Rob went to Japan for work on November 12th and will be there through the middle of April. I couldn’t go for the full length of this trip but have some short trips to be excited about. Being without him really just isn’t for me! I miss him all the time and I think Emilia is wondering where he is. I think it may have even caused her a little bit of separation anxiety at first. Anyway, Rob & I spent the next three weeks Skypeing on the weekends, texting as much as we had time for, and he would call me every night after work. For him, that would be around 3:00 pm, Japan time, while for me, it would be around 11:00 pm, the date before. Japan is 16 or 17 hours ahead of us, depending on the time of year. Sometimes he would call me from th future! We would usually only talk on the phone for about haf an hour because I had to go bed, and we would send occasional pictures to one another.
December 5th came around and it was finally time for me to go! I left American soil in the morning and by the time I arrived, it was still the evening of the 5th Pacific time, but in Japan time, it’s already the 6th. It’s like I lose a day.
Don was nice enough to drive me to the airport… again. Traffic wasn’t too bad and I made it the airport by around 9:30 for my 12:30 flight. I was starving and grabbed a quick early lunch of rock fish taco’s at Dungeoness Bay. This place was nice enough, the fish was pretty good but they were a little stingy with the crema sauce and salsa. Plus, I paid almost $17 for street tacos which is kind of a steep price but it’s fine.
I booked an American Airlines flight which turned out to be operated by Japan Airlines, so essentially, I flew on Japan Airlines. I was curious about this because I’d never flown using this airline before but my friend, Ana, told me she’d had her best flying experiences with them.
Each row of seats has one seat fewer than that of other planes, giving each passenger a few more inches of space. This tiny little bit of space was a surprising difference maker! All of the staff was friendly. I was in the middle section of the plane, with an aisle seat, which is perfect for me! I don’t care about window seats at all because I find them uncomfortable and claustrophobic, and I love the aisle seat because I don’t like having to climb over people when I get up. This seat was ideal! I had Irish beef stew and was surprised that I enjoyed it! The potatoes were good but the vegetables were… meh. They offer you so much food in a single sitting… way more than anyone probably needs! It didn’t seem like they came around with the drink cart as often as other airlines, and the entertainment selection wasn’t as impressive. I planned to power through with no sleep, wanted to read on the plane but then I kept getting tired. I ended up watching three movies! Riding on a plane is the only time in my life I can fathom sitting through three movies. I watched The Mule, with Clint Eastwood, which was pretty good. I usually like his movies so I’d wanted to watch this for a while. The movie selection was so poor that I ended up watching Hustlers, with Jennifer Lopez. I’m not a big J. Lo follower and to be honest, I thought the movie looked terrible but went with it for a lack of other options, and I was pleasantly surprised. It based a real article printed in The New York Times about some women doing some illegal things to get ahead and I was totally entertained. The third movie I watched was a horror flick called Ready Or Not, about a crazy family who tries to kill their son’s new bride during a game of Hide & Seek. It’s a cheesy story line but I was gripped!
I like checking those little flight monitors… the ones that will tell you where you’re at on your flight. This time, I found it a little odd that it got dark so quickly outside the plane and then I realized something… I was flying just south of Alaska and Alaska is currently in their stretch of winter where it stays dark 24 hours a day for like two months of the year. I don’t know why but I thought this was really cool to fly through this.
The entire travel experience was smooth but once I arrived at Tokyo Narita, things became a little frustrating for me. Going through customs was a piece of cake but getting out of the baggage claim area and into the lobby proved to be annoying, mostly because when I was trying to get through, the person helping me didn’t speak any English, seemed confused about what I was doing and sent me a different direction. This baffled me because I could see signs behind him that said, “Arrival Lobby.” I have just arrived and the lobby seems like the logical place for me to go! The process was a little bit different for me this time because I wasn’t with Rob, being greeted by government workers who would lead us to where we need to be and transport us to our hotel. I ended up just going to another person’s line and getting through that way to get to the airport lobby. I understand that I was in an international airport in a city like Tokyo, so a crowd should be expected… but it doesn’t make it any less annoying for me after a 10.5 hour flight. All I wanted to do was get to Yokosuka to see Rob but I still had a two hour train ride ahead of me. I was looking for Pasemo kiosks, the kind of transportation passes I’m most familiar with. I know they have them at the airport but I couldn’t find one so I finally just went to the ticket office, found out the next train was leaving in just a few minutes but rather than the normal, overcrowded trains I usually take, this one was reserved seating and more than double the cost. My other option was to wait an hour, take the cheaper but far more crowded train and not be guaranteed, forcing me to have to stand. It was totally worth it to me to pay the $45 and have a peaceful ride with a comfortable seat than to pay $17 or so and ride the other train that wouldn’t even arrive for another hour. Money was no object here! This was by far the most pleasant train riding experience I’ve ever had in Japan and will be doing this same thing when I return to the airport, and will remember this for all other trips to and from the airport.
Normally, the trains just have benches along the sides for people to sit on, and handles for the people standing to hold on to. This train car, however, has nice, comfortable seats. Usually, you’re lucky to get a seat at all because there are so many people on the train and you’re expected to give up your seats for the elderly, the disabled, pregnant women, women with children, etc. None of that here! I had my own seat that no one could take away from me! I think because of the price difference, this train car wasn’t all that full. It was the Tokyo Narita Express… so worth it!
This part of my journey was about an hour and a half, until I reached Yokohama Station, where I had to transfer to one of the regular, overcrowded trains, and yes, I had to stand from Yokohama to Yokosuka. At least I found a pasemo kiosk though!
Next stop: Yokosuka! I was hoping to arrive there between 6 – 7pm, but ended up arriving around 7:45. My plane had actually taken off about 35 minutes late so this pushed all my other travel plans back a little but I made it. When I arrived at Yokosuka-Chuo station, Rob was there to meet me and we were so happy to see each other. While I was on the trains, I was so tired and annoyed that I was having a hard time being excited but when Rob & I met up, none of the rest of it mattered! I wasn’t in a bad mood or frustrated… I was so thrilled to just be able to kiss him hello and hold his hand and have him carry my bag, that my mood completely turned around.
Welcome back to Yokosuka, Kanagawa, Japan!