Showing posts with label flying. Show all posts
Showing posts with label flying. Show all posts

Saturday, 14 April 2018

15 - Haneda & Forgetfulness 2

Day 15 - Monday- Haneda

Last night after my kid had nodded off, and painfully aware I hadn't had any exercise for some time, I went out for a walk-run around my old neighbourhood. (A walk-run is ideal for someone who is out of shape who wants to try to get back into shape. It's simple - you walk for a while to warm up, then you run for a while until you're tired, then you walk until you get your breath back, then repeat. It's basically half-assed running for unfit lazy people like myself.) 

Slept quite well last night despite waking up dehydrated, but a carton of fruit juice in the fridge soon put an end to that. I went out for my morning walk to the supermarket to buy some much needed fruit and vegetables only to discover that it wouldn't open for another hour. So I fell back on plan B and returned to the hotel for some writing.

Recommended non-sleepy Hay Fever medicine
I tell you it's not been easy typing on my MacBook. The 'O' key doesn't work, so I'm forced to open the keyboard viewer and click on the 'O' every time the autocorrect doesn't figure out properly what I mean. Halfway through this trip though I realised that I could type up the text of each blog entry on my phone using this iPhone 'Write' app and then copy and paste it into the browser, which has made things a hundred times easier. In its own way this has been good writing training, as it's a bit like running with a tyre tied by a piece of rope to your waist. You never realise how many damn words there are with 'O' in them until your 'O' key stops working. Janet Jackson was right.

I'll miss these breakfasts
We had to check out of the Toyoko Inn this morning at 10am, which I think we were all a bit loathe to do, but the next leg of the trip was waiting for us at Haneda. We pulled our luggage down the street to the Machida Bus Centre and bought three tickets on the airport bus to Haneda Airport, despite leaving not today but tomorrow. When we were booking hotels etc online it just seemed to make sense to stay the night before leaving at a hotel near the airport. So we rewarded ourselves with some donuts from Crusty Kreme and hopped aboard. The journey only took about 45 minutes and before we new it we were standing inside the doors of Haneda Airport feeling quite pleased with ourselves. That's when I noticed  there was a weight off my shoulders. Oh no, not again. Yes, again. I'd left my black laptop bag on the overhead shelf on the bus. Fortunately two things - one, this time I had my passport, wallet and phone in my waist pouch, and two- we're not leaving today.

After a moment's self-beratement, I won't lie to you, I handed my phone to my wife and said, please sort this out. And like a boss she called Machida Bus Centre, who gave her the number for the bus central office (AKA the Idiot Gaijin Hotline) to whom she explained the situation. They then radioed the bus driver and got him to make a U- turn somewhere and come right back to the airport. But he wasn't happy about it. Ten minutes later he'd brought my bag back and to say thank you my wife wanted to give him a small tub of potato snacks (Jagariko) in gratitude, but understandably he refused. We should have offered him our third and final donut instead.

After a nice lunch in the airport watching the planes, we boarded the bus to nearby Anamori Inari station and checked in to the rather classy MyStays hotel which sported shoebox- like rooms and an even narrower double bed than the first Toyoko Inn.

Despite there being one in the foyer of the hotel, we went out for a walk around to try to find a restaurant, but failing to do so returned to the hotel only to find a notice at the door of the restaurant saying they were fully booked between 5pm and 8pm for this two weeks. It was 6:45pm. I looked in and saw that the place had tonnes of free tables. Hmm, I thought. Have you guys been reading my blog?

So there was nothing else for it but to go back to the supermarket and buy some provisions there to take back to our room. All was looking good until I ate my son's umeboshi onigiri (sour plum rice ball) by mistake, which he was understandably upset about. 

