Yokoso Japan! As some of you might know, before my parents discovered the wonderful world of Koi, they were flight attendants for Philippine Airlines. After I graduated from university, my best friend since I was in third grade went on to be a flight attendant herself and for a brief moment in time I aspired to become the same. It seems like fate had truly meant for a life of travel for me, but not quite in the way that I had ever imagined it would be like. And I have nothing to complain about.
Devin had arranged for me to accompany him on his spring trip to Japan this year and since it is a business trip, we are always looking to get the best price on flight- most of the time at the expense of a comfortable schedule. The most economical flight on Delta (our airline of choice) flew to Japan out of LAX. We booked that ticket in addition to another flight into LAX on the day before we leave for Japan. Since my parents live 45 minutes away from the airport, we decided we could stay the night at their house-but we decided not to let them know of our plans.
We got into LAX at around 9:30 pm and proceeded to pick up our rental car. We drove from the airport to my parents house and at the halfway point, I couldn’t contain my excitement and decided to call my dad.
“Hi Papa! Did you call me?” I said when my dad picked up the phone.
” Yeah , that was yesterday. Are you in Japan already?”
“Not yet. We’re leaving tomorrow. Dev and I are driving home now” I replied with an inner chuckle.
We talked for about 15 minutes before he passed the phone on to my mom, who I spoke with for another 15 minutes or so. As we approached the house, Devin and I looked at each other with a grin on our faces.
“Ma, I think you should open your gate with the clicker.”
“There’s something outside your door. You really should open the gate now”
My mom had a curious yet unsuspicious tone in her voice at this point. Yes! My surprise is working!
” Ok, Papa’s getting the gate.” She said to me. “Mike, Mikki said to open the gate! Something is outside.”
The gate opened, revealing a white camry parked directly in front. The street lights were dim, keeping our faces masked behind darkness. My dad cautiously approached our vehicle.
” Yiiiaa! What’re you doing here!?!?!” exclaimed my dad as my mom immediately rushed to the front door
“‘Oh my gosh, you’re here! What are you doing here?!” she said, incredulosly.
Mission accomplished! I love randomly showing up in California to surprise my parents. Shawn (McHenry) later followed to hang out with us. My parents whipped up an impromptu 4 course feast for us to enjoy over great conversation. Before we knew it, 5 am rolled around and we had to get ready to get back on a plane.
Most passengers on airplanes are content to just recline in their seats, take off their shoes, close their eyes and go to sleep on these long-haul flights. Not me. I have the whole thing down to a science, and I probably look like a crazy person to most people.
Since I was raised by flight attendants who were employed during a time when people would dress to fly, I was taught to always look and dress well especially on these long haul flights. This is something that has become second nature to me and I’ve grown quite accustomed to making the effort to prepare for a flight, but when you’re expecting to be in a constricted space for more than eight hours, I had to find a way to stay comfortable and make the experience much more pleasant.
Depending on the time of the flight and the number of passengers on the plane, I would start my “ritual” either before or after the first meal service. I take off my shoes and pull out my flip-flops from my bag. Armed with a another bag containing my snuggie ( those sleeved blankets that are featured on TV infomercials in the middle of the night), yoga pants and a comfortable shirt, I would comandeer the lavatory for a good 10-15 minutes where I would change from my travelling attire to something waaayyy more comfortable. At this point most of the passengers would be either sleeping or getting ready to sleep, so I figured no one would pay mind to me nearly changing into pajamas anyway!
Upon returning to my seat, the second part of my ritual commences. I pull out my makeup remover and proceed to clean my face of all the gunk girls put on their faces for silliness’ sake. After that, I take out little sample packs of random eye creams, moisturizers and/or zit cream to keep my skin moisturized and healthy during the eight+ hours of extremely dry airplane air. Finally, I take out my snuggie and wrap the top part around my neck, securing it with a safety pin so that it doesn’t move around, I recline my seat and go to sleep.
It sounds crazy doesn’t it? I promise you it isn’t, especially when you have a proclivity to motion sickness and you are sleep-hacking at the same time. You see I get dizzy on long trips quite easily, and while I almost never actually retch as a result of motion sickness, I more often than not experience an irritating light-headed, spinning sensation that leaves me with only the constant, nagging feeling of needing to hurl. As a solution to this problem, I’ve figured out that if I’m at my most comfortable state on the airplane, it doesn’t matter what happens while in the air- I can sleep through it just fine. You see it isn’t the quantity of sleep hours that I get, it’s the quality of sleep that truly matters.
For trips to Japan with Devin, I really need as much battery life as I can get. When we travel around to the different farms in Japan, Devin and I will go not only to Niigata, but also down south to Hiroshima and the surrounding areas as well. Our choice of transportation happens to be the Japan Railway system, which means that every destination that we mean to arrive at has to be achieved by constantly jumping onto and off several different trains with approximately 12 minutes of transfer time in between each leg.
On this trip, our the first few farms that we are slated to visit are mostly down south. Immediately after we arrived at the airport, we went to the JR station office to exchange our rail passes for actual tickets to be used while we were here.
Our plane landed close to five and since it takes about four hours to get to Hiroshima with the last train on our last leg leaving at 8 pm, our schedule was really tight. When we got to the office, though, the line was the longest I had ever seen it and we ended up having to wait in line for nearly an hour. The train schedule we had planned fell through because by the time we were all sorted out with our train passes, there was no way we could make it to our hotel in Hiroshima for then night. We made the last train to Shin-Osaka and decided to try and find a hotel for the night.
There is no shortage of hotels in Japan, especially around train stations, so we figured we wouldn’t have much trouble finding one that had at least one room for the both of us even without having been able to make reservations.
We got to Shin-Osaka at around 11:30 pm and decided to check into the nearest hotel.
“Nope, sorry, fully booked. No rooms available.”
Ok… there’s one across the street! Let’s try that one.
“Sorry, we don’t have any more rooms for the night.”
How about the one one block over?
“No reservation? Sorry, no rooms.”
This happened for a total of five times before we finally found a small hotel with a room for us, and by the time we got to it, we realized we had nearly walked halfway across the city!
And so concludes my first day in Japan: after nearly 48 hours of cars, planes and trains, we find ourselves in an unexpected hotel in Osaka where we get to wait for about six hours before getting on another hour-long train ride to Taniguchi and Omosako Koi Farm. Tomorrow I get to see Koi and I’m so excited about all the new things I get to discover and share with everyone! 🙂 Oyasumi Nasai!
˜ Ja Mata!