Saturday, January 29, 2011

Post Two: journey to and arrival in Japan

Konichiwa Japan! What a trip it has been already. It began with some heartfelt hugs and blown kisses to my two wonderful parents and extraordinary sister (with the previous night, a Skype goodbye to Sam who has been at LU for four weeks now…hahaha Sam, I am still on vacation). Then I had to endure a completely uneventful and easy quick pass through security at the Cleveland airport. So far the trip was going better than expected! However, this was not to last. I arrived at my gate early by about an hour, so I people watched and struck up conversation with a lovely Cleveland local who is originally from India and was flying there for her niece’s wedding.  The plane for us to take to Chicago arrived on time; unfortunately this was where the smoothness ended. Apparently someone forgot to plug in the anti-icing device on this plane, hence it was experiencing significant icing…I considered offering to eat this icing as I am a fan of this confection, but I became aware that this was sadly not the kind of icing to which they were referring. Thus we ended up waiting an extra hour and a half whilst they attempted to fix the problem and eventually they just ended up getting us a different plane. During our wait I befriended a United Airlines VIP, a frequent flyer consultant for a pharmaceutical company who did offer to take me under her wing if we missed our respective flights in Chicago (we both were scheduled to depart at 1:00pm). She said she could take me to the private United club and there we would be taken care of well. She also took it upon herself to ensure that I and my Indian friend (who was very worried about not making her flight at 3…) were in good hands, pestering the United employees to give us frequent updates on our situation. Thank you to her wherever she is now.

Once finally boarded to Chicago everything was fine. To reach my flight to Tokyo I powerwalked through the Chicago airport so fast that my mother would be proud, OH! I also found my way to my gate all by myself by following signs! Perhaps this means my navigational skills are improving! Anyway, I made it in the nick of time and was pleasantly surprised to see that not only did I now have a window seat, but I was seated at an emergency exit so there was legroom galore!!!! I said my goodbyes to the U.S., I will not touch American soil for 5 months now.

Last looks at America for 5 months!!!! (Chicago)

The in-flight movies were nothing spectacular. One of them was, in fact, a TV show entitled “how do they do it”…not touching that one…(it ended up being an educational show on how things are manufactured, or how boats are docked in this case…but still…) so I ended up napping for just a wee bit and then entertaining what was quite possibly the cutest baby on board (she was absolutely fascinated by my nose…for what reason only she is aware), before diving into a Jack Reacher novel that I have been dying to read and saving for this very flight.
I did enjoy looking out the window. Practically the entire flight it was perpetually what seemed like sunset. Our plane was chasing the sun ever westward: over Canada, Alaska, and yes, even a teeny bit of Russia…though I was unable to catch a glimpse of both Alaska and Russia at the same time. The scenery consisted of beautiful snowcapped mountains, and miles and miles of what I assume to be tundra with not a city in sight; a heavy contrast to Chicago when there was a long period where nothing could be seen but vast expanse of city. 

Then finally of course, arrival in Tokyo! I feared that my baggage had not made it from my flight to Chicago from Cleveland given the closeness of my arrival and departure, but thankfully my bags were both awaiting me at the baggage claim in Tokyo undamaged. I navigated my way through the airport with little difficulty and only had to show my passport at Customs, no bag search, no pat down, easy as cake. Once through customs I met my lovely Masa and after giving and receiving the biggest hug ever we headed back to his house, about a two hour drive. Throughout I managed to stay awake! I was greeted by Masa’s parents and we ate a scrumptious curry with soup and salad and tea and fresh fresh strawberries for dessert. After a quick tour of the house I could hold out no longer and I collapsed into an easy sleep after having been awake for over 26 hours!

First view of Japan

Friday, January 28, 2011

First post

We’re off!!! I leave today at 10:44am from the Cleveland airport. My plane will make a quick stop in Chicago where I will change flights and then board the giant aluminum vessel that will take me across the Pacific Ocean to Japan. Au revoir U.S.A.! No more shall I see you again until my return July 2nd. I will miss everyone greatly, but I hope to have an experience worth going for; both in Japan and then in Australia. Wish me luck!