We have arrived in Tokyo. This is generally a good thing, but getting here was an adventure, so if you like harrowing stories of delayed flights (and who doesn’t?), buckle in!
It was hard to believe we were finally setting off for Japan after months of planning, of packing, of goodbyes. Here we are at the airport. Oh, Caryn and Dan of a week ago. You look so energized and optimistic.
Our flight started off auspiciously enough, as we were for some reason randomly selected to have our laptops scanned and skip to the fast lane in security. Yay! However, after three days of arguing with airlines, travel agents, and other airlines and eventually paying to move to an earlier flight because they said we would have to collect our bags in Vancouver, it turned out that… we didn’t have to collect our bags in Vancouver. Still, I’m not going to complain too much because the last thing I wanted to do was, well, collect our bags in Vancouver.
After that it was just standard airport stuff, waiting around until we could board our Air Canada flight to Vancouver. The flight was Air Canada, so the less said about that, the better. I got some great shots of the rocky mountains though!
From there we flew with Air China to Beijing. You guys, Air China is awesome. Even the food was decent, and that’s saying something. It was a ten hour flight, but it passed pretty quickly.
Then things got interesting.
We landed in The People’s Republic of China to find that our flight into Tokyo had been cancelled because of a typhoon. Now, to be clear, I have no desire to land in a category one hurricane, so cool. But oh my God, the exhaustion that would follow.
First, the airport did not seem to be air conditioned, and we were each lugging around a laptop computer and a carry-on bag stuffed to the max (which, thank goodness, because we did not pick up our luggage in Beijing). We had to get a temporary visa that allowed us to spend twenty four hours in China, then pass through customs. That customs line took over an hour. We had to be fingerprinted and there was a brief kerfuffle when we couldn’t find our boarding passes from Vancouver, but they did let us in.
We then found an area where they told us to wait for a shuttle bus. A woman in a pink shirt who had WAY more idea what was going on than me eventually told me that the hotel was over an hour away and we had just missed the first shuttle, so we had to stand there for two hours waiting for it to return. Once it did, we chased the fastest, angriest man I’ve ever seen to the bus.
Dan: “Where are we going?”
Me: “I don’t know. Just follow the pink shirt lady. She seems to know what’s going on.”
The bus reeked of cigarette smoke but took us to a hotel about an hour away, where we stood in ANOTHER line for over an hour to check in. Our flight had been rescheduled for 8:30 am, so we would have to catch the shuttle at 5. We stumbled around the the hotel in search of food. Eventually we found this random banquet hall.
Dan: “Let’s crash the banquet.”
Me: “Why not?” (*Pulls out phone and types into Google Translate, CAN WE EAT HERE?)
Attendant: Air China? Yes, you can.
Free food! I have no idea what kind of meat we were eating. It was actually pretty good so I’m going to go with beef.
We returned to our room, narrowly avoiding a whole class of screaming children who I think were part of a math team, to find an advertisement for scantily clad girls slipped under our door. Exhausted, we crashed on the bed.
We woke at 5 am and checked out, then tried to find the buses. “Where’s pink shirt lady?” I demanded. “That’s how I know we’re going the right way.”
Dan: “I’m sure she’s changed her shirt.”
Me: “Not necessarily. No one has luggage. Look, there she is!”
And still wearing a pink shirt, for the record.
We hopped onto the bus and started the journey back to Tokyo. That’s when something bit my leg. I’m assuming it was a mosquito but oh my God. Three days later, it’s still an agony of fire and pain.
This is it today. The swelling has gone down substantially.
We reached the airport to find that our flight had been delayed until 10:15. I think this is because over a hundred flights were cancelled into Tokyo the day before, so they were having trouble rescheduling them all, but I was still annoyed to have gotten up at 4:15 am, and also my brain thought it was supper time, so I was confused. I found the pink shirt lady in a check in line so I knew we were in the right place, and she said good morning to us. We stood in a bunch more lines, went through security, and were thoroughly searched. Then we had something to eat and then made our way to the gate where we found our gate had changed, and we had to head downstairs.
You guys. I didn’t take pictures, but let me try to describe this.
Upstairs Beijing airport: bright and airy. Soft Chinese music playing. There’s a section with an actual water feature for “relaxation” and a hotel where you can shower and restaurants and actual birds flying around and a playground.
Downstairs Beijing airport: Resembles a 1980s New York bus station. Dark. Dreary. No music. No food. Also, buses. You have to bus to your airplane from there.
Oh, and our flight was delayed again, this time until 11:30. I spent the next three hours staring at the screen waiting for it to delay again, but fortunately, this time we actually got on the plane. So did pink shirt lady, which was a relief. I was starting to worry.
From there everything was good. I chatted with pink shirt lady in Tokyo (Dan was angry I didn’t ask her name, but I like to preserve the mystique), we collected our luggage, we reached our hotel, and I found this:
Yes, that is Attack on Titan leg wax. Or Attack on Daitsumo. Better yet: there’s an advertisement you can watch.
So that’s been our first few days in Japan. More adventures soon to come. Also, I miss my dogs.
My book Sanctuary is now available wherever books are sold!