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samwise6222 Jun 24, 16 3:46 pm

From Snoopy Museum in Tokyo to Charlie Brown Cafe in Seoul to Copacabana in Brazil
Flights Taken
China Eastern 777 J (JFK-PVG) (70,000 Skymiles + $230 per person)
Delta 777 J (PVG-NRT)
Air Busan A320 Y (NRT-PUS) ($70 per person)
Delta 747 J (ICN-DTW) (70,000 Skymiles + $10 per person)
Delta A321 F (DTW-LGA)
American Air 777 J (JFK-GIG) ($450 + SWU)
American Air 777 J (GIG-JFK)

Places Stayed
Hyatt Regency Tokyo (P+C)
Park Hyatt Tokyo (Virtuoso + DSU - special thanks to Ben (pricesquire who booked this for us ;) )
Park Hyatt Busan (Chase Annual Free Night)
Grand Hyatt Rio de Janeiro (Buy one night, get one night free promo + DSU)


Earlier this year, AA had a fantastic fare between various US cities to Brazil for around $400-$500. And Brazil's unilateral waiver of visa for US citizens during the summer made it even more attractive to visit Brazil for the first time in my life, notwithstanding all the issues you hear from the media.

So in February 2016, I booked my long weekend trip to Rio de Janeiro.


Then in March, my sister informed me that she was engaged!!! and getting married..... in June..... half way around the world. Of course. My life wasn't going to be that easy :rolleyes:

So I had to whip out my Delta Skymiles... and what do you know? 2 J seats to Asia in China Eastern available!!! 2 J seats on Delta coming back available at 70k miles!!

Hallelujah! It's a miracle. :D J award seats available at the low rate. I felt so lucky that on that day, i ended up buying 2 Mega Million tickets, and trying for Hamilton lottery tickets (I didn't with either.. obviously)

Anyhow: here I start - my two weeks of New York -> Shanghai -> Tokyo -> Busan -> Seoul -> Detroit -> New York -> Back to work for a week -> New York -> Rio -> New York trip.

I will try to save you as much of (1) lounge photos and (2) blurred food photos as there are so many people who can take better picture of them than I can ;)

China Eastern to Shanghai and Delta to Tokyo
Many people rate China Eastern's products as "Good hard product/ Bad soft product" and I agreed with that assessment. Just one comment on lounge though - at JFK they use Air France lounge, which gets insanely crowded around midnight with multiple international flights cramming into that tiny space... so lounge was quite... Sad! :td:

... and it can sometimes get tacky with what I call excessive lightshow (which went for a while... for a post-1AM flight :rolleyes:.

And yes, it is indeed true that you get restaurant-style laminated (or laminated-feel paper?) menu that they will reuse it for the rest of the year.
One thing I did love about them was a drink option other than typical water / oj / champagne (we are both mildly allergic to sparkling wine) that a lot of airlines offer as a pre-departure drink. Wasn't quite sure what it was, but it was certainly yummy!
One of us is allergic to peanuts, and it is always our pet peeve when flight attendants push a tray of peanuts without asking (even when we have told them before...). I did really appreciate where they said "MU strives to avoid using peanuts in our meals..."
However, I must ding them on their headphone... It looked crappy. It felt crappy. The sound coming out from it was crappy.
I was a big fan of their bathrooms... it was already kept clean and always smelled nice! On the cleanliness scale, I will put it right above United's Global First cabin bathroom.

That's where I will ding them the most. I picked the Chinese option, while my SO picked the Western one.
Living in New York, and going to Chinatown on a regular basis, I didn't expect to feel grossed out by their food... but everything in this picture was pretty inedible to me, at least. Scallop was very very fishy, and the blop of object tasted like... gellatin.
Main was a bit better, but in the end, the tastest part of the meal was the bowl of white rice.
Their brekky was a bit better. (Congee + pickles + bun)

I still disagree with Martian being categorized under Comedy... but I digress..
China Eastern runs a new 777-300 on this route, so the screen was big & fairly crisp.
China Eastern has free Wifi for its passengers to use... but (1) you are behind the great firewall of China and (2) it wasn't easy to connect if you are not pre-registered... I asked flight attendants for help, but in the end, they gave up as well \_(ツ)_/
For now... good night!

Transfer in Shanghai - a Nightmare :td:

Transfer is PVG is horrible. There's no other way to put it. While I had heard about seamless transfers at PVG, my experience was that (1) I had to go through immigration and customs and (2) transit desk was insanely crowded where you didn't feel safe even if you had 4 hour transit time... and mind you - we were in Skypriority!

We could not reach the skypriority lane (see the diagram above) as it was blocked by other people, and in the end when we reached it, we were told that they couldn't access our reservation since our next flight was with Delta.

When we tried to exit the customs area, the security agent was not letting us leave without a boarding pass.... while the transfer desk agent was telling me that they can't issue a boarding pass.

