The day has finally arrived we are off to Tokyo for a week. Didn’t have the best night sleep in anticipation of the exciting week to come. Got up at about 06:30 and spend a leisurely time having breakfast and finishing off the packing. We are allowed two 23kg bags in Premium Economy we both managed one bag each both less than 14Kg’s. Butlers taxi was five minutes early and we were soon on our way, strangely we stopped for diesel at Watford on the way. The weather was foggy but Heathrow was bathed in sunshine. While Helen was having her last fag before Japan I busied myself taking videos of my self. The plan is to create a video montage of very short (most less than a second) clips of video of our trip. The results should be really good I got the idea from another video on YouTube where a guy had done a tour of Europe, most of the frames consist of the person centre picture but the wide angle lens of the GoPro takes in a large area of background and the surrounding view.
Checking in was a breeze there were no queues at the bag drop, security took some time but the queues kept moving, there is not priority boarding like there is at London Luton. One through security you enter a shopper paradise with many ways found to part you from your money. Looking in Dixons it was a crying shame that white canon lens worth over a thousand pounds were there to be picked up and fondled, no lens cap on either end, there was smudges all over the lens! Note to self I wonder what happens to the lens when the shops close etc is it possible to pick up a bargain?
Helen grabbed a glass of wine to calm her already calm nerves, whilst I purchased a pillow for the flight. I found a memory foam one for £14 we’ll see how well it works. Our flight was soon called at gate 20 so we wandered on down. There were no queues at the gate and we were soon sat down in the lounge waiting for boarding. Complimentary magazines and newspapers were supplied. We were only sat for about 5 minutes when we were called to board.
The seats in premium are very spacious with plenty of leg room even when the person in front has their seat reclined. We got ourselves comfortable whilst the ground crew delayed our departure shift cargo around in the hold. We had the pleasure of the preflight drink, followed by the safety briefing. Soon we were taxiing out to the runway and taking off, heading out over Clacton in Essex, then across south Scandinavia, then a long stretch over Russia, before reaching the Pacific and then Japan.
We had a choice of dozens of choices of films, TV program’s and music to chose from the in flight entertainment system all provided on demand. I fancied Dark Knight Rising which we missed when it was on at the cinema, but first it was time for pre-dinner drinks then a veggie Thai curry. Suitably refreshed and after turning down a night cap and coffee we tried to get some sleep. Not before going to he loo. On her return Helen managed to catch her head phones plug as she sat down and snapped it clean off in the socket, luckily she was able to extract the end of the plug otherwise it would have been silent movies only for the rest of the flight.
I felt surprising tired at 00:00 Tokyo time, perhaps my body clock had shifted in anticipation. I suspect not you will have to watch the blog for and update. As it happens we have been preparing for the flight by getting up at 05:00 and going to bet at 07:30 for the past week. My theory is that idle can shift our sleep even a few hours then the 9 hours time difference will be just a little bit easier to adjust to. If it does it’ll let you know, and the. Right a best selling self help book on the subject. As after all I will be an expert after one flight!
I take my hat off to anyone who can sleep on and aeroplane even the people in Upper Class who get a bed. You can recline and shut your eyes but sleep is something that just escapes me. Having said that I did spend a lot of time relaxing with my eyes closed. Does that count as sleep? Some time in the middle of the night we were handed a hot pastry with mature cheddar in it but it tasted of nothing to me, I had read somewhere that you lose your sense of taste on a long flight, I had! An hour or so later a jug of water and glasses was bought into the cabin. At around 07:00 Tokyo time the sun started to rise and a fantastic landscape could be seen below.
We were in a very cold part of the world, the land scape was plains, pine covered mountains, with the odd frozen lake and rivers. We were over a place in Russia just over a corner of China. The city was called Khabarovsk, it must be cold it is north of Vladivostok. Every so often we would pass over signs of human habitation, fields covered in snow, roads, pipelines, I think I even saw a skiing resort with one oft and three runs down. The sky had that classic white land, rising to the blue sky through yellow and pink.
At about 07:30 someone wandered through the cabin in a dressing gown, with his tooth brush! He was a row in front of us and a few seats over he must have got changed into his lounge wear sometime in the night, I would guess he is a seasoned traveller. Soon it was time breakfast was to be served, I could smell the frying of bacon and eggs. Not really I believe they just microwave or bake to get the prepare pared breakfasts hot. We were in for a treat some sort of scrambled egg mushrooms and tomato dish for us.
Breakfast was cleared and the staff encouraged us to get ready for landing. Helen and I had managed to trash completely the floor area around our two seats. Once off the plane immigration, luggage collection and customs was a breeze. The airport seemed deserted and there was hardly a queue at immigration, where we had our passports checked and scanned and it photo and finger prints taken. We arrived at the luggage carousel and our bags were more or less waiting. Then we were waved through customs. We sought out a place to buy a Narita Express ticket into Tokyo Station. A kind man pointed out to us that our best bet was to buy a combined return ticket which included a preloaded money card for the metro. It was to be the first test of using a credit card and it was a breeze, we had to sign rather than use a pin. It cost 11,000 yen for the whole lot that’s less than £100 so £25 each way each and we had two cards with 2,000 yen of metro credit on each.
The train left at 10:15 and took about one hour to get to Tokyo station. It was really great to be in a different landscape which we had a good view of from the large train window. At the station I made my first cash purchase, a lighter for Helen, the we found the exit and the very well organised taxi rank. We had prepared a google translation of “please take us to Hotel Niwa” and it worked a treat he driver instantly figured where wanted to go. The ride cos us £10 a bargain.
We were too early to check in so we left our bags and went for a walk towards Chiyoda park where the imperial palace is. It is a lovely park and we both agreed we should return for second look. The sun was shining and there was a bit of a chill in the air. We got back to the Hotel at 14:30 our room was not ready but they put us in one that was not, Helen promptly fell a sleep while I typed up this blog entry.