I was able to use this on my iPhone during my last trip, when I asked how to get to another other terminal. The responses were quick, accurate and delivered in a conversational tone.  After my questions were answered I was asked what I thought of the airport – and of course I gave it a thumbs up and said I loved it. Bebot’s response to this was rather very charming.

Narita Observation Deck

In Terminal 1 we were able to access the observation deck where we could view the airplanes on the runway. Access is free and the deck is located at the fifth floor. The deck is enclosed with steel fence, and there were several benches.

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View from the observation desk

NAA Art Gallery

Located at the fifth floor of Terminal 1 is the NAA Art Gallery. At the time, photographs of Mt. Fuji taken from different angles and seasons were being displayed. The photographers were friendly and even gave me and my husband a photo souvenir each.

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NAA Art Gallery at Terminal 1

Baggage storage

My last trip to Tokyo was for three days, and it was a stopover coming from North America en route to the Philippines. I did not want to tow my big luggage with me in the city, so I opted to avail of the baggage storage services of the airport. After paying the fee (around 520 yen per day for my medium-sized bag), I was given a claim stub and off I went. It was such a relief and convenience walking luggage-free to the city and to my hotel.

Postal service

The post office is located at the fourth floor of Terminal 1. I was able to send the postcards which I bought from the souvenir shops to family and friends abroad.

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Post office at Terminal 1

Japanese cultural experience

Travelers can get to experience the traditional culture of Japan through dressing in samurai armor and having a photo taken as a souvenir; or hands on experience on Ukiyo-e printing. Allow for at least an hour before boarding to be able to participate in this as there may be a queue.  I was able to take home my Ukiyo-e print, frame and display it.

At Terminal 1 the Kabuki exhibit shows costumes, wigs, and accessories. I am always amazed by the colorful displays in this gallery.

Souvenirs

I like Japanese souvenirs because they’re yummy, cute, colorful, and unique. My favorite purchases are green tea, doll-shaped rice crackers, Royce Nama chocolates, different flavored Kitkats, and Tokyo Banana. The stationery and pastries in the souvenir shops are packaged so nicely, I’m sometimes hesitant to take off the wrapping.

So far these are what I discovered and enjoy whenever I am at the Narita International  Airport. I’m sure I’ll have more visits to come (Japan is my favorite holiday destination!) and I will find more places and activities to rave about.

Have you been to Narita International Airport? What did you think of it?