Farewell Japan

A few days back I booked an airport transfer from the hotel as I couldn’t be bothered dealing with the trains again and all my bags. With it departing just after 1pm, arriving at the airport around 2:30pm or so, and me having a 7:50 pm flight, I was going to have plenty of time to do some browsing in the duty free shops. This had the afternoon planned, but not the morning. Not wanting to go anywhere else or do anything it was a good excuse to sleep in, have a long breakfast, and then sit in the lounge upstairs until my 12pm checkout time. With another hour waiting in the lobby for the bus I was on my way to the airport. I didn’t think it was really a 1.5 hour trip, but it turned out to be this long given all the stops at the different hotels of which we were the very first. Getting to the airport and walking I immediately found the Qantas counter in front of me which was good luck, but I found a message that check in could not occur until 5pm. I guess when you only have 1 flight a day leaving you don’t employ people to sit there all day. This meant I had bags in tow, and after visiting the first few shops batting the narrow isles and hoardes of people I had enough and would wait until I could get rid of them. Spent the next few hours hiding in the corner of the check in lounge making use of the free wifi. Decided at 4:30pm I should wander back over and check what’s going on, and I am glad I did. The line had already started forming, and after standing in it for just a short time the line was several times bigger than when I started. The staff started arriving and stood behind their counters, and we stood in the in the line, but nothing was moving. It appeared they were waiting until the stated 5pm. Shortly before 5pm though they gathered and had a meeting, then started to process the queue. After only about 5 minutes more waiting I was checked in, and even had my request supposedly granted for an exit row seat. I originally had a window which I prefer in the absence of leg room and in the presence of strangers because the wall gives me something to lean on and I don’t have people climbing over me to get out (once I am in my seat I only move if I really have to, and then I would hold it anyway until an appropriate time). I was changed at my request though to an aisle exit row this way I have leg room, and if people want to get out they still have plenty of space to climb around. Proceeding through all the normal security stuff I was shortly in the terminal and browsing duty free. There were some bargains on offer, but also some that were not bargains at all. With only 1 litre alcohol allowance still remaining having already picked some up in Zao I figured I should buy something different and japanese rather than getting it on the Australian side and it being very generic to us. I am still not sure what I bought, some small gift set with 3 x 300ml bottles, and when I asked if it was sake they said no, but just to drink and not mix. Guess we will find out later if its any good. Still had a while left, so sitting at the gate I looked up the planes seating configuration to see what it had to say about the pros and cons of my seat, only to find out it didn’t recognize it as an exit row. I was just hoping this site was wrong and this particular seating configuration was not shown, but the time eventually came time to board and I found I indeed did NOT have an exit row. It was too late to do anything about this now as the exit rows would be gone, and the first thing I noticed was my new seat was seated right next to the area for babies. Sure enough on came a family, 2 young kids and a little baby. Well it didn’t take long for my suspicions to be correct when the baby started to scream its lungs out. Why didn’t I just stick with my original seat. Luckily after takeoff the baby and the kids went to sleep, and I didn’t hear a peep out of any of them until we were preparing to land. What I did hear a peep out of though were the people around me. The Japanese women in front non stop chatting between themselves and with the flight attendant every time she passed (she seemed reluctant), the Japanese women behind who continually got out of their seats and to balance themselves pulled back on my headrest, and the Japanese couple on the seats beside me to decide it was toilet break time in the few hours we had to sleep. By the time you get in the air and they give you dinner more than 2 hours have passed, breakfast is served 2 hours before landing, so this roughly only leaves 3-4 hours to sleep. Given I don’t really sleep on moving vehicles, when I do get to sleep it is only very lightly and am easily awoken. I guess this is why when I am now sitting here in Sydney waiting for my flight to Canberra in a few hours that I feel like crap. Oh well, will sleep well tonight. Would have liked an earlier Canberra flight, however I purposely increased the gap so I could look at duty free. However given I have no more space left and I have already used my alcohol allowance anyway I walked straight through. Waiting for my bags took forever, after so many bags coming up and not seeing either of mine, they eventually stopped coming but many people still waiting. A technician soon appeared and crawled down the chute where the bags come up and dragged one of mine and someone else’s out. It seems one of them got stuck and blocked everything up as they started to flow again. At least the bags look in good condition seen as though the stitching on my new suitcases zipper is already coming undone, and the other bag being a $10 special I was hoping it would at least make the one trip. They still have to make it to Canberra yet though. I did the right thing and declared I had food, knowing that they wouldn’t care about the chocolate or potato chips but wasn’t sure about my sake with a cherry in it. Having no problems with it upon inspection, and also not being concerned with my timber shot glass or chopsticks after inspection it was an easy process. Oh well, a few hours waiting already done in Sydney and another 2 before we take off, but won’t be long now and I will be home.