In the end, I had to go "DUIBUQI DUIBUQI NO CHINESE" and push/ shove my way out. (I don't know what I was thinking...but I was tired...)

If you ever transfer in Shanghai, and have to go through similar route and see a long line at the transit desk, it will probably be much quicker to exit the customs area, and recheck at the departure level.

We had a little bit of time, so we took a quick trip on Maglev and came back..

Delta - ahh small of home
Thank you for the lounge pass.. but because of long security and immigration line, the flight was boarding as soon as we got to the gate
Delta runs old 777s on PVG-NRT route which shows some sign of aging... But my experience with Delta crews were much better than what I had with MU's - especially after they disappeared during the middle of the flight until the breakfast time.
Our flight was delayed by over an hour as we were waiting to take off. No it was not the notorious Shanghai air traffic congestion - but rather a case of exploding toilet. It turned out someone stuffed so much toilet paper in the toilet, that it ended up clogging the system... and caused a giant leak in the economy section. Multiple times, the flight attendants announced people seated in certain areas to move all their personal items to the overhead bin because the carpet was soaking with.... you guessed it.. toilet water!
Fairly decent meal... I would rate it at

KE Y food = JL Y food > DL J food > MU J food


samwise6222 Jun 24, 16 3:47 pm

Three Days in Tokyo & Snoopy Museum Tokyo
Hyatt Regency Tokyo (also known as, one night here because three nights in PH Tokyo is too expensive)

I do love Hyatt Regency for providing fairly good amount of space for good price in Tokyo.
One reason why we wanted to go through Tokyo was that they had recently opened Tokyo Snoopy Museum for a limited time.
It turned out to be insanely popular where the tickets were getting sold out well in advance and you had to go through lottery to access the Museum cafe. We didn't win that lottery either :(
Line to pick up the ticket...
Line to enter the museum once you pick up the ticket...
Their tickets are made of old cartoon strips. As you will see on the bottom right corner, the ticket had strips from May 30, as the date of our visit was May 30.
Unfortunately, most of the museum fell under "No camera" zone.
Do I look happy? yes you bet
The museum gift shop was equally a mob-scene. With many items sold out. (Also, it was interesting that you couldn't get into the gift shop without a ticket...)

...but that didn't stop us from our shopping spree

yea yea - keep your judgment to yourself :D

Before we decided to check-in to Park Hyatt Tokyo, we decided to stop by a ramen place Ichiran (read; tourist trap)

Park Hyatt Tokyo- Park Suite
(We asked for a King Bed - and they ran out of King Bed... so they decided to make even larger bed for us...)

As a Diamond member, we were invited to the complementary Twilight Time

..and complementary breakfast

One minor issue was that we asked for women's deodorant and they said they only had a spray deodorant, and if we were ok with it. "Sure" we said.

But it turns out that... they gave us a "Super Hard Styling Hair Spray" :td:

Good thing I knew Japanese :D
I can never get tired of the view I get at PH Tokyo.

And of course - how can you miss the famous Japanese breakfast :)

And of course - Tokyo trip is not a Tokyo trip without some sushi meal ;)

When we casually mentioned to them that May 11 was our 7th anniversary, and we were in Tokyo to celebrate, they took a picture of us and gave us a frame to go with it. I really love it here.

samwise6222 Jun 24, 16 5:08 pm

Air Busan flight to Busan, then Seoul
Air Busan flight from Tokyo to Busan
With our Priority Pass from AMEX Platinum, we were able to use the Korean Air lounge in Narita.
Compared to a zoo called Air France lounge @ JFK, this place was quiet and nice.
They had plenty of cup ramen and onigiri for guests to enjoy. Since we were flying a low cost airline (Air Busan), we decided to eat our lunch here.
From the lounge, I could see an Aeromexico jet pulling in...
Ready to board!

Despite being a LCC, Air Busan had plenty of legroom. 5'11" on the left and 5'2" on the right, for reference.
..and what do you know!? it comes with a meal too! Sea Food fried rice to be exact. The fried rice was seasoned well, and it was quite tasty. I didn't think they had a vegetarian option though..

My very very subjective food rating:
KE Y food = JL Y food => BX Y food > DL J food > MU J food
One thing you see a lot in Korea is their apartment complexes... they are useful, in terms of providing housing for a large number of people, but to be honest, it's really ugly.
After an hour of bus, "I can see our hotel now!"
This was our second time visiting Park Hyatt Busan using our annual free certificate from Chase.

My big problem with this hotel is that they try to be too technologically fancy. They run some elaborate smart elevator system that messes the whole system up when there are too many people requesting elevator. Their toilets absolutely depend on continuous supply of electricity...

A toilet required electricity.

