Had a goods night sleep woke up with plenty of time to spare, so had an opportunity to catch up with the Japanese soaps on the TV and make a coffee. The taxi was booked for 07:30 we were in reception at 07:20 time to check out, we had not spent a dime at the hotel facilities, at £20 for breakfast who blames us. Helen popped to our favourite convenience store to pick up some bun sticks for breakfast on the train. The taxi was waiting so we left the hotel at 07:25 for the 10 minute journey to the station.
The station was fairly clear, and we were down at platform 4 by 07:40 for the 08:00 train. I had some credit left on my SUICA card so I used one of the vending machines that are everywhere. I chose what appeared to be a black coffee one. It came out hot which was unexpected, so bought another one for Helen one that looked white, however Helen reminded me that no caffeine was allowed before the flight to help the relaxation process. We had plenty of time to spare at the airport in fact the check desks had not opened. After a short wait premium economy were called forward, and we checked in without any hassle.
Helen insisted on going to a smoking room at the entrance to the terminal for what she thought would be her last cigarette in Japan, whilst I busied myself getting more footage for the Japan video. Security and immigration, where they checked that we had left the country, followed they were swift and efficient, Narita does not seem to be a very busy airport but it does have extensive facilities if only Heathrow was so easy to use.
We had and and a half to waste in the terminal building so we wandered around and looked at the relatively few shops compared to other airports I have frequented. Helen found the only bar, which was more of a small food establishment, to have a glass of wine, while I went and had a look at the origami shop, and managed to buy some colourful origami paper the remaining credit on my SUICA and some loose change, the final odd yen went into the UNICEF collection box. Helen was please to find a couple of smoking rooms close to our gate. They are quite strange places, there is a sliding door to get you in which closes to seal the smokers in, then there are two or three columns punctuated with an ashtray the continuation of the column above the ashtray serves as an extractor for the smoke, we wouldn’t want them the breath any in would we.
The flight was called bang on schedule and we settled down with a small glass of champagne, while we waited for us all to get on board and the plane to be loaded, the plane left the gate about 5 minutes early. After a smooth take off, which took longer the the small planes I am used to, we hit some mild turbulence as we rose through the clouds. Once at cruising flight the entertainment system came on but I was disappointed to see that it was not an on demand system like we had on the way here but a scheduled watch with a choice, just like watching tv. Then as I typed away on my iPad I was handed a Samsung galaxy tab to watch movies and stuff on demand, which is better than on the way here as the video quality is better.
Meal one consisted of pasta with a tomato and pepper sauce, with a salad on he side, followed by apple strudel and custard. Helen reckoned that the meal represented more portions of fruit and veg than she had eaten all week in Japan, I went one portion further and ate Helen’s apple strudel, which had two portions, apples and sultanas. I watched a couple of films one called Savages which had John Travolta in and was about a couple of drug deals who get in too deep, it was quite violent. The other film was Lawless which was set in prohibition times and was about bootleggers which I enjoyed. I got three quarters of the at through a documentary about Bob Marley when the battery ran out on the tablet and it refused to charge. A new power supply was supplied and I was able to finish off the documentary which was very interesting, I have always liked his music but I didn’t know much about the man, but I do now.
Some details about the flight. First we headed north up Japan then turned west just south of the Dzhugdzhur mountains over the Aldan plateau, then south of Verkhoykanschiy. Next there was a couple of thousand miles of nothing no towns marked on the map display. We were so far north that we were flying where the sun does not rise. Eventually we hit the very north of Scandinavia and as we turned south the sun appeared again and we were able to see some land. The coast looks very cold, and has very sparse habitation a real wilderness.
What were the highlights of the trip? The thing I will remember the most is the earthquake, and the little noodle bar we were in when it happened, the locals just shrugged it off but for me it was a once in a life time experience. Shrines and lots of them, it was really nice to get out of Tokyo for the day to Kamasuta and see at lead a little bit of the country side. The transport system in my opinion second to none, it just has to be that way how else are they going to transport such a volume of people without it all just grinding to a halt, I am sure there are places where at least 6 systems are layered on top of each other, I saw three layers of trains over a road above a tube station that servers two lines. The cyclists here seem to be a law unto them selves they cycle the right way and the wrong way down 6 lane high streets when they are not cycling on the pavement, all while holding and umbrella, talking on the phone and smoking. The friendliness and politeness of the Japanese themselves always trying to out bow you and never accepting to be the first through a doorway, always smiling. In the country on the little walk we did the all the people we passed said hello. The brown eared bulbuls which were everywhere especially where there were Ginhko trees with their fruits that smelt like dog poo.
The flight continued down the west coast of Scandinavia then across the North Sea then in over Suffolk where a few 360 degree spins were needed to get into the correct landing slot. Then we were back in blighty. Immigration and customs were a doddle after a very short wait for luggage. The taxi was only a few minutes away so I grabbed some bread for breakfast and we headed home.
So that’s it the end of a great weeks holiday, in a far away place.