Friday, February 11, 2011

Into the wild blue yonder

I left Richmond on Wednesday. I said goodbye to my family at the airport, took a deep breath, and off I went. (Actually, that’s a slight exaggeration. Richmond’s really upped the ante on their security. I’m thinking about showing up for my next flight in a bathrobe and just getting dressed after I go through security.) The flight to DC was a breeze, but I ended up literally SPRINTING to catch my flight to Tokyo. Arriving at the gate flushed, panting, and cursing my choice of footwear wasn’t exactly how I planned on leaving the country, but whatever. I made the flight.
   The flight to Tokyo was completely miserable. I won’t sugar coat it. It’s a grueling 14 hour ride. You’re restless and lose feeling in your butt about an hour into it. I did read two novels, though. Safe Harbor by Nicholas Sparks (No need to review it. It’s Nicholas Sparks through and through.) and The Castaways by Elin Hilderbrand. (An excellent book. I love her stuff.) I also managed to take about a 30 minute nap.
  If I were to be brutally honest, I would say that I was awake through the majority of the flight because of the man sitting next to me. Although extremely polite, he was very sick and used THE SAME TISSUE the whole flight. The germophobe in me was absolutely SCREAMING. I’m sure he was wondering why I was using hand sanitizer every 15 minutes or so, but I did not want to get sick! Also, it’s to be noted that there’s something about having a middle seat on a long flight that makes you need to go to the bathroom about every hour.  I did catch the end of Cars about three times and watch an episode of Mad Men. The in-flight meals were alright and I had my very first experience with Ramen – something I avoided like the plague in college.
  Finally, I landed in Tokyo. Douglas said it’d be easy to navigate and…he’s obviously not as inept as I am. I couldn’t read much of anything and was feeling sort of stressed with an hour to go through customs, immigration, pick up my luggage, check my luggage with ANA, get my ticket to Okinawa, and catch my flight. Luckily, I met some other military people and we sort of all stuck together. Everything thing was going smoothly until I found out my flight to Okinawa had been cancelled.
   To be fair, I had a feeling that might happen. The weather in Okinawa was not looking so hot when I left. There was a typhoon and there’s not much you can do when that happens except wait it out. I was more than happy to sleep at the airport, but Narita closes at night. So, that wasn’t an option. The people at ANA were very helpful and apologetic. They offered a list of hotels to stay at and free bus transportation there. I could catch a flight out tomorrow from another airport in Tokyo. I’d have to return to the airport in the morning to check in then catch a bus to the actual airport our new flight would be leaving from.
   At this point, I was extremely glad to not have to worry about Tiger. The girl in front of me in line had three dogs whose medicine had clearly worn off. The airport was not going to keep them overnight and they were howling and miserable. I didn’t get to hear what she ended up doing with them, but I was not envious of her situation. I can’t imagine how miserable Tiger would’ve been. Not only is he an expert howler, but I’m pretty sure there’s no hotel that allows cats. I wasn’t sure how to say “Where are your litter boxes?” in Japanese, anyway.
    So, I ended up catching a shuttle to a little hotel in Tokyo. I wish I remembered the name, but honestly…I was so dead tired. It was about 6am EST and the 30 minute nap on the plane just wasn’t cutting it. The hotel was nice and clean, but a lot simpler than any American hotel I’ve been in. It served primarily as a hotel for Japanese businessmen.  I enjoyed checking out the Japanese tv shows and marveled at the hotel room’s amenities. (Slippers? A robe? All these yummy smelling shampoos and soaps? Don’t mind if I do!)
    We were up and on the bus the next morning by seven. I ended up waking up around 5am. I just couldn’t sleep anymore. Thankfully, Mama Nunn sent me off with chex mix and I woofed some of that down with some water. I was STARVING, but there wasn’t much time to grab any yen. On a side note, I wouldn’t recommend using Japanese shampoo. At least not the brand I had. I’m sure it’s good for your hair and very moisturizing and all, but basically my hair ended up being greasy about two hours after using it. (Perfect for greeting the husband after all that time apart, right?)
    The shuttle took us back to Narita. I checked in, then hopped on a bus to Haneda. At Haneda, there were lots of military families headed to Okinawa so I got to meet a few people. But, I save the best for last…as our plane taxied into the airport it made me actually laugh out loud. I was flying to Okinawa on a huge bright yellow POKEMON plane. Every inch of that plane was covered in Pokemon. It had Pokemon curtains inside and Pokemon headrests. Classic.
   It was about a two hour flight to Okinawa. It felt good to know that this was the last leg of a very long trip and I was finally going to be “home”.  The flight went pretty quick. I napped and chatted with some of the other Americans on the flight.  The airport was a lot smaller and a lot less intimidating which was a relief. I gathered my luggage and found Douglas in the lobby area waiting for me. Finally seeing my sweet husband at the airport? Worth. Every. Minute. Of. The. Whole. Trip. :)

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