Early start at the UJC followed by a mega brekkie in preparation for the flight to Japan which, as it turned out, was a bit of good thinking on my part as it prevented my demise later during the day (more on that to follow).
One point I need to mention is that I am at this stage, suffering from a massive cold. My nose is dribbling more than a Geordie in a spelling test and ….you know that person on a plane or train who you hate having to sit next to because they are sneezing everywhere....well thats me!
I hoofed it to Gatwick and boarded the China Eastern flight to Shanghai. Now the plane wasn’t even a quarter full so it was ‘pick your own row of seats, spread yourself out and chill’. Had a quick lunch once in level flight and then it was sleep or watch films to your hearts content (Ifinished off a book on ‘The Battle for Goose Green”, which was a very good read).
The lunch which we had just after take off and was the only food you got before they lobbed a breakfast at you prior to arrival in Shanghai. I was bloody starving and throwing pleading looks to the stewardess who was throwing ‘you’ll live fatty’ looks back at me!! Now as the plane started to descend my ears wouldn’t clear due to the bubonic plague I was suffering from, and by they time I exited the aircraft, I couldn’t hear anything just a muffled noise if someone spoke.
A short stay in shanghai was followed by a flight to Tokyo and more ear pressure, which ensured my head felt like it was going to explode , whilst snot production was at maximum capacity. Thankfully it was only a couple of hours to Tokyo and my arrival at the Rugby World Cup!!
Within 10 minutes of landing at Narita airport I was being interviewed on Japanese TV, which as anyone who saw me at the football World Cup in Russia will know, is mandatory. Not forgetting that I couldn’t hear diddly, I was now being thrown questions in a mix of Japanese and English, that to me sounded like they were chewing a roll of cotton wool. I nodded and smiled a lot and kept saying ‘England’, until it became obvious to the film crew that they had intercepted an idiot. Eventually they looked at each other, smiled and walked off, happy in the knowledge the English were inbred buffoons.
Now I’ve heard a lot about Japan and When I landed I was expecting big things. I wanted to be taken from the plane to baggage collection by Imperial Shuttle, if not teleportation, then have my retina scanned for entry rather than show my passport. None off this happened. I walked about 15 miles from the plane to baggage, waited by the baggage carousel which was normal and not a robot who brought your bag to you personally, then queued to give my passport to a grizzled old Japanese lady, who smiled and then dropped it. In fairness the airport is going through refurbishment so I’m assuming they are cleaning the teleporters?
I had booked a place to stay on AirB&B and caught the train to the nearest stop......at least thats what i thought I’d done, but instead got the one before that train and whistled past my stop and into central Tokyo before I realised my mistake. Luckily there were more guards on this train than the ones that used to run to Auschwitz and all the staff were very helpful and got be back on track (ahem..i thank you), and back to my station in no time.
Ill finish with a quick bit about the house I’m in. It’s a private house and the guy had a Winch to get my bergan to the next floor (seriously). Everything is electronic and hi tech and i love it (by pressing one button in my room i tested the whole houses fire alarms at about 03;00 this morning, for which the owner obviously approved of my safety consciousness.
Not sure if you’ve heard, but the toilets in japan are AMAZING...fully electronic, they raise the lid as you approach and its all push button stuff. On arrival I pressed a button and got a jet of water in the face, then realised you should be sitting to do that; you can adjust the power of the jet to...I immediately tried full power (as you obviously would), and have been limping slightly for the past 3 hours.