So when the fuse blew in our room, there was no way to flush the toilet. and housekeeping was useless until they could bring an engineer an hour later. :td:

After Narita Express -> Flight -> 1 hr bus ride, we had no functioning toilet in our room, and when we requested if they could let us use another room, they said no.


But, I am a sucker for their view and their breakfast congee.

There's a restaurant within the walking distance from the hotel that makes really great gomtang. Give it a try when you are there.
Saying Good Bye to Park Hyatt Busan.

KTX Ride from Busan to Seoul

Korean version of Bullet Train - KTX gets you between Busan and Seoul in about 2.5hrs, cutting down a 4-6hr trip by car in half.
I mean, train is a train... so I don't think I need that many photos of a train... but that red bag... it's falling over!

samwise6222 Jun 24, 16 5:42 pm

Cat Cafe & Charlie Brown Cafe in Seoul
There are number of cat cafes in Seoul. We decided to visit one in Gangnam.
I feel like there's some kind of common theme with cats at this cafe.
Like many other cat cafes, their system involves (1) paying for a hot or cold drink (aorund $8) and (2) the drink serves as the admission cost for the place.

They allow you to stay as long as you want once you enter.

...and as you can imagine, like many other cat cafes, this place also has a very skewed male-to-female ratio... I count... well... one guy in this photo.
Yay. Wedding. skip
Walking around Gangnam area, we found this place called "Sexy Club" where the signage said "Foreigners are Welcome." We didn't try to go in. Oh well.
Japanese fish-roe pasta seemed to be popular here
The Seoul Subway reminds you to let the passengers get off first.

Charlie Brown Cafe - Gangnam
A few blocks from the Cat Cafe around Gangnam station, there is one of the locations of Charlie Brown Cafes in Seoul.
Which also means - I had to visit the place... How can I miss it? :p
Like many cafes in Korea - they gave you a buzzer that would ring when your drinks were ready
Mugs were selling for around $6.
Lots of Snoopys... :D ... ok I will stop
Outside the cafe, we ran into this couple, who were celebrating their wedding night in a swanky love motel (for you prudes - a type of short-stay hotel found around the world operated primarily for the purpose of allowing couples privacy for sexual activities).... Certainly interesting choice... to each of their own :p


HangukStyle Jun 24, 16 6:35 pm

Nice TR, looking forward to the rest.

mkjr Jun 24, 16 7:13 pm

Great TR. The location in shinjuku is great.

theshaun Jun 25, 16 10:43 am

Great trip! Thanks for sharing and congrats on your anniversary!

samwise6222 Jun 26, 16 10:09 am

Originally Posted by HangukStyle (Post 26827037)
Nice TR, looking forward to the rest.

Thank you :D

Originally Posted by mkjr (Post 26827129)
Great TR. The location in shinjuku is great.

Yep yep. I never get tired of the location & the view!

Originally Posted by theshaun (Post 26829504)
Great trip! Thanks for sharing and congrats on your anniversary!

Thanks for that ;)

offerendum Jun 26, 16 10:32 am

Snoopy is cool!

traveling_newbie Jun 26, 16 9:47 pm

Awesome trip report! Thanks for sharing :)

roadwarrier Jun 27, 16 10:26 am

Awesome - what a different TR. A Snoopy Museum?? Looking forward to the rest. ^^

Had to laugh at the deodorant / hair spray issue.

samwise6222 Jun 27, 16 12:43 pm

Originally Posted by ltabi (Post 26835261)
Awesome trip report! Thanks for sharing :)

Thank you :D

Originally Posted by offerendum (Post 26832894)
Snoopy is cool!

Yes I agree.

I think I went little too much with my shopping spree, but when you gotta go, you gotta go ;)

Originally Posted by roadwarrier (Post 26837217)
Awesome - what a different TR. A Snoopy Museum?? Looking forward to the rest. ^^

Had to laugh at the deodorant / hair spray issue.

Yeeeeppp. Super-Hard-Styling-Hairspray on armpit is definitely not a pretty picture.

davidong Jun 28, 16 11:34 am

Transiting in PVG shanghai is HELL!!!
I absolutely agree with you.
If you take China Eastern and had to transit in Shanghai PVG; beware.

The transit passage are lines are absolutely horrendous.
Nobody knows what is going on and the ground staff does not seem to know anything nor care.

Even if you have Delat Skymiles, you still need to navigate your way through tired, weary and frustrated, edgy passengers.

so prepared for a rough ride.

I definitely won't recommend those who do not speak nor understand Mandarin.

offerendum Jun 28, 16 1:20 pm

Originally Posted by samwise6222 (Post 26837868)

I think I went little too much with my shopping spree, when you gotta go, you gotta go ;)

At least you have so souveniers:D

arlflyer Jun 28, 16 3:01 pm

Very nice TR so far!

I am not picky about food and do not generally place a lot of emphasis on presentation, but the MU dinner does look incredibly unappealing. If I had to describe it in one word, that would be "synthetic".

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