A Travellerspoint blog

September 2019

From Nice to Narita - Part 2

The most stressful trip so far this year

overcast 22 °C

(This will be slightly longer than last time, you have been warned)
Continuing from where I left off in my last entry, after all we went through with airport and flight hold ups including almost missing a flight, we were finally on the plane to Narita. Well almost, we still had a stop in Abu Dhabi to transfer flights. On the first flight, which was 7 hours and 20 minutes long, I decided to play minigames which were available on the entertainment system onboard. This included classics such as bejeweled, luxor and others, whiles Antonia was going through an array of films.

The flights themselves were fine, we got to flight over the desert which was cool and we had plenty to do. The only thing which slightly ruined our enjoyment was the food. Unfortunately this was my mistake, as I was booking the flights, I saw an option to choose meals, which I assumed everyone had to do as this would reduce waste, when actually it was just an option. I proceeded to select the Hindu meal as this one included meat and looked fairly normal in the description. When the first meal arrived, we received our food before everyone else on the plane as we chose "special meals", this might seem as an advantage, but instead it was quite embarrassing especially as we weren't Hindu. Also, the meals did not look as nice as the normal meals and were quite spicy which we weren't a fan of. This proved to be a huge error on my part, which hopefully I won't be making in the future.

We got to Abu Dhabi airport to transfer flights, everything went fine, no problems there. Got on the next flight which took 10 hours to arrive at Narita for 13:00 in UTC +9 (Japan time), I attempted to sleep on the plane, but only managed 1 or 2 hours of sleep. Antonia also tried to sleep, but kept on getting woken up either by food being served, people giving out landing cards or announcements. Therefore in 3 days I had a total of 10 to 11 hours of sleep.

When we finally arrived in Narita, we had a maximum of 5 hours to get to the student dorm, before the check-in time closed, which was located 2 hours away from the airport via public transport. So in theory, this sounds doable. In practice, we discovered a completely different outcome. First of all, the queue for foreigners to enter Japan was huge, as all the exchange students were arriving on the same day. Once we got to the end of this queue, we were informed that we were in the wrong queue and had to wait in another queue from the start, again. Afterwards we finally got to the check point where passport control would look at our visas and let us though. Well one of us at least, I was help up because I didn't have a certain piece of paper which was in my luggage on the plane and not in my hand luggage because of a certain event which I explained in my first entry. The passport control team tried to describe my situation in Japanese, which I didn't understand a word of. Instead I waited 30 minutes to be told to send my Certificate of Eligibility by post to a Japanese address, and gave me my residence card. This whole process took 2 hours and 30 minutes.

Then, we got tickets for the train, but we had to wait 30 minutes for the train to arrive. The train journey took 1 hour and 30 minutes to arrive in Musashi-Kosugi station, the time was 17:30, we had half an hour to arrive at the dorm, which takes 20 minutes from this station by taking another train and walking. We didn't make it, mainly because we had no idea how to buy a train ticket in the center of Tokyo. I called my mum, whiles Antonia looked for a hotel to stay the night in. We were completely exhausted. All we wanted to do was eat and sleep. We found a cheap room in Kamata, at a hotel called Red Rooftop Inn, took a train to get there and it starts raining. The storms in Tokyo are quite impressive, massive clouds envelope the city and you can see them light up every time there's a lightning strike. Once we got to our room, we collapsed, rested for a few minutes and then went out to get bento from a convenience store (conbini).

The next day we got up early to arrive at our dorm. Finally! What a massive relief. We got here safe and sound with quite a few bumps in the road, but we got there. Everything from here on out couldn't be as bad as what we experienced. At Okurayama Dormitory, around 70 people were staying here all from different backgrounds to study at Keio University and of course one of the first things we did that night was play drinking games, go out for dinner and get to know each other.

From now on, each entry will have different themes on Japanese culture, lifestyles and quirks. Thank you for reading, and here are a few photos from our trip:
Abu Dhabi airport:
On the plane:
Waiting for the train:
The hotel:
The dorm:

Posted by Louise - ルイーズ 14:56 Archived in Japan Tagged planes trains Comments (0)

From Nice to Narita - Part 1

The most stressful trip so far this year

overcast 26 °C

I've traveled to several different places since I was born with family, friends and on my own. Therefore, I managed to acquire essential travel information, guidance and precautions to take whiles flighting. This is especially true for long distance flights.

The worst experience I had with traveling, before going to Tokyo, was when I accidently missed my flight going to Nice from Hong Kong whiles visiting family. As I was having such a good time in Hong Kong, I only briefly checked my departure time, which happened to be my arrival time, therefore I was off by one day. I received a text message from my mum wishing me good luck on my flight back, to which I replied "thanks, but it's not until tomorrow", to which she said "no, your flight was two hours ago", or something similar. After realising my mistake, I felt worried, embarrassed and sad, but the next day relieved to find out I'll be staying a few more days in Hong Kong and that my parents had arranged a new flight (I was 16 at the time).

Usually everything turns out fine, and that was the worst episode I had with flights and traveling, before I ventured to Tokyo. The initial plan was to take a flight from Nice to Manchester, which would land at 12:10 UK time, then travel to Narita the next day. On the 1st of September I arrived in Nice at 8:30, checked-in my luggage, where the lady at the counter informed us that my flight was delayed by 1 hour and 30 minutes due to problems with the air traffic control system. In the end I had to wait 6 hours at the airport with no lunch, boarded at 15:00, landed in Manchester at 16:16 UK time. I met Antonia's family who kindly let me stay in their wonderful cottage like house, eat plenty of Chinese food and set off to Manchester airport the next day at around 7:00. Antonia and I are from the same university and we both chose to do a year abroad in Tokyo, so we decided to travel together.
The next hurdle we encountered was with luggage allowance. Upon arriving at Manchester airport, before even entering the queue to go to check-in, a person who works for Etihad took our hand luggage to check the size. They inserted my small suitcase into an ever so slightly smaller measuring compartment, and announced it was too big to take as hand luggage, even though I had no problems with British Airways. If I was to check it in as baggage, I would have to pay £300 extra, which was out of the question. In the end, we waisted 20 minutes fiddling around with our luggage trying to match the correct weightage. Luckily, Antonia's dad took 20kg of our stuff and promised to return it to us as he was coming to visit Tokyo in a few weeks.
After that, we had an hour before the plane was to depart. Security took a very long time and the queues were endless. Of course, my blue rucksack had to be checked as I forgot to put my lip balm in a plastic bag and I forgot to take out my empty water bottle (which I never had to do before). After waiting and getting increasingly anxious by the minute, we had only 20 minutes to get to our gate number. We ran, it had probably been 3 months since I had done any running, but this was the time to do it. It took around 5 to 10 minutes to get past all of the unnecessary and strong smelling duty free items, which I had come to detest during this ordeal. Of course, our gate number had to be at one of the extremities of the airport and with 5 or so minutes to spare, we finally made it on the plane.
This was not the end of our worries, and the rest will be explained later.

Meanwhile, here are some pictures:

Nice Airport
Antonia and I finally on the plane
Antonia's house 1
Antonia's house 2
Antonia's house 3
Up early in the morning
Plane view from Nice

Posted by Louise - ルイーズ 14:59 Archived in Japan Comments (0)

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