Dango Unchained
What - on earth - is the matter with me? What is happening to my cognitive processes? When I got off the bus, what was I thinking? I was thinking, "Son, check, waist pouch with passports and wallet, check, wife, check, donut, check, ahh, how nice it is to be back in Haneda again, that bus driver drove well.' I did not think: 'now, have I got everything?' And nobody told me to think that, and even if they had I probably would have brushed it off as an inconsequential question. Of course I have! Of course I have you fool! I'm a grown adult who has been to Japan umpteen times! I have my wife, my kid, my waist pouch, even my donut!' I just didn't process the information. Sheer sloth-headed laziness 

What was I thinking when I ate my son's umeboshi onigiri? I overheard him choosing it in the supermarket. The information was there. But when we got home I just sat down and began digging into all the onigiri in the bag, not even reading the labels because nine times out of ten I never could anyway, and 'aah, it's nice to be back in the hotel,' and 'mmm, this is a particularly tasty one.' That's when my son somehow twigged and the shirt hit the fan.

Again, I had all the details, I just didn't even question the situation. Is it because I'm on holiday? Is it because I'm in writing mode? Perhaps it's from drinking too much, or having to listen to my kid's constant chattering, or having been married for nine years. Who knows. But one thing's for sure- if I'm like this now, what am I going to be like when I'm seventy?

Tomorrow we have to wake up at 4:30am, be downstairs for 5:30am, and get the shuttle bus to the airport (7mins), and I have to go to bed sober and do my best to get a decent night's sleep on the edge of a cliff.

Read Day 16.

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Japan Day 1 - Going East

(Monday 26th March, Kansai International Airport) 

Well, here we are in Japan after quite a long but relatively pleasant trip.

We left our house by taxi at 6:30am on 26th March, and caught a plane from Edinburgh to Helsinki, Finland from 9:30am for a couple of hours. This plane was about half full and quite small, and the take off and landing seemed to be a bit on the steep side, but I managed to catch a few Z's and my son had a bit of earache but we made it in one piece.

We had lunch in Helsinki at a restaurant and managed to successfully navigate the passport controls (twice) only to find out that since we were transferring there we shouldn't have gone out of the secure area in the first place! Ha ha! It was the same guy who showed us out as showed us back in again.

A few hours later and we boarded a plane to Kansai which was a good few sizes bigger. Here are the in-flight films I watched in order of merit:

Three Billboards 
Bladerunner 2049
Splash - Sorry, no - The Sound Of Water - no, apologies again - The Shape of Water

Had a delicious dinner and breakfast. My son was sick a couple of times (due to travel sickness) but apart from that I think he loved the films and the games and caught a few hours of sleep. I didn't sleep at all, keen as I was to catch the ending of Bladerunner 2049 before the plane landed. I was pleased to recognise the unused opening storyboards from the first Bladerunner (given as examples in the book 'Film Art') used to start off the sequel : a good sign that the filmmakers were keen to remain faithful to the original.  2 hours + 9.5 hours is much better than 1 hour + 10.5 for sure, which would have been then case if we'd changed at Heathrow. 

We touched down at 9am Japan time (1am UK time), and my wife and I had our first holiday argument at 9:05. She wanted to carry a small bag of vomit off the plane with us and though Arrivals. I was against this idea. I asked her several times to leave it on the plane for the staff to deal with as it was their job, but she (very Japanesely) didn't want to upset them. Fortunately we compromised and she left it in the first bin we came to after disembarking, so we didn't need to stand in line at customs with it. "Anything to declare?" "Just this small bag of vomit.

It's actually really good to be back in Japan after all this time. Difficult to explain to people who've never been. Just something about the place. Services are very customer orientated. Everything's nice and clean and on time. People are smiling and friendly, and I get to use my Japanese again, however rusty it may be. The weather's mild, and I didn't even resent having to get my fingerprints taken at immigration, which we navigated without mishap or separation and in relatively good time. Dotours is still here, and hundred yen coins still work, so that's all good. The exchange rate is currently £1 = 150 yen. 

Actually makes me wonder if I could get another English teaching job here, as they've given me a three month tourist visa!

It's been almost exactly six years since we were last here. We moved to Scotland in May 2012, a few months after my father passed away and a year or so after the massive 3/11 earthquake, tsunami and Fukushima meltdown, and just haven't had the funds or the opportunity to return since then.