“To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.”-Freya Stark


The Trip Over:

The plane ride to Japan can be summed up with these words: Tiresome, Cramped, Stuffy, Irritable, Vexing, Perturbed. And so exciting! I flew from Pittsburgh to Chicago with no problems, but the flight from Chicago to Tokyo was much more vexing. As soon as everyone had boarded the plane they delayed us for 15 minutes, then 20, then an hour, then 2 hours, then 3 hours! All because the baggage conveyors broke and they actually had to go under the plane to ensure that all of the luggage onboard was indeed headed for Japan. However, there was no way of checking all of the luggage that had not made it onto the plane. I should have taken that as my first omen.

When we finally took off there was little hope that I was going to be able to catch my connecting flight from Tokyo to Fukuoka, not to mention how long it would take getting through customs once we touched down. What made me the most irritated was sitting on the plane the 3 hours before take off. I was fidgeting and uncomfortable but I did get to see both the Avengers and Mirror Mirror. I slept off and on but I was just too excited to arrive in Japan that it was always for short periods of time.

Finally we arrived at Narita. I hobbled off the plane since my whole right side had fallen asleep and got into the line for customs. That took awhile. The best part of the journey was getting my first stamp in my passport! I have been waiting for almost 6 years for that. I didn’t know exactly which country would be first, since I pulled into all of the countries I have been to on a ship, so Japan was my first stamp! I then headed down to retrieve my luggage since I had indeed missed my connecting flight. Do you remember that luggage situation they had before we even left? Turns out that my uniform bag had never even left Chicago. Huge bummer…

I had to submit a lost baggage claims and once I got through that I asked about my missed flight. The man told me with little to no English and a lot of hand motions that I had been rebooked on a flight for tomorrow’s early afternoon. I was certainly confused because I had nowhere to go and was thinking about having to sit in the airport all night and how horrible that would be. Then that man got another woman who spoke better English and she told me that I could not stay at this airport because my flight was leaving from another airport in Tokyo.

They told me to catch a bus to a hotel they had booked for me, and then stay overnight and catch another bus in the morning to the other airport (Hadena Airport). Even though I was in a very bad mood, the woman was extremely helpful and friendly and she instantly made me feel better about my situation. I went and used a voucher they had given me to get a bus ticket and then I went outside to look for the bus station. In that moment, just after I had walked out of the airport into the hustle and bustle of the intimidating city, I knew I had come somewhere big. There were Japanese people everywhere and I had no idea what I was doing. This quote explains that instance perfectly: “There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign.” – Robert Louis Stevenson. Another older man took pity on me and asked for my ticket and pointed me in the direction I needed to go.

When I got on the bus I thought it would be a few minutes but no, that trip was 2 hours long and finally I got to the hotel and practically collapsed on the tiny tiny hard bed with a “rice” pillow in exhaustion. The next morning I woke up and caught the next bus to the airport and 3 hours later I finally got onto my new flight to Fukuoka. All in all it took me 3 days to travel here with the time difference. Because I didn’t have my uniforms until this afternoon I haven’t done a whole lot since I can’t really walk around without them. I did enjoy my first sushi experience and went with a guy from my ship to Sushi on the Hill which is one of those places where everything goes around and around on a big circuit and you just pick the plates of sushi you want to eat. They had everything there! All kinds of things I’ve never seen and every bite was magnificent. I picked 5 different plates of different fish and was stuffed. Plus it only cost 525 yen which is like 5 dollars!

The Japanese people are extremely helpful and happy and calm and they are great to be around. Almost none of them in this little rural town speak English and I just walk around saying “Hi” “Hi” which means yes and domo which means thank-you. That’s all I know to say. haha. Its taking a few days to adjust to this new ship but I’ll have more stories about that later.

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