September 18th, 2007

Kevin and Lisa

End of Track

I've posted a back-dated entry about our trip to Chiba to ride the monorail there today and about wringing as much value out of the Japan Rail Pass as we possibly could. It's just gone Midnight here, so our three weeks of train travel are now officially over. Of course, originally we would have been part-way across the Pacific by now, but instead we're laid up in the hotel here taking it easy before going to bed. And we do have to be up early enough in the morning to get cleaned up and take advantage of the included breakfast before being out of here for the 11:30 shuttle back to Narita Airport.

All in all, I'm amused that Northwest ended up putting us on the flight we wanted to take in the first place but which they wouldn't give us due to their policy on frequent-flyer mileage use.
Kevin Talking

Nice Night

Originally our plans called for us to fly NRT-HNL-SEA-PDX starting last night, arriving just before midnight after a marathon series of flights and spending the night at the PDX Sheraton. Now we'll be flying directly and arriving 0805 -- about eight hours after we were originally scheduled to arrive. I've canceled the hotel reservation (thank goodness for the internet!), and we'll just collect my van from my co-worker in Vancouver and drive back to Mehama. And this room at the Radisson Narita was indeed very nice. The bed was probably the most comfortable of the entire stay, and I felt better when I got up than I think I have the whole trip.

All in all, this bonus 21st night in Japan was a real winner. Now to get dressed and go take advantage of the free breakfast before taking the 11:30 shuttle over to Narita and check in for our direct flight to Portland.

I'm trying to avoid feeling smug, lest Murphy strike me down for my presumption. Possibly we've made so many sacrifices to him that he smiled upon us and sent some good luck. And it makes me smile to think of the people who had a coach reservation on the Northwest flight last night but no seat assignment who, when they turned up at Narita, were told, "We've upgraded you to World Business Class; enjoy your flight to Hawaii."
Conrunner Kevin

Moving Out

We've had way too much to eat at the breakfast buffet, so we're finishing packing and will go for a walk for half an hour or so before checking out and taking our mountain of luggage with us down to the shuttle bus for the airport. We should be at the airport about three hours early, so it's likely I'll get one more chance to check in from the WorldClub before our flight.
Manga Kevin

Pleasant Way to Leave the Country

As requested, we got over to the airport more than three hours early. Flying World Business Class means we get the priority check-in area, and only the minimum necessary wait time. Here at Narita, there are procedures that I'd never encountered before. To enter the airport complex, you must show your passport, whether coming by road (like in a shuttle bus) or by train. Good thing I realized that before storing my luggage containing my passport; I made sure to take it with me on our day trip to Chiba yesterday. At check-in, they do an initial x-ray screening of luggage before the check-in desk, as well as an additional one later.

After the usual formalities at check-in -- minor confusion due to the odd-looking list of flights on this reservation number that includes the three legs from which we were bumped and the new flight today -- we went to secondary screening. Being so early and coming at a time when there were no banks of flights immediately due, we had no big rush or pressure, which I appreciate greatly. Then it was downstairs to immigration, where Lisa turned in the slip for the one item of duty-free electronics we purchased. (Pity that Kato doesn't do duty-free sales; it would have saved a fair bit of yen.) Then Immigration processed our departure cards and we could put away our passports until Portland.

We briefly looked at the duty free shops full of stuff we would never want to buy, like liquor, cigarettes, and perfume. And for that matter, why are there luggage stores post-check-in, where they will do you no good at all? Instead, we fell victim to a gewgaw shop, where I bought yet more souvenirs, with the hope that I can get something for everyone, even if it's relatively minor. I bought a nice sake serving set for my VP in appreciation for him letting me take so much time off at once.

Then it was into the NWA WorldClub. As advertised, this is a pretty nice club, with lots of food -- and not just crackers and pretzels -- a lot of space, plenty of computer connections, and even showers if we needed them, which we did not because of the pleasant timing. We settled in for a while. Our flight is at 1520, and boarding apparently begins around an hour before the flight itself, with last call at 1450, so we have around another hour here on the ground at Narita before we leave.
Conrunner Kevin

Last Call for Japan

Boarding for our flight begins in about fifteen minutes, so I will be shortly shutting down here. As we'll be going back to Mehama from PDX after we arrive Tuesday morning (it's Tuesday afternoon here in Japan as I type this), I may not get back on line until Wednesday morning Oregon time, the internet access being at my father-in-law's house across the property, and Lisa and I maybe feeling a little wrung-out by the time we